2014 National Signing Day
USC goes big
With Steve Sarkisian as head coach, USC is going back to the its fundamentals, seeking a stud offensive line and athletes out wide. Sarkisian started with massive four-star guard Viane Talamaivao (No. 5 guard, Corona Centennial) who helped lead Cal signee Tre Watson to 50 rushing touchdowns in 2013. USC also signed the No. 2 center Toa Lobendahn and colossal No. 1 guard Damien Mama, who is a mauler in the run game. USC is in prime position for No. 1 athlete Adoree' Jackson and No. 2 safety John "JuJu" Smith.
National branding for UCLA
In two years, UCLA head coach Jim Mora has made the Bruins relevant on a national scale, and it's paying off in recruiting. Three prospects from Texas have signed, most notably the No. 7-ranked inside linebacker Zach Whitley and No. 5 outside linebacker Kenny Young, who was long rumored to stay close to home at either LSU or Texas A&M. The Bruins needed defensive help after four impact starters left for the NFL. In the secondary, UCLA adds former Cal recruit No. 7 cornerback Jaleel Wadood and No. 8 cornerback Adarius Pickett.
The Volunteers went 5-7 in 2013 and have needs at virtually every position. Head coach Butch Jones went after recruiting hard, pushing the SEC, playing time and facilities. It's worked; Tennessee has signed 34 prospects, including five of the top six in Tennessee, and five of the top 80 overall. No. 4 overall receiver Josh Malone and No. 5 running back Jalen Hurd highlight the class. The 6-foot-3 Malone and WR LaVon Pearson -- the nation's No. 3 overall junior college recruit -- will help a Volunteer offense that ranked a paltry No. 109 in passing yards per game.
Troubles for Derek Mason at Vanderbilt
Vanderbilt was on the path to have its best recruiting class ever, then head coach James Franklin left to fill the vacancy at Penn State ... and took five players with him. Seven more Commodores since decommitted before former Stanford Cardinal defensive coordinator Derek Mason took the reigns as head coach. Mason brings a tough, defensive approach to the scholarly university, a mindset that has helped him hold on to four-star safeties Emmanuel Smith and Trent Sherfield. Vanderbilt is the only SEC school outside of the top 40 at No. 69. Although Mason is making a strogn push for former Stanford commit Nifae Lealao, the No. 10 defensive end .
Penn State takes advantage
What is Vanderbilt's loss becomes Penn State's gain. In the month since James Franklin was announced as the Nittany Lions head coach he has flipped seven prospects. Even though Penn State has two years left on its NCAA probation and scholarship reductions Franklin has been able to compose a very strong. He helped steal Rutgers' top recruit, four-star wide receiver Saeed Blacknall, who will more than make up for the loss of Allen Robinson out wide when paired with fellow four-star wide receivers De'Andre Thompkins and Chris Goodwin.
Replacing Johnny Football at Texas A&M
Quarterback Johnny Manziel declared for the NFL with two eligibility years remaining. So who will replace him? Manziel's No. 2 jersey will go to five-star wide receiver Speedy Noil. The Louisiana native, like Manziel, is an absolute athletic freak with his 4.45 second 40-yard dash and unworldly 44.1 inch vertical. At quarterback, the Aggies signed the No. 1 pro-style signal called in Kyle Allen. At 6-foot-4, 195 pounds Allen isn't the fastest guy, but he has a quick release and is mobile enough to thrive in A&M's air raid attack. The Aggies defense got a boost when the No. 2 overall recruit Myles Garrett signed on to play defensive end.
Rich get richer at Alabama
Alabama's recruiting focus for 2014 is on defense. This mindset helped the Crimson Tide not only sign ten recruits that rank either first or second at their position, but to also have the nation's No. 1 overall class. The class is led up front by No. 1 overall prospect defensive end and tackle Da'Shawn Hand and the No. 5 defensive tackle Josh Frazier. The No. 1 outside linebacker Rashaan Evans spurned his hometown of Auburn to sign with the Tide. In the secondary, Alabama signed two of the top recruits in No. 2 corner Tony Brown -- No. 1 in USA for 110m hurdles -- and Marlon Humphrey -- No. 2 in USA for 60m hurdles.
Florida State reloading
After losing starters at linebacker and running back to the NFL, Jimbo Fisher targeted offensive firepower and linebacker depth for his national champion Seminoles. No. 2 all-pupose back Dalvin Cook is already in Tallahassee and should make an early impact with James Wilder and Devonta Freeman entering the draft. At receiver, the Seminoles got the best in 6-footer Travis Rudolph and No. 5 receiver Ermon Lane. The Seminoles revamped their linebacking corps, signing three of the Top 10 inside/outside linebackers in the nation, highlighted by Kain Daub, who at 6-foot-4 and 243 pounds can play from Day 1.