Urban Meyer, Ohio State jump out ahead in early signing period

Anthony Gimino, The Sports Xchange
Ohio State football coach Urban Meyer. Photo courtesy of Ohio State Football/Instagram
Ohio State football coach Urban Meyer. Photo courtesy of Ohio State Football/Instagram

College football's new signing period started Wednesday, with Ohio State leading the way and a bunch of familiar teams not far behind.

The Buckeyes have the top-rated class, according to the 247Sports composite rankings, including the No. 1 defensive tackle -- five-star Taron Vincent from IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla.


Ohio State further replenished its defensive line with the No. 1 junior college prospect -- Antuan Jackson from Blinn College in Texas. Coach Urban Meyer singled out the interior defensive line as the strength of his class.

He also made a point to mention four-star safety Josh Proctor and four-star Jeremy Ruckert, the top-ranked tight end.

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"One of my favorite players is a guy that was absolutely relentless in pursuit, Josh Proctor, player of the year in the state of Oklahoma," Meyer said.

"I think Jeremy Ruckert might be the best tight end prospect that I've ever seen and recruited. His skill set is ridiculous. ... There's many more (in this class), I just picked a couple there."

Meyer didn't get everyone he wanted, however. New Florida head coach Dan Mullen, whose quarterbacks at Mississippi State included Dak Prescott and current player Nick Fitzgerald, flipped four-star dual-threat quarterback Emory Jones, who had been committed to the Buckeyes.

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The early signing period runs through Friday. The traditional signing day is the first Wednesday in February.

But many of the nation's top recruits aren't going to wait until Feb. 7, 2018, and the bulk of the top classes filled out Wednesday, with Georgia ranked No. 2 in the composite rankings, followed by Texas, Penn State and Miami, as of Wednesday night. Alabama was No. 6 and Clemson was seventh.

Georgia's signing haul Wednesday included three national top-10 recruits: dual-threat quarterback Justin Fields, running back Zamir White and offensive guard Jamaree Salyer. Each is rated No. 1 nationally at his position.

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Texas coach Tom Herman, putting together his first full recruiting class with the Longhorns, has six national top-100 recruits -- all of whom are from the state of Texas. The Longhorns' list is headlined by BJ Foster, the No. 1 safety prospect in the nation and No. 19 overall.

Alabama has finished first in the 247Sports composite rankings for seven consecutive seasons. The Crimson Tide, still in the mix for numerous uncommitted top 50 prospects, landed a commitment Wednesday from five-star defensive end Eyabi Anoma. As the No. 7 overall recruit, he is the highest-rated player in Alabama's class.


Defending national champion Clemson was busy cleaning up too, grabbing four top-10 recruits. One of those is the overall No. 1 prospect -- 6-foot-6 pro-style quarterback Trevor Lawrence from Cartersville, Ga.

Coach Dabo Swinney also pulled in defensive end Xavier Thomas (No. 3 overall) and closed the deal Wednesday with commitments and letters of intent from defensive end KJ Henry (No. 8) and offensive tackle Jackson Carman (No. 9).

Carman, from Fairfield, Ohio, is the rare elite prospect from the state that can get away from Ohio State. He told that Swinney referenced Meyer's age (53) in his recruiting pitch. Swinney is 48.

"Dabo also kind of mentioned that Urban was on the back half of his career, which he is, and that Dabo is just starting up, you know what I mean?" Carman said.

"So having a chance to being a part of something that's upcoming and being able to establish Clemson as a top-three figure, that was big."

The Tigers also went into Georgia to get a commitment Wednesday from four-star running back Lyn-J Dixon, who originally committed to Tennessee.

The early signing period has its pros and cons. While many recruits can end the pressure-filled process early, others might feel additional pressure to make a decision early, or else risk a school looking elsewhere.


For coaches, the change in the recruiting calendar creates a tight window right at the end of the regular season.

"I have not talked to a coach who's happy with it," Alabama coach Nick Saban said earlier this week. "Not one."

As of Wednesday night, Notre Dame was eighth in the team recruiting rankings, followed by Oklahoma and Auburn.

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