Clemson is the first big winner of national signing day.
Cornerback Trayvon Mullen, the No. 18 player in ESPN 300, committed to Clemson live on ESPNU Wednesday morning. His decision surprised many as he was projected to either pick LSU or Louisville, but Mullen, the second-ranked cornerback, said he was sold on the “different feel” he got while on campus.
“I just went with my heart,” Mullen said. “I have a real opportunity to come in and play at Clemson, and that was important. But the different feel that I got while walking around campus at Clemson told me it was the right place for me.”
Alabama, Texas and UCLA are also expected to have big national signing days, and all three programs got a kick-start to the day with commitments from impact players in the past 24 hours.
ESPN 300 safety Brandon Burton got signing day started when he announced for UCLA live on ESPN’s SportsCenter at midnight ET Wednesday. Burton, the nation’s No. 255 player and the 13th-ranked safety in the nation, selected the Bruins over Oklahoma, Florida State, Notre Dame and Ohio State.
“I have a really good relationship with all of their coaches,” Burton said. “With all of the experiences with them, I know they’re not lying to me and they’re being upfront and honest about everything. I just felt really comfortable with them. I think we have a chance to do something special on signing day. Just you watch.”
Burton could be right. The Bruins are involved with three top-100 prospects who will announce Wednesday, and if all end up picking UCLA, it could pass Stanford for the top class in the Pac-12.
ESPN 300 prospect Brendan Ferns was off the board early as well with an early-morning commitment to West Virginia.
Alabama — who enters signing day with the ninth-ranked class but could still compete for the No. 1 group before the day is over — landed pledges Tuesday from ESPN 300 cornerback Nigel Knott and ESPN 300 offensive tackle Scott Lashley. Both prospects are from Mississippi and are significant additions at positions of need for the Crimson Tide. Knott ranks as the No. 36 player in the nation, and his pledge gives Alabama three commits from players in the top 40.
Texas enters the day in a spot unfamiliar to most Longhorns fans. After years of dominating the Big 12 recruiting wars, Texas has the 32nd-ranked class, but the Longhorns could finish with the league’s best class if things go their way on signing day.
If Tuesday was any indication, the Horns are going to have a big day. Texas first landed Kyle Porter, the No. 229 player in the country and the 15th-ranked running back, and then late Tuesday evening, four-star defensive tackleD’Andre Christmas-Giles picked the Longhorns over TCU, LSU and Texas AM.
Georgia coach Kirby Smart has put a priority for keeping top talent at home, and he landed a key pledge Wednesday morning from four-star athlete Mecole Hardman, the No. 48 player in ESPN 300. His addition gives the Dawgs two pledges from players ranked in the top five in the state and four top 50 players nationally.
The Bulldogs could add to that total if Derrick Brown, the Georgia No. 1 player, decides to stay home later Wednesday.
Hardman announced his decision by running through a banner in front of the student body at Elbert (Georgia) Elbert County High School wearing a Georgia jersey and Bulldogs gloves.