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National Signing Day: Winners and Losers to Kick Off the Early Signing Period

Looking back at a memorable national signing day, from both ends of the perception spectrum

There was a little bit of everything at play Wednesday, the de facto National Signing Day as college football's Early Signing Period kicked off. 

There were two dozen flips, including the No. 1 recruit in the country picking an HBCU, a shift in momentum and clear separation of the SEC recruiting prowess compared to the field. The conference not only went 1-2-3 in the current ranking, but impressed as the rankings expanded in representing five of the top 10, seven of the top 15, or 11 of the top 25. 

In between trends, several classes impressed relative to perception while others came up short. The first impression of the end of the 2022 recruiting cycle is officially in, for the most part, so it's never too early to talk winners and losers for the day.

Winners

Texas: UT jumped all the way to No. 4 in the class rankings with a banner flip of Terrance Brooks, the nation's No. 1 nickel recruit, as well as by solidifying perhaps the top offensive line haul in the nation. UT has added four offensive linemen, including SI99 tackle Kelvin Banks and late riser Malik Agbo, in the last week alone. Steve Sarkisian and company also flipped a recruit from both Oklahoma and Michigan, too. Wide receiver talent Savion Red also jumped into one of the bigger classes in the country. 

Texas A&M: The hottest program in the country continues to push Alabama for the No. 1 class. It added a handful of prospects at positions of need from SI99 tight end Jake Johnson, defensive lineman Anthony Lucas and offensive lineman Kam Dewberry. Pass rusher Enai White and cornerback Marquis Groves-Killebrew, a flip from Georgia, wrapped up a put-everyone-on-notice kind of run. Oh, and A&M has the most elite targets left on the board, including No. 1 cornerback Denver Harris, so the small lead Alabama has on the top class may not last long.

Florida: Alabama and A&M hold all the headlines from a rankings perspective, and rightfully so, but like the pair it was the Florida Gators who also signed three new SI99 recruits Wednesday. In securing Devin Moore, Shemar James and Kamari Wilson, Billy Napier and his new staff won legitimate head-to-head battles with Alabama, Georgia and Notre Dame for each of them. 

Maryland: Early on Wednesday, the Terps and Mike Locksley continued to flex his local muscle with a pair of flips to the Terrapins in Andre Roye (Penn State) and Jaishawn Barham (South Carolina). Maryland also added in-state athlete Octavian Smith and junior college linebacker Max Mcree to a fringe top 25 class, higher than many would have expected a few weeks ago.

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Mississippi State: Don't look now but Mike Leach and State have a top 20 class that was all earned on Wednesday. It began with a monster flip of the most coveted cornerback in junior college, Decarlos Nicholson, and rolled on with its top offensive tackle in Percy Lewis -- both big wins over Ole Miss. Then they flipped an actual Rebel commitment in Jacarius Clayton. The biggest in the long run, though, may be with prep senior Trevion Williams, a one-time Florida State commit who is as physically prepared for SEC football as one could be before arriving. 

Others in Consideration: Jackson State, Tennessee, Texas Tech, Ole Miss, Miami, Michigan, Auburn, Kentucky

Losers

Florida State: There is no light way to put what happened to FSU on Wednesday. The program was bordering on a top 10 class entering the day and began losing battles by the hour, none bigger than top overall recruit Travis Hunter flipping to Jackson State. Beyond the obvious, it lost wide receiver commitment Devaughn Mortimer to Louisville and former commitment Nyjalik Kelly picked rival Miami despite Mario Cristobal being on the job there for just over a week or so. It was in on the aforementioned Nicholson and lost out on legacy Marvin Jones, Jr. along the way, too. FSU did add a versatile in-state defensive back in Azareyeh Thomas and south Florida linebacker Dante Anderson to salvage a top 25 class. Legacy lineman Julian Armella did help reverse some of the perception in Tallahassee when he made a late night pledge Wednesday.

Notre Dame: ND's class is strong and all things considered, went through Marcus Freeman's transition to head coach about as well as anyone could expect. But this feature is about Wednesday, where the Irish could have picked off an opponent or two on the trail but instead lost battles to another new staff at Florida (Devin Moore) and lost a longstanding commitment to regional rival Michigan (Amarion Walker). Losing SI99 wide receiver CJ Williams, who most expect to end up at rival USC, just before signing day didn't help either. 

Ohio State: Can a top five class be considered a loser? For the one-day sample, yes. Losing the top nickel projection in the country on signing day after losing one of its best pure corners earlier in the cycle has an unusual feel to it relative to what we know of the Buckeyes. The remaining signees are rock solid and there is still some undecided elite talent on the board, but Wednesday wasn't a banner day in Columbus. 

Clemson: The feel of change exists with the Tigers and it was apparent before signing day, as three SI99 defensive recruits decommitted in short order. Each signed with different programs today and CU 's small class, after missing on the few targets on the board Wednesday, feels lacking at this stage. 

Mixed Results: LSU, Washington, Duke, USC, Oregon

The Early Signing Period will continue through Friday evening, where multiple elite prospects are expected to finalize decision plans. The traditional period kicks off February 2, 2022 to wrap up class of 2022 acquisitions.