ESPN recruiting analyst Gerry Hamilton provided a massive public service through his Twitter account on Tuesday, releasing a data dump of fascinating information about the signing class of 2016.
In short, Texas was the most popular breeding ground for FBS prospects, but half of all signees came from a clean sweep from Texas, across the Gulf of Mexico to Florida and up to North Carolina.
The Lone Star State produced 359 players, with nearly half of those heading to Power 5 institutions. In fact, Hamilton reports, 72 of 128 FBS programs and 38 of 64 Power 5’s signed at least one player from Texas.
Florida trailed with 327 players, followed by California with 248 players and Georgia with 225. For what it’s worth, Ohio was not included in the study.
Data dump, begin!
It may just be a coincidence, but it never fails. As soon as the ink dries on the faxes from National Signing Day, assistant coaches change jobs left and right. Of course, this may be a coincidence because signing day still falls in the prime time for assistants to be on the move, which typically plays out in the months after head coaches switch jobs. Regardless, it leads to assistant coaches making the final sales pitches to recruits to come to schools they will end up not being employed by. It’s weird, but it is the reality of the game.
There were a flurry of post-signing day coaching changes that became official this week. Florida officially welcomed Torrian Gray as the new defensive backs coach after spending the last 10 seasons at Virginia Tech. Purdue added offensive line coach Darrell Funk to its staff. Oregon’s high school relations director, Sean Dillon, is joining former Oregon assistant-turned UCF head coach Scott Frost at UCF. Dillon takes on the title of director of player personnel at UCF.
Southern Miss is a little bit of a different situation given the late change in head coaches this year. Jay Hopson has reportedly informed multiple holdovers from the coaching staff they will not be retained (Jon Williams, Justin Roberts, Dayne Brown). That has to be a bit awkward for some of the newest additions to the program, although changes had to be expected for Southern Miss given the much more recent coaching change.
But hey, this happens in college football. Every. Single. Year.
Helmet sticker to Football Scoop.
When he was called upon to manage the offense following the suspension of Will Grier last season, Treon Harris struggled. That is why it appears he could be heading to a position change starting this spring.
Gridiron Now reporter Mike Huguenin reports Harris will begin transitioning to wide receiver for the Gators once spring practices open in Gainesville. Harris is more of a dual-threat passer, which does not typically fit in well with the style of offense trying to be run under head coach Jim McElwain. McElwain prefers to run with a pro-style offense. Given the remaining candidates for the starting quarterback job, it appears to be pro-style or bust for the Gators.
Harris completed just 50.9 percent of his pass attempts for 1,676 yards and nine touchdowns with six interceptions. He completed just 17 of his 45 pass attempts between the SEC Championship Game loss to Alabama and bowl loss to Michigan. Harris was also ineffective in a regular season finale against Florida State, in which the Gators scored just two points, and he completed just eight of 17 passes for 122 yards against FAU.
With Harris now supposedly moving to receiver, that leaves McElwain’s quarterback competition down to Luke Del Rio (perhaps the leader in the clubhouse after impressing the staff as a practice squad player), Purdue transfer Austin Appleby and freshman Feleipe Franks.
One of the big stories on National Signing Day is always focused on the players that pull a switcheroo in their commitment. Losing a highly sought-after recruit on signing day can be a devastating blow to a program, but it is not at all uncommon to see it happen a few times on signing day. Yesterday was no exception, with Florida State seeing defensive tackle Shavar Manuel commit and sign with the Seminoles despite verbally committing to Florida in early January. Manuel’s late flip may have taken the Florida staff by surprise, but it was all a part of a plan of attack fueled by a Florida State assistant coach.
Florida State defensive ends coach Brad Lawing suggested Manuel lead the Gators on and to “tell the damn Gators anything they want to hear,” according to a report from The Orlando Sentinel.
“Shavar had told me the night before, ‘I’m a Seminole,’ and then he committed to Florida,” Lawing said Wednesday at a signing day event in Tallahassee. “I called him up, asked what’s going on, and he said, ‘I’m just getting some pressure from people.’
“So he didn’t just flip tonight. We’ve known about this for about two weeks.”
It goes without saying recruiting can be a shady and competitive part of the game. Things only get more intense when rivals are going after the same recruit. Negative recruiting is one thing, but this was deceptive recruiting at play. There is nothing wrong with that, as there are no rules against it outlined by the NCAA. Until a player actually faxes in their National Letter of Intent, all is fair game in recruiting. A program that wants to compete at a high level will look to create an edge any way it can. If that just so happens to hurt a rival, that’s killing two birds with one stone.
Florida State landed the second-best recruiting class in the nation according to the Rivals team rankings, trailing only Alabama. Florida finished with the No. 14 class.
If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it two or three times: Bert’s gonna Bert.
The latest example came during a television interview, when head coach Bret Bielema was on the air to ostensibly discuss the 2016 recruiting class for his Arkansas Razorbacks. Instead of focusing solely on his squad, though, Bielema decided to take what was universally determined by the Twitterverse to be a thinly-veiled jab that not only hit Florida but nicked SEC West rival Ole Miss for good measure.
For Ole Miss, that intimation would be somewhat understandable as the Rebels, who have enjoyed unprecedented success on the recruiting trail under Hugh Freeze, have been the subject of more than a few raised eyebrows for said success. The perceived jab at Florida, however, would be head-scratching to say the least.
For Bielema’s part, the coach subsequently claimed that what was thought to be a slight toward the Gators and Rebels was actually a compliment.
OK, Bert. Gotcha. [/winkwinknudgenudge]