Alabama rules again on signing day

  • Associated Press
February 5, 2014
Penn State football coach James Franklin places the name of quarterback recruit Michael O’Connor on a board during national signing day at the Lasch building Wednesday in State College. - Associated Press

On signing day, Alabama is still No. 1.

A season without a national championship on the field didn’t slow down coach Nick Saban on the recruiting trail. The five-star prospects flocked to Tuscaloosa, including one who went to high school at Auburn.

National signing day had coaches up at the crack of dawn and fax machines beeping on college campuses around the country – though more and more recruits email their national letter of intent these days.

Hats were donned, a few commitments were flipped and mostly the rich got richer: National champion Florida State, Ohio State, Stanford, Oklahoma and Notre Dame were among the programs that received high marks.

And as usual, most of the Southeastern Conference got glittering grades from the experts. None better than Alabama. The Crimson Tide sat atop the rankings for Rivals, Scout, 247sports and ESPN.

Alabama signed six of 33 players given five-star ratings by Rivals, including Rashaan Evans, a linebacker from Auburn High School who didn’t decide to roll with the Tide until Wednesday, passing joining his hometown Tigers.

No other school had more than three five-stars.

Pitt adds 23 players: Pitt added 23 players with its 2014 recruiting class, including top-level recruits like offensive tackles Alex Bookser and Mike Grimm, wide receiver Adonis Jennings and running back Chris James.

“This is a group that will come in and not take anything for granted,” Chryst said. “(And) I think we got better by adding these 23 guys. I feel like we got better at all positions today.”

The Panthers, who were 6-6 last season and won a bowl game against Bowling Green, signed seven players from their backyard. The seven WPIAL players included Bookser from Mount Lebanon High, Grimm from Bethel Park, running back Dennis Briggs from Shady Side Academy, wide receiver Elijah Zeise from North Allegheny, wide receiver Jaquaun Davidson from Elizabeth Forward, linebacker Quintin Wirginis from Fox Chapel and defensive end Rori Blair from Upper St. Clair, who already has enrolled at Pitt.

Franklin adds first class: James Franklin welcomed his first recruiting class at Penn State on in a festive atmosphere equivalent to an NFL draft.

He signed 20 Wednesday – 11 on offense and nine on defense – and five more had enrolled in classes two days after Franklin signed on with the Nittany Lions. The incoming class was ranked 24th and 25th by national recruiting services Rivals and Scout, respectively.

Highly rated Saeed Blacknall of Manalapan, N.J., and De’Andre Thompkins of Swansboro, N.C., head that list.

Mountaineers sign Quips star: The small Western Pennsylvania town of Aliquippa has helped restock West Virginia’s football roster.

The Mountaineers snatched Aliquippa High cornerback Dravon Henry and defensive lineman Jaleel Fields from the shadow of longtime rival Pittsburgh Wednesday.

Henry and Fields were among 21 recruits announced Wednesday by West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen. Six are junior college transfers, and six are already taking classes at WVU.

Nine of the recruits are on defense. The hope is some of them can immediately help shore up a unit that was the worst in the Big 12 in passing yards and touchdown passes allowed and had the second-fewest sacks in the league. Two of the six lost starters on defense were linemen.

On offense, one of the top recruits was dual-threat quarterback William Crest from Dunbar High in Baltimore. It’s the same high school that produced former Mountaineer star Tavon Austin and current WVU linebacker Marvin Gross.

The addition of Crest and junior college transfer Skyler Howard gives the Mountaineers five quarterbacks. Ford Childress, who started two games last season before missing the final eight with a torn chest muscle, is no longer with the team.

The Mountaineers signed five offensive linemen to help soften the loss of three starters on the line.



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