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Signing Day Surprises

SI All-American reviews the biggest surprises from National Signing Day

Signing Day has come and gone, though the Early Signing Period continues through the end of the week. Yesterday brought a heavy influx of news as a result of much of the 2021 college football recruiting cycle coming to a climax.

After catching our breath, SI All-American began to review the day and all of its twists and turns. 

Below are the biggest surprises from Signing Day:

Auburn's Day

The Tigers fired Gul Malzahn only days before Signing Day, which is equivalent to throwing chum in shark infested waters. Schools came hard after Auburn’s committed prospects, and we expected to see several high profile decommitments. Yet, in the end, the Tigers were indeed able to hold onto SI99 commits IDL Lee Hunter and S Ahmari Harvey, as well as key pledges such as QB Dematrius Davis and IDL Marquis Robinson. In fact, Auburn actually added a pair of players off the recruiting trail in CB Armani Diamond and IDL Ian Matthews.

However, it wasn’t all good news on The Plains yesterday. IOL Jaeden Roberts, who barely missed making the preseason SI99 cut, announced his decommitment from Auburn on Signing Day. To make matters worse, nemesis Alabama is now the favorite for Roberts.

Jojo Earle to Alabama

Earle is the No. 6 RB prospect in the country and No. 82 in the SI99. The Texan committed to LSU back in April and seemed intent on keeping his pledge. However, the beginning of dawn on Signing Day brought chatter that the versatile Earle was looking hard at Alabama. It was also a shock from many feeling Earle would not be signing until February, anyway. Yet, by the afternoon, not only did Alabama have Earle’ commitment, the Crimson Tide had his signed NLI faxed and delivered in Tuscaloosa. While we’ve seen crazier Signing Day shockers in the past, Earle’s flip to Alabama and signing ranks as one of this year’s high profile surprises during the ESP.

De’Jahn Warren Signing with Jackson State

A 6-foot JUCO cornerback prospect, Warren committed to Georgia during the summer. Jackson State has been trying to make a big splash since its hiring of Hall of Fame cornerback Deion Sanders, who has offered a number of national-level prospects in an effort to bring more publicity to JSU. When Sanders offered Warren in September, it was merely considered yet another longshot-offer by the Tigers. No one would spurn playing in the SEC for Jackson State...right?

Wrong. In an unorthodox surprise on Signing Day, Warren flipped from Georgia to sign with Sanders and play for Jackson State at the FCS level. The chance to be tutored by the best player of all time at his position was too big of an appeal to pass up for Warren even as the UGA cornerback room after this year looks as inexperienced as any in the SEC.

UCLA Flipping SI99 EDGE Quintin Somerville and Re-Landing Devin Kirkwood

The Bruins had been pretty quiet for most of the 2021 recruiting cycle. There was some chatter linking them to hot QB prospect Jaxson Dart, but it appears that was never serious and Dart signed rival USC. Speaking of USC, the Trojans were also linked to former UCLA commit Devin Kirkwood, a 6-foot-4, 175-pounder who can play both safety and wide receiver. Kirkwood decommitted from the Bruins earlier this month and it seemed he was destined to sign with USC, as many expected. However, Kirkwood surprisingly announced his re-commitment to UCLA on Signing Day.

Perhaps the biggest stunner, though, for UCLA was flipping long-time Michigan commit Quintin Somerville. The SI99 EDGE prospect out of Arizona pledged to rush passers in Ann Arbor back in June and appeared solid throughout the cycle in his commitment. Yet he also announced on Signing Day he would be coming to Westwood, not long after the Bruins picked up former Stanford and USC commitment Joshua Moore.

Avante Dickerson Not Signing

Dickerson, from Nebraska, committed to Minnesota in April. The SI99 NICKEL prospect has helped anchor a good recruiting haul for head coach PJ Fleck. The Gophers have a field-corner and NICKEL role for Dickerson that we feel he has the perfect traits for. However, he appears to be having second thoughts about leaving his home state, which is surprising when factoring in how long he’s been committed to playing in the Twin Cities. Dickerson surprisingly did not sign with Minnesota yesterday and we are hearing a lot of Nebraska chatter around him at this time.

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TCU's Day

The Horned Frogs entered Wednesday with single digit verbal commitments, and while roster management uncertainty and COVID have put a wrench into any plan, that number was unacceptable. But before the day was out it would earn new commitments and sign 13 prospects to climb the Big 12 class rankings. The headliner was one of Illinois’ top prospects in quarterback Sam Jackson, who becomes part of a two-man class with Alabama QB Trent Battle. The Frogs also added in-state running back Ahmonte Watkins and Louisiana defensive back Da’Veawn Armstead, a head-to-head win over SEC program Mississippi State. 

Arizona State's Top Two Commits Not Signing

The Sun Devils have been trending in the wrong direction on the recruiting trail for more than a month. However, each time their class was evaluated coming down the home stretch into Signing Day, the positive conclusion centered around them being able to keep SI99 CB Isaiah Johnson and high-end IOL Ezra Dotson-Oyetade.

That may not be the case any longer. The pair of key prospects both chose not to sign their NLI’s on Signing Day in a surprise that does not signal good news in Tempe. Additionally, three more ASU commits did not sign their NLI’s, either. 

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