With Wednesday being National Signing Day 2021, the college football world ventures even more into the offseason.
While spring practice will hopefully be here soon, we have firmly put 2020 in the rearview mirror. With many of the top high school recruits in the country already committed and having signed their National Letters of Intent, there is not a ton of movement on the recruiting landscape for 2021. However, we can determine which programs won and which programs lost in this cycle.
No program did a better job of dominating on the recruiting trails than the Alabama Crimson Tide. Nick Saban’s program continues to put one elite class together after another. The defending national champions secured the greatest recruiting class in the history of recruiting rankings. The only thing that is slowing the Crimson Tide down would be a case of bad luck at this point.
Though the Michigan State Spartans rallied to land two-sport star Keon Coleman on National Signing Day, they did lose their No. 2 overall recruit the in-state rival Michigan Wolverines. There were rumblings that defensive tackle Rayshaun Benny was flipping to Michigan, but it was not made official until Wednesday. This was such a devastating blow to Mel Tucker’s program.
After a frustrating 2020 college season, Michigan has entered 2021 with a ton of positive momentum. The Wolverines revamped its defensive coaching staff. These key changes helped Jim Harbaugh’s team flip two commitments late, Benny from Michigan State and Ikechukwu Iwunnah from Colorado. These late moves helped Michigan finish with a top-10 recruiting class for 2021.
The Auburn Tigers paid a price for parting ways with former head coach Gus Malzahn this offsets. Though Bryan Harsin has assembled an excellent staff, the Tigers did not even have a top-25 class in this cycle. It was only made to look worse when four-star linebacker Trevin Wallace signed with the Kentucky Wildcats over Auburn and the Ole Miss Rebels on National Signing Day.
The Ohio State Buckeyes may have finished in second place yet again to Alabama, but nobody is going to pick holes in their No. 2 recruiting class. Ryan Day has not skipped a beat since taking over for Urban Meyer two years ago. The last two years have showed us Ohio State is ready to win a College Football Playoff National Championship here soon. They keep crushing it in recruitment.
We are picking nits here, but one would have thought the Notre Dame Fighting Irish would have done better than a No. 9 overall finish through National Signing Day. The Golden Domers have been in two of the last three College Football Playoffs. While they did not win a game either time, one would think a second playoff appearance would parlay into a better recruiting finish for them.
The Georgia Bulldogs continue to recruit at an incredible level under head coach Kirby Smart. While they only have one College Football Playoff appearance to date, Georgia ended up with the No. 3 overall recruiting class in this cycle. The Dawgs are now a staple to finish in the top five and have emerged as a top-three recruiting program in the years since their 2017 national title appearance.
Not even the best season in Gainesville under Dan Mullen could get the Florida Gators to crack the top 10 in recruiting rankings. Though they won the SEC East a season ago, Florida finishes 13th. That puts them in fifth place in the SEC, second place in the SEC East behind Georgia and second place in Florida, as the ACC’s Miami Hurricanes finished a spot ahead of them at No. 12 this year.
Overall, this year’s winners do not come as much of a surprise, outside of the late surge by Michigan, of course. However, the four teams who lost on National Signing Day make us wonder why recruitment is not translating at these schools. Outside of Auburn having a new coaching staff, there are no excuses for Florida, Notre Dame or even Michigan State to be this far down.
What teams do you believe won and lost on National Signing Day 2021?