ICYMI: An Early Signing Period Recap
John Garcia, Jr.
The third year of college football's Early Signing Period, allowing for a short window for senior prospects to sign in December, came and went with plenty of fireworks for the class of 2020.
SI All-American runs through highlights of the day, December 18, and the period extending to December 20.
Clemson Corrals Top Class
In maintaining top verbal commitments in quarterback D.J. Uiagalelei, defensive linemen Bryan Bresee and Myles Murphy (among others), linebacker Trenton Simpson and running back Demarkcus Bowman, the Tigers brought in their top recruiting class of the modern era. Throw in a signing day flip of LSU DB commitment Malcolm Greene and it made for quite the 23-man haul. Alabama, Ohio State, LSU and Georgia rounded out the top five at the time.
Jarrett Flips from LSU to Maryland
The biggest breaking news item came from Rakim Jarrett. The longtime LSU wide receiver commitment was public about not wanting to sign during the ESP, in part because of what he called a school policy, but he reversed course on each front. Not only did Jarrett sign that morning, but he flipped his commitment and became the biggest wide receiver addition to local program Maryland's arsenal in doing so. The change of heart wasn't confirmed by the Terrapin program until some time later, adding to some of the suspense in the end.
Burch's Big Surprise
The highest-profile verbal commitment made during the early period came via South Carolina defensive end Jordan Burch. The SI All-American picked the hometown South Carolina Gamecocks on national television in the afternoon, but did not sign a Letter of Intent during the period. The pledge alone was a slight surprise given LSU and Georgia held a lot of buzz heading into the day, but electing to wait until February to sign left the door open for other programs to make another run at one of the nation's top prospects.
LSU's Up and Down Day
Not only did LSU lose out on Jarrett and Greene, but fellow wide receiver prospect Jermaine Burton had a signing day change of heart in going with the Georgia Bulldogs. It also was the day pass rusher Demon Clowney, cousin of Jadeveon, and LSU parted ways. Countering the loss of four prospects on the commitment list, the Tigers did add coveted Southeast prospects in linebacker Phillip Webb and offensive lineman Marcus Dumervil on the day. Given the damage of the eventual CFB Playoff national champions, finishing the day in the top five should have been considered a general win.
The world of the ESP has brought on a new element of the recruiting game in silent signatures. Essentially prospects decide on a program, sign and send in an LOI, but the program agrees not to publicly announce the addition the addition until a later date. Most cases surround the prospect electing to announce a college decision at a January All-American game, typically on television. It was the case this cycle for Georgia signees Kelee Ringo and Darnell Washington as well as Oregon's Dontae Manning and USC's Gary Bryant, among others.
Florida Goes O-fer
While Florida entered and exited the ESP with a top 10 recruiting class, the dynamic on signing day itself couldn't have been more negative for the program. The Gators stood as the school with the most to gain December 18 as legitimate contenders for a variety of prospects -- it went on to land zero of them. Tim Smith (Alabama), Donell Harris (Texas A&M), EJ Smith (Stanford), Sam Brown (West Virginia) Elijah Canion (Auburn) and Clyde Pinder (North Carolina) are some of the names Florida missed out on despite having its hat on the table in the end.
USC Hits Pac-12 Basement
Never in the modern recruiting era had anyone experienced what USC put together during the ESP. While it has since rebounded some, the Trojans spent part of the day as the lowest-ranked recruiting team in the Pac-12 thanks to a small class, questions about head coach Clay Helton's job security and the trend of top prospects leaving the state of California for college ball. The former kings of the conference would miss out on big names it was in the running for during the day like linebacker Justin Flowe (Oregon) and SoCal quarterbacks Bryce Young (Alabama) and CJ Stroud (Ohio State).
To relive all the news as it came in, look back at SI All-American's running updates from the Early Signing Period.
National Signing Day is February 5.