CFT Previews: National Signing Day

4 Comments

National Signing Day is upon us once again. Or, as it might as well be known now, the day Nick Saban and Urban Meyer bash everyone’s head together one more time. The next class of All-Americans, of Heisman Trophy winners, of future stars and wacky headlines becomes official on Wednesday, and no one truly knows which players will ultimately belong where. And that’s the magic of it all.

Let’s dive right into some storylines.

– Nick or Urban? Urban or NickHeading into Wednesday’s festivities, Alabama and Ohio State are in a neck-and-neck duel for the best class according to the 247Sports composite rankings. Alabama holds a slight lead with 310.26 total points to Ohio State’s 308.78, but Ohio State (94.62) holds the edge over the Tide (93.01) in per-player average. Alabama owns five 5-stars and 14 4-stars among its 24 commitments, while Ohio State has landed five 5-stars and 13 4-stars among its 20 pledges.

– A Smart blueprint. The harbinger of Saban’s ultimate dominance came on Signing Day in 2008 when, after a 7-6 debut, Alabama inked a No. 1 class in its first full cycle under the new staff. Kirby Smart was there for that rise, and now he’s repeating the script in Athens. After an 8-5 debut campaign, Smart’s first full class has leaped from No. 8 to No. 3 nationally, per 247 composite. With two 5-stars and 18 4-stars among its 23 pledges, Georgia won’t likely catch Alabama or Ohio State but is a safe distance away from Michigan for the No. 3 ranking.

– Texas becomes the No Star State. In a year that should give longtime observers flash backs to the dark days of the 1990’s, only four of the top 20 players in the state of Texas are committed to in-state schools. In fact, Ohio State may sign as many Texas blue-chippers as the in-state schools combined, with No. 1 defensive back Jeffrey Okudah, No. 1 linebacker Baron Browning and No. 1 running back J.K. Dobbins already in the fold and an outside shot at landing No. 1 overall player Marvin Wilson. At present, only linebacker Anthony Hines (Texas A&M) and offensive lineman Jack Anderson (Texas Tech) are committed to in-state schools among the state’s top-10 players.

– Is Signing Day going to be… boring? Only 17 of the national top 100 players of the 247 composite ranking are uncommitted as of this writing. Among the top 25, only Wilson (an LSU lean) and Georgia linebacker Aubrey Solomon (Michigan or Alabama) remain uncommitted. Though the headliners may not offer much in the way of suspense, there are still plenty of second- and third-tier players lining up for our entertainment on Wednesday. If we’re lucky, perhaps one will announce his school choice while riding on the back of a dolphin.

Arizona State, Mississippi State ink home-and-home

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Arizona State and Mississippi State on Tuesday announced a home-and-home series to be played in 2024-25. Arizona State will host the first game in Tempe on Sept. 7, 2024, and the clubs will meet in Starkville on Sept. 6, 2025.

The Sun Devils and Bulldogs have never met previously.

The Arizona State trip is not Mississippi State’s only upcoming trek from the Deep South to the Southwest. The Bulldogs also lined up a visit to Arizona in 2020 and Texas Tech in 2029. Mississippi State will open the 2024 season against Eastern Kentucky and visit Southern Miss the week after its Arizona State visit, on Sept. 14. The Bulldogs have no other games lined up in 2025 as of yet, according to FBSchedules.

Likewise, Mississippi State is not the Sun Devils’ lone upcoming SEC opponent. Arizona State has a home-and-home with LSU on the docket for 2026-28, per FBSchedules. The Mississippi State games complete both of the Sun Devils’ non-conference schedules for these respective seasons. Arizona State opens with Wyoming and visits Texas State in 2024, and hosts Northern Arizona and Texas State in 2025.

UCLA lands Texas Tech graduate transfer OL Justin Murphy

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Help is on the way for Chip Kelly‘s offensive line. One graduate transfer offensive lineman has the Bruins on his list, but another has already pulled the trigger for UCLA.

Texas Tech graduate transfer Justin Murphy on Tuesday committed to UCLA in a post on his Twitter account.

A native of Belton, Texas, Murphy signed with Texas Tech in 2014 and made four starts at right guard as a redshirt freshman. He again started four games at right guard in ’15 before moving out to tackle, where he started another four games. But after battling a series of knee injuries, Murphy announced in the middle of the 2016 season he had medically retired from the game.

After sitting out 2017, Murphy announced in March he planned to make a comeback.

UCLA remarkably started the same offensive linemen in all 13 games last season, but tackle Kolton Miller entered the NFL draft, guard Najoee Toran and center Scott Quessenberry graduated.

Toledo posts, then deletes, tweet offering to change mascot to Shrek

Getty Images
Leave a comment

There are plenty of annoying trends on Twitter, but perhaps the worst is the “I’ll do X if this gets retweeted X-thousand amount of times.” I blame Wendy’s.

But blanket policies are never a good way to go through life, and an exception was made on Tuesday when Toledo offered to change its mascot from a rocket to Shrek with 500,000 retweets.

Sadly, some dreams are simply too beautiful to live in this fallen world, and the tweet was outed to be a hoax. “We are definitely not changing the school mascot to Shrek,” Toledo media relations specialist Christine Billau told USA Today. “The tweet was meant to be fun, but it caused too much of a distraction.”

Meanwhile, Bowling Green gleefully hopped on the dog pile with both elbows pointed out.

UMass grad transfer lineman narrows choices to Auburn, UCLA, USC

UMass athletics
Leave a comment

It’s not yet known to where Jack Driscoll will transfer, but the field has been significantly narrowed.

Earlier this offseason, Driscoll decided to transfer from UMass.  Tuesday, the offensive tackle confirmed to Rivals.com that he’s down to three schools as a potential landing spot — Auburn, UCLA and USC.

Neither football program will have to wait long for a decision as Driscoll expects to make an announcement Wednesday.  Driscoll had taken an official visit to all three of the campuses prior to whittling down his transfer to-do list.

“It will come down to one of those three schools,” the lineman told AuburnSports.com. “I feel like all three of the schools would be a good fit.”

Driscoll will graduate from UMass early next month, and will be eligible to play immediately in 2018 at whichever program he selects.  The upcoming season will be the first of two years of eligibility the 6-5, 294-pound lineman has remaining.

After starting eight games as a redshirt freshman in 2016, with most of those starts coming at left guard, he started all 12 games in 2017.  All of those starts this past season came at right tackle for the football-independent Minutemen. He was named to Phil Steele’s All-Independent first team while he earned second-team All-Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) honors for good measure.