On signing day, Alabama still is No. 1.
A season without a national championship on the field didn’t slow coach Nick Saban on the recruiting trail. The five-star prospects flocked to Tuscaloosa, including one who went to high school in Auburn, Ala.
National signing day had coaches up at dawn and fax machines beeping on college campuses across the country — though more and more recruits email their national letters of intent these days.
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Hats were donned, a few commitments were flipped and mostly the rich got richer: National champion Florida State, Ohio State, Stanford, Oklahoma and Notre Dame were among the programs that received high marks.
And, as usual, most of the Southeastern Conference got glittering grades from analysts. None better than Alabama. The Crimson Tide sat atop the rankings for Rivals, Scout, 247sports and ESPN.
Alabama signed six of 33 players given five-star ratings by Rivals, including Rashaan Evans, a linebacker from Auburn High School who didn’t choose the Tide until yesterday, passing on his hometown Tigers.
No other school had more than three five-stars.
“He kind of lapped the field,” Tom Lemming of CBS Sports Network said about Saban.
This marks the third straight year and fifth time in the last six years Alabama has had Rivals’ top-ranked class.
MSU, Michigan each make a splash
Michigan signed the best player in the Big Ten and Michigan State parlayed its Rose Bowl victory into its best signing day in five years.
Michigan hauled in the highest-rated prospect in the conference, signing five-star cornerback Jabrill Peppers of Paramus, N.J.
Michigan State edged Penn State for second-best class in the Big Ten. The Spartans are ranked no higher than 21st nationally by the analysts, but still it is their best finish since 2009.
Spartans coach Mark Dantonio’s biggest victory might have been hanging on to defensive lineman Malik McDowell of Southfield, Mich. His parents told reporters this week that they wanted their son to go out of state, and he visited Ohio State.
Big Ten teams continued to increase the number of recruits signed from the Southeast. According to the Big Ten Network, Big Ten schools signed 158 players from the conference’s footprint and 80 from Southeastern Conference states. The highlight of Minnesota’s latest recruiting class is a hometown kid: Jeff Jones, who was ranked as the seventh-best running back in the nation by Rivals.
New Penn State coach James Franklin signed highly rated receivers Saeed Blacknall, De’Andre Thompkins and Chris Godwin to team with quarterback Christian Hackenberg, who led the Nittany Lions to a 7-5 record last fall as a freshman.
QB Evans tops Cincinnati’s class
Cincinnati signed a junior college quarterback who is expected to compete for the starting job next season.
Jarred Evans of Santa Barbara Community College will be a front-runner for the job, along with sophomore Gunner Kiel, who sat out last season after transferring from Notre Dame.
Southern California landed a top-10 class that included three final-day commitments: offensive lineman Damien Mama and two-way athletes Adoree Jackson and John “Juju” Smith. ... Louisiana State made a big skill-position haul by signing one of the nation’s top running backs, 225-pound Leonard Fournette, and one of the top receivers, Malachi Dupre, in its 22-man class.