Tuesday, February 8, 2011

NSD: National Signing Day or Nick Saban Day?

I have the great pleasure of introducing you all to Cleats & Couture's first guest blogger, Bobby Jones. Bobby is an avid sports fan (and by the tone of this article, I'm sure you'll notice he's also a diehard Alabama fan), and has a lot of insight into the game of football. So what better way for him to debut than with a post about the winners, losers, and surprises of National Signing Day? Guys, this will be the post you'll want to read because it will probably be more in-depth than I'll ever be able to get about player stats or their rankings. Welcome to the C&C family, Bobby!
 
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For the third time in the past four years, The University of Alabama has landed the number one recruiting class according to reputable recruiting site Rivals.com. Nick Saban continues to finish strong not only on the field, but in the house of these recruits as well. Most notably, two Rivals.com top 40 recruits who had previously committed to Auburn changed their minds and decided to "Roll with the Tide" for the college career.
   
But even with their No. 1 recruiting class, Alabama was not the only program that finished with bragging rights. Clemson finished with a surprisingly solid recruiting class, Georgia landed their “Dream Team,” Florida State took back control of its home state with an impressive group of athletes, and even Notre Dame decided to recruit some talented defensive players. However, not everyone faired so well. Florida seemingly had a down year recruiting because of the unknown leadership style of newly hired head coach, Will Muschamp (and because Jimbo Fisher’s staff did such a great job across the state with the Seminoles). Overall, National Signing Day was extremely entertaining and remained the dramatic reality show that it has been for years.
Winners of National Signing Day
Alabama: Nick Saban was able to land five players out of the top fifty in the nation. Look for the Tide to avenge its “mediocre” ten win season. [Prediction for next season: 12-0]
Hasean Clinton-Dix: A highly talented five-star safety out of Florida. Reminds me of Darren Sharper (New Orleans Saints safety).
Demetrius Hart: Clinton-Dix’s high school teammate. A very exciting five-star running back similar to Joseph Addai (Indianapolis Colts running back) because of his speed, vision, & his natural abilities as a receiver out of the backfield.
Cyrus Kouandjio: The best offensive lineman in the country, out of Hyattsville, Maryland. He is massive, strong, quick off of the ball, & is too unique to categorize.
Brent Calloway: An exceptional athlete from Russellville, Alabama who can play running back or outside linebacker. He’s expected to start out at running back, but the competition will be steep with Bama’s stable of running backs.
Jeoffrey Pagan: A very gifted defensive end who many think will make an immediate impact as a freshman. He reminds me of a Julius Peppers (defensive end for the Chicago Bears): long, strong, mean, and athletic.

Florida State: In Jimbo Fisher’s second year at the helm with the Noles’, he has already made significant improvements. Look for FSU to contend early in the national title hunt, but run out of gas come November. [Prediction for next season: 10-2]
James Wilder Jr.: The second ranked running back in the country out of Tampa, Florida. He is a big bruiser who can run over just about anyone and reminds me of Brandon Jacobs (New York Giants running back).
Karlos Williams: The second ranked safety in the country out of Davenport, Florida. Williams is a big guy and hits hard, but needs to work on his agility.
Losers of National Signing Day

Auburn: Even though the Tigers ended up with a top ten class, having Cyrus Kouandjio and Brent Calloway commit to the Tide after what appeared to be a done deal for the Tigers was devastating.  Even though it was a gloomy day, Auburn was able to grab a couple of impressive recruits.  They hooked Kris Frost, a five-star inside linebacker from North Carolina, and picked up Christian Westerman, an above average offensive lineman from Arizona. Look for Auburn to have a relatively down year in 2011. [Prediction for next season: 7-5]

Florida: With the departure of Urban Meyer and the uncertainty of the new Will Muschamp era, it was hard for the Gators to reel in a recruiting class that they would consider acceptable. They were, however, able to land Jeff Driskel, the number one rated quarterback in the nation. He is supposed to be the heir to Tebow’s throne, but only time will tell if he can even find the crown. They also snagged Marcus Roberson, a tall and athletic defensive back out of Fort Lauderdale, Florida. I predict Florida to go through some growing pains but eventually Muschamp will prove to be the man for the job. [Prediction for next season: 8-4]

NSD Surprises

Clemson: With Dabo Swinney anchoring a talented coaching staff, the Tigers were able to sign four five-star recruits, and make their way into the top ten in the nation. Among those were Sammy Watkons, a five-star wide receiver out of Fort Myers, Florida and Stephone Anthony, a five-star linebacker out of Wadesboro, North Carolina. However, Clemson will need to find a decent QB if they want to have a chance at winning the ACC. [Prediction for next season: 9-3]

Georgia: You don’t accept mediocrity at Georgia; just ask their fans. In fact, ask Mark Richt, Georgia’s head coach, who is currently on the hot seat for his team’s mediocre performance over the past few years. In an attempt to keep his job, Richt established the “Dream Team” recruiting class this offseason. The idea of this “Dream Team” was to land every kid on Georgia’s list of recruits - everyone that they thought could help bring them back into the national spotlight. And so far, it's worked. They landed top rated running back in the country Isaiah Crowell, a Georgia native, and the number one rated defensive end, Ray Drew. Georgia even managed to steal away Malcolm Mitchell, a highly ranked defensive back that Nick Saban desperately wanted. With such a talented freshmen class set to arrive in Athens, Richt might be able to stick around for at least a couple of more years after all. [Prediction for next season: 8-4]

Notre Dame: Head Coach Brain Kelly of Notre Dame took this job knowing that he needed to improve his team’s defense. With his first full year of recruiting under his belt, that is exactly what he has done. Kelly & the Fighting Irish were able to sign many highly touted defensive players including two five-star defensive ends, Ishaq Williams & Stephon Tuitt. With the addition of several others, Brian Kelly & his team look forward to playing all three phases of the game, something they have not been able to do in the past decade. [Prediction for next season: 8-4]

Now that all of the National Signing Day chaos has finally come to an end (we think), what can we really take from all of the statistics, videos, and gossip that surrounds these high school athletes?  NOTHING.  We won’t know how they will perform until September arrives and the smell of freshly cut grass reminds us that anything can happen between any two teams once they step between those lines. Only then will we truly be able to witness these athletes live up to their potentials. Only then will we see whose “day” it really is.

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