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November 30, 2012; Stanford, CA, USA; UCLA Bruins head coach Jim Mora points before the Pac-12 Championship game against the Stanford Cardinal at Stanford Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Football Recruiting: 5 National Signing Day Winners

Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

A recruiting class cannot truly be judged before any of its members play a game. However, the highly ranked classes that meet expectations greatly outnumber those that have fallen flat.

A well-regarded recruiting class typically spells good things ahead for a program. Take Alabama, which has the same amount of No. 1 overall ranked signing classes as it does BCS championships. Nick Saban’s Crimson Tide routinely bring in top flight recruits, thus are always National Signing Day winners.

But other coaching staffs deserve kudos for their efforts on the demanding and sometimes unpredictable trail. Some coaches effectively sold the dream of establishing tradition. Others challenge conventions. Regardless the starting point, the ultimate destination is the same, and these recruiting classes are the engines driving programs into the future.

Ole Miss Rebels

Perhaps no other signing class since recruiting became such a high profile endeavor has turned as many heads as Hugh Freeze’s 2013 haul into Oxford. With the additions of Robert Nkemdiche and Laremy Tunsil on National Signing Day, Ole Miss capped one of the most impressive recruiting runs for any program, let alone one that hasn’t finished a regular season above .500 since 2009.

Some pretty lofty expectations will be foisted on this class immediately. And while Freeze recruited at Alabama standards, Ole Miss is not yet in league with Alabama. But the operative word is yet. What the 2013 class signifies is hope for this program joining the elite.

Rebels? New hope? Add those narratives to the running Alabama-as-The-Empire gag here at, and Freeze suddenly looks like Obi Wan Kenboi, with Robert Nkemdiche as Luke Skywalker.

The Force is indeed strong in this recruiting class.

Ohio State Buckeyes

Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports

Ohio State is not a newcomer to the winner circle on National Signing Day, but the way in which Urban Meyer crafted his No. 2 ranked corps is a game changer for the Big Ten. Meyer’s SEC experience manifested at Ohio State via an aggressive pursued class that includes prospects directly out of the SEC talent pool.

Five-star safety Vonn Bell was the coup de grace, the proverbial cherry on the Buckeyes’ recruit sundae that also featured the tasty signings of fellow five-star Mike Mitchell and explosive Jalin Marshall.

Meyer’s class will dictate the terms of the entire conference’s recruiting for years to come. Moreover, he’s building a program that will challenge the SEC’s death-grip on the BCS championship.

Vanderbilt Commodores

So marrying a soulmate is in no way comparable to recruiting a football prospect.


But hey, James Franklin has some kind of knack for wooing others. Whether its academic requirements or historic football futility, Vanderbilt had never been a player on the recruiting trail. But this National Signing Day, the Commodores landed a top 20 class with such notables as quarterback Johnathon McCrary, linebackers Nigel Bowden and Zach Cunningham, and wide receiver Jordan Cunningham.

After the success of a nine-win campaign and second straight bowl appearance, Franklin appears to just be scratching the surface of just how good this program can be. The million (but actually, a lot more than 1 million) dollar question is how long can VU athletic brass keep him in Nashville?

Texas A&M Aggies

When your recruiting class is good enough to solicit congratulations from broadcast luminary Jim Ross, you’ve succeeded.


Kevin Sumlin’s acclimated to SEC life quite nicely. Coming off an 11-win season that included defeating the eventual national champion and coaching a Heisman Trophy winner, Sumlin inked a top 10 signing class. Texas A&M is taking full advantage of having exclusive SEC presence in the football mecca that is the Lone Star State.

Twenty-two prospects from the Aggies’ 31-man class come from Texas, including highly touted Ricky Seals-Jones.

UCLA Bruins

Jim Mora failed to sign a five-star recruit. But then, when you ink more four-star prospects than any team save Michigan and Ohio State, it’s a minor quibble. The Bruins’ pursuit of Pac-12 supremacy is quite serious, as the work on the recruiting trail proves. Quarterback Asiantii Woulard was a great late addition to the class, giving the Bruins a potential heir to starting quarterback Brett Hundley.

Another big, late signing was four-star defensive end Kylie Fitts. Tahaan Goodman was one of the top defensive back recruits in the nation, and offensive lineman Christian Morris was a major coup pulled from SEC country.

Tags: Football Ohio State Buckeyes Ole Miss Rebels Texas A&M Aggies UCLA Bruins Vanderbilt Commodores

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