National Signing Day 2022: Early Signing Period Winners and Losers, College Football Recruiting Rankings

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The early signing period for the 2023 college football recruiting cycle began on Wednesday as National Signature Day held the spotlight. Throughout the day, we’ve seen the rich get richer, as well as some teams rushing to the finish line with strong closes, while others that had high hopes ended with a groan.

In the end, there are some familiar faces at the top of the pile, plus a surprising newcomer that we’re not used to escalating as a talking point. It’s a rapidly changing college football recruiting landscape, especially in the new world where the NIL reigns supreme, so it shouldn’t be all that shocking to see some powerhouse new players stepping up in the game for the next few cycles.

That said, let’s take a look at the biggest winners and losers after the 2022 National Signing Day here in mid-December comes to a close.

winners

Alabama: All is well with the world. The Crimson Tide are back at the top of the recruiting rankings with an impressive six five-star prospects from the industry-generated 247Sports Composite Rankings. Of the 27 recruits landed in total, 26 are rated four stars or higher, with only one a three star making it into the fold. They held off Caleb Downs, the #1 safety in the nation, captured the #1 EDGE in the nation in Keon Keeley and turned Iowa’s #1 offensive tackle Kadyn Proctor nationally.

Georgia: The #1 team in the country and reigning national champions are firmly entrenched as the #2 ranked team. The Bulldogs turned over NC State running back Kyron Jones to round out their class, but the big news was coming to Florida edge rusher Damon Wilson, a player Ohio State was considered a favorite, but the Dawgs’ late push kept him in the Southeast.

Oregon: After losing blue-chip QB prospect Dante Moore earlier in the week, many were saddened in Eugene. Dan Lanning wasn’t among them, however, as the Ducks’ second-year head coach closed out with an absolute fury as he lured five-star EDGE Matayo Uiagalelei and five-star safety Peyton Bowen, taking the latter out of Notre Dame. Bowen wasn’t the only Irishman to commit to Oregon, as Lanning ended the day by signing Irish prospect Jayden Limar. For good measure, he also traded Baylor quarterback Austin Novosad and LSU cornerback Daylen Austin. Now, there is no more sadness in Eugene.

Auburn: Speaking of flips, Hugh Freeze’s class to start his tenure at Auburn had quite a few of them, with the Tigers stripping Ohio State’s Top247 cornerback Kayin Lee and Florida State’s Top100 EDGE Keldric Faulk. This all came a day after Auburn acquired junior college offensive tackle No. 4 Izavion Miller. Auburn’s program had zero recruiting momentum under Bryan Harsin, but things seem to be changing with Freeze at the helm on the plains.

Texas: On Saturday night, Keonilei Akana served as match point for the Texas women’s volleyball team, a Louisville ace that gave the Longhorns the NCAA volleyball title. On Wednesday, her younger brother Tausili Akana, the No. 1 prospect in Utah, gave the ‘Horns another award with a commitment of No. 35 overall. Oklahoma was ahead for Akana to come into the day, but defensive coordinator Pete Kwiatkowski never gave up on the hunt for Akana, who had by far the most scenic backdrop of any recruit advertising in his native Hawaii. But most importantly on Wednesday, Texas received a National Letter of Intent signed by the nation’s #1 recruit Arch Manning, giving Steve Sarkisian their crown jewel recruit during his time in Austin up to this point.

UCLA: The Bruins didn’t get anyone on Wednesday that changed the landscape, which is good because the whole look of Chip Kelly’s draft had already changed when Dante Moore left Oregon this week. He is the highest rated offensive starter in the modern recruiting era for UCLA, the highest rated recruit Kelly has ever signed, and may have the best chance of any quarterback signed in 2023 starting as a true freshman. For UCLA, getting the No. 1 player in the Midwest a year before the move to the Big Ten was significant for this program.

Losers

notre dame: The Irish aren’t necessarily losers, in the grand scheme of things, but they had a forgettable signing day. It looked like they could hold off Bowen, who was eventually defeated by Oregon. Things got worse when the Ducks also turned Limar. As good as this class has been for most of the year, Bowen’s loss especially hurts.

oklahoma: Speaking of losses, the Sooners were hoping to serve as Bowen’s beneficiaries. Instead, they noted that there wasn’t even a hat on the table for Oklahoma while Bowen chose Oregon. To make matters worse, they were the supposed leaders of Akana only to see him reject the Sooners in favor of rival Red River, Texas.

USC: The Trojans have the third most five stars in this class (3). Problem is, they were all announced to USC in December 2021. Today? They lost longtime local target Uiagalelei, who chose Oregon. It was a huge loss for a team that needed help on defense and was looking for the ideal replacement for Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year Tuli Tuipulotu.

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