Alabama assembled college football's top class of early signees Wednesday, while Georgia snagged another elite crop after using the coronavirus pandemic to its advantage.
For Auburn, however, Wednesday's start to the early period was simply about holding things together three days after the firing of coach Gus Malzahn.
The Crimson Tide signed a whopping 24 players, including 13 top-100 national prospects in the 247Sports.com composite rankings. Included in Alabama's stellar haul are the nation's top two offensive tackles, JC Latham of IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida, and Tommy Brockermeyer of Fort Worth, Texas.
"We identified the needs that we had in this class early on, and I think we got some really good players at each one of those positions," Alabama coach Nick Saban said Wednesday night. "We're really pleased to have this group of players become part of our program and part of our team. We didn't have a lot of guys who were vacillating.
"These guys, for the most part, have been committed for quite some time now."
Although this recruiting cycle doesn't end until next year — the traditional signing period starts in early February — the Tide are poised to finish atop the 247Sports team rankings for the ninth time in 11 years. Ohio State, Georgia, LSU and Clemson rounded out the top five after Wednesday's signings.
Alabama's class includes four of the nation's top 10 receivers: Jacorey Brooks of IMG Academy, JoJo Earle of Aledo, Texas, Agiye Hall of Valrico, Florida, and Christian Leary of Orlando.
"We're probably a little bit thin in numbers at receiver," Saban said, "and knowing that there is the potential of losing a couple more guys this year, we thought it was really important for us to sign a minimum of three wide receivers, and we were happy to get four. I've talked about the receiver position before and how it's kind of like a basketball team.
"You need a point guard, a shooting guard and a power forward. You need different kinds of players to really make an effective receiving corps. We got some big guys and some fast guys, so I am pleased with that group."
The only recent years in which Alabama didn't finish with the nation's top signing class were in the 2018 and 2020 cycles, when Georgia wound up at the top.
Kirby Smart's Bulldogs signed 20 players Wednesday, including 13 from the Peach State. Only eight of Georgia's 25 signees in the 2020 cycle were from the state, and Smart openly admitted the ongoing pandemic played a sizable role this time around.
"It's a closer-to-home class that was probably directed by COVID and more kids wanting to stay home," Smart said. "That's important to us, because we always say to take care of the state first. It certainly made it more convenient to take care of guys who wanted to be near their families and have their families be able to come watch them play.
"That's been a big added factor during the pandemic."
Offensive tackle Amarius Mims of Cochran and quarterback Brock Vandagriff from the Athens area highlight Georgia's in-state signees, but the Bulldogs also snagged a notable out-of-state signee Wednesday by landing outside linebacker Xavian Sorey from IMG Academy.
The Bulldogs could have as many as 16 midyear enrollees, according to Smart, which would be a program record.
It was a very different signing period for Auburn after the ouster of Malzahn, whose eight recruiting classes for the Tigers ranked anywhere from sixth to 12th nationally, including seventh in the 2020 cycle. Auburn landed 12 players Wednesday, with its list headed by defensive tackle Lee Hunter, a top-100 national prospect from the Mobile area, and quarterback Dematrius Davis, one of the nation's top-10 dual-threat talents out of Houston.
Defensive coordinator and interim head coach Kevin Steele has orchestrated Auburn's efforts this week.
"The staff did a great job the last couple of days and were relentless in their pursuit of keeping this class together and representing Auburn in the way that people at Auburn would be proud," Steele said. "When you're trying to sign a class without a head coach, it's certainly a challenge. We signed 12 guys today, and we only lost one to another school that we had committed, which is phenomenal in its own right.
"These 12 showed a commitment to Auburn University that is the kind of commitment that you want in the fourth quarter of an Iron Bowl."
Effort in futility
With the cancellation rate for college football games having increased in recent weeks, Georgia still tried to find an opponent for Saturday after Monday afternoon's announcement that Vanderbilt would be unable to play in Sanford Stadium.
"While we conducted our due diligence in finding a replacement game, we were unable to make it happen," Bulldogs athletic director Greg McGarity said Wednesday afternoon through a release. "We now focus on our upcoming bowl game. We are also working on alternative ways to honor our senior class, who deserve the opportunity to be celebrated as one of the most prolific classes in University of Georgia history."
The game has been declared a no-contest, leaving the Bulldogs with a 7-2 record.
EARLY SIGNEES FOR CRIMSON TIDE, BULLDOGS
Listed are players announced by the respective college programs as having signed Wednesday, the start of college football’s early signing period. Included with each player is his position, height, weight, hometown and previous school.
Anquin Barnes: DL; 6-5; 299; Montgomery, Ala; Robert E. Lee.
Kendrick Blackshire: LB; 6-2; 245; Duncanville, Texas; Duncanville.
James Brockermeyer: OL; 6-3; 280; Fort Worth, Texas; All Saints Episcopal.
Tommy Brockermeyer: OL; 6-6; 290; Fort Worth, Texas; All Saints Episcopal.
Jacorey Brooks: WR; 6-3; 185; Miami; IMG Academy.
Kadarius Calloway: DB; 6-0 ;210; Philadelphia, Miss.; Philadelphia.
JoJo Earle: WR; 5-9; 170; Aledo, Texas; Aledo.
Terrence Ferguson: OL; 6-4; 300; Fort Valley, Ga.; Peach County.
Monkell Goodwine: DL; 6-4; 275; Upper Marlboro, Md.; Rock Creek Christian.
Agiye Hall: WR; 6-3; 190 Valrico, Fla.; Bloomingdale.
Ian Jackson: LB; 6-2; 225; Prattville, Ala.; Prattville.
Khyree Jackson: DB; 6-3; 197; Clinton, Md.; East Mississippi CC.
Tim Keenan: DL; 6-2; 335; Birmingham, Ala.; Ramsay.
Keanu Koht: LB; 6-4; 215; Vero Beach, Fla.; Vero Beach.
JC Latham: OL; 6-6; 305; Oak Creek, Wis.; IMG Academy.
Deontae Lawson: LB; 6-3; 225; Mobile, Ala.; Mobile Christian.
Christian Leary: WR; 5-10; 190; Orlando, Fla.; Edgewater.
Ga’Quincy McKinstry: DB; 6-1; 180; Pinson, Ala.; Pinson Valley.
Jalen Milroe: QB; 6-3; 206; Katy, Texas; Tompkins.
Robbie Ouzts: TE; 6-4; 240; Rock Hill, S.C.; Rock Hill.
Damon Payne: DL; 6-4; 297; Belleville, Mich.; Belleville.
Devonta Smith: DB; 6-0; 185. Cincinnati; La Salle.
Dallas Turner: LB; 6-4; 245; Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; St. Thomas Aquinas.
Kaine Williams: DB; 6-2; 195; Marrero, La.; John Ehret.
Brock Bowers: TE; 6-4; 230; Napa, Calf.; Napa.
Javon Bullard: DB; 5-11; 175; Milledgeville, Ga.; Baldwin.
Lovasea Carroll: RB; 6-1; 195; Warrenton, Ga.; IMG Academy.
Chaz Chambliss: LB; 6-2; 250; Carrollton, Ga.; Carrollton.
David Daniel: DB; 6-2; 185; Woodstock, Ga.; Woodstock.
Marlin Dean: DL; 6-5; 275; Bowman, Ga.; IMG Academy.
Jamon Dumas-Johnson: LB; 6-1; 235; Hyattsville, Md.; St. Frances Academy.
Dylan Fairchild: OL; 6-5; 300; Cumming, Ga.; West Forsyth.
Nyland Green: DB; 6-2; 180; Covington, Ga.; Newton.
Tyrion Ingram-Dawkins: DL; 6-5; 300; Gaffney, S.C.; Gaffney.
Jonathan Jefferson: DL; 6-3; 285; Douglasville, Ga.; Douglas County.
Kamari Lassiter: DB; 6-0; 180; Savannah, Ga.; American Christian.
Jackson Meeks: WR; 6-2; 205; Phenix City, Ala.; Central.
Amarius Mims: OL; 6-6; 320; Cochran, Ga.; Bleckley County.
Adoni Mitchell: WR; 6-4; 190; Missouri City, Texas; Cane Ridge.
Smael Mondon: LB; 6-3; 220; Dallas, Ga.; Paulding County.
Micah Morris: OL; 6-5; 330; Kingsland, Ga.; Camden County.
Xavian Sorey: LB; 6-3; 214; Campbellton, Fla.; IMG Academy.
Brock Vandagriff: QB; 6-3; 205; Bogart, Ga.; Prince Avenue Christian.