Alabama added another five-star to what is already considered the best class in the country when running back Trey Sanders from IMG Academy in Florida picked the Crimson Tide over Georgia, Florida State, Texas and Florida.
The Tide is expected to win another recruiting national title after relinquishing the crown to SEC rival Georgia last season.
Defensive end Zach Harrison, the top-ranked prospect in Ohio, gave Ryan Day his first big victory as the Buckeyes’ incoming head coach. Harrison, from Olentangy Orange High School, not far from Ohio State State’s campus, picked the Buckeyes over Michigan and Penn State.
Harrison had played his recruitment relatively quiet and his announcement ceremony only streamed on his high school’s website.
The Buckeyes’ 2019 class is lagging behind its usual top-five standard, in part because it is likely to be a relatively small and in part because of the uncertainty this season surrounding outgoing head coach Urban Meyer.
The second year of college football’s early recruit signing period started with a surprise Wednesday: Dax Hill, a five-star defensive back from Oklahoma, flipped from Alabama and signed with Michigan.
Hill had been verbally committed to Michigan but switched to Alabama a few weeks ago. Wolverines coach Jim Harbaugh lured him back when it mattered most.
Another late flip by a quarterback from Michigan effected Ohio State and Georgia and had some wondering if Bulldogs quarterback Justin Fields could have played a part.
Dwan Mathis from Belleville, Mich., switched from the Buckeyes to the Bulldogs a day after Fields’ name appeared in the NCAA’s transfer database. Fields was a five-star recruit in the 2018 class and it has already been speculated that he could end up at Ohio State next season, playing for new coach Ryan Day.
The uncertainty around Fields had Georgia scrambling to add a quarterback to its 2019 class.
Another notable decision on the first day of the early signing period came from cornerback Elijah Blades, a top junior college recruit who signed with Texas A&M after been committed to Oregon. The Ducks, who are likely to have a top-10 class, also lost out on defensive back Jeremiah Criddell of California to Oklahoma.
Florida swept a trio of highly rated recruits from Lakeland High School, with offensive lineman Deyavie Hammond, defensive end Lloyd Summerall and tight end Keon Zipperer all picking the Gators in a signing day ceremony at the school.
Noah Cain, one of the top running backs in the country from IMG Academy in Florida, picked Penn State over Georgia and Auburn.
Cooper Dawson from South Carolina brought a friend with him to his signing ceremony, Kingsley Feinman, who was born with cerebral palsy and is in a wheel chair.
Dawson, a defensive end from Hannah High School, picked Syracuse over Clemson and UCF, and did so by first telling Feinman his choice and letting his friend make the announcement. Video of the announcement was shared by Scott Eisberg, the sports director for WCIV in Charleston, South Carolina, and the tweet had 15,000 likes in four hours.
This is one of the greatest signing days you will ever see. Hanahan’s Cooper Dawson picks Syracuse- but does it by first telling close friend Kingsley Feinman. Kingsley announces the decision- Dawson adds that Kingsley taught him the only disability is a bad attitude. @ABCNews4 pic.twitter.com/3OGJzJmlXg— Scott Eisberg (@SEisbergWCIV) December 19, 2018
Dawson told the crowd gathered at the high school that Feinman taught him the only disability was a bad attitude. Dawson missed his senior year with a leg injury, but said Feinman inspired him to keep a positive attitude.
Not much drama was expected Wednesday since another opportunity for prospects to sign comes in February, but the top schools figured to have most of their class of 2019 locked in by the end of the day. Maybe even before lunch.
Last year was the first with an early signing period in college football. It quickly replaced the traditional February signing period as the primary time for high school players to make their verbal commitments binding by signing national letters of intent. More than 70% of available scholarships at FBS schools were filled during the early signing period last year, and coaches expected that to go up this year.