Notes & Quotes: 2016 ESPNU National Signing Day

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Notes & Quotes: 2016 ESPNU National Signing Day

Today, ESPNU National Signing Day presented by Nissan, concluded 11-hours of live college commitments and coaching interviews from the Charlotte, N.C. studios, with additional reporting from 15 college campuses. ESPN’s Signing Day coverage stretched across five networks – ESPN, ESPNU, ESPN2, SEC Network, Longhorn Network – and included more than 30 live streams on WatchESPN and the ESPN app.

ESPN Recruiting Director Tom Luginbill on ESPN’s Recruiting Nation team of experts and the prep that goes into the day “There is no crystal ball, you are making a projection. This is an inexact science. We try and get people with expertise and background in the game to assess.” Recruiting Nation provided hourly updates to the Class Rankings and finalized the Top 25 Class Rankings with Florida State taking the top spot. Texas made the largest leap, starting the day outside the Top 30 and finishing at No. 6.  The Top 75 will be released later this evening.

Throughout the day on ESPNU and ESPN2 hosts Joe Tessitore and Matt Schick were joined by analysts Luginbill, Mike Bellotti, Mack Brown, Joey Galloway David Pollack and for live reaction to player commitments and team evaluations.  Player commitment videos, expert analysis, head coaching quotes/videos and overall National Signing Day highlights below.


No. 1 Rashan Gary (DT) commits to Michigan
ESPN Recruiting Nation: Scout’s Take (Commitment Video)
ESPN Images

  • Gary: “Michigan is where I felt comfortable, a place my family feels comfortable and the academic support is great. The degree holds a lot of weight. It is going to [help me] fulfil a lifetime goal and that is for me to provide for my family.”
  • Luginbill: “[He will make a] very well-thought out, a very thoroughly vetted decision by this young man. He has taken his time, gotten all the parameters and information that he feels he needs to make his choice.”
  • Pollack: “Adding top caliber guys like Gary [is] a huge coup for Michigan to build on the momentum of the Harbaugh offseason to now.”


No. 9 Derrick Brown (DT) commits to Auburn
ESPN Recruiting Nation: Scout’s Take (Commitment Video)

  • Bellotti: “This is a guy that is 320 pounds and can dunk a basketball. That’s the kind of explosiveness that scares you as an opposing coach.”

No. 18 Trayvon Mullen (CB) commits to Clemson
ESPN Recruiting Nation: Scout’s Take (Commitment Video)

  • Mullen: “Clemson was in my head Clemson, was in my heart and soul”

No. 24 Ben Davis (LB) commits to Alabama
ESPN Recruiting Nation: Scout’s Take (Commitment Video)

  • Davis: “I had to go with my heart and Alabama is a close to home school. I had to go with my first heart, my gut, so I am Rolling with the Tide.”
  • Davis: “[The coaching staff] loves big linebackers that can run, so I will rely on my d-line, and make tackles.”

No. 26 Jeffrey McCulloch (LB) commits to Texas
ESPN Recruiting Nation: Scout’s Take (Commitment Video)

  • McCulloch: “I believe in Coach Strong’s vision. I have always been a Texas fan; I am going to Texas for a reason, and that is to bring [the program] back to where it should be.”
  • Bellotti: “He is going to a force to reckon with coming off the edge.”

No. 34 Mack Wilson (LB) commits to Alabama
ESPN Recruiting Nation: Scout’s Take (Commitment Video)

  • Luginbill: “An explosive, fast, and rangy player. In today’s space game, he is a space player.”
  • Luginbill: “From a talent profile perspective a guy like this fits on critical downs where you might have substitution problems.”

No. 37 Nate Craig-Myers (WR) commits to Auburn
ESPN Recruiting Nation: Scout’s Take (Commitment Video)

  • Craig-Myers: “Auburn is one of the first schools to believe in me. [However,] once you decommit, some schools back off, but Auburn still had a stronghold. They still asked my mom’s permission to recruit me and that is a big honor to me.”
  • Luginbill: “Considering where Auburn is currently, I expect Craig-Myers to come right in and be a part of the rotation and expected to perform. They were lacking play makers. In this class, all the offensive players are from Georgia or Florida; [they] are bringing in some speed.”


No. 44 Devin Asiasi (TE) commits to Michigan
ESPN Recruiting Nation: Scout’s Take (Commitment Video)

  • Luginbill: “This might be one of the bigger surprises. I know a lot of people on the west coast felt like this was going to come down to USC, UCLA.”


No. 49 Brandon Jones (S) commits to Texas
ESPN Recruting Nation: Scout’s Take (Commitment Video)

  • Jones: “It’s just not about football it’s a family thing down there…They’re not just worried about football they want to make me a better man”

No. 54 Boss Tagaloa commits to UCLA
ESPN Recruiting Nation: Scout’s Take

  • Bellotti on Tagaloa and Asiasi joint announcements: “How well done was that? Two kids, well spoken. You (Michigan and UCLA) have to be excited about the type of kid you are getting with those two youngsters.”

No. 64 Landon Dickerson (OT) commits to FSU
ESPN Recruiting Nation: Scout’s Take (commitment video)

  • Dickerson: “The coaching staff was a major factor. [Also,] I have a lot of friends I have met through the process that are going to Florida State and that made it easier. It is a great program and there are a lot of opportunities for me. Hopefully, I will be able to play as a freshman, hopefully,  if all things go right.”
  • Brown: “He is big, fast, smart and he knocks every one down he sees.”


No. 123 Dontavious Jackson (No. 5 LB) commits to Florida State
Commitment Video

  • Jackson: “It feels like a big load lifted off shoulders, I can walk around comfortable, and don’t have to answer any more questions. The process is done and I am ready to get to work.”
  • Jackson: “They are in store for someone that can do everything at the linebacker position, I can cover, I can come down hill and thump, I can blitz and I can do anything the coaches ask me to do.”

No. 255 Brandon Burton (Safety) commits to USC
ESPN Recruiting Nation: Scout’s Take (Commitment Video)


Head Coach Interviews

  • Alabama’s Nick Saban: “This year has been different in terms of guys not publically committed to what they are going to do. There is a little more suspense.”
  • Arizona State’s Todd Graham: (Coach Interview)
  • Arkansas’ Bret Bielema: “(Coach Interview)
  • Baylor’s Art Briles: “Every [verbal] commitment signed with us” (Coach Interview)
  • Clemson’s Dabo Swinney:  “The exposure of our brand, nationally [was helped playing in the National Championship]; it allowed us recruit some national guys. Everyone tries to fit their needs and I think we have done that.”
  • Duke’s David Cutcliffe: (Coach Interview)
  • Florida State’s Jimbo Fisher: “No doubt, you still get that certain feeling in your stomach, just like when you are going out to a game. You never know til it happens, the excitement of it.”
  • LSU’s Les Miles: “We are proud of this class. A lot goes into this. I am for calling it the greatest [class] ever. Developing that class and bringing it out the other side as the greatest ever, that is what we will have to do.”
  • Iowa’s Kirk Ferentz: (CoachInterview)
  • Houston’s Tom Herman (Coach Interview)
  • Miami’s Mark Richt: (Coach Interview)
  • Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh: “A+++” “I think all of them, every single one of them we really searched for nuggets of gold. From 29-29 when this class is accounted for…Real football players that want to compete in the classroom, good citizens [is what] we were looking for. I think they’re great with a capital G” (Coach Interview)
  • Michigan State’s Mark Dantonio: “This is beginning; it is not the end. Now it really starts and you have you develop those players [we brought in]. We got the first guys on our board as well.”   (Coach Interview)
  • Mississippi State Dan Mullen (Coach Interview)
  • Nebraska’s Mike Riley: “We kind of hit all our marks” (Coach Interview)
  • North Carolina’s Larry Fedora: “You don’t have time to reflect on it all because you’re working on the ’17 guys right now.. it just gives you a blueprint for what you have to accomplish with the 17 class” (CoachInterview)
  • Oklahoma’s Bob Stoops: “We met our needs everywhere” (Coach Interview)
  • Ole Miss’ Hugh Freeze:  “A championship class begins at quarterback. [With Shea Patterson’s signing], I think we have the number one quarterback in the nation.”
  • Oregon’s Mark Helfrich: (Coach Interview)
  • Penn State’s James Franklin: “We’re proud of what we’re doing” (Coach Interview)
  • South Carolina’s Will Muschamp: “Just here today, some playmakers in Korey Banks and Randrecous Davis, we are really excited about. We weren’t totally certain they were going to come to South Carolina…Four offensive lineman in the class, and getting the six midyear guys already on campus, was critical for us.”
  • Stanford David Shaw: “[Success] is a combination of recruiting and coaching. If you look at this class, you see what Stanford football is all about. We are excited about this whole group.” (Coach Interview)
  • Syracuse’s Dino Babers: (Coach Interview)
  • TCU’s Gary Patterson: (Coach Interview)
  • Temple’s Matt Rhule: (Coach Interview)
  • Tennessee’s Butch Jones: “Very excited for recruiting class” (Coach Interview)
  • UCLA’s Jim Mora: (Coach Interview)
  • Virginia Tech’s Justin Fuente: (Coach Interview)


ESPNU Analyst Signing Day Quotes

  • Mack Brown on the impact signing day can have: “Negative surprises on Signing Day are killers [for coaches and football programs].”
  • Joey Galloway on players that left Texas A&M: “[If I was a recruit] I would try and talk to those players. The information you get from players is key – the program, the coaches, the city, the school, the students. They will break all that stuff down for you, so I would do everything I could to talk to the guys who are leaving the program.”
  • Tom Luginbill on Alabama: “You look at Alabama, and almost every kid that has come out of that state, every kid that you touted to pan out, has panned out.”
  • Tom Luginbill about coaching changes: “The likelihood you are going to play for three-to four-to five years with your position coach, area coach, your coordinator or head coach, it is highly unlikely. So the substance to making your decision, there has to be more to it than one individual.”
  • Mike Bellotti on highlights of the day: “For me Texas coming back. We talked about Charlie Strong doing better job in state, hiring some new people on his staff and it is paying dividends today.”
  • Luginbill on Texas: “What Texas was hoping to happen, is starting to happen. It is about closing down the stretch. Charlie Strong has to be very, very excited. So much of the recruiting going down to the wire is to make sure the guy is right for them.”
  • Luginbill on Washington: “What Chris Peterson has done stands out the most to me in the Pac 12. This is a foundation-building crew that can start to get this program back to where they were in the Pac 8 and Pac 10 days. This class has those building blocks.”
  • Gerry Hamilton on Florida State: “[No. 46 on the ESPN 300] Carlos Becker signing with Florida State is a huge win for the Seminoles over Ohio State.”
  • Mack Brown on Clemson: “Every year, Clemson is a factor in every home they want to be in.”
  • Luginbill on team building: “The reality is, there are thousands upon thousands of players in a given class and close to 130 teams at FBS level. It’s players No. 301 thru No. 1,000 that make up the bulk of your team.”
  • Mack Brown on a coaching staff: “Coaching is very important; it’s not as important as recruiting.”
  • Luginbill on Stanford: “It’s tough to go across the board and fill every position, but Stanford has come darn close doing that with this class.”
  • Luginbill on Ole Miss: “How far has the perception of Ole Miss come? They are sitting at No. 2 or No. 3 [of the class rankings] and all the talk is about [other schools]. It is as if this [success] is suddenly expected in Oxford. That stands out as notable.”
  • Tessitore on Michigan: “Jim Harbaugh said ‘Michigan is a meritocracy with nothing to hide’; it’s also an empire.”

Signing Day Gallary


Gracie Blackburn

Gracie is the Communications Manager for ESPN’s College Networks. She handles all media requests and questions concerning SEC Network and Longhorn Network. Gracie also supports on college sports airing across ESPN networks.
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