2014 ESPN National Signing Day Recap: Final Rankings, Videos, Quotes, and Photos

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2014 ESPN National Signing Day Recap: Final Rankings, Videos, Quotes, and Photos

Pictures: ESPN 300 recruit, DT Poona Ford in-studio Downloadable Images                                                                                                                            

ESPN kicked off the 2014 college football season today by providing the day’s most comprehensive National Signing Day coverage. ESPNU televised an 11-hour ESPNU National Signing Day Special while ESPN3 carried three Recruiting Nation shows and four team specific shows.  RecruitingNation.com also provided in-depth analysis and rankings.

ESPNU’s all-day telecast included on-air live player commitments from around the country, more than 30 head coach interviews, ESPN 300 recruit Poona Ford’s exclusive Twitter announcement and in-studio appearance, analysis of college football conferences, teams and incoming players.

On ESPNU, hosts Rece Davis and Dari Nowkhah were joined by an assembled team of experts in scouting, recruiting, and college football. Senior national recruiting analyst Tom Luginbill remained on-set throughout the day with a rotation of college analysts that included Mike Bellotti, Danny Kanell, David Pollack, and Robert Smith. Recruiting analysts Gerry Hamilton and Craig Haubert were also in-studio with additional appearances by ESPN’s Kirk Herbstreit, Lou Holtz and Paul Finebaum.

ESPN National Signing Day Recap


ESPN RecruitingNation.com final 2014 Class Rankings:

1.     Alabama

2.     LSU

3.     Florida St

4.     Texas A&M

5.     Tennessee

6.     Florida

7.     Ohio State

8.     Auburn

9.     Georgia

10.   Miami

11.   Notre Dame

12.   Clemson

13.   Oklahoma

14.   USC

15.   Stanford

16.   Texas

17.   Ole Miss

18.   Michigan

19.   South Carolina

20.   Kentucky

21.   Arizona Stte

22.   Baylor

23.   Arizona

24.   Penn State

25.   Virginia

 Top 75 Class Rankings will be available later Wednesday night here: http://es.pn/18xndkp


ESPN on-air announcements with quotes and analyst reaction

No. 9 Adoree’ Jackson (CB) signed with USC – Video

  • Jackson: “Growing up as a little kid, my favorite player was Reggie Bush. I just want to live out those dreams and put USC back in dominance.”

No. 14 Lorenzo Carter (DE) signed with Georgia – Video

  • Carter: “I decided to stay home and represent my state and hopefully bring a national championship back to Georgia. [The Georgia] defense is going to nasty and I plan on being a big part of it.”

No. 17 Malachi Dupre (WR) signed with LSU – Video

  •  Dupre: “I just felt it was right to stay home and play football for the state of Louisiana and try to bring a national championship back to the state. [Playing at LSU] is a hard opportunity to pass up. I had a lot of opportunities… but I thought it was best stay here.”

No. 24 John ‘Juju’ Smith (Ath) signed with USC – Video

  •   Smith: “The coaching staff was great. USC’s been my dream since day one.”
  •  Kanell: “USC had moved up six spots [in class rankings] before this announcement. This is going to put them even further.”

No. 25 Solomon Thomas (DE) signed with Stanford – Video

  • Thomas: “The players and people there. They all have the same mindset as people, not just as players. I love the coaches out there. It is amazing out there. [Head Coach David Shaw] is a real players’ coach. He is going to make sure [we] are better people.”

No. 26 Damian Prince (OT) signed with Maryland – Video

  •  Prince: “It came down to following my heart. Everybody sounds the same saying great, great things and you have to weed out what you think is real.”
  • Kanell: “You’ve got to get your in-state guys. This is a huge get for Randy Edsall.”

No. 52 Rashaan Evans (OLB) signed with Alabama– Video

  •  Evans: “Alabama is the best school for me; [not only] for my football career, but I also felt that pursuing my academic career.  It felt like they can do it all for me.”
  •  Luginbill on Evans committing to Alabama instead of Auburn: “He was such a coveted prospect. It’s the range, and the athleticism and the sideline to sideline team speed that Evans brings to a defense. If you’re an Auburn fan or you’re Auburn as a program, you’re looking at that school (Alabama) across the state, who you know you’re in constant competition with. It’s a need position and a position of potential impact. I was very intrigued by this one and was pretty surprised by it.

No. 67 Damien Mama (OG) signed with  USC

  • Luginbill on USC overall: “The one thing recruits don’t like is instability and uncertainty. Once stability was placed back into this program with the path to the future, you started seeing a response. USC is one of those programs that is afforded the luxury when there is changeover, kids will take a wait and see approach. We have seen that happen so far.”

No. 127 Brandon Smith (OG) signed with Auburn – Video

  • Smith: “It is a great opportunity now that Ray Robinson left for the NFL and the great opportunity to get the chance to play early. And of course the style of offense that they run is very similar to [my high school offense] and I can pick it up very fast.

No. 194 Mattrell McGraw (S) signed with Oregon – Video

  • McGraw: “They’re coaching staff was real stable. When I weighed the pros and cons [of distance Oregon is from his home state], I realized they have airplanes.”


  • Luginbill: “He plays much bigger than his measurable will lead you to believe. He is one of those players who is a tone-setter, if you will. Plays near the line of scrimmage. He’s not a reactionary player; he’s got an attacking style.”

No. 249 Myles Autry (Ath) signed with Georgia Tech – Video

  • Autry: “They list me as athlete, so when I get there, we will see [what position I play], but I will definitely playing offense with my brother.”  

Terrence Alexander (CB) signed with Stanford

  • Alexander: “Stanford has been in my top three for the whole three years of my current process. I feel it gives me the best opportunity to be successful in the classroom and on the football field.”

Kenny Young (ILB) committed to UCLA

  • Young: “They’ll just have Kenny Young joining the party, making plays and taking our defense to a [another] level.”

Recruiting Nation.com Recruiter of the Year

Bill Napier (Alabama): Napier’s efforts assembling Alabama’s 2014 recruiting class was truly special. Napier landed seven ESPN 300 prospects, including the No. 3 overall prospect in offensive tackle Cameron Robinson, No. 2 safety Laurence Jones, and No. 8 wide receiver Cameron Sims.

Lenard Fournette and Josh Rosen Interviews

No. 1 overall recruit, Leonard Fournette signed with LSU and then appeared on ESPNU National Signing Day Special

  • Fournette on his expectations for next year: “Win a Heisman and a national championship for Tiger Nation.”

No. 1 quarterback in the class of 2015, Josh Rosen, appeared on ESPNU National Signing Day Special

  • Rosen on being recruited now: “[I receive] between 10, 20, 30 [letters] a day. Colleges are stopping by, saying ‘hi’, talking on the phone. It is kind of exciting.”
  • Rosen, a California native, on if he wants to stay in California: “It is kind of a coincidence that the schools that I like and looking at are in California. I don’t think it is really specific to the region. We are an east coast family. I am looking at Michigan and possibly Texas. We will see how it goes.”

College Head Coaches Interview Highlights

Note: Quotes are about specific coach’s Signing Day class unless noted

  • Alabama’s Nick Saban: “[We had] guys make a decision early, which is helpful to us to manage the numbers and get the best players.”
  • Alabama’s Nick Saban on consistently getting the top recruits: “Biggest challenge is not where they are rated in high school, but how they develop as a college football player. Most of these guys have turned out to be very good players for us. They have developed careers in the next level which is what it is really all about.”
  • Arkansas Bret Bielema: “Last year we had seven true freshmen come in and help us tremendously. I think the number could be the same this year. They need to be physically ready but more importantly they need mentally ready above anything else.”
  •  Auburn’s Gus Malzahn: “The great thing about these guys is they’ve been committed to us for a long time.”
  • Auburn’s Gus Malzahn: “[Andrew Williams] was a big get for us. He can rush the passer, very athletic and very strong.”
  • Central Florida’s George O’Leary: “We sure helped ourselves in a lot of areas with outstanding athletes, size wise, with range and speed.  I think we did an outstanding job acquiring talent.”
  • Clemson’s Dabo Swinney: “I think we exceeded our needs. We’re losing a great quarterback in Tajh Boyd but to sign what we think is the number one guy in the country in Deshaun Watson. That’s obviously a big need we had.”
  • Florida State’s Jimbo Fisher: “We have size, speed and length. We hit all our needs in the major categories but we got some of everything. We got tremendous size and length but we still got the athleticism and speed.”
  • Georgia’s Mark Richt: “It was a little surprise to Bulldog nation that Isiah [McKenzie] came – it happened kind of quick.”
  • LSU’s Les Miles: “It’s just what we needed. It’s the kind of day that fuels our future. The staff and coaches have done a great job.”
  •  LSU’s Les Miles on his players going to NFL: “I think it really shows these things: we’ll play you early if you’re ready, we’ll train you well, we’ll play for championships and that opportunity to play in the NFL is certainly here.”
  • Miami’s Al Golden: “A really good day for the Miami Hurricanes. We can move forward now without anything hanging over our heads.”
  • Miami’s Al Golden on this being the start of his era: “I don’t know if that is fair. I think we have a lot of young people here that have fought through a very difficult time and coaches that stayed so now it is just exciting to go and represent the University of Miami for what it is – the No. 1 school in the state of Florida, top 40 school in the country.”
  • Miami’s Al Golden on DE Chad Thomas: “He’s valuable to us because he’s a pass rusher; we got the pass rushers that we needed to get desperately.”
  • Michigan’s Brady Hoke: “Knowing the personality of Jabrill Peppers, knowing the competitiveness that he has and all the things we learned through the recruiting, you take that athleticism and take that body he has already and he has a terrific chance to come in here and compete and get in and play.”
  • Michigan State’s Mark Dantonio: “You go into every recruiting season trying to address your needs and trying to establish your future and foundation for that.  We’re very, very excited about our guys and what they’re going to bring to the table.  We have some unique individuals that are signed, sealed and delivered right now, and they’re going to be a great class.”
  • Mississippi’s State Dan Mullen: “We’ve had a great day. There are couple pleasant surprises coming our way still. It’s gone pretty well for us so far today. We are excited about this group coming in and our future.”
  • North Carolina’s Larry Fedora: “We got a national brand, everybody knows the Carolina Blue. So everybody knows who we are when we walk in the door. Then we start selling Chapel Hill, the opportunity for a world-class education and to play football at the highest level. You get them on this campus, it sells itself.”
  • Notre Dame’s Brian Kelly: “It is about building depth. The success of any program is about continuity and make sure you have depth in your program. I think you start with offensive and defensive line.”
  • Ohio State’s Urban Meyer: “We hope to recruit players where there are no redshirts. We get them in there and we let them go play. We had some holes to fill and that why we worked so hard on this class.”
  • Oklahoma’s Bob Stoops: “They are exceptional athletes. Joe Mixon is a big physical, hard-running tailback with great speed with great hands and guy out of the backfield catching the ball too and then there is Michiah [Quick] is one of those exceptional athletes that we will play him inside at the slot receiver. He is a big play guy, you get home down field or on the screen and he can turn short plays into big plays.”
  • Ole Miss’ Hugh Freeze: “I really believe this class is going to give us added depth, and we got faster as a football team with the guys we recruited.  I think from top to bottom, this class may be more complete than last year’s. It bodes well for our future.”
  • Rutgers’ Kyle Flood: “This Big 10 recruiting class is exciting, and I think it’s going to go a long way in getting us ready to compete in that conference.  One of the things we set out to do from the very beginning was solidify our offensive line depth and to sign four offensive linemen. It’s been a great start for us.”
  • Texas A&M’s Kevin Sumlin: “We’ve got quality guys in our program right now that understand what our expectations are and fortunately our coaching staff has been able to go out and get some really quality players to replace the ones that left.”
  • Texas’ Charlie Strong: “They had to figure out who we were. They had no familiarity with us so we just wanted to get into the homes and in front of them.”


ESPNU Analyst Signing Day Quotes

  • Luginbill on LSU quarterback signee Brandon Harris: “I don’t know if I’ve seen, in person, in the last eight or nine classes a ball jump off the hand the way this guy’s does with natural velocity, explosiveness, wrist-snap and to make all the throws on the field. And he hasn’t tapped into what he can be yet.”
  • Luginbill on Maryland: “Somebody go sprinkle some good luck dust on the QB position.”
  • Luginbill on Oklahoma: “They have done a nice job – more depth and more weapons.”
  • Luginbill on South Carolina: “This is a class that’s flown under the radar to some degree, but I will be willing to bet it’ll exceed expectations two or three years down the line.”
  • Luginbill on Stanford: Stanford’s momentum is not slowing down. There is such a positive perception of what they have done in a short time there and it has resonated. 
  • Bellotti on recruits: “As much as we’d like to believe recruits commit to an institution… it’s not. They commit to people.”
  • Davis on Mississippi State – “They could be a sleeper in the SEC West. I think you could make the argument, with all due respect to Nick Marshall, that Zach Prescott could be the best returning quarterback in the SEC.”
  • Finebaum on Alabama: “It is a remarkable day for the Crimson Tide. I think getting [Rashaan] Evans from Auburn at the last minute is what a lot of people will remember.” 
  • Holtz on Signing Day: “Everybody’s optimistic. It’s just like when you have a baby, you don’t know if it’s going to be a doctor, lawyer or a thief. What you do know is you have a baby. Same thing with a prospect. Is he going to be an All-American or is he going to be a flop.”
  • Holtz on Signing Day: “Recruiting is big to the coaches, but let me tell you, it’s a heck of a lot bigger to the alumni. I got more nasty letters during recruiting than any other time.”
  • Pollack on Penn State hiring James Franklin: “They hired a great coach. When you look at the sanctions, I don’t think it is attractive to every coach. I think he will build a championship caliber team.”
  • Pollack on USC: “Specifically on the offense guards, that’s pretty solid when you can build that offensive line. They have to replace a lot of guys up front. You better be good in the trenches. We know USC is going to have skill guys but I’m impressed so far with the job [Steve Sarkisian] has done in building the line of scrimmage.”
  • Smith on Stanford: “This thing is not going downhill the way people thought it was going to and it’s fun to see.”
  • Smith on Tennessee: “I think the thing that’s most impressive to me about this class not just the sheer number, but the level of player that they’re able to get. We’re talking about eight top 300 defensive recruits when they had six over the last six years.  It’s truly phenomenal to me what [coach Butch Jones] has been able to do.”

The 24-hour college sports television network airs more than 650 live events annually and offers over 1,000 original studio shows. ESPNU has seen a steady increase since its inception on March 4, 2005 and is now in over 74 million households. The brand is also available in high definition on ESPNUHD, now in over 20 million homes. The network has long-term carriage agreements with all 10 of the top multichannel TV providers – Cablevision, Charter, Comcast, Cox, DirecTV (Channel 208), DISH Network (Channel 141), Mediacom, Time Warner Cable, Verizon FiOS TV and AT&T U-verse.


Media contact: Derek Volner at 860-384-9986; [email protected] and @DerekVolner

Derek Volner

I currently lead ESPN’s NFL Communications, including Monday Night Football, NFL Draft and studio programming. Previously, I did the same for ESPN’s vast college football portfolio. I have been with ESPN since 2013.
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