Oregon, Alabama, Texas, Miami and Ohio State among heavyweights. And TCU makes most of the CFP spotlight

It can get lost in the bowl season and holiday shuffle, but Wednesday was the first day that recruits in the class of 2023 could sign with their preferred schools.

Recruits have three days in December to sign with schools ahead of the traditional February signing day. Most players choose to sign during the early signing period, but there will still be players who sign in February, especially as teams sort out who will be on their rosters in 2023 thanks to the transfer portal.

Here’s what you need to know to catch up on what happened Wednesday. For more in-depth recruiting news and analysis, head on over to Rivals.

Oregon makes waves with 7 new commitments

Oregon made major headlines on the first day of the early signing period by landing six new high school commitments and a high-profile transfer. Of those six additions, two are five-star prospects and four were committed to different schools when the day began.

The headliner of that group was five-star safety Peyton Bowen, a former Notre Dame commit. Bowen had been committed to the Irish for almost a year but pulled off a signing day stunner at a Wednesday morning ceremony. Bowen first put on the Notre Dame hat before quickly taking it off and announcing for Oregon.

Not long after, another five-star announced for Oregon. This time it was Matayo Uiagalelei, a defensive end from California. Uiagalelei was thought to be leaning towards Ohio State or USC at various points in his recruitment, but ended up signing with Oregon.

Earlier Wednesday, Oregon announced the signing of four-star quarterback Austin Novosad, who was committed to Baylor. The Ducks lacked a QB in its 2023 class after five-star prospect Dante Moore flipped to UCLA this week.

The news didn’t stop there. Two other four-star prospects would flip to Oregon as well — cornerback Daylen Austin and running back Jayden Limar. Austin was committed to LSU while Limar was another Notre Dame pledge.

While not a flip, three-star receiver Solomon Davis also committed to Oregon on Wednesday to make it six 2023 additions in all.

And the cherry on top came on Wednesday evening when Ajani Cornelius — one of the most coveted players in the transfer portal — was the next to announce for Oregon. Cornelius, an offensive lineman from the University of Rhode Island, chose Oregon over Ohio State, Tennessee and Nebraska.

Oregon is up to 28 commitments in Dan Lanning’s first full recruiting cycle as the Ducks’ head coach. For those efforts, Oregon is up to No. 8 in the Rivals team rankings as of the time of this writing.

Alabama leads the way ahead of Georgia, Texas and Ohio State

Alabama has the No. 1 recruiting class in the country again.

The Crimson Tide signed 27 players on Wednesday to take the top spot in Rivals’ recruiting rankings for the third time in five years.

Alabama signed three five-star players in its class, including offensive tackle Kadyn Proctor. The Iowa native was an Iowa verbal commit but flipped on Tuesday to Alabama. The 6-foot-8, 335-pound Proctor is the No. 14 player in the country and the No. 1 offensive tackle in the class of 2023.

DB Caleb Downs and DE Keon Keeley are the other two five-star players in the Tide’s class. Keeley is the No. 8 player in the state of Florida while Downs is the top player in Georgia.

Alabama also got commitments Wednesday afternoon from a pair of four-star high school teammates in Jaquavious Russaw and James Smith. The two defensive linemen announced their decisions at a signing ceremony Wednesday afternoon. Russaw is the No. 3 player in the state while Smith is just behind him at No. 5.

The Tide also signed two four-star quarterbacks after losing out to Texas in the Arch Manning sweepstakes. Both Eli Holstein and Dylan Lonergan made their commitments to Alabama official on Wednesday. Holstein is the No. 10 pro-style QB, according to Rivals while Lonergan ranks 12th.

There are a few familiar faces behind Alabama in the rankings as well. Georgia has the No. 2 class in the country while Ohio State is at No. 4 behind Texas. The Bulldogs signed 25 players on Wednesday, including five-star DE Samuel M’Pemba and 19 four-star recruits.

The Buckeyes’ class of 20 players includes two five-star wide receivers to continue its exceptional run of wideouts. Carnell Tate and Brandon Inniss headline Ohio State’s class after verbally committing to the Buckeyes in June. Inniss and Tate are the top two wide receivers in the class of 2023, according to Rivals and Ohio State also signed the No. 14 receiver in the class in Noah Rogers.

Arch Manning makes it official, signs with Texas

Arch Manning is officially a Texas Longhorn. The highly touted QB recruit signed his letter of intent as part of Texas’ No. 3 recruiting class.

Manning’s signature was long-awaited. The Manning family had been clear there would be no drama surrounding his recruitment and his verbal commitment to the Longhorns was considered extremely solid. He’s also expected to enroll early at Texas in January to get a head start during spring practice.

The top-ranked recruit in the country joins Anthony Hill as the five-star members of UT’s recruiting class. Hill is the No. 4 player in the state of Texas and the No. 1 inside linebacker in the country.

Texas also signed 12 four-star players in the class and Manning is one of three players from Louisiana, along with his high school teammate William Randle. The three-star tight end is the No. 28 players at his position.

The Longhorns made bolstering the offensive line a priority during the recruiting cycle too. Texas signed five offensive linemen on Wednesday among its 10 offensive signees.

Miami has top 5 class, but top recruit doesn’t sign

Miami may have struggled on the field in Year 1 under Mario Cristobal, but the program has been assembling quite a bit of talent behind the scenes.

Damari Brown, a four-star defensive back, became the 25th player to commit to Miami’s class of 2023, which is currently ranked No. 5 in the Rivals team rankings. There are three five-star prospects in that group, including linemen Francis Mauigoa and Samson Okunlola, both of whom signed their letters of intent Wednesday.

Overall, Miami has six commits from the Rivals 100 and commitments from 11 of the top 50 players from the state of Florida.

That’s a tremendous effort in Year 1 for Cristobal’s staff, but the biggest headline of the day surrounding Miami came from a committed player who did not sign his letter of intent.

Cormani McClain, the No. 3 player in the class as a whole, did not sign on Wednesday under rather mysterious circumstances. Even his own high school expected him to attend a signing ceremony, but his mother announced that McClain would not sign Wednesday.

McClain was considered a Florida lean when he initially pledged to Miami. There have also been reports that Alabama was in hot pursuit. Even Deion Sanders and Colorado have been reported to be taking a late shot at flipping McClain, one of the top players in the nation.

Stay tuned to this one.

TCU has its first top-20 class in seven years

The first playoff bid in school history appears to have paid off on the recruiting trail for TCU.

The Horned Frogs ended the first day of the early signing period with the No. 19 recruiting class in Rivals’ team rankings. While that ranking may not seem all that exceptional, it’s the highest TCU has been in Rivals’ rankings since its 2016 recruiting class.

TCU’s 2023 class includes 24 commitments and eight are four-star recruits. Wide receiver Cordale Russell is the No. 34 receiver in the country and defensive end Avion Carter is the No. 25 strong side recruits in the class.

All but three of TCU’s recruits are from the state of Texas.

TCU has also been successful in the transfer portal. The Horned Frogs snagged commitments from former Alabama players JoJo Earle and Tommy Brockermeyer earlier in the month and got commitments from LSU’s Jack Bech and Florida’s Avery Heim a day later.

Earle missed the beginning of the season due to a foot injury before returning to play in eight games. He had 12 catches for 155 yards and two TDs in 2022. Bech had 16 catches for 200 yards after he had 43 catches for 489 yards in 2021.

Extra points

  • Hugh Freeze and Auburn are making up ground. The Tigers are up to No. 16 in the Rivals team rankings after receiving 10 new commitments in the past 10 days. Two of those came Wednesday when four-star defensive end Keldric Faulk flipped from Florida State and four-star cornerback Kayin Lee flipped from Ohio State. Both are significant pickups for Freeze’s program.

  • Nebraska kept Lincoln native Malachi Coleman home. The state isn’t exactly the most fertile recruiting territory, so it was pivotal for new Huskers head coach Matt Rhule to land a signature from Coleman, the No. 65 players in the country. He did just that, earning Coleman’s commitment while holding off a late push from Deion Sanders and Colorado. Nebraska has landed 13 commitments since Rhule’s hire and Coleman is the crown jewel of the bunch.

  • Texas A&M closed strong by flipping multiple committed prospects in the past few weeks. A&M flipped four-star athlete Micah Tease from Arkansas, four-star tight end Jaden Platt from Stanford, four-star quarterback Marcel Reed from Ole Miss, three-star linebacker Taurean York from Baylor and four-star running back Rueben Owens II from Louisville . A&M is up to No. 14 in the Rivals team rankings.

  • Utah has its highest-ranked recruiting class in the Rivals era. The first Rivals team rankings came out in 2002. The highest Utah had ever finished was No. 25 in 2017. As of this writing, the Utes sit at No. 20 for the class of 2023. The Utes have 20 commitments and eight are rated as four stars. That includes running back John Randle Jr., who signed with the Utes on Wednesday over Kansas State.

Rivals’ top 20 recruiting classes

1. Alabama (27 commitments, 3 5-stars)

2. Georgia (26, 2)

3. Texas (22, 2)

4. Ohio State (20, 2)

5. Miami (25, 3)

6. LSU (25, 1)

7. Notre Dame (24, 0)

8. Oregon (28, 2)

9. Clemson, (26, 0)

10. Oklahoma (24, 1)

11. Tennessee (25, 1)

12. Florida (20, 0)

13. USC (20, 2)

14. Texas A&M (18, 2)

15. Penn State (23, 0)

16. Auburn (19, 0)

17. Michigan (23, 0)

18. Arkansas (20, 0)

19. TCU (24, 0)

20. Utah (20, 0)

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