And that’s a wrap folks. Unless you’re a South Carolina fan. You’ll be tossing and turning tonight, we’re guessing. More on the Mystery of Jordan Burch below. While three-quarters of the 2020 class was already signed coming into Wednesday, we still came away some fun surprises, upsets and failures. Below are our winners and losers for the day. We don’t know how, exactly, to classify South Carolina’s day, but we’ll figure that out as we go.
Arkansas — Nobody had a better day, respectively, than new Razorbacks HC Sam Pittman. The Razorbacks’ first big score came with three-star G Marcus Henderson, early, ramped up with four-star G Jalen St. John (Rivals’ No. 7 prospect in the state of Missouri) and then fireworks with QB Malik Hornsby’s signing. The four-star signal-caller is fast and can go bombs away with the arm. The Razorbacks finished with Rivals’ No. 38 class for 2020. That’s actually an 18-spot dropoff from Chad Morris’ 2019 showing, just by-the-by, but we were impressed with the Razorbacks’ three big gains on Wednesday.
Georgia — Ho hum ho hum. If it wasn’t going to be Georgia, it was probably going to be Alabama or Clemson. The big boys in recruiting remain the big boys. The only real question was whether Georgia would see five-star T Broderick Jones flip over to Auburn, but nope, nope. By 247Sports standards, Georgia has landed the No. 1 class in two of the last three cycles. They have posted a top-three finish each of the past four cycles. UGA HC Kirby Smart is kind of good at this stuff. The nagging voice in the back of the head says, “Sure, cool, still waiting for the tangible payoff.” And we get that sentiment. But when we’re talking about recruiting, nobody does it better than Georgia these days. Not even Alabama or Clemson.
Miami — Perhaps the splashiest headline of the day was when four-star S Avantae Williams opted to sign with the Hurricanes, rather than heavy favorite Florida. That, in and of itself, was as big of a win as HC Manny Diaz and crew could ask for. No five-stars this cycle for the Hurricanes, but they finished out with the No. 13 class on 247Sports’ team composite board. This just weeks after bringing in D’Eriq King from Houston. No excuses in the fall, Manny.
Oregon — The Ducks didn’t REALLY need to do anything on Wednesday. They had already snared one of the biggest names in all the land back in December, in five-star LB Justin Flowe, cementing a successful cycle. That they then added to the defense (again) by flipping four-star DT Jayson Jones from Alabama on NSD, well that’s just a sweet bonus. The Ducks finished out with the top recruiting class in the Pac-12 and has some ferocious defenders set to make Eugene the conference’s Mordor. If they can figure out their post-Justin Herbert offense, it’s not just the Pac-12 that should be afraid.
South Carolina — So, let’s sit down, take a breath, and talk about Jordan Burch. Five-star DL Burch could have signed with the Gamecocks in December, sparing everybody the drama. Instead, he merely committed to South Carolina, which kept his recruitment alive through to Wednesday for, we don’t know, somebody like LSU? The defending champs have been trying doggedly to elbow out South Carolina for the Columbia native over the past month-plus. Still, it looked like USC had this one in the bag. Burch took an official visit to the Gamecocks this past weekend and he put on the hat while signing — maybe??? — his NLI with the program. Shortly afterward, the weirdness began. Burch’s mother gave the “no questions at this time” line when asked if Burch had sent his NLI to South Carolina. A short while after that Will Muschamp held his press conference and it became abundantly clear that they did not have his paperwork (Muschamp couldn’t talk about Burch, but told reporters that the program had signed 24 players to scholarship. No. 25 was still open, just waiting for Burch’s NLI).
None of this means that South Carolina is doomed, or that LSU is about to score a coup. Some prep recruits just hedge a little more. We haven’t even touched on five-star RB Zachary Evans, who signed with Georgia in December, only to back out of that NLI. Evans is still just sort of floating out there. Our guess? South Carolina still gets its guy in the end. Until they actually lose their native son, we’ll hold off on the demerits. And beyond everything with Burch, it really was a nice day for South Carolina (how was the play, Mrs. Lincoln?). Muschamp and staff picked up fresh signatures from the top JUCO back in the country in ZaQuandre White, a three-star DE in Gilmer Edmond and a four-star WR in Ger-Cari Caldwell. Those are nice additions to a top-20 class. But oh boy if they lose Burch.
Texas — The Longhorns didn’t make noise early in the day, but closed on a bright, cleansing note in signing borderline five-star DE Alfred Collins, who stuck it out in state over strong persuasion from… wait for it… yeah, Oklahoma. Count that as a double-whammy by HC Tom Herman and staff, not only landing the prospect, but almost as importantly, keeping him out of the hands of their nemesis. And for the forever annals of history, Collins’ signing was instrumental in helping Texas to finish with the No. 9 class for 2020, two slots ahead of (you guessed it) Oklahoma.
Florida State — To be clear, the day wasn’t an outright disaster for FSU — with so few players (relatively) remaining, having an outright disaster was difficult for even the most bumbling of USC-ish program — with the Seminoles picking up some nice little three-star gains, headlined by CB Sidney Williams (who they offered to literally this week). But Florida State also missed out on aforementioned G Jalen St. John, who had them ticketed as a finalist before ultimately siding with Arkansas. Even more crucially, they lost four-star WR Malachai Wideman, who turned tail to flip over to Tennessee. Wideman was highlighted by several pundits as a flip candidate heading into NSD, lessening a bit of surprise when it actually happened, but surprise or no, Florida State just dropped the ball with 247Sports’ No. 116 overall prospect in the class.
Mississippi State — As with FSU above, Mississippi State is working from the short straw due to the immediate complications of trying to close out a fired coach’s cycle with a whole new staff. Unlike Florida State and Mike Norvell, who have had a long runway (relatively speaking) to get their hooks in for the stretch run, new Bulldogs HC Mike Leach, who has had less than a month to get up to speed both in building a coaching staff and trying to keep the recruiting machine humming. Leach failed to make a splash on Wednesday. We expect a bit more sizzle in the 2021 cycle, when he truly starts to dig into the SEC recruiting fields. Remember, Leach was living in Pullman, Washington, just a few weeks ago.
USC — Existentially, is there even a point of including the Trojans on a “Losers” recruiting rundown in the year 2020? It’s just sort of what the program is at this point under HC Clay Helton. Reggie Bush played ball with USC before the iPhone had been invented. The program’s heyday was a long, long time ago and existentially, we should probably just accept that until USC makes real, fundamental changes, this is who they are.
But in a less abstract sense, yes, there’s a point. Point is that there’s been an erosion of talent under Helton. That might not show immediately — Kedon Slovis, Amon-Ra St. Brown and company should be tremendous on offense in the fall — but it will absolutely show, more and more as time goes on. What really strikes us with the Trojans is that USC has traditionally been a closing king in recruiting. That didn’t happen in December. That didn’t happen on Wednesday, either. We will give props to USC for landing legacy TE Jack Yary on Monday, but for Yary’s upside, there simply wasn’t anything else new added around him. USC finished the 2020 cycle with the No. 55 class by 247Sports’ composite board. Oregon State finished at No. 52, if you want a basic reference point within the conference.
Florida — The other side of the “Miami signs Avantae Williams” coin, the Gators did cauterize their wounds after Williams spurned them, bringing in four-star DE Princely Umanmielen, but outside of that, HC Dan Mullen and staff missed their targets. This was particularly true at running back, where they were pushing for at least one key flip between CU’s Ashaad Clayton and Georgia Tech’s Jahmyr Gibbs. No such luck on either front, as both Clayton and Gibbs signed right where they were committed. The Gators also failed to hit on three-star ATH Dee Beckwith, who inked an NLI with Tennessee. All of those foibles are unfortunate if you’re a Gators fan, but the Williams loss is the one that truly sucks the air out of the room for a program trying to build against SEC recruiting monsters Georgia, Alabama and LSU. The Gators finished with a top-10 class. So did the Vols. And the Aggies. These are all respectable programs, but they’re all trying to play catchup.