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College football teams that changed coaches suffered during Early Signing Period

Unsurprisingly, trying to form new relationships with recruits in under a month is tough.

SMU v Cincinnati
Arkansas coach Chad Morris

The first college football recruiting Early Signing Period has come and gone. One thing that could be seen from a mile away was the effect that it would have on players who are impacted by coaching changes.

But what about the impact on the schools that made those changes?

SB Nation took a look at the 11 schools that made head coaching changes before the Dec. 20-22 ESP. We found that for the most part, it is extremely difficult to form new relationships with prospects in a scant few weeks.

Author’s note: Rankings and figures are from Jan. 17, 2018.

Arizona State, Herm Edwards

Date hired: Dec. 4
247Composite Ranking: 71th
Number of blue-chip recruits: Zero

Arizona State lost five commits since the transition, including four-star OG Jarrett Patterson and three-star linebacker Kendrick Catis. Edwards was able to get 11 signees in December who were all three-stars, including the nation’s No. 5 JUCO cornerback in Dominique Harrison.

The Sun Devils’ class is NOW ranked about 24 spots lower than its recent five-year average and toward the bottom where the rest of the conference typically finishes nationally. It is clear the transition hurt Arizona State.

Arkansas, Chad Morris

Date hired: Dec. 6
247Composite Ranking: 81st
Number of blue-chip recruits: 2

Arkansas’ 2018 class lost seven commits with the new coaching hire, including four-star athlete BJ Hanspard, along with six other three-stars including OTs Noah Banks and Luke Jones and athlete Sean Michael Flanagan.

Morris was able to sign two blue-chips during the Early Signing Period in four-star QB Connor Noland and linebacker Bumper Pool. This year’s class is significantly lower than where Bret Bielema’s classes finished, and it is currently last in the SEC. Arkansas will have to make up serious ground by traditional National Signing Day for this not to be a lost year, and even then, it will be tough. 2019 will have to be a home run for the Razorbacks.

Florida, Dan Mullen:

Date hired: Nov. 27
247Composite Ranking: 17
Number of blue-chip recruits: 8

Some of the biggest decommits out of the 11 Florida lost included four-star quarterback Matt Corral, who went to Ole Miss and four-star OG Curtis Dunlap who signed with Minnesota. Florida also lost four-star wideouts Tyquan Thornton and Ja’Marr Chase, neither of whom is expected back. A few of the notable three-star losses include safety Deontai Williams, who went with Nebraska and wideout Jalynn Williams.

But Mullen’s first class at Florida is a solid one, signing four-star QB Emory Jones away from Ohio State and adding guys like four-star safety Trey Stephens and running backs Dameon Pierce and Iverson Clement.

Florida’s ranking is a bit lower than its five-year average, but the Gators can make a strong closing on National Signing Day to get back to where they usually are nationally. Inside the SEC, Florida’s number of blue-chip guys is lower than the last few years, too.

That UF can equal its recent success even after a coaching change speaks to the power of the brand and the poor job Jim McElwain did in recruiting.

Florida State, Willie Taggart

Date hired: Dec. 5
247Composite Ranking: 22
Number of blue-chip recruits: 9

The Seminoles’ 2018 class lost 10 members in the wake of Jimbo Fisher’s departure, including four-star DB Houston Griffith, four-star all-purpose back Jashaun Corbin, and the nation’s No. 6 center in Verdis Brown. The Noles also lost seven three-stars to the 2018 class after Taggart’s hiring, including running back Charles Strong, linebacker Rosendo Louis, and defensive ends Stacy Kirby and Patrick Joyner, to name a few.

Nationally, the Noles’ class could end up being a historic low — the Noles’ 10-year average ranking was inside the top 10, so Taggart being hired so late certainly hurt the 2018 class. It’s much lower inside the ACC, too.

The class obviously isn’t up to par with some of the ones from year’s past, but Taggart cleaned up nicely during the Early Signing Period by flipping five-star DB Jaiden Woodbey from Ohio State, as well as landing blue-chips Anthony Lytton and Asante Samuel Jr.

FSU could finish inside the top 15, but it is clear the Early Signing Period took a toll.

Mississippi State, Joe Moorhead

Date hired: Nov. 29
247Composite Ranking: 25
Number of blue-chip recruits: 4

Mississippi State’s class suffered with the coaching change from Mullen to Moorhead, losing eight verbal commits since the move. Some of the biggest losses include four-star running back Fabian Franklin, three-star defensive ends James Williams and Fabien Lovett, and three-star corner Ladarrius Bishop.

One of the biggest gets for Joe Moorhead’s class is four-star receiver Stephen Guidry, who is the No. 1 JUCO wideout in the country. He was committed to MSU since September. Keeping Guidry in the 2018 class is huge for the new Bulldogs head coach, and he’s one of four blue-chippers in the Bulldogs’ class so far.

Despite the losses, where MSU is actually ranked is about right where Mullen’s classes finished over the last five years.

Ole Miss, Matt Luke

Date hired full time: Nov. 26
247Composite Ranking: 37
Number of blue-chip recruits: 2

The biggest get for Luke and the Rebels’ 2018 class is definitely getting Corral to flip to Ole Miss. It’s huge, and was much needed, since former blue-chip Shea Patterson transferred to Michigan weeks after the NCAA handed down its postseason ban ruling. Luke lost just one verbal commit in three-star defensive tackle Allen Love. Luke being already the interim in Oxford made this more of a unique situation than the others.

Nationally, the Rebels’ class is about 22 spots lower than its five-year average per 247Sports. But that is probably more due to on-field performance and NCAA issues than a coaching change, since Luke was in place as the interim for the entire season.

Nebraska, Scott Frost

Date hired: Dec. 3
247Composite Ranking: 34
Number of blue-chip recruits: 4

Nebraska lost a pair of four-stars with the coaching change in wide receiver Joshua Moore and Cameron Brown, the latter of whom ended up at Ohio State. Four-star ATH Mario Goodrich decommitted as well.

One of Frost’s biggest gets for his 2018 class is four-star QB Adrian Martinez, who was previously committed to Tennessee. Two more blue-chippers were a part of his Early Signing Period class in tight end Cameron Jurgens and defensive end Tate Wildeman. Historically, Frost’s first class is about seven spots lower than the Cornhuskers’ five-year average. It’s ranked seventh inside the Big Ten, a bit lower as well.

Nebraska, though, does figure to close strong and could meet historical averages.

Oregon, Mario Cristobal

Date hired: Dec. 8
247Composite Ranking: 15
Number of blue-chip recruits: 9

Oregon has lost a whopping eight verbal commits since Taggart left for Florida State, seven of them being four-stars. Some of the more notable names include four-stars in receiver Warren Thompson, cornerback Isaiah Bolden, the nation’s No. 10 athlete in Braden Lenzy, Tight end Michael Ezeike, defensive end Malcolm Lamar, and receiver Miles Battle. Half of them are expected to land at Florida State.

However, there are nine blue-chippers in Cristobal’s class, most of them signed during the Early Signing Period. The bigger names include quarterback Tyler Shough, OT Dawson Jaramillo, and LB Adrian Jackson. The class ranking is actually higher than the Ducks’ five-year average, and it’s ranked third in the Pac-12. That is likely a reflection of the low bar set by former coach Mark Helfrich, who did not recruit well, and the continuity of hire via promoting Mario Cristobal.

Oregon State, Jonathan Smith

Date hired Nov. 29
247Composite Ranking: 89
Number of blue-chip recruits: Zero

Smith was able to sign 11 prospects during Early Signing period, even after the 2018 class lost three verbal commits since the coaching change. However, this year’s class is drastically lower than the Beavers’ five-year average (52). That probably has to do with the head coach quitting during the season.

Tennessee, Jeremy Pruitt

Date hired: Dec. 7
247Composite Ranking: 16
Number of blue-chip recruits: 7

Pruitt’s class had a couple of nice additions during Early Signing period thanks to Pruitt, including four-star receiver Alontae Taylor, and he kept the No. 1 Juco TE Dominick Wood-Anderson away from Alabama, where he was expected to sign.

But Tennessee also lost eight verbal commits to the class since the change, including four-stars in quarterback Adrian Martinez and safety Trey Dean. Tennessee’s ranking is close to where the Vols’ finished nationally in recent years, and the Vols have more blue-chips than last year’s class.

Texas A&M, Jimbo Fisher

Date hired: Dec. 1
247Composite Ranking: 29
Number of blue-chip recruits: 7

The Aggies’ 2018 class lost four members after Kevin Sumlin was fired, including four-stars in safety Leon O’Neal Jr., defensive tackle Bobby Brown, and linebacker DaShaun White. Fisher was able to sign five four-stars during the Early Signing Period, including top-20 Texas prospect Max Wright, OG Luke Matthews, safety Jordan Moore, OG Barton Clement, and receiver Caleb Chapman.

The Aggies class is significantly lower than the average five-year ranking (11) and on the lower end of the SEC, too.

UCLA, Chip Kelly

Date hired: Nov. 25
247Composite Ranking: 26
Number of blue-chip recruits: 7

The Bruins’ 2018 class lost nine verbal commits, including five-star CB Olaijah Griffin, four-star receiver Jahan Dotson, defensive end Abdul-Malik McClain, and safety Cam’ron Jones. The big three-star losses included center Trey Stratford, and tackles Jason Dickson and Chris Bleich.

During the Early Signing Period, Kelly was able to sign eight prospects, including four blue-chips in athlete Bryan Addison, receiver Chase Cota, linebacker Bo Calvert, safety Stephan Blaylock, and receiver Kyle Philips. One of the other biggest commits Kelly was able to hold onto with the transition was four-star QB Dorian Green-Thompson, and he picked up four-star guard Chris Murray in January, too.

The Bruins’ 26th ranking is about 13 spots lower than the five-year average for UCLA’s classes, and it’s ranked fourth inside the Pac-12.