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2018 National Signing Day

February National Signing Day has lost some of the luster to the new December version, but it still has some fun stories. Every coach is feeling out the new normal and attacking the February date slightly differently looking for a competitive advantage.

The old recuiting gurus are still good at recruiting, however. Butch Davis, long known for his ability to amass talent has won the cycle.

FIU grabbed two four-star DTs to bolster a defense that was good but not great. Teair Tart-Spencer and Tayland Humphrey are the two surprise gets from Davis that beat out some stiff SEC competition. SPencer and Humphrey are the 247 7th and 8th best players in the entire class.

Safety Jamal Anderson is a three-star recruit that leads the 14 fellow three-star recruits in the haul — a good seven of which are on defense. The Florida schools are in a talent-rich state and each school has produced NFL talent in recent years but could not produce consistent winning programs.

FAU broke through with the right hire and Lane Kiffin rode the momentum to become the hottest team in the country not named UCF. Butch Davis presided a roller-coaster team that showed potential but still was looking for some cohesion. This class should help things along tremendously.

Rankings

Here are the 247 Rankings for the league.

  1. FIU – Key: Spencer and Humphrey.
  2. Marshall – Key: 3 Star WR Jaqaun Webb and WDE Arak McDuffie.
  3. La Tech – Key: 3 Star ATH Maureese Wren.
  4. WKU – Key: 3 Star Dual Threat Kevaris Thomas.
  5. USM – Key: Deuntra Hyman WDE from MS.
  6. UTSA – Key: 4 Star OT Spencer Burford-Watts
  7. FAU – Key: WR Nero Nelson
  8. UNT – Key: S Alex Morris
  9. UAB – Key: OLB Jalen Rayam
  10. MTSU – Key: CB Chris Stamps
  11. Rice – Key: SDE Cameron Valentine
  12. ODU – Key: RB Elijah Davis
  13. Charlotte – Key: DT Dantrell Barkley
  14. UTEP – Key: QB Kai Locksley

Other Thoughts

Overall the conference did fairly well in recruiting. The rankings at this point are difficult to pin down at the level of detail where we can accuratly seperate a specific program’s class from another. Take the rankings above and the key player with a grain of salt.

Filling needs is imperative. Two NSDs ago, NT signed two-star Mason Fine and in so doing found the 2017 Offensive Player of the Year who has orchestrated the league’s second best offense and the program’s most prolific attack. UTEP’s Kai Locksley may be the guy that makes this ‘poor’ class become hugely important for Dana Dimel’s tenure.

That obligatory stars don’t matter line stated, generally speaking the underrated guys will be on offense and the more measurably talented a recruit is — speed, strength, agility — translates easier on defense. After all, the defense requires some raw athleticism to make up for being on the reaction side. This is especially true along the defensive line.

It is also important to remember that this is a numbers game and the more talented players a program brings in, the better chance they have of hitting on one or two of them.

These last two points make FIU’s haul look even more impressive. Even if one of those twin DT stars were to flame out they have the other.

The other part of the equation is development. For all the impact transfers that Lane Kiffin brought in, there were a ton of big contributors on both sides of the ball for the Owls. FAU had done well in bringing guys in in previous recruiting cycles but no coaching staff could put it all together like Kiffin did.

Marshall has consistently been near the top of the rankings but has underachieved in recent seasons. Coaching and development is important. This season UTSA’s Frank Wilson will be expected to capitalize on his first two impressive classes.

Elsewhere other teams need to balance their classes after some success on one side. Specifically, North Texas’ Seth Littrell was hired to invigorate a stagnant offense and has done so. Now, he turns his attention to the leaky defense. His class included some DL players but noone obviously game-changing along the lines of the FIU twins. The tough DFW recruiting market saw at least some defections. The new SMU staff also zeroed in on some UNT recruits now that they both run the same system.

USM’s Jay Hopson is trying to fix his defensive secondary with some JUCO players while finding a way to replace his NFL-caliber skill positions. The class is solid, but it will be very tough to replace Ito Smith, Allanze Staggers, and Korey Robertson.

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