BEST DRAMA AWARD
As of Wednesday night, there was still no finality when it came to five-star safety Peyton Bowen, who flipped from Notre Dame to Oregon (although many expected if a flip were to happen it would be Oklahoma) but never sent in the paperwork. There seems to be a difference of opinion on where Bowen should go and as the family figures all that out, it looks like all three schools could still remain in play. Even as this gets settled, it was one of the two biggest storylines of signing day.
FALSE ALARM AWARD
The other big story was five-star cornerback Cormani McClain not signing. Miami expected it to happen and many close to the Lakeland, Fla., standout were caught off-guard but his mother went to social media on Wednesday to say “false alarm” and that McClain would not be putting pen to paper. Could this be Colorado coach Deion Sanders’ attempt at stealing McClain or is something else in the works? It still needs to be figured out.
FALSE ALARM II AWARD
Four-star receiver Deandre Moore was on the Bellflower (Calif.) St. John Bosco press release to sign on Wednesday (no school mentioned) and he’s been committed to Louisville since late May. But in recent weeks, Georgia and Texas have emerged as the leading contenders in his recruitment and it looked like the Longhorns were slightly ahead. But Moore didn’t show to the school’s press conference and now it’s unlikely he signs early.
RETURN TO SENDER AWARD
There was serious flirtation with Auburn – including multiple trips to The Plains – and the four-star offensive lineman from Fairburn (Ga.) Langston Hughes snuck in a late trip to Colorado which always perks up attention.
Committed to the Bulldogs since September 2021, Hughley definitely played the recruiting game down the stretch and gave other teams hope, but a flip just wasn’t meant to be.
CLOSE BUT NO CIGAR AWARD
Just like Return To Sender, this award goes to someone who looked like a flip was imminent but didn’t happen and that goes to Tony Mitchell. The difference here is while Hughley kept quiet about his recruitment, after each trip Mitchell took, he talked about how he was still fully committed to Alabama. But multiple trips to Auburn made things look curious. A late trip to Texas A&M looked like a flip was more than possible.
A source said in the days leading up to Mitchell signing that “anything can happen.” What ended up happening is that the Alabaster (Ala.) Thompson standout stuck with his original pledge.
BELIEVE IT WHEN WE SEE IT AWARD
For months, it looked like Ohio State was the front-runner for five-star defensive end Matayo Uiagalelei. He loved the NFL player development there and the idea of being coached by Larry Johnson and all of it. But in recent weeks, the whispers around Uiagalelei were that USC had emerged as the favorite and on Monday night, texts were coming in from sources saying the family had decided on the Trojans.
By Tuesday night, it was Oregon. At that point, who knew what to believe but the Ducks had the momentum heading into Wednesday and Uiagalelei announced for coach Dan Lanning’s club.
What’s better than one elite defensive lineman from Montgomery (Ala.) Carver? How about both of them? Rarely do package deals work out as it’s something players say early in the recruiting process and then it peters out and becomes forgotten.
But high four-stars James Smith and Jaquavious Russaw were serious about playing together in college and while Georgia, Florida and Auburn especially made a run at the Montgomery Carver standouts, it was Alabama that won out in the end.
DON’T LEAVE HOME WITHOUT IT AWARD
Malachi Coleman made a commitment to hometown Nebraska in mid-October but on Dec. 1 backed off that pledge and a lot of Huskers fans thought he was headed elsewhere. New coach Matt Rhule smartly made the Lincoln (Neb.) East standout a top priority when he got the job and over the last few weeks got Coleman back on board.
Rhule and the Huskers fended off national programs from coming in and stealing away Coleman, who took a last-second visit to Colorado but decided to stick it out with the Huskers again.
TRY HARD AWARD
As of Wednesday night, Colorado coach Deion Sanders did not have an exceptional day compared to others who signed blockbuster classes – but it wasn’t for lack of trying. Transfer Travis Hunter is going to join him in Boulder and other transfers will have a tremendous impact. Colorado might be in the process of flipping five-star cornerback Cormani McClain. But this award goes to Sanders for – at the last second – getting in contact with Hykeem Williams and trying to flip him. The Florida State five-star receiver pledge was not interested.
FLIPPING OUT AWARD
When five-star quarterback Dante Moore flipped from Oregon to UCLA in recent days it was a real hit for the Ducks since the Detroit Martin Luther King standout had been committed since the summer and looked like a future star in Eugene.
But instead of crying in their beers, Oregon’s staff got then-Baylor commit Austin Novosad to visit on the final weekend and on signing day he flipped from the Bears to the Ducks. He’s not as highly-rated as Moore but he’s hardly a second choice because Novosad is also a special talent.
FLIPPING OUT II AWARD
Elite four-star defensive end Keldric Faulk talked so highly of Florida State coach Mike Norvell and his vision for the Seminoles at the Alabama/Mississippi All-Star Game that it sounded like a lock he would end up in Tallahassee.
But Auburn kept pushing and pushing and pushing and on the final weekend before signing day, the Highland Home, Ala., standout visited both Florida State and Auburn. It still looked like the Noles were OK, until Faulk flipped to coach Hugh Freeze’s club on Wednesday.
BAH HUMBUG AWARD
Five-star offensive tackle Kadyn Proctor had been committed to Iowa since the summer and he was the star of the Hawkeyes’ class. He looked destined to be the next butt-kicker in Iowa City before heading off to the NFL. But Alabama would not give up and on the last weekend before signing day, Proctor visited Tuscaloosa and flipped to the Crimson Tide on Tuesday.
On social media, in typical Midwest fashion, Iowa fans were disappointed but also wished Proctor the best of luck. It was tough to swallow for Iowa but Alabama was thrilled by the news.