Georgia stole the headlines on National Signing Day, and one of its biggest division rivals limped to the finish line.
CBS Sports analyst Barton Simmons ranked the biggest winners and losers of signing day, and while Georgia was the No. 1 biggest winner, Tennessee was the No. 1 biggest loser.
Jeremy Pruitt’s first recruiting class finished 23rd according to ESPN’s team rankings, but Simmons said Pruitt and the Vols lost out on some of their main targets.
“Jeremy Pruitt was one of the stories of the Early Signing Period, and he was making some serious moves deep into January,” Simmons wrote. “As signing day approached, though, it started to become clear that the close was going to be very imperfect. It started with a flip of running back Anthony Grant to Florida State. Later, the hidden gem that the staff uncovered in Jordan Young followed suit to FSU.
“Tennessee had put some serious effort into west coast corners Olaijah Griffin and Isaac Taylor-Stuart; both stayed out West. Quay Walker and Jacob Copeland held faint hope; both went to SEC East rivals. For all the excitement that this new staff has generated on the trail this cycle, the close just wasn’t there. I wouldn’t count on Tennessee staying down for long as 2019 commits will come quickly.”
No one expected Pruitt to land a top-10 class on short notice, but Dan Mullen was able to put together a much better class at Florida in the same amount of time, and the Vols also finished behind South Carolina in the SEC East.
Pruitt has a rebuilding job on his hands in Knoxville, and Tennessee fans need to be patient with him and his staff as they attempt to turn the program into a contender.
Tennessee wasn’t the only SEC school on the losers list. LSU checked in right behind them at No. 2. The Tigers finished 14th, but this was a class that at one time was in the top 5. Simmons noted that this was LSU’s lowest recruiting class since 2002.
Rounding out Simmons’ list were Michigan and Alabama. Yes, Alabama. The Tide finished sixth, but they also lost out on several prospects who flipped to other schools or chose other programs on signing day. Alabama will be more than fine, but it’s rare to see them not finish strong with recruits.