With the 2022 college football season in the books, the 2023 season began long ago with recruiting and culminated with National Signing Day. On Wednesday, top programs like Alabama and Colorado Football officially landed their new prospects when these players signed a national letter of intent. Throughout the day, college football fans watched their teams grow stronger and build their core for years to come.
Although some prospects are still available and the transfer portal is still a factor, securing recruits in February allows the programs to start working with some of these players as early as possible. Not only that, it also allows schools to focus on the next recruiting classes sooner.
While programs like Alabama and Georgia remain solid contenders for 2023, others like Colorado football appear to be shaping up to be stronger dark horses. With that in mind, here are the biggest winners of National Signing Day.
5. South Carolina Gamecocks
After starting the 2022 season unranked, the South Carolina Gamecocks had some big moments. Most notably, they defeated the Tennessee Volunteers and the Clemson Tigers in back-to-back weeks, each of whom was hoping to make the college football playoffs. Buoyed by those victories, South Carolina finished 23rd nationally.
For 2023, the team should become even stronger thanks to its great commitment on National Signing Day. The Gamecocks secured five-star athletes Nyckoles Harbor.
The multisport perspective has often been associated with Oregon, so his decision to go to South Carolina is a game changer for the program. He also received interest from Maryland and CFP semifinalists Michigan.
Harbor became the program’s highest signing since Jadeveon Clowney in 2011, who ended up being the first pick in the 2014 NFL draft.
4. Arizona State Sun Devil
After losing Jayden Daniels to LSU via the transfer portal in the 2022 offseason, the Arizona State Sun Devils have been trying to find his replacement. Last season, they attempted to transfer Emory Jones from Florida. Unfortunately, with him as a starter, the Sun Devils went 1-6 and finished the year 3-9.
However, the program landed one of the most desirable quarterbacks in the class on National Signing Day. Four-star player Jaden Rashada came to Arizona State after originally making a verbal commitment to Miami (FL) and signing an NLI with Florida.
He is the No. 7 quarterback in the class. In addition, Rashada has a Sun Devils pedigree. His father, Harlen, played defense at the Sun Devils in the 1990s.
While Notre Dame’s Drew Pyne also signed for Arizona State, Rashada offers competition and could be the starter once the former Fighting Irish enters the draft.
3. Georgia Bulldogs
The 2022 season has been a dream for the Georgia Bulldogs. They won their second consecutive national title, this time by a perfect 15-0. With high expectations for the coming seasons, Kirby Smart and the Bulldogs will have a lot of work ahead of them as several key players join the NFL in 2023.
For the 2023 recruiting class, Georgia secured five five-star and 17 four-star ratings. On National Signing Day, the Bulldogs officially landed five-star prospect Ellis Robinson, one of the top cornerbacks in the class of 2024. While he won’t be joining the program this season, his early involvement is still a huge asset to the program.
2. Biggest National Signing Day Winner: Alabama Football
The 2022 season was a far cry from what Crimson Tide fans typically see. Alabama Football went 10-2 and failed to make the SEC Championship Game and CFP. This attracted even more attention to the 2023 recruiting class.
For the third time in six years, Alabama Football managed to have the top recruiting league in the FBS. Nick Saban and Co. took first place in the 247Sports team ranking with 327.68 points. The program yielded nine five-star awards, including No. 3 prospect EDGE Keon Keeley and two other top 10 players.
While the Crimson Tide was relatively quiet on National Signing Day, the fact that Alabama Football still retained the top spot in the recruiting rankings is enough to make it the winner.
1. Biggest National Signing Day Winner: Colorado Football
After a disappointing 1-11 season in 2022, Colorado football is poised for a fresh start in 2023. The program brought in Deion Sanders as the new head coach after a 27-6 stint with the FCS’ Jackson State Tigers. Alongside him came his son and quarterback Shedeur Sanders as a transfer to Colorado.
Alongside former No. 1 recruit Travis Hunter via the transfer portal, the Buffaloes have signed five-star Cormani McClain. He was originally scheduled to go to Miami (FL) but did not sign an NLI on early signing day in December. The cornerback is the third-highest signing in program history.
Also, the Buffaloes got Demouy Kennedy on the Alabama transfer portal. The outside linebacker is a former four-star recruit and has experience under Saban. Colorado football is even working on its class of 2024 when No. 4 offensive tackle Brandon Baker has indicated he intends to play for the Buffaloes.
Taking into account the overall recruit class, the team’s recent results and the addition of McClain, Colorado Football is the #1 winner on National Signing Day 2023.