February 5, 2014

Signing Day notes: Harris' flip, Evans' surprise

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Signing Day 2014 offered the usual plot twists, surprises, televised announcements ... and an Alabama recruiting title. Here are the highlights from a day that will shape the immediate future of college football world.

Biggest Flip: Treon Harris -- Florida State to Florida
Quick commitment changes were rare by Signing Day standards. The most notable switch was that of Rivals100 quarterback Treon Harris, a longtime Florida State commit who ended up signing with Florida.

Harris' change of heart came on slowly, and many suspected it might take place. The fact that it was made official on Signing Day sensationalized the story a bit.

Best Drama: Malik McDowell's missing LOI
Seemingly every year a player commits to a school despite his parents wishes, Malik McDowell seems to be this year's case.

McDowell announced his intentions to attend Michigan State early on Signing Day, but failed to send his letter of intent to the Spartan coaching staff because his mother was not on board with the decision.

Family discussions continued throughout the day, but McDowell's signed letter had not arrived in East Lansing as of late Wednesday afternoon.

Biggest Surprise: Rashaan Evans to Alabama
Linebacker Rashaan Evans sat in front of cameras and media members at his Auburn, Ala., high school, paused before announcing his choice and slapped on an Alabama hat.

Most thought the draw of home would keep the five-star prospect in town and at Auburn, so the announcement provided some semblance of surprise. Add in the fact that the move spurned the hometown crowd, and it made for one of the day's most interesting moments.

Biggest Loss: TCU misses out on Braden Smith
Smith looked like a heavy TCU lean for a time. His older sister is on the track team and he visited the campus often. So when he chose Auburn on Singing Day, it had to sting Gary Patterson's staff.

The Horned Frogs needed Smith to act as the backbone of a largely unimpressive class. The fact that he decided to attend Auburn, which entered his recruitment late in the process, makes the situation seem worse.

Need Filled: Stanford lands Solomon Thomas
For as great as Stanford's 2014 class is, it was missing a marque name along the defensive line. Four-star defensive end Solomon Thomas rectified that problem when he chose the Cardinal on Wednesday morning.

Thomas' decision carried a bit of drama as nobody was quite sure where he would land. So when the Texas-based standout announced he had chosen Stanford (by revealing a small tree from under his announcement desk), the cheers in the Cardinal football offices were probably a little louder than normal. Not only was the choice a bit of a surprise but it filled one of the program's final needs.

Surprise Team: Kentucky
This category wasn't very contested this year. What Kentucky has done is beyond impressive for a number of reasons. First, it represents the program's highest-ranked recruiting class of all-time. And when you consider the fact that Mark Stoops and Co. are attracting players to a school that finished last season with a 2-10 record, the Top-20 class the Wildcats hauled in certainly raises eyebrows.

UK's haul includes 10 four-star prospects, including running back Stanley Williams, the No. 118-ranked player in the country. Rivals250 quarterback Drew Barker and a crop of well-regarded wide receivers help round out the class.

Disappointing Team: Oregon
Ok, so being ranked in the mid 20s isn't a catastrophe. It's not reason to panic or start questioning the leadership. It's just that you'd expect more from a Nike funhouse that doubles as a perennial football power.

Oregon's class still includes five four-star prospects, so it's not as though the top end is embarrassing. The Ducks added Mattrell McGraw on Signing Day and managed to finish in the top half of the Pac 12. But with a limited numbers of prospects in the fold, certain needs went unaddressed.

The disappointment at work is simply a case of sky-high expectations versus reality.

To Be Determined: Kalen Ballage
Ballage, a four-star running back, is currently considered a soft commitment to Arizona State and visited UCLA last weekend. He was originally scheduled to hold a Signing Day ceremony, but heavy snow closed Falcon (Colo.) High School and forced him to push his announcement back.

Ballage now intends to announce his intentions on Thursday at 5:30 p.m. ET. UCLA and ASU make up the two most likely landing spots for the Colorado-based athlete, and most expect him to honor his commitment to the Sun Devils.

Rob Cassidy is a West Region football recruiting analyst for Rivals.com. You can click here to follow him on Twitter.




 

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