Another preseason unfolds as we move beyond National Signing Day to the start of Spring practices for many teams. Fans pin our hopes for this autumn on the progress our schools make in these February and March days.

Reflections on National Signing Day

The Kickoff ranked Alabama at the top of our 30 best recruiting hauls. Nick Saban and Company signed a total of 28 players, six of them in the Top 30, 14 of them in the Top 10 and two JUCO transfers. We expect that losing to Clemson in the title game won’t do much to affect Bama’s habit of reloading with the nation’s top talents. The six 5-star prospects this year for Bama are OT Alex Leatherwood, RB Najee Harris, OLB Dylan Moses, DW Labryan Ray, QB Tua Tagovailoa, and WR Jerry Jeudy. Last year, the Tide had a mere 25 recruits, including a mere four 5-star players, so watch for the abundance of riches to pay off in Tuscaloosa.

Across the state, rival Auburn claimed the top Junior College prospect, 5-Star Quarterback Jarrett Stidham, who picked them over Florida and Texas A&M. Considering the problems the Tigers have had at the QB position this past couple of seasons, Stidham will be a welcome addition to the team. They also just hired Larry Porter, one of the nation’s top recruiters, away from North Carolina.

Filling out the top 10 in recruiting this year are Ohio State (signing 21), Michigan (30), Southern Cal (24), Georgia (26), Florida State (23), LSU (24), Stanford (14), Oklahoma (27), and Auburn (21).

Out of the Top 30 Overall high school prospects, UCLA got 5-star defensive end Jaelen Phillips, whose father was also a Bruin. The Tennessee Vols signed 5-star offensive tackle Trey Smith, a Parade All-America honorable mention. We listed the Top 30 in the most recent edition of The Kickoff newsletter, as well as the Top high school prospects by position and where those guys committed to play.

Defending National Champs Clemson had the 13th ranked recruiting class with 14 signees, including two Top 30 prospects, WR Tee Higgins and QB Hunter Johnson, both considered 5-star players. Replacing Deshaun Watson is no small feat, but two other highly ranked QB recruits join Johnson in going after the job.

You can see the future of college football taking shape! Get ready to hear names like Tagovailoa, Cam Akers, Davis Mills, Donovan Peoples-Jones, Colby Parkinson, Trey Smith, Wyatt Davis, Cesar Ruiz, Jaelan Philips, Marvin Wilson, Dylan Moses, Jacob Phillips, Jeffrey Okudah, Jacoby Stevens, and Brendon White referenced on future Saturdays. Of course, there’s no guarantee these young men will live up to their hype (or how soon they will begin to make an impact). In the February newsletter, we designated which of these prospects we believe are future stars, program changers, first year contributors, developmental players, and FBS prospects.

When it comes to intra-state rival bragging rights, our February issue also listed the top recruit in all 50 states.

Coaching Carousel

Among the changes on the sidelines to look forward to:

Tom Herman replacing Charlie Strong at Texas. Strong replacing Willie Taggart at USF. Former Ohio State Defensive Coordinator Luke Fickell replacing Tommy Tuberville at Cincinnati. We also get to see how long Ed Orgeron can avoid the same fate as Les Miles at LSU. We’re curious how Former Alabama Offensive Coordinator Lane Kiffin does as Head Coach at FAU. Former Temple Head Coach Matt Rhule takes over from Jim Grobe at Baylor.

It is fun to imagine the impact these additions and changes will make, especially if our teams did not finish up to their full potential in 2016.

Written by Steven Stiefel

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