National Signing Day: 10 Players Who’ll Have an Immediate Impact in 2013
National signing day is an amazing few hours.
Every college coach in America right now is trying to spin how this year’s recruiting class, talking about how it fills many important needs and will make his team more competitive next fall. In reality, very few of this year’s recruits will have an immediate impact.
Here are some of the big names that you could see making a difference on the field next fall.
1. Robert Nkemdiche, DE, Ole Miss
The nation’s top-ranked high school player made it official, joining his older brother Denzel in the Rebels’ defense. Nkemdiche, a 6’4”, 285-pound defensive end from Georgia, had originally committed to Clemson, but decommitted in November. The star defender has freakish speed as a pass rusher off the edge, but has also shown the size and strength to stuff the run. Nkemdiche could have chosen any school in America on National Signing Day 2013, but opted for Ole Miss over Clemson, Florida and LSU.
2. Laremy Tunsil, OT, Ole Miss
After adding the best defensive player in the draft, Rebels coach Hugh Freeze then added to the fold by bringing in arguably the best offensive player in the field. Tunsil is a 6’6”, 295-pound monster who helped lead his high school team to an 11-2 record and almost 240 rushing yards per game. Tunsil, who comes from Lake City, Florida, chose Mississippi over Georgia and Alabama.
3. Reuben Foster, ILB, Alabama
Foster had originally committed to Auburn and went so far as to have the Auburn logo tattooed on his forearm. However, he began having second thoughts and ultimately signed with in-state rival Alabama. Foster is rated as the top inside linebacker prospect in the country. Nick Saban and Bama fans have to be happy to get the 6’2”, 240-pound tackling machine. Luring him away from archrival Auburn just makes it that much sweeter. No word yet on what Foster will do about that tattoo.
4. Christian Hackenberg, QB, Penn State
With NCAA probation and scholarship reductions limiting Penn State’s options, signing Hackenberg was a huge get for the Nittany Lions. At 6’4”, 212-pounds, Hackenberg was the top-ranked quarterback in this year’s class and the highest-rated quarterback to sign with a Big Ten team since Terrelle Pryor committed to Ohio State in 2008. A true pocket passer, he should be a great fit for coach Bill O’Brien’s pro-style offense. With the graduation of last year’s starter, Matt McGloin, Penn State may look to Hackenberg for some early playing time.
5. Vonn Bell, S, Ohio State
The 6’0”, 190 –pound safety from Georgia, Bell was considered the third-best safety in the class and one of the top 50 prospects in the nation. This was one of the surprises of signing day, as a late push by Buckeyes coach Urban Meyer was able to lure bell out of SEC territory, where he was reportedly leaning toward Tennessee over Alabama. Despite going undefeated last year, the Buckeyes’ defense struggled in pass defense (78th nationally) and Bell should be able to make an instant impact.
6. Su’a Cravens, S, Southern Cal
USC suffered from a rash of late defections, but Cravens is one big fish that didn’t get away. The top safety in this year’s class, the 6’1”, 205-pound Cravens should help revive a Trojans defense that gave up over 33 points per game while losing five of their last six. Cravens was arguably the nation’s top two-way player, accounting for 542 yards and 14 touchdowns on offense. But he was named the USA Today Defensive Player of the Year and his future is on that side of the ball. Cravens graduated from high school early and is already on campus at USC where he will be able to compete in spring drills.
7. Jaylon Smith, OLB, Notre Dame
Even at 6’3” and 212 pounds, Smith was still athletic enough to run a 4.59 40-yard dash and to also play running back for his high school team in Fort Wayne, Indiana. With the Fighting Irish losing two senior starters at linebacker, Smith—the top-ranked linebacker in this year’s class—could be able to make a push for immediate playing time.
8. Ricky Seals-Jones, WR, Texas A&M
At 6’5”, 230 pounds, Seals-Jones will give Heisman winner Johnny Manziel a huge new target in the Aggies’ already-potent offense. Seals-Jones, ranked as a top ten receiver and one of the top 100 players in this year’s class, chose A&M over offers from LSU, Oklahoma, Oregon and Texas. He missed most of this season with a dislocated kneecap he suffered in September but is now fully recovered. A star athlete, Seals-Jones was also a talented basketball player and has not ruled out trying to play both sports for the Aggies.
9. Kelvin Taylor, RB, Florida
With the departure of star running back Mike Gillislee, the Gators definitely needed a playmaking running back in this year’s class. And they got it in the 5’11”, 216-pound Taylor, the top-ranked running back in this year’s class. Taylor will be a bruising power back with great strength and lateral movement. He rushed for 2,423 yards and 41 touchdowns as a senior in Belle Glade, Florida. Taylor chose the Gators over offers from Alabama, Florida State, Miami and South Carolina.
10. Eddie Vanderdoes, DT, Undecided
As of press time, the 6’3”, 310-pound defensive lineman had not yet made an announcement. Notre Dame reportedly has a slight edge on other finalists including Alabama, USC, UCLA and Washington. Vanderdoes is the top defensive tackle in this class and is considered one of the top ten players available. Whoever ends up signing Vanderdoes is getting someone who will almost certainly make an immediate impact in the middle of the defensive line.
What signing do you think made the biggest news of National Signing Day? Let us know in the comments.