Signing day 2023: Recruiting winners, missed opportunities

AP Photo/Andy Nelson

The early signing period opened and saw a number of high-profile flips. Some teams had more success than others on Wednesday, and some are still working to fill needs.

The top-ranked classes are obvious winners: The Georgia Bulldogs have the No. 1 overall class, with 19 ESPN 300 commitments. Even after losing a five-star QB earlier in the week, it's a loaded class.

Outside of those top teams, there are some coaches who either signed a top class when it was needed, filled a major need, flipped a highly sought-after recruit or finished strong down the stretch. On the other side, there are some teams that could have done more and are still searching for answers.

Here is a look at the winners and the teams that missed out during the 2024 recruiting cycle. This is a view of not just what happened on signing day, but throughout the entire process.

Class rankings: Top 50 schools
Best prospects at every position

Signing day winners

Oregon Ducks

The Ducks already had a top-five class coming into the early signing period, but coach Dan Lanning was able to add some outstanding players on Wednesday.

Lanning flipped ESPN 300 receiver Ryan Pellum, the No. 90 overall prospect, from USC. It's big to flip a commitment on signing day, but doing it at the expense of a conference opponent that has already had recruiting questions makes it an even bigger deal.

On top of Pellum, Oregon was able to flip ESPN 300 receiver Jeremiah McClellan from Ohio State. McClellan is the No. 100 recruit overall and gives the Ducks four ESPN 300 receivers in the class.

That pairs perfectly with what Lanning & Co. have been able to do in the transfer portal. Set to lose quarterback Bo Nix, a Heisman finalist, to the NFL, Oregon got Dillon Gabriel (from Oklahoma) and Dante Moore (from UCLA) out of the transfer portal. Both were among the top 10 quarterbacks available in the portal.

Auburn Tigers

The Tigers currently have the No. 8-ranked class in the country, which is a big improvement over their past three classes (No. 21 in 2023; No. 18 in 2022; No. 28 in 2021). Hugh Freeze and his staff have been recruiting at a very high level and poaching from several SEC rivals. One of the biggest was flipping ESPN 300 receiver Perry Thompson from Alabama.

Thompson is the No. 44 prospect overall and an in-state recruit, so it's a big win to steal that kind of player from the Crimson Tide. Freeze & Co. also swiped five-star receiver Cameron Coleman from Texas A&M and five-star defensive end Jamonta Waller from Florida. Coleman is the No. 6 recruit overall and the top receiver in the class. Pairing him with Thompson gives Auburn two excellent receivers for the future. Auburn also flipped defensive end Amaris Williams from the Gators.

Waller is the No. 19 prospect and the No. 4 defensive end. Williams is ranked No. 101 in the ESPN 300. This is a class filled with talent that can come in and help right away.

Texas Tech Red Raiders

Coach Joey McGuire has been adding in talent to Texas Tech's roster through the transfer portal and through recruiting the past few cycles. He has one of his best recruiting classes in 2024, and it's led by five-star receiver Micah Hudson.

He's the No. 13 recruit overall and the No. 5 receiver out of Temple, Texas, and had offers from Florida, Georgia, Texas, Texas A&M, Ohio State and plenty of others. For Texas Tech to be able to sign him was a huge win for the program.

The staff also has ESPN 300 defensive end Cheta Ofili out of Rowlett, Texas, and ESPN 300 offensive lineman Ellis Davis from Prospect, Texas.

Nebraska Cornhuskers

Matt Rhule was able to put together a solid recruiting class in the 2023 cycle after he was hired in November, with four ESPN 300 recruits. He brought in quite a few transfers to give him some immediate help, but he had more time to develop relationships in this 2024 cycle, and it paid off.

Rhule and Nebraska pulled off one of the biggest flips of the cycle, getting five-star QB Dylan Raiola from Georgia. He's the No. 8 recruit overall and the No. 1 pocket-passing quarterback in the class. Rhule needed help at the position and is getting someone who could compete immediately for playing time. The staff took in transfer Jeff Sims prior to last season, but Sims was benched during the season before transferring out.

The three quarterbacks who played this season combined for 1,631 yards, 10 touchdowns and 16 interceptions. Getting Raiola could be a big help on the field and his commitment could help attract other recruits down the road for Nebraska.

The coaches also signed two ESPN 300 offensive line recruits, another area of need, in Grant Brix and Preston Taumua, along with ESPN 300 tight end Carter Nelson. Overall, it's a great class for Rhule to continue building a foundation for what he wants the roster to look like.

Who missed out

Texas A&M Aggies

The Aggies went through a coaching change, so this is no fault of new coach Mike Elko. Texas A&M has lost commitments from eight prospects in this cycle, including five-star receiver Cameron Coleman, who flipped to Auburn.

Wide receiver Dre'lon Miller, the No. 86 recruit, flipped to Colorado, and the previous staff also lost commitments from offensive linemen Weston Davis and Coen Echols, as well as defensive lineman Gabriel Reliford.

The Aggies currently have the No. 21-ranked class, which is a far cry from the No. 1 class Texas A&M signed in the 2022 cycle.

Florida Gators

While the Gators did hold on to five-star quarterback D.J. Lagway, who was being targeted by Texas A&M, Florida lost nine recruits throughout the entire process, including ESPN 300 safety Xavier Filsaime, who flipped to Texas on Dec. 18.

Filsaime is the No. 42 recruit overall and the No. 2 safety in the class. The Longhorns were also able to get ESPN 300 running back Jerrick Gibson, the No. 34 recruit, who decommitted from Florida very early in the process.

Texas flipped ESPN 300 corner Wardell Mack from the Gators as well. Mack is the No. 263 recruit overall and flipped in November.

Florida also lost five-star defensive lineman Jamonta Waller and four-star DE Amaris Williams, who both flipped to Auburn. Waller is the No. 19 recruit overall and the No. 4 defensive end in the class.

This is still a good haul for Florida, but it could've been a lot better, and the signing day process doesn't instill a lot of confidence given how many recruits almost flipped, or considered flipping, near the end.

Questions moving forward

When will Jordan Seaton sign?

Colorado got a commitment from five-star offensive tackle Jordan Seaton on December 7, beating out Oregon and Maryland among others.

Seaton, the only five-star offensive lineman in the 2024 ESPN 300, is the highest-ranked commit in the class for the Buffs and is at a position of great need. The offensive line struggled this season and the staff has already brought in four offensive line transfers to help immediately.

As a five-star, Seaton likely could push for playing time and would give the staff an option for the next four years rather than renting a transfer. He is also a bright spot in an otherwise so-so class. With Seaton, Colorado only has four ESPN 300 commits and 24 total commitments.

Seaton has yet to sign his national letter of intent, however, as the first day of the early signing period winds closer to an end. Maryland has been pushing hard for Seaton and is trying to flip him.

It's not yet known when Seaton will sign or which team he will sign with, so for now, both teams are waiting to see what he decides and when.

Does Florida State have a 'closing' problem?

This is the best class Mike Norvell has signed during his tenure in Tallahassee. The Seminoles have also had tremendous success signing players from the transfer portal. However, this cycle saw them lose their top two players in the class (K.J. Bolden, Armondo Blount) on signing day. This was also the second time Norvell & Co. lost five-star recruits on signing day after Travis Hunter flipped to Jackson State two years ago.

Bolden, the No. 16 overall prospect, had Auburn and Georgia in pursuit up until the start of the early signing period. On Wednesday, Bolden flipped to Georgia. Blount, a five-star defensive lineman who flipped from Miami in October, flipped back to the Canes at the end of the day. Those losses put a damper on a class that has 12 ESPN 300 commits.

The Seminoles did sign ESPN 300 quarterback Luke Kromenhoek, the No. 160 prospect overall and the No. 8 pocket passer, and could finish with a top-10 class, but closing out at the end of the process still needs some work.

Where does USC's QB situation go?

​​USC needed to add quite a bit in recruiting this cycle. While the staff has eight ESPN 300 recruits, it feels underwhelming. We're just grading out recruiting wins and losses, but it's difficult not to factor in what has happened in the transfer portal for the Trojans. The staff lost quarterback Malachi Nelson, receiver Mario Williams, running back Raleek Brown, linebacker Tackett Curtis, cornerback Domani Jackson, offensive lineman Michael Tarquin and a handful of others.

With Nelson leaving, the staff didn't have much time to fill the quarterback hole that he left. Lincoln Riley typically only takes one high school quarterback every other class, and because Nelson was the top signing in last year's class, the Trojans did not have a QB in their 2024 group.

Riley and his staff made a very late run at five-star Florida commit D.J. Lagway, the No. 2 dual-threat prospect in the class, but were unsuccessful. USC is trying to get Kansas State transfer Will Howard, from the portal. But Howard is a senior, so this would only be a short-term solution.

The class is ranked No. 18 overall and fifth in the Big Ten, and it has some wins, including defensive end Kameryn Fountain, corner Marcelles Williams and receiver Xavier Jordan. But it's lacking the necessary star power the team needs to get back on track.

What happens with DT Dominick McKinley?

McKinley, an ESPN 300 defensive tackle, confirmed to ESPN on Wednesday that he is planning to wait until February to sign his national letter of intent.

McKinley, No. 33 in the ESPN 300, has been committed to Texas A&M since September. With the program going through a coaching change, McKinley is going to wait and see where he fits best.

LSU and Texas are the two schools trying to lure him away from the Aggies, and now they'll have more time to do so. What his final decision will be, will likely be molded over the next month.