The Class of 2016 announced their decisions on Wednesday’s National Signing Day, and four of the nation’s most respected, successful, and heralded college football programs will welcome some of this year’s best classes.
Specifically, the defending national champion Alabama Crimson Tide, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, the USC Trojans, and the Texas Longhorns each came away with major hauls, including seven highly touted five-star recruits, according to the latest reports from Scout.com.
Below, let’s dive into how each program fared and highlight their biggest gets.
Clay Helton's first recruiting class appears to be a very good one. The Trojans were able to land some promising players on Signing Day to raise their rank on Scout.com to No. 11 with just 20 recruits, with five ranking in the Top 100. Two players who stand out are five-star wide receivers Tyler Vaughns and Michael Pittman, who are both from the Los Angeles area. But many of the Signing Day additions were from out of state, which includes four-star offensive lineman E.J. Price from Georgia, who was pursued by Georgia and Auburn, as well as wide receiver Keyshawn Young, from Miami.
Perhaps the biggest surprise is that Helton wasn't able to land a top quarterback, as Max Browne appears set to replace Cody Kessler as a redshirt junior.
Oluwole Betiju, DE, Junipero Serra HS, Gardena, CA
Michael Pittman, ATH, Oaks Christian HS, Westlake Village, CA
Jack Jones, ATH, Polytechnic HS, Long Beach, CA
Tyler Vaughns, WR, Bishop Amat HS, La Puente, CA
Jamel Cook, S, Miami Central HS, Miami, FL
E.J. Price, OT, Archer HS, Lawrenceville, GA
Connor Murphy, DE, Brophy College Preparatory, Phoenix, AZ
Vavae Malepeai, RB, Mililani HS, Mililani, HI
Trevon Sidney, ATH, Bishop Amat HS, La Puente, CA
C.J. Pollard, S, Junipero Serra HS, Gardena, CA
Cary Angeline, TE, Downington East HS, Exton, PA
Josh Imatorbhebhe, WR, North Gwinnett HS, Suwanne, GA
Frank Martin, OG, Mater Dei HS, Santa Ana, CA
Nathan Smith, OT, Murrieta Mesa HS, Murrieta, CA
Joshua Fatu, DT, Long Beach City College, Long Beach, CA
Velus Jones, WR, Saraland HS, Saraland, AL
Jordan Iosefa, OLB, St. Louis School, Honolulu, HI
Liam Jimmons, DE, Huntington Beach HS, Huntington Beach, CA
Matt Fink, QB, Glendora HS, Glendora, CA
Depending on which scouting service you trust more, Fighting Irish head coach Brian Kelly either did or didn’t land a five-star recruit. Rivals and Scout differ on outside linebacker Daelin Hayes’ rating, with the former naming him a five-star and the latter a four-star prospect. However, the addition of Hayes, who hails from Ann Arbor does make Kelly look good in the eyes of boosters and fans as he managed to steal away a top in-state recruit from the Wolverines’ relentless head coach Jim Harbaugh.
Nevertheless, Hayes leads an excellent batch of incoming freshmen to South Bend. Kelly managed to secure 12 other four-star recruits and nine three-stars. He especially loaded up on defensive backs, with four-star safety Donte Vaughn and four-star cornerback Troy Pride Jr. standing out.
Daelin Hayes, OLB, Skyline HS, Ann Arbor, MI
Jonathan Jones, ILB, Oak Ridge HS in Orlando, FL
Javon McKinley, WR, Centennial HS, Corona, CA
Troy Pride Jr., CB, Greer HS, Greer, SC
Khalid Kareem, DE, Harrison HS, Farmington Hills, MI
Donte Vaughn, S, Whitehaven HS, Memphis, TN
Chase Claypool, TE, Abbotsford Senior Secondary, Abbotsford, BC
Liam Eichenberg, OT, St. Ignatius HS, Cleveland, OH
Julian Okwara, DE, Ardrey Kell HS, Charlotte, NC
Tony Jones, RB, IMG Academy, Bradenton FL
John Shannon, LS, Loyola Academy, Wilmette, IL
Tommy Kraemer, OT, Elder HS, Cincinnati, OH
Devin Studstill, S, Palm Beach Gardens HS, Palm Beach Gardens, FL
Deon McIntosh, RB, Cardinals Gibbons HS, Ft. Lauderdale, FL
D.J. Morgan, S, St. John Bosco HS, Bellflower, CA
Ian Book, QB, Oak Ridge HS, El Dorado Hills, CA
Adetokunbo Ogundeji, DE, Walled Lake Central HS, Walled Lake, MI
Parker Boudreaux, OG, Bishop Moore HS, Orlando, FL
Spencer Perry, S, IMG Academy, Bradenton, FL
Jamir Jones, OLB, Aquinas Institute-Rochester, Rochester, NY
Jalen Elliott, WR, Lloyd C. Bird HS, Chesterfield, VA
Kevin Stepherson, WR, First Coast HS, Jacksonville, FL
Julian Love, CB, Nazareth Academy, La Grange Park, IL
Thus far Alabama projects to once again have the best recruiting class in the country. According to Scout, the Crimson Tide are one of three programs to land three five-star recruits this year, equaling SEC rival Georgia and the Trojans for the most in the nation.
Nick Saban secured the signatures of all those five-stars, as well as 16 four-stars and five three-stars. The biggest get heading to Tuscaloosca is the nation’s highest rated linebacker Ben Davis, an in-state product from Gordo, Alabama, and Saban also snagged the No. 2-rated linebacker in Lyndell Wilson, who comes out of Montgomery.
Saban also retooled and reloaded his always stacked defensive line with five-star defensive tackle Kendell Jones out of Kileen, Texas, and shored up the offensive line with five-star tackle Charles Baldwin.
All told, Alabama didn’t have to go far to land a plurality of its recruits. Seven of its new players call Alabama home.
Ben Davis, ILB, Gordo HS, Gordo, AL
Charles Baldwin, OT, ASA College, Brooklyn, NY
Kendall Jones, DT, Shoemaker HS, Killeen, TX
Lyndell Wilson, ILB, Carver Senior HS, Montgomery, AL
Jared Mayden, CB, Sachse HS, Sachse, TX
Shyheim Carter, CB, Kentwood HS, Kentwood, LA
Raekwon Davis, DT, Meridian HS, Meridian, MS
Terrell Hall, DE, St. John’s College HS, Washington D.C.
Scott Lashley, OT, West Point HS, West Point, MS
Nigel Knott, CB, Germantown HS, Madison, MS
Trevon Diggs, ATH, The Avalon School, Gaithersburg, MD
B.J. Emmons, RB, Freedom HS, Morganton, NC
Quinnen Williams, DT, Wenonah HS, Birmingham, AL
Miller Forristall, TE, Cartersville HS, Cartersville, GA
Jalen Hurts, QB, Channelview HS, Channelview, TX
Deonte Brown, OG, Austin HS, Decatur, AL
Chris Owens, OG, Lamar HS, Arlington, TX
Jonah Williams, OT, Folsom HS, Folsom, CA
T.J. Simmons, WR, Clay-Chalkville HS, Pinson, AL
Joshua Jacobs, RB, McLain Career Academy, Tulsa, OK
Aaron Robinson, CB, Deerfield Beach HS, Deerfield Beach, FL
Shawndarius Jennings, S, Dadeville HS, Dadeville, AL
Jamar King, DE, Mendocino
Christian Bell, DE, Hoover HS, Hoover, AL
Irvin Smith, TE, Brother Martin, New Orleans, LA
After a very difficult season in Austin last year, head coach Charlie Strong might have made a big statement with this year’s class. Specifically, Strong made sure some of the best talent in the state of Texas stayed in the Lone Star state. Fourteen of the Longhorns 24 commitments originally come from Texas.
Landing the No. 8-ranked class, Strong locked down the country’s most sought-after safety in five-star recruit Brandon Jones out of Nacogdoches High School in Texas and pulled in 10 four-star and 13 other three-stars, tying Ole Miss for the most three-star recruits amongst the top 10 highest-ranked classes.
The Longhorns entering Signing Day seeking help at almost every position, and Strong really hit each mark. He secured four-star defensive tackles Jordan Elliott and Chris Daniels, both staying in-state, while four-star outside linebacker Jeffery McCulloch and four-star safety Chris Brown will back that frontline up quite well for the next few years.
Brandon Jones, S, Nacogdoches HS, Nacogdoches, TX
Jeffery McCulloch, OLB, Davis HS, Houston, TX
Jordan Elliot, DT, Westside HS, Houston, TX
Chris Daniels, DT, Trinity HS, Euless, TX
Erick Fowler, DE, Manor HS, Manor, TX
Chris Brown, S, Alief Elsik HS, Houston, TX
Marcel Southall, DT, Duncanville HS, Duncanville, TX
Kyle Porter, RB, Katy HS, Katy, TX
Lil’Jordan Humphrey, ATH, Carroll HS, Southlake, TX
Eric Cuffee, CB, Waco HS, Waco, TX
Jean Delance, OT, North Mesquite HS, Mesquite, TX
Denzel Okafor, OG, Lewisville HS, Lewisville, TX
Andrew Fitzgerald, DE, Marcus HS, Flower Mound, TX
Shane Buechele, QB, Lamar HS, Arlington, TX
Reggie Haemphill-Mapps, WR, Manvel HS, Manvel, TX
Collin Johnson, WR, Valley Christian Schools, San Jose, CA
D’Andre Christmas-Giles, DT, St. Augustine HS, New Orleans, LA
Zach Shackelford, OG, Belton HS, Belton, TX
Davion Curtis, WR, Temple HS, Temple, TX
Malcolm Roach, DE, Madison Preparatory Academy, Baton Rouge, LA
Peyton Aucoin, TE, Brother Martin HS, New Orleans, LA
Gerald Wilbon, OG, Destrehan HS, Destrehan, LA
Tope Imade, OG, Bowie HS, Arlington, TX
Demarco Boyd, OLMB, Gilmer HS, Gilmer, TX