Wrapping up college football’s 2024 recruiting class, plus Nick Saban heads to ESPN

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Did you even notice that signing day came … and went?

Closing 2024 Recruiting

Which teams ended on top?

After yesterday, college programs officially can move on from the Class of 2024 … even if it has felt that way for some time. The February signing period — which used to be the only one — has lost its significance to the December early signing period.

Five-star athlete Terry Bussey from Timpson (Texas) High School provided yesterday’s only real intrigue after not signing with Texas A&M in December, which felt as good as a decommitment at the time. He took visits to Georgia, LSU and A&M in January but ultimately made the drama-free decision of sticking to his commitment to the Aggies.

Here’s a look at the final Class of 2024 standings, per the 247Sports Composite.

  1. Georgia (28 players, 5 five-stars, 19 four-stars) *Top SEC team
  2. Alabama (28 players, 5 five-stars, 17 four-stars)
  3. Oregon (27 players, 0 five-stars, 22 four-stars) *Top Big Ten team
  4. Miami (27 players, 3 five-stars, 11 four-stars) *Top ACC team
  5. Ohio State (22 players, 4 five-stars, 14 four-stars)

*Top Big 12 team: No. 24 Texas Tech (21 players, 1 five-star, 5 four-stars)

Our Until Saturday podcast crew broke down the 2024 class here.

Highlights from 2024 class … and what’s next

I brought in recruiting writer Grace Raynor to help us with one final recap of the 2024 cycle. (Check out her story today on the ACC’s recruiting footprint.)

Which program(s) signed a higher-ranked class than you anticipated?

Auburn. A year after the Tigers finished with the No. 18 class and an average player rating of 89.36 in 2023, they made quite a jump this year, finishing with a top-10 class and an impressive average player rating of 92.10. The only programs with a better average player rating than the Tigers were Georgia, Alabama, Ohio State, Texas and Oregon.

We knew coach Hugh Freeze would be active on the recruiting trail, but I didn’t think the Tigers would make this type of progress this quickly — especially after going 6-7 in 2023 with an ugly home loss to New Mexico State. Landing five-star receiver and top-three recruit Cam Coleman, who decommitted from Texas A&M after the Aggies fired Jimbo Fisher, was significant.

Which storyline(s) from the 2024 cycle will you remember most?

It has to be the drama surrounding Jeremiah Smith, the nation’s top prospect who eventually signed with Ohio State after flirting with Miami and Florida State down the stretch. No one knew what Smith, who committed to the Buckeyes in December of 2022, was going to do on Dec. 20 when he eventually signed late that evening.

As our Manny Navarro reported, Smith took a Miami hat with him to his signing day event and took his decision down to the final few minutes. Recruiting has gotten complicated in this new era, but Smith’s recruitment was a reminder that we love recruiting because it’s unpredictable, fun and dramatic. No one kept us on our toes quite like Smith did, and I enjoyed every second of it.

With major conference realignment moves coming this fall, how will recruiting look different for the Class of 2025?

We will see programs expand their geographic footprints based on their new conference affiliations. A high school coach in Georgia told me a couple of months ago that Texas was just as on top of things in Georgia as Kirby Smart’s Bulldogs are. Even though the Longhorns have plenty of talent in their backyard, they know that Georgia is a crucial state to recruit as an SEC program.

Stanford, which is moving to the ACC, signed five players from California but eight players combined from Florida, New Jersey and Georgia. Then you have SMU, which will be more competitive in its backyard now that it is in a power conference (ACC). In 2024, the Mustangs signed just one blue-chip prospect. For 2025, they have two committed. It’s going to be fun to watch it all unfold.

Saban Joins GameDay

From coaching to broadcasting

Nick Saban, widely considered the greatest college football coach of all time, has jumped to broadcasting less than one month after announcing his retirement from Alabama. Yesterday, ESPN announced the 72-year-old will join the network’s “College GameDay” cast, contribute to NFL Draft coverage and make appearances on the SEC Network. My quick thoughts:

  • We knew this was coming. While Saban’s retirement came with an element of surprise, this move was largely predictable. Saban has made numerous appearances on ESPN through the years, and it recently came out in a book that he considered leaving coaching for ESPN in late 2013 not long after the Kick Six loss to Auburn. After his retirement, Saban told Rece Davis he would “like to do (broadcasting), but someone told me once you can’t start a broadcasting career at 80.”
  • It’s getting crowded. ESPN’s release says Saban will join host Davis and analysts Lee Corso, Kirk Herbstreit, Desmond Howard and Pat McAfee on the show. That suggests Corso, 88, is not retiring and McAfee, who said he was considering not returning, will be back. Having worked as a GameDay production runner back in 2021 — the show hires two or three college students per show to help with setup and other tasks — I’m offering my immediate condolences to the coffee runners this fall.

Read more analysis of Saban’s move here.

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Nick Saban will join ESPN’s “College GameDay” this fall. (Ben Jared / PGA Tour via Getty)

Quick Snaps

Left behind by their Pac-12 counterparts, Oregon State and Washington State are still paving a path forward. As OSU AD Scott Barnes put it: “Priority one is to join an existing power conference. Option two is to build back a power conference with a Pac-12 banner.” But where are the schools in the process?

Deion Sanders is expected to hire Rob Livingston as Colorado’s defensive coordinator. Livingston spent eight seasons as the secondary coach for the Cincinnati Bengals and will replace Charles Kelly, who left Colorado to become co-DC at Auburn.

Florida QBs shined in the 2024 recruiting cycle — eight signed with Power 4 schools, and 11 others signed with FBS programs. Will the Sunshine State have an encore in 2025? Manny Navarro has an early look at the top prospects.

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(Top photo of Terry Bussey: Phelan M. Ebenhack via AP)

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