Signing day ends recruiting sagas for QB Rashada, CB McClain
The opening of college football’s traditional signing period for high school prospects seemingly ended two of the cycle’s most notable recruitings.
Top-notch quarterback Jaden Rashada, who signed with Florida in December and then asked to be released from the commitment when a name, image and likeness deal fell through, announced Wednesday that he was going to the state of Arizona.
“Glad to really be home!” Rashada posted on Twitter.
Also in the Pac-12, Cormani McClain, previously signed to Miami, signed with Colorado to make it two straight years as coach Deion Sanders landed a five-star cornerback.
Rashada’s recruiting made national headlines and became something of a cautionary tale for the NIL era of college football.
The four-star rookie from California has been at the center of a recruiting struggle between Miami and Florida. This has led to a bidding war between recall collectives trying to secure sponsorship deals for athletes from these schools.
Rashada originally gave a verbal commitment to Miami, but returned to Florida and signed with the Gators early in the signing period after being offered an NIL deal that could have been worth over $13 million.
When it became clear that Gator Collective, which is not part of the University of Florida or its athletics department, did not have the money to fund the deal, Rashada asked to be released from his national letter of intent. Florida granted the request.
Gators coach Billy Napier told reporters he couldn’t provide details about what happened with Rashada, but said he doesn’t plan to hear from the NCAA about any possible violations of recruitment rules.
“I think the reality is the current structure of NIL with involved third parties, involved agents, marketing reps, attorneys, collectives, very fluid and I think very unique dynamics,” Napier said. “I think at the end of the day, NIL is a strength for the Gators.”
Rashada becomes the high-profile recruit in high school in new Arizona State coach Kenny Dillingham’s first signing class. The 32-year-old Phoenix native and Arizona State graduate was hired in December.
Rashada’s father, Harlen, was on the Arizona State football team in the 1990s. Jaden Rashada called ASU his “childhood dream school”.
“I can’t wait to carry on the family name at the University and begin my journey. Forks! Rashada posted.
McClain’s recruiting was more traditional in its twists. One of the highest-rated players in the nation, he has been pursued by many of college football’s most successful programs, including Alabama, Georgia, and Ohio State.
The Lakeland, Fla. product was committed to Miami last fall, but even then it looked like he might be lured away from the Hurricanes by the Crimson Tide.
Then Coach Prime took over in Boulder, Colorado, and changed the game.
Last year, Sanders made recruiting history by enticing five-star cornerback Travis Hunter to walk away from a verbal commitment to Florida State and sign with Jackson State.
Never before has a player been so highly rated at a school that plays in the second tier of Division I football, the Championship Subdivision.
Colorado hired Sanders to turn around a program that has been stuck near the bottom of the Pac-12 for most of the past decade. McClain traveled to Boulder last month and soon after pledged to become the first five-star signing with the Buffaloes in more than a decade.
He made it official early on the day of the signing. McClain will join Hunter, who transferred to Colorado, in the Buffs’ secondary.
“The first time CU signed two five-star players in the same class,” Sanders said. “Same position, by the way, and both are dogs. Can’t wait to see them play together.”
SOUTH CAROLINA SPEEDSTER
Washington’s Nyckoles Harbor was one of the few five-stars, according to 247 Sports’ composite rating, who entered noncommittal signing day with genuine mystery surrounding where he would end up.
The decision was made in Oregon and South Carolina and the Gamecocks were the pick for the 6-foot-5, 225-pound rusher who could end up playing catcher in college.
Harbor is a track runner, has posted elite times in the 100 and 200m and has Olympic aspirations.
DUCK SEASON AGAIN
Oregon got a lot of attention early in the signing period, winning a handful of high-profile recruiting battles to be able to have the top-rated class in the Pac-12.
The Ducks missed Harbor but got another big score, landing four-star cornerback Rodrick Pleasant. The California player chose Oregon over its Pac-12 rival – at least for another year – Southern California.
“At the end of the day, we want to sign the best players everywhere, but if you can win in your footprint, and our footprint, California is certainly one of them, we want to be successful there and think that this year we have proved that we are capable of doing this,” Lanning told reporters.
USC, which joins the Big Ten after the 2023-24 school year, picked up a signing day win with four-star tight end Walker Lyons.
Alabama had already locked in the nation’s No. 1 recruiting class for the 10th time in 13 years before the February signing period.
The Tide nabbed nine five stars. There were only 39 players who received a five-star rating in the class, according to the 247 composite.
Georgia, a two-time defending national champion, finished second, followed by Texas, Oklahoma and Ohio State. The rest of the top 10 were LSU, Miami, Oregon, Tennessee and Notre Dame.
Although there has been much concern about the impact of NIL money being used as a recruitment incentive, early results suggest it is not changing which schools walk away with the top-grading classes.
Using a five-year average of 247 composite recruiting rankings, here are the top 20 schools of 2017-21.
1. Alabama, 2 (average rank)
2. Georgia, 2.2
3. Ohio State, 5
4. LSU, 6.8
7. Texas A&M, 9.6
8. Texas, 10.8
9. Florida, 11.0
10. Oregon, 11.4.
11. Auburn, 11.6
13. Our Lady, 12.4
14. Penn State, 13.8
15. Miami, 15.0
16. Florida State, 16.0
20. Nebraska 20.6.
Over the past two years (2022 and 23), 17 of the top 20 teams remain in the top 20. USC was eliminated by an unusually low 70th place finish in 2022.
1. Alabama, 1.5
2. Georgia, 2.5
3. Texas, 4
4. Ohio State, 4.5
6.Texas A&M, 8
7. Notre Dame, 8.5
8. LSU, 9
9. Penn State, 9.5
11. Oregon, 10.5
12. Miami, 11.5
14. Michigan, 13.5
15. Florida, 16
16. Auburn, 19
17. North Carolina, 19
18. Florida State, 20
19. South Carolina, 20
AP sportswriters Mark Long in Gainesville, Fla. and Pat Graham in Boulder, Colo. contributed to this report.
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