Dorial Green-Beckham

Recapping National Signing Day

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We have to ask. Did you get what you wanted on National Signing Day?

Yes? No?

Actually, you’ll probably find out in the next two to four years, and whether your school’s class was ranked first, or 50th, it matters not; most of the National Letters of Intent have been faxed in — a prehistoric method — and now it’s up the recruits and coaches to make a successful marriage.

In the meantime, here’s what we learned — or, remembered — from a busy and hectic signing day.

Just remember that everyone’s recruiting classes are like babies. No one’s going to say they have an ugly one.

Alabama wins recruiting title, too 
This year, Alabama came away with the top-rated recruiting class according to two of the three top recruiting sites. Rivals and 247Sports had the Tide ranked No. 1, with Scout placing ‘Bama just behind leader Texas. We could spew a cliché of something along the lines of “the rich just keep getting richer”, but with recruiting and impermissible benefit violations being the sensitive subjects they are, we’ll just say the Tide keep replacing great athletes with more great athletes.

Put it all together like Nick Saban does so well, and there’s no reason to think Alabama won’t be contending for more BCS championships in the foreseeable future.

Anyway, below is how the top sites rate the Top 5 teams at the end of signing day. You can also see the Top 25 rankings for 247Sports.com  HERERivals.com HERE and Scout.com HERE.

To see the sites’ top players: 247Sports.com HERE, Rivals.com HERE and Scout.com HERE.

Wait… i’m noticing a theme here  
As you all are either very proudly or nauseously aware, the SEC has won the last six BCS championships; it’s no coincidence that in the past six signing periods, no fewer than two SEC teams have finished in the Top 10 nationally in recruiting rankings from Rivals.com (incidentally, the lowest number, two, being this year). But no matter how you rank the classes, there’s no denying that the most highly regarded high school athletes are in the south, and most of them choose to stay nearby.

It’s been great for Clemson, Florida State and Miami, too.

Recruiting well without making a splash 
On signing day, the focus tends to drift to a handful of schools who are having big days. Here are some programs who quietly put together solid classes: Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Rutgers, Virginia Tech, Texas Tech.

Doing more with less
Sure, USC has spent the last two seasons watching bowl season from home thanks to NCAA sanctions, but the real kick to the groin, scholarship reductions, began this signing class. In all, the Trojans signed just 12 players today (USC had three early enrollees that counted toward the 2011 recruiting class), meaning they have three more scholarships available for next year. Give Lane Kiffin credit, though, for putting together a pretty solid class. And, he seems to have a plan in place over the next few years. It’s going to be a tough road ahead for the Trojans, but if they can be competitive at all in the Pac-12, it would undoubtedly be Kiffin’s best coaching — and recruiting — job in his young career.

Mizzou bends it like Beckham 
Much like conference realignment, the thought of Missouri being the choice for top-ranked athletes is, well, unexpected. But Gary Pinkel reeled in the No. 1 recruit in the country in receiver Dorial Green-Beckham. Missouri as a state has produced a few decent athletes in its day, but none in recent memory as big as DGB. Whether it was the “M-I-Z!… D-G-B!” chant at a basketball game, or the school’s move to the SEC, I don’t think anybody at Mizzou cares. They grabbed a recruit who could make an immediate impact.

Stanford sets itself up for life without Luck
Stanford started out quietly having a solid signing day, but by day’s end, had one of the top recruiting classes in the country. Specifically, the Cardinal concentrated on landing three elite offensive lineman and grabbed linebacker Noor Davis out of Florida. Obviously, there will be focus on David Shaw to see how well he does without Andrew Luck, but Stanford’s 2012 class was a resounding reflection of the type of football the Cardinal want to play.

Urban theft 
Perhaps no single team had as dramatic a shift for the better over the past few months in terms of their recruiting class as Ohio State. You can thank Urban Meyer for that. The former Florida coach already plucked some recruits from other Big Ten schools before Wednesday; today, he stole one more from Wisconsin — offensive lineman Kyle Dodson.

Landon Collins signs his LOI without drama
The mother of safety Landon Collins didn’t get her wish today, as Collins officially sent in his signature to Alabama over LSU with, as far as we’re aware, few to zero dishes thrown at any walls. April Justin has publicly voiced her opposition of Collins going to the Tide since his announcement at the All-American Bowl last month and later accused Alabama coach Nick Saban of “stereotyping” her and making decisions for Collins that weren’t in the teenager’s best interest.

In the end, it all went down according to Collins’ plan.

Meanwhile, Josh Harvey-Clemons makes Georgia wait 
Valdosta (Ga.) linebacker Josh Harvey-Clemons was one of the first big announcements on signing day, telling ESPNU he would sign with Georgia over Florida and Florida State. By evening, Harvey-Clemons’ signature still hadn’t come through the fax machine. The hold up? Something about an unhappy grandfather and going AWOL. Also, there was a tweet from JHC, but it appeared to be written in Pig Latin … or Egyptian hieroglyphics … or Wingdings. In any case, I think it meant he was still committed to Georgia.

Miles finally makes his move
One of the top dual-threat quarterback prospects in the country, Cyler Miles, had a case of what appeared to be cold feet when he didn’t appear for his signing day ceremony at Mullen (Colo.) High School. Reports were that the No. 35 overall recruit (Rivals) was wavering on his commitment to Washington and considering USC. A few hours later, though, Miles reaffirmed his commitment to the Huskies.

Other unsigned heroes 
We’ve covered a lot of recruits who turned in their letters of intent today, but a few high-profile athletes chose to wait a little longer before making their choice. Among those big names still available to sign are receiver Stefon Diggs, quarterback Jameis Winston and athlete Davonte Neal.

Strangely, signing day was relatively normal
You’d think that when you’re talking about the futures of 17 and 18-year-old kids, there’s bound to be some strange happenings on signing day. Last year, there was the story about the mother forging her son’s signature on a letter of intent, not to mention the kid who made his college decision from a license plate. This year? Nothing so far, not even over-the-top commitment announcements. While personally I’m more thankful for a low-key signing day, it’s obviously far more interesting when a recruit decides to dress three greased pigs in school colors and make the respective head coaches tackle their pig first for that coveted signature.

Wisconsin putting Penn State on the ropes in B1G title game

Wisconsin's Corey Clement, right, runs with the ball past Penn State's Malik Golden, left, for a 67-yard touchdown during the first half of the Big Ten championship NCAA college football game Saturday, Dec. 3, 2016, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
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Big mistakes and big gambles have staked No. 6 Wisconsin to a 28-14 lead over No. 7 Penn State through one half of the Big Ten Championship in Indianapolis.

The game opened perfectly for Wisconsin and vice versa for Penn State. The Badgers forced a three-and-out on the opening possession and promptly moved 81 yards in 14 well-crafted plays, consuming eight minutes on the dot to set up a 1-yard Austin Ramesh plunge to put the Badgers on the board. Wisconsin then forced another three-and-out and again turned its offensive opportunity into points, though these came on a 67-yard Corey Clement scoring dash.

Penn State answered with a 75-yard touchdown drive, punctuated by a 33-yard beauty from Trace McSorley to Mike Gesicki, and threatened to climb all the way back in the game after forcing a Wisconsin punt. But an errant snap went over McSorley’s head and the quarterback, looking at the red-and-white calvary and not the football, could not corral the ball as Wisconsin defender Ryan Connelly returned the loose pigskin 12 yards for a touchdown.

Perhaps overcompensating for that mistake, Penn State’s next possession ended when James Franklin elected to go for a 4th-and-2 at his own 42 and McSorley’s pass fell incomplete. Wisconsin again punished the Nittany Lions for that mistake with a 5-play scoring drive, putting Penn State’s faint Playoff hopes in serious jeopardy with a 28-7 deficit with 5:15 to play in the second quarter.

Penn State again went for a 4th-and-short at midfield on their next possession. This try ended in a T.J. Watt sack, though Wisconsin did not turn this short field into points.

McSorley’s second touchdown pass of the half, a 40-yard coverage bust to Saeed Blacknall, pulled the Lions back within two scores at the 1:08 mark of the second quarter. McSorley has hit 12-of-20 passes for 173 yards and two touchdowns.

Bart Houston garnered the start for a banged up Alex Hornibrook and hit 6-of-10 passes for 66 yards while Clement carried 13 times for 113 yards and a touchdown. As a team, Wisconsin has out-rushed Penn State 164-39.

Wisconsin will receive to open the second half.

No. 3 Clemson holds halftime lead over Virginia Tech in ACC title game

ORLANDO, FL - DECEMBER 03:  Deshaun Watson #4 of the Clemson Tigers warms up during the ACC Championship against the Virginia Tech Hokies on December 3, 2016 in Orlando, Florida.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
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The Power Five championship games so far this weekend have mostly been runaways and No. 3 Clemson appeared to be doing their part early on to add the ACC title game to that list.

The Tigers jumped out to a three score lead on Saturday night before Virginia Tech clawed their back into the contest and cut the Clemson lead to 21-14 heading into halftime.

Quarterback Deshaun Watson continued to make a late season run at the Heisman Trophy with a performance to match in the half, going 14-of-19 for 117 yards and two scores through the air while adding another touchdown on the ground. Tight end Jordan Leggett caught both of Watson’s passes in the end zone and led the team with 44 yards receiving.

Virginia Tech couldn’t get much going on either side of the ball before the second quarter, giving up over five yards per play and committing several big penalties on defense while failing to move the ball effectively on offense. The Hokies first touchdown only came as the result of both a fake punt and a fullback pass to get the team into the red zone, where Travon McMillian punched it in at the goal line from one yard out.

Things started to turn around in the second quarter though, as Bud Foster’s  defense tightened up and the offense finally started to click. There was no run game to speak of for the Coastal Division champions but the passing game picked up as the game went on and added a second touchdown to cut into the lead late.

There’s still plenty of time for Virginia Tech to make things even more interesting since they get the ball to start the second half. On the flip side, all Clemson likely needs to make the College Football Playoff is a win so if they can regain the momentum they had early in the game, they’ll be well on their way.

Alabama’s second-leading tackler ‘probably’ out for postseason

ATLANTA, GA - DECEMBER 03:  Shaun Dion Hamilton #20 of the Alabama Crimson Tide returns an interception in the first quarter against the Florida Gators during the SEC Championship game at the Georgia Dome on December 3, 2016 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
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As Alabama looks to turn in back-to-back national championship seasons, the Crimson Tide’s defense will likely do so without one of its most productive players on that side of the ball.

Late in the first half of UA’s resounding SEC title game win over overmatched Florida, Shaun Dion Hamilton went down with a knee injury.  Following the game, Nick Saban indicated that it is serious enough to “probably” sideline the middle linebacker for the entirety of the postseason.

“Shaun Dion has a knee. He’s probably going to be out for the year,” the head coach said.

A more definitive diagnosis will be made once the team gets back to Tuscaloosa.

Prior to his injury, which left him watching the remainder of the game on crutches from the sidelines, Hamilton had intercepted the second pass of his career.

Entering the game, Hamilton was second on the Tide in tackles.  He’ll be replaced in the starting lineup by Rashaan Evans.

“[W]we have a lot of confidence in Rashaan, and he did a good job for us today,” said Saban.

WVU, Dana Holgorsen reach agreement on contract extension

MORGANTOWN, WV - NOVEMBER 05:  Dana Holgorsen and the West Virginia Mountaineers prepare to take the field against the Kansas Jayhawks during the game on November 5, 2016 at Mountaineer Field in Morgantown, West Virginia.  (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
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On the same night West Virginia put the finishing touches on a much-needed bounceback season, the man in charge of the rebound has been rewarded.

Shortly after WVU’s win over Baylor in the regular-season finale, the school confirmed in a press release that Dana Holgorsen has agreed to a new contract to remain on with the Mountaineers.  Holgorsen’s new deal runs through the 2021 season; his old deal had been set to expire after the 2017 season.

The announcement comes nine months after it was reported that talks between the two sides had come to an end, raising questions about Holgorsen’s long-term future with the program.  This deal confirms that, in the here and now, Holgorsen and athletic director Shane Lyons are singing from the same hymnal.

“I said back in the spring that Coach Holgorsen and I were focused on nothing but a successful 2016 football season, and I think we’ve proven that,” Lyons said in a statement. “Now that the regular season has come to a close, the time is right to finalize a new contract for Dana and keep our program going in a positive direction.

“Dana and I have always had a good, open dialogue, and we want this program to succeed at the highest level,” Lyons added. “I am pleased and happy that he wants to continue to lead the Mountaineer football program. Part of my job is to give him the resources to succeed, and we will continue to work together closely to bring the very best to West Virginia football.”

Saturday’s night win gives the Mountaineers 10 in 2016 with a bowl remaining, the first time they’ve reached double digits since Holgorsen’s first season in 2011.  In between, Holgorsen’s squad stumbled to a 26-25 overall record and a 15-21 mark in Big 12 play, leading some to put the coach on the hot seat entering each of the last two seasons.

The second-place finish in the Big 12 is easily the program’s best since joining the conference for the 2012 season.  With a bowl victory, WVU would hit 11 wins for the first time since 2007 and just the sixth time in program history.

“I am proud of our team and what we have accomplished this year by being only the ninth squad in school history to win 10 games in a season,” Holgorsen said. “I want to congratulate and thank our coaching staff and players for a job well done. I also want to thank President Gee, Shane and Keli Cunningham for their commitment and support. Going forward, my focus is squarely on recruiting and the upcoming bowl game. I strongly believe that our football program is in position to be successful for a very long time.

Holgorsen’s 2016 salary called for total pay of $2.98 million, seventh amongst Big 12 head coaches.   The new deal would bump his 2017 salary to $3.5 million, fifth in the league.  With annual raises built in, Holgorsen’s total pay would top out at $4 million in the final year of the deal.