Kirby Smart has his second No. 1 recruiting class at Georgia.
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Georgia wins recruiting national title with No. 1 recruiting class

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For the second time in three years, the Georgia Bulldogs have signed the nation’s top-rated recruiting class. With the second National Signing Day drawing to a close, the recruiting rankings have been compiled and the composite rankings from 247 Sports have determined Georgia will close out the Class of 2020 with the nation’s No. 1 class.

To claim the top spot, Georgia head coach Kirby Smart once again had to edge his former boss, Alabama head coach Nick Saban. After returning to the top spot in the recruiting wars last season, Saban and Alabama pulled in the nation’s No. 2 class, just edging out Dabo Swinney and Clemson.

Consider Georgia now charged with the responsibility of delivering on some lofty expectations. Such high expectations are nothing new for Georgia, of course. Smart has already delivered an SEC title and a run to the national championship game in his time as Georgia’s head coach, but the bar continues to be in need of being cleared. With four straight recruiting classes ranked in the top four of the nation and two top-rated classes in the last three seasons, Georgia looks to have the roster it needs to win a seemingly elusive national title. Even from a conference with Alabama and the new defending national champions (LSU, who signed the No. 4 overall class), the time is now for Georgia to put up or shut-up.

This is Smart’s program from top to bottom now. Now let’s see if it is good enough to win it all.

Another Strong Year for the SEC

The SEC has made it routine to see the majority of its conference landing in the top 25 of the annual recruiting rankings. This year was no different. In addition to Georgia, Alabama and LSU landing in the top four, the SEC had four more teams rank in the top 10. Texas A&M (No. 6), Auburn (No. 7), Florida (No. 8), and Tennessee (No. 10) each brought in a ton of talent and potential in their latest recruiting classes. Only Clemson, Ohio State (No. 5), and Texas (No. 9) managed to crack the top 10 from outside of the SEC.

South Carolina (No. 18) and Kentucky (No. 24) also waved the SEC flag inside the top 25. That gives the SEC 9 teams in the top 25 of the national recruiting rankings. Mississippi State (No. 27), Arkansas (No. 30), Ole Miss (No. 39), and Missouri (No. 50) also cracked the top 50. Vanderbilt is the only SEC member without a top 50 recruiting class, but the Commodores come in at No. 57 as of the time of this post being written.

  • Top 50 By Conference
    • SEC: 13
    • Big Ten: 11
    • ACC: 9
    • Pac-12: 8
    • Big 12: 7
    • AAC: 1

As for teams in the top 25, the Big Ten is well-represented. And it’s the usual names you will find form the conference in the top 25. Aside from the Buckeyes, Michigan and Penn State are back-to-back at No. 14 and No. 15, respectively. Nebraska, who always seems to fare well in recruiting rankings no matter the year, comes in at No. 20. Wisconsin (No. 25) rounds out the top 25 recruiting rankings.

Best Recruiting Classes in Each Conference

When it comes to what schools are leading the way in recruiting within their own conferences, there are some familiar leaders of the pack here. Ohio State continues to be the champions of the Big Ten in recruiting, and the results on the field have backed that up. Clemson has been the dominant force in the ACC for a number of years now, with nobody really closing in just yet. Texas is taking the crown in the Big 12 this year, and defending Pac-12 champion Oregon is sitting on top of the Pac-12 recruiting rankings just as they did last year (it’s another rough year for USC on the recruiting trail, with the No. 10 class…… in the Pac-12).

  • AAC – Cincinnati (No. 40)
  • ACC – Clemson (No. 3)
  • Big 12 – Texas (No. 9)
  • Big Ten – Ohio State (No. 5)
  • Conference USA – FIU (No. 71)
  • MAC – Toledo (No. 68)
  • Mountain West – Boise State (No. 65)
  • Pac-12 – Oregon (No. 12)
  • SEC – Georgia (No. 1)
  • Sun Belt – Louisiana (No. 79)

A few notable differences from last year’s Class of 2019 rankings include Cincinnati taking the top spot in the AAC this year. The Bearcats dethrone UCF for the top recruiting class in the conference and are easily ahead of the rest of the Group of 5 programs. The next Group of 5 team in the recruiting rankings is Boise State (No. 65), but the Broncos are ranked 16 spots lower than where they sat a year ago. In Conference USA, the departure of Lane Kiffin (from FAU to Ole Miss) may have been what was needed for FIU to slip ahead of FAU.

It is worth noting that recruiting rankings are subject to change. All rankings are according to the latest 247 Sports composite rankings at the time of this posting.

College Football in Coronavirus Quarantine: On this day in CFT history

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The sports world, including college football, has essentially screeched to a halt as countries around the world battle the coronavirus pandemic. As such, there’s a dearth of college football news as spring practices have all but been canceled at every level of the sport. And there’s even some concern that the health issue could have an impact on the 2020 college football campaign.

In that vein, we thought it might be fun to go back through the CollegeFootballTalk archives and take a peek at what transpired in the sport on this date.

So, without further ado — ok, one further ado — here’s what happened in college football on April 5, by way of our team of CFT writers both past and present.

(P.S.: If any of our readers have ideas on posts they’d like to read during this hiatus, leave your suggestions in the comments section.  Mailbag, maybe?)

2018

THE HEADLINE: Bear Bryant’s great-grandson commits to play for Alabama
THE SYNOPSIS: Paul Tyson was rated as a four-star 2019 recruit on the 247Sports.com composite.  The Alabama coaching legend’s kin took a redshirt for his true freshman season after appearing in one game.  He’ll be a part of the competition to replace Tua Tagovailoa under center.  If when prep work for the 2020 campaign restarts, of course.

2018

THE HEADLINE: Ohio State committee approves two-year extension for Urban Meyer
THE SYNOPSIS: The extension would’ve kept Meyer in Columbus through the 2022 season.  Instead, eight months later, Meyer announced he was retiring at the end of the 2018 season.

2017

THE HEADLINE: Penn State trustee who was “running out of sympathy” for “so-called victims” of Jerry Sandusky not seeking second term
THE SYNOPSIS: For once, the shipdit made the right call.

2017

THE HEADLINE: Ex-Oklahoma football player accused of pimping out former Sooner cheerleader
THE SYNOPSIS: There’s a headline you don’t see every day.  Lawrence Moore was a 2013 signee.  The cornerback played in two games as a true freshman for Oklahoma before leaving the program.  Micah Madison Parker was a member of OU’s cheerleading squad during Moore’s lone season with the Sooners.

2015

THE HEADLINE: UGA’s three-man QB battle whittled down to two?
THE SYNOPSIS: Brice Ramsey, Faton Bauta and Jacob Park entered the spring as part of the under-center competition.  Exiting, it was down to Bauta and Ramsey.  In the end, neither started the opener.  That honor instead went to Greyson Lambert, who transferred in from Virginia in June.

2012

THE HEADLINE: Updated: Bobby Petrino placed on administrative leave
THE SYNOPSIS: Earlier in the day, the then-Arkansas head coach claimed he was alone on his motorcycle when he wrecked earlier in the month.  As it turned out, a female who wasn’t his wife was on the bike with him.  Jessica Dorrell became the student-athlete development coordinator for football the previous month.  Five days later, Petrino, who admitted to an affair with Dorrell, was fired.

2012

THE HEADLINE: USC it is: top ’13 QB tabs Trojans over Sooners, Tide, Huskies
THE SYNOPSIS: Max Browne chose USC over Oklahoma, Alabama and home-state Washington.  Redshirting as a true freshman, Browne spent the 2014 and 2015 seasons as Cody Kessler’s primary backup. After winning the starting job in 2016, Browne lost his job to Sam Darnold following a 1-2 start.  A few months later, Browne transferred to Pitt.

2010

THE HEADLINE: Big Ten ‘super conference’ talk gaining momentum?
THE SYNOPSIS: The rumor du jour was that the Big Ten would move to 16 teams.  11 teams at the time, the Midwestern conference would instead add just three additional schools.  Nebraska in 2011, and Maryland and Rutgers in 2014.

Lawyers for Mark Dantonio seeking legal fees from former MSU recruiting director Curtis Blackwell

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Lawyers representing former Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio in a federal lawsuit filed by former Michigan State recruiting director Curtis Blackwell are seeking reimbursement for legal fees as the case appears to be heading for possible dismissal. According to Mlive.com, Dantonio’s legal team is seeking up to $214,153 to cover legal fees tied to the case.

One of Dantonio’s lawyers, Thomas Kienbaum, is optimistic his client will receive reimbursement but does not expect a full compensation.

“Have I ever gotten anything close to what I think this judge will award? Nope, never,” Kienbaum said, according to the MLive.com report. “I’ve never asked for anything close to this, never been an occasion for it.”

Blackwell filed a lawsuit against Dantonio and Michigan State University in Nov. 2018 on the claim a contract not being renewed was a violation of the contract. Blackwell also claimed Dantonio and the program were guilty of various NCAA violations connected to recruiting and job placement opportunities for recruits. Dantonio resigned as head coach of the program shortly after the lawsuit documents were submitted. Blackwell later filed another lawsuit piling on the program and Dantonio once again.

In March of this year, a federal judge has recommended the original lawsuit be tossed due to a belief Blackwell’s lawyers were misusing the court process to harass defendants, including Dantonio.

Penn State WR Mac Hippenhammer enters transfer portal

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Another Penn State wide receiver is entering the transfer portal. Mac Hippenhammer, who was not named on Penn State’s spring football roster, has reportedly entered his name to the NCAA transfer portal.

By entering the transfer portal, Hippoenhammer is free to communicate with any other college football program interested in recruiting him to their program. Hippenhammer may also withdraw his name from the portal and stay at Penn State, but Penn State is no longer obligated to reserve his scholarship spot in the program.

Hippenhammer’s future at Penn State as a football player appeared to be going in the opposite direction as he has been focusing more on playing baseball. Hippenhammer did not participate in spring football practices in 2019 so he could participate in Penn State’s baseball season. He once again shifted his spring focus to baseball this spring before college baseball was shut down. This is why some of Hippenhammer’s transfer options may be slanted more toward baseball, one of the sports that was shut down by the NCAA this spring due to the coronavirus outbreak.

In 10 games in 2019, Hippenhammer caught one pass for 15 yards and returned two punts for 13 yards. Hippenhammer was a three-star addition of Penn State’s Class of 2017. He will still have one year of eligibility for football, although the NCAA tacking on an extra year of college eligibility for baseball would give Hippenhammer two years on the baseball diamond.

Penn State is already facing a bit of a questionable situation at wide receiver in 2020 following the early departure of KJ Hamler to the NFL and the transfer of Justin Shorter to Florida.

Alabama’s use of Apple Watches during coronavirus pandemic under scrutiny

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The NCAA recently made a decision to allow strength and conditioning coaches to distribute workouts to players while they are isolated away from their respective programs. But Alabama’s use of Apple watches to monitor the players is drawing some eyes from around the SEC and beyond with everyone trying to figure out whether or not Alabama is in violation of any NCAA rules.

According to a report from Mark Schlabach of ESPN, the SEC is in the process of checking in on the use of the smartwatches at Alabama. The Athletic reports Alabama has been in constant communication with the SEC regarding the manner, according to a statement shared by a university spokesperson;

“The SEC is aware that Alabama provided Apple Watches to some of our student-athletes,” Alabama senior associate AD for compliance Matt Self said in a statement. “We are in constant communication with the SEC discussing the appropriate manner in which to utilize these and any other resources to provide for the health and well-being of our student-athletes during this crisis.”

Alabama set players up with the smartwatches as part of the program setup by strength and conditioning coaches David Ballou and Matt Rhea. The watches include workouts and apps to help players stay in as best in shape as possible during these unique times in wake of the coronavirus pandemic. The NCAA recently allowed for such workouts to be distributed to players with the stipulation that coaches were not permitted to monitor those workouts. The only member of Alabama’s staff reportedly observing the information from the watches has been Alabama’s director of sports medicine, Jeff Allen.

So why all the fuss about Alabama’s smartwatches? It seems to be a lack of uniformity in interpreting the NCAA regulations.

The NCAA has certainly been more accommodating and understanding with the situation hitting every facet of the sports world right now, so it remains to be seen if the NCAA would step on Alabama to investigate this issue before the SEC makes any kind of decision first. For now, at least, Alabama players can continue using those Apple Watches.

If Alabama is given confirmation their use of smartwatches during this time is permissible, it won’t take long for other schools to follow in Alabama’s footsteps and send out smartwatches to their players as quickly as possible.