The National Signing Day is in books and the best high school football prospects from all over the country have made their decisions. Once again, Alabama Crimson Tide dominated the nation with a top recruiting class, but other schools like Florida State and Michigan figured strongly in the national signing day discussions and the impact the new recruits would have in the college football online odds. With all that chatter in the rearview, here is our early look at the top five in our college football rankings based on the moves made in the signing day.
Top 5 NCAAF Power Rankings After National Signing Day
— ESPN CollegeFootball (@ESPNCFB) February 9, 2016
1. Alabama Crimson Tide
Head coach Nick Saban stayed true to his reputation of having a good eye for stellar talent, stacking up his roster with fresh talent to make up for some key departures. The exit of Heisman trophy-winning running back Derrick Henry shouldn’t be felt as much, as the Tide will have running back Bo Scarborough set to return for his sophomore season. But more notably, the Tide had a talented class of recruits, including defensive tackles Quinnen Williams and Raekwon Davis along with linebacker Ben Davis, which means Saban’s highly-rated front-seven should remain among the best in the country. With the best recruiting class in the nation for the sixth year in a row, along with an already-experienced group that won the 2015-2016 National Championship, there’s absolutely no reason the Tide should be bumped out of the top spot in the nation.
2. Clemson Tigers
The biggest factor surrounding the Tigers ahead of the new season is that Clemson’s star dual-threat quarterback Deshaun Watson will return for his junior season and he will have the majority of his key pieces around him, both on the offensive and defensive sides of the football. But in addition to that, the Tigers had a solid recruiting class, which should help strengthen the team, especially on the defensive side of things where they were a bit too exposed on the just-concluded season. The Tigers did miss out on No. 1 recruit Rashan Gary to Michigan, but they still ended up with some solid talents, including defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence and defensive end Xavier Kelly. With that, Dabo Swinney not only has an excellent top-ranked ACC group to work with, but they should be deep top-to-bottom when the 2016-2017 season kicks off.
3. Florida State Seminoles
At one point, the Seminoles were the talk of the college football world, often being mentioned as the No. 1 recruiting class for 2016. However, things cooled off a bit in the end for them, allowing Bama to stake the claim on the best recruiting class title. Still, the Seminoles managed to add a high level of talent to an already-impressive roster that showed a lot of poise and promise in the concluded season. To mention a few, FSU added No. 1-rated cornerback recruit Levonta Taylor to help fill the gap left by star cornerback Jalen Ramsey. Meanwhile, safety Derwin James and defensive end Josh Sweat shined in their freshman seasons. After the Noles recorded 10 wins in what many called their rebuilding season, you can expect a stronger performance from them this year in their quest to rile the ACC once again.
4. Michigan Wolverines
By all accounts, Jim Harbaugh’s first season at Michigan was a resounding success, an understandable reason why the expectations are ridiculously high looking forward to the Wolverines and their performance in next year’s NCAAB lines. And going by their 2016 recruits, you can’t help but feel that the 2016-2017 season could be a big year for them. To help them with their recruiting agenda, Harbaugh and his stuff pulled off glitzy media-happy moves, including visits by alumni Tom Brady and wrestling legend Ric Flair, in the ploy to attract solid recruits. The bid seemingly worked, as the Wolverines ended up snatching the nation’s No. 1 recruit Rashan Gary, who will immediately move in to the defensive line rotation to propel Michigan propel into higher heights as we head into next season.
5. LSU Tigers
In case you don’t know, LSU’s star running back Leonard Fournette will be returning for his junior year, so you can expect the Tigers to continue in their dominant pounding-the-ground ways. Quarterback Brandon Harris will also be available in the offense, and if he can use his experience to develop his game, he could be a massive hit for LSU next year. Recruiting-wise, the Tigers didn’t have the top recruiting class in the SEC, but they did end up with some solid talents, more so in the defense—such as defensive tackle Rashard Lawrence and cornerback Kristian Fulton. In addition, Head Coach Les Miles brought in a new defensive coordinator in Dave Aranda, who should be able to nurture the incoming talent and the already-existing solid pieces such as cornerback Tre’Davious White and linebacker Kendell Beckwith, who will be returning for another year. Keeping that in mind, the Tigers should be stacked up pretty well on both sides of the ball, particularly in regards to solving the defensive leaks that flawed their season that would have otherwise been great.