Archive for February, 2014

For Whom The Cowbell Tolls: Mississippi State’s National Signing Day?

Bearing in mind that we managed to get ‘They Might Be Giants’ in an article, we thought it important to get some Ernest Hemmingway in this article…..and that’s why we’ve gone with the ‘For Whom The Cowbell Tolls’ headline….(apparently it’s also the name of a Mississippi State blog, so we’re not exactly first in with this one…)

Anyway, despite many people thinking that he would be out of a job before the 2014 National Signing Day, Dan Mullen’s victory in the Egg Bowl over Ole Miss and subsequent bowl win over Rice has now put a smile or two on the faces of the Cowbell Army.

The Jamoral Graham signing was great because, as ESPN said – he can play on both sides of the ball. He declared for MSU in his junior year. This should help the Bulldogs. On the defensive side of the ball, JUCO DE Cory Thomas’ decision to go to Starkville rather than Knoxville was OK with folks in the SEC West. He gave no reason for his switch.

Mississippi State did add a pair of four-star athletes in running back Aeris Williams and linebacker Gerri Green. Williams – who is said to have a “a good combination of size, speed and power” by ESPN Scouts, had offers from Florida State, Wisconsin and Ole Miss, while Green chose Mississippi State over a host of other SEC schools including Ole Miss, Auburn, Arkansas,  Vandy and Tennessee.

MSU ended the day ranked  38th with 247, and 36th with ESPN.



Karma? How was Arkansas’ National Signing Day?

Bret Bielema isn’t much liked in SEC corridors. Maybe it’s because he was Wisconsin’s head coach. Maybe it’s because of his wife and her tweeting ways. Maybe it’s because he hasn’t won a SEC game.

Anyway, Arkansas fans will certainly like him a lot better after a solid National Signing Day – which included getting a player to come play for him instead of National Champion Florida State. That was the case with 4-star athlete JoJo Robinson . Robinson had been pursued by LSU, Auburn and Miami, too. They think he might be the next great UA punt/kick returner. We can’t wait.

Anyway, Bielema has always been pretty good at getting running backs, and he added one more in Juan Day. Day will be one of the back-ups for Alex Collins, who’s going to be one of the SEC’s most underrated running backs this year…again.

But to stop Collins getting killed, Bielema needed to shore up his offensive line, he got O-Lineman Brian Wallace, beating out Missouri and Alabama to the player’s signature. He also added Frank Ragnow (also offered by Florida State), and Jovan Pruitt (also recruited heavily by Texas).

On the other side of the ball, he got Bijhon Jackson, who decided to stay in-state instead of taking Alabama, Ole Miss and Arkansas State on their offers. The pick-up of DB Dwayne Eugene was a nice one too. He could be under-the-radar and playing with a chip on his shoulder after not getting offers from any other SEC school.

ESPN ranks Arkansas’ solid signing day 30th. As does 247.



Ole Miss: The country’s most bizarre National Signing Day

After a tremendous 2013 National Signing Day, it would have taken Godlike qualities (and a Nick Saban resignation) to have propelled Hugh Freeze to those heights.

Instead, the Ole Miss coach continued with another tremendous National Signing Day, solidifying his offensive line with a bunch of offensive linesmen, including four-starrer Rod Taylor, as well as Tyler Putman, and Jordan Sims. They’ll join JUCO O-Lineman Fahn Cooper, who enrolled early.

Defensively, Freeze got JUCO DB Tee Shepard, who had previously committed to Notre Dame and Mississippi State, before he decided to play in Oxford at the last minute. Shepard had said that he would be playing his sophomore year in a community college. Did that all change? We don’t really know.

Speaking of ‘not really knowing?’, did you hear the one about the recruit who sent LOIs to not one, not two, but THREE teams yesterday? His name’s Dacorius (DJ) Law, he’s a running back, and he sent papers to Ole Miss, Utah, and even East Mississippi Community College. We still don’t know if he’s going to end up a Rebel. Nor, it seems, does he.

(Later, Ole Miss released Law so he could go and play for Utah).

But there are two running backs who are DEFINITELY coming to Oxford: D.K Buford and Akeem Judd. We’ll see how they map out. They should be getting some reps bearing in mind that the excellent Jeff Scott’s now graduated. It should be quite a battle at that position – particularly with the talent that’s already there. Ole Miss will be frighteningly deep at the position (see last paragraph of this pre-season report from ‘Red Cup Rebellion’) (not Alabama or LSU deep, but still pretty deep).

Freeze will also be pleased that DB CJ Hampton, who also visited Alabama, Arkansas and Florida State before deciding to go to Ole Miss, kept with his decision to stay with Ole Miss.

Anyway, it was a good class with one recruiting site (247). And it was  17th with ESPN, too The Law incident just made it funnier. That – and the fact that Ole Miss failed to tweet out the first name of its first signing of the day correctly: DeMarquis Gates was re-named ‘Demarcus’. But it was early.


Bauer, Giant WRs highlight Missouri’s National Signing Day class

There’s a band out there called ‘They Might Be Giants’. Have a listen. You’re never going to keep them down.

We know that they’ve been around longer than Missouri’s wide receiving class….but the guys that Gary Pinkel’s recruited might be giants, too.

Only one of the SIX wide receivers who decided to come to Columbia is play for Pinkel is under 6ft…and he’s 5 ft 10. Four-star receiver DeSean Blair – the pick of the bunch (who actually committed to Louisville before deciding he wanted to play in the SEC– is 6 ft 4, while Dorial Green-Beckham’s brother, Darnell, is 6 ft 5 (Important question: What does Mrs Green-Beckham feed her kids, and could we have some?).

Missouri fans are definitely excited about OL Andy Bauer, who de-committed from Ole Miss to come play for Pinkel. Bauer’s from St Louis, so it was hardly the country’s most surprising decisions. Bauer, who was recruited by everybody, was described as the ‘gem of the 2014 recruiting class’.  And the gem could start as early as this season. Whatever happens, Bauer should shore up the offensive line for QB Maty Mauk, who’s one of a handful of sure-fire SEC QB starters who’ll get reps this Spring.

Missouri was 39th in the 24-7 rankings, and 33rd with ESPN.



After the Franklin carnage, Vanderbilt rebounds on Signing Day

Former Vanderbilt head coach James Franklin left at the wrong time. His departure in January to Penn State led to a number of de-commitments, and worries that Vanderbilt would not be able to fill their numbers.

Defensive co-ordinator Derek Mason, from Stanford (which is better than Vandy in terms of academics, but would still be twinned with them in terms of academics-before-athletics institutions), came to town.

And although he had a slow start, the speed that Vandy recruited in the last few days before National Signing Day would have made Nick Saban or Les Miles happy….and they picked up a monster DE recruit from under Stanford’s nose in Nifae Lealao.

He also added 4-star DB Emmanuel Smith, who had offers from Ole Miss, Mississippi State and Tennessee, but stayed loyal to the Commodores despite the madness going on.

On the offensive side, he added RB Dallas Rivers – who had been offered by Tennessee and Louisville (amongst others) and QB Wade Freebeck.

Mason ended up with 22 LOIs – and none of them early enrolees. Saturday Down South remarked: “This is a great salvage job for a class that was down to 7 just days after James Franklin left for Penn State.” Couldn’t have said it better ourselves.


Despite Evans, a superb National Signing Day for Auburn

Regardless of the screw-up with local boy Rashaan Evans, Auburn had a very, very good National Signing Day.

To explain the Evans situation: five-star OLB Evans went to a local Auburn high school and it was anticipated that he would become an Auburn Tiger. So much so that Auburn put his name on their website, celebrating their victory. Well, it was a little too early, rather like Alabama fans celebrating a 2013 Iron Bowl victory. At his commitment ceremony, he opted to play for the Alabama Crimson Tide.

Anyway, it’s all in the past, because Gus Malzahn had a great haul – at prep and JUCO level.

Auburn signed the best JUCO player in the land in WR D’haquille Williams (he’s already enrolled), and they added All-American Offensive Guard Braden Smith and DE Andrew Williams. Williams will be another weapon on the defensive line – something that the National Championship finalist still desperately needs in a division where at least SOME defence is needed.

And Malzahn also signed himself a QB in Sean White, the No.2 Pocket-Passing QB in the nation, and some people are really happy with 6ft-5 TE Chris Laye, who’s enrolled early and going to give Malzahn’s offense some help in the blocking department. With the success of Auburn TEs in the past, if Laye’s a success, there will be nothing sleeper about it!

Auburn was ranked No.6 by 247 Sports

Florida Chomps Way to Top 10 National Signing Day Haul

The Florida Gators may have had a goddawful 2013 season, but if the 2014 season plays out like National Signing Day did, then the fanbase will have little to complain at Will Muschamp about.

Five-star CB from Arizona Jalen Tabor decided that he’d prefer to take his talents South, and opted for Gainseville. Tabor’s move made Adoree Jackson’s decision not to play for the Gators (he’s going to USC) less of a kick in the teeth. He’ll be helped out in the secondary by DB J.C. Jackson, who many felt wouldn’t be a Gator by the end of the day, DB Duke Dawson (already enrolled) and DB Quincy Wilson, who was one of Florida’s earliest signings of the day.

Muschamp also picked up DTs Khairi Clark, Gerald Willis and Thomas Holley to help boost the defensive line.

But last year’s problems were all about an anemic offensive, and Muschamp’s added WR Ryan Sousa and SEVEN offensive linesmen to help Jeff Driskel not get killed next year. Oh, and Driskel now has competition for the quarterback position in four-star QB Will Grier, who enrolled early.

24-7Sports have the Gators ranked at No.9 in their team rankings. ESPN has them at No.6.




Texas A&M continues National Signing Day excellence

We’d like to make this clear: Texas A&M fans on Twitter spent an awful lot of time in hope as some of the country’s biggest recruits made their decisions to come to schools, but they weren’t exactly crying their eyes out when it didn’t happen.

That’s because Kevin Sumlin had already put together a monster JUCO recruiting haul, and the signatures already coming in were among the best classes in the country.

And, thank God for Aggies fans (and much-maligned (and generally by us) defensive co-ordinator Mark Snyder), a bunch of it was on the defensive side. DE Myles Garrett, the No.2 player at that position in the nation, is coming to College Station, as is already-signed athlete Speedy Noil. They added monster DT Zaycoven Henderson, DE Jarrett Johnson, and a pair of DBs in Armani Watts and Donovan Wilson.

On the offensive side, Kevin Sumlin added another QB into what’s going to be a monster race to be the Aggies’ starting quarterback, adding five-star QB Kyle Allen, who was also coveted by Alabama (amongst others). Whoever the quarterback, WR Frank Iheanacho could be an immediate difference-maker.

Four-star Offensive Linesman Jermaine Eluemunor from JUCO (via the UK!) could make an immediate difference in the offensive line. He was heavily recruited by Alabama, and had already committed to, er, UCLA and Arkansas before finally deciding he wanted to be an Aggie.

One of the best bit of news of the day was the news that Kevin Sumlin’s renewing the scholarship of Cedric Collins, who was diagnosed with the rare Klippel-Feil Syndrome, which is a rare “congenital fusion of the vertebrae”, according to an A&M newspaper. He won’t be able to play football again. “Commitment is a two-way street”, Sumlin said in a press conference, perhaps firing a bullet over the bows of his rival SEC coaches.

Texas A&M’s class was rated No.5 in the nation by 24-7.


South Carolina comes in with solid National Signing Day haul

With Jadeveon Clowney and three other juniors going to the pros – as well as talisman quarterback Connor Shaw- South Carolina needed to shore up their class with an excellent National Signing Day…..and did.

A lot of the big signings were on the defensive side.

Steve Spurrier picked up DE Dante Sawyer, LB Bryson Allen-Williams and defensive tackle Dexter Wideman – who had committed earlier to Florida State – and reports have said that they expect DE Jhaustin Thomas to make an impact, too.

Four-star Defensive back Chris Lammons came aboard, and DE Blake McClain, who was meant to be going to Nebraska, decided that he preferred the Palmetto State as well.

On the offensive side, the Head Ball Coach lost his battle for QB Drew Barker to Kentucky, but Barker wouldn’t have started anyway….that’ll be Dylan Thompson, who’s already installed as the pocket passer of this Spurrier generation.

Still, they added WRs Shaquille Davidson and Terry Googan to the fold to make things easier for Thompson.

But when everyone’s not leaving Columbia for the NFL in their junior year, things are a little easier year-on-year for Spurrier.

South Carolina rocketed up the rankings at the end of play, moving up 8 to 15 by the end of the day with 247.


Tennessee comes in with HUGE recruiting haul

After years of being terrible, Tennessee head coach Butch Jones has come in with just what the doctors in Knoxville ordered: A monster haul.

By the end of National Signing Day, 32 players had signed up to be Volunteers (yeah, you read that right), much to even the biggest UT bloggers, who titled their National Signing Day post: “Where did all these bricks come from?”

The answer is that Tennessee kicked butt and got signings in pretty early – including shoring up their defense with some excellent recruits.

The biggest signings of these was safety Todd Kelly (59 on ESPN’s Top 300 list), OLB Dillon Bates (105), and DE Dewayne Hendrix (176).

On the offensive side – and something that Jones has always been known for – Tennessee picked up RB Jalen Hurd and WR Josh Malone. Malone could be part of a really great WR duo with current incumbent Marquez North, who had some rave reviews this year.

The big thing about these recruits is 90% of the players did not take a visit to others schools“, Butch said in a press conference. Could it have something to do with the scenery? 

13 of these players enrolled early, coming in January.

Tennessee has been ranked No.7 by 247 and No.5 by Rivals in the composite rankings.



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