National Signing Day is officially over, and we now have a concrete look at where the nation’s top recruits decided to spend their college football careers. So, this week, Hey Judes recaps the 2017 recruiting class and how it played out.
Okay, now what?
It’s over, and I’m not really sure what I’m going to do now. It’s a feeling shared by everyone who has covered college football recruiting, and it’s not quite as liberating as it is a tease … because you know the next recruiting class is going to dominate your life for the next year.
I really need a vacation to recharge my battery. I can’t wait for that trip to Boston I told you all about. I’m looking forward to catching up with some old college and high school friends. But — and don’t tell them this — but I’m mostly looking forward to the beer selection in Beantown and trying clam chowder.
Plus, I’ve been watching Cheers all the way through in preparation for the getaway, so I’m really excited to finally experience Boston. It’s too bad I can’t make a trip to Fenway.
Oh, yeah, you came here for recruiting info, right? I guess I can drop one last Hey Judes geared toward the 2017 recruiting class. I hope you don’t mind that it’s garnished with sleep deprivation, hunger and an utter sense of being defeated. Enjoy!
LSU Wins The K’Lavon Chaisson Sweepstakes
I can’t sit here and honestly say that I wasn’t shocked by this. Yes, I know. K’Lavon Chaisson maintained the Tigers were one of his top two teams, but the Longhorns were, too. I was told weeks ago that the 5-star defensive end was a silent Texas commit. So, when his commitment came up purple and gold, I had to scrape my jaw off the ground.
On NSD I had the initial reaction of, “Wow, that’s a big get for LSU.” But then I quickly shifted my train of thought and realized what it really meant. This was a head-to-head battle between Ed Orgeron and Tom Herman. It was a toe-to-toe, testosterone-filled Mexican stand-off between the head coach LSU wanted to hire and the head coach it did hire. And Orgeron won. Considering how close Chaisson was to ending up in Austin, that says a lot about how the Tigers finished the recruiting cycle.
Trojans’ Top Class
You have to give a hand to Clay Helton and his staff — specifically Tee Martin, who is clearly one of the top recruiters in the country. USC sputtered throughout the first three weeks of the season and then turned it on when Sam Darnold took over the starting quarterback job. I knew Austin Jackson, Joseph Lewis and Greg Johnson were going to wind up with the Trojans, but I was shocked when they managed to pull Jay Tufele, too. I swore it was going to come down to Ohio State and Utah, but Helton big leagued them all and added a much-needed force to the defensive line.
Ohio State Buckeyes Movement
Don’t’ get it twisted. Urban Meyer still landed one helluva class, but this wasn’t the way it was supposed to end. It wasn’t the way many of us thought it would end. By National Signing Day, Ohio State was supposed to add a 5-star defensive end to its class. It was either going to be Marvin Wilson or Tufele. The latter, as we know, went to Los Angeles. And Wilson, the nation’s No. 1 defensive tackle, took his talents to Tallahassee.
Tate Martell promised Ohio State fans at least two more 5-star commitments, and they never arrive. In fact, the Buckeyes even lost a commitment from 4-star wide receiver Tyjon Lindsey, who ended up at Nebraska. Meyer’s team came up at No. 4 in the 2017 recruiting class rankings and, more importantly, came up second to Michigan. This is a highly talented group going to Columbus, but it’s not the legendary one we were expecting.
I’ve said this a few times throughout the past 24 hours, but what Jim McElwain did for James Robinson earned more respect from me than one can possibly quantify. First, let’s acknowledge the obvious: Robinson is a 4-star wide receiver for a reason, and the Gators desperately needed to add him into the class because they must stretch the field vertically.
But McElwain showed he’s not just a head coach. He’s a leader — and one helluva man. When the Florida administration pumped the brakes on adding Robinson to the class following his marijuana citation, or rather the publicity of it, McElwain hit the phones and called almost 20 different programs trying to find a home for Robinson. Finally, after going to bat one last time for the kid, McElwain got the green light to send him an NLI.
He realized it was more about football. It’s about giving a kid from Lakeland, Florida a chance at a higher education, a better life and a brighter future. And to the delight of many Florida fans, he proved the critics and naysayers wrong by landing his first top-10 class in Gainesville.
Here Comes 2018, Guys
I officially started on the 2018 class about a month or two ago, but wasn’t kidding above when I said I needed a mini vacation to get my act together and refresh. But when I settle back in and dedicate myself to the 2018 class, there are quite a few prospects whose film I’m excited to break down.
Dalvin Cook’s little brother, James, is certainly one name that comes to mind when I think of standout prospects in the 2018 cycle. Trevor Lawrence is going to get most of the attention as the top quarterback in the class, but Matt Corral and Jacob Sirmon are not far behind. And then you make your way over to the wide receiver group, and guys like Jacob Copeland, Justyn Ross and Warren Thompson are names to keep an eye on.