College football recruiting is a fluid business. Coaches recruit players for years at a time, but those coaches often change jobs, and players can’t actually sign anything until the December before their freshman year. Around 3,250 players eventually sign with FBS, and hundreds of them sign somewhere other than where they first committed.
They get less long-term attention than transfers, but decommitments can hurt. You can see it all over the country every year. Dwayne Haskins was once committed to Maryland, before he flipped to Ohio State and became a Heisman finalist. Jalen Ramsey was once committed to USC before he flipped to Florida State and became Jalen Ramsey. Johnny Manziel was committed to Oregon before he went to A&M and became Johnny Football. Etcetera.
These are the class of 2019’s most impressive decommit classes by team, based on lists from 247Sports. The lists aren’t perfect, but they capture the vast majority of decommits. Players and schools split up for many reasons, but every decommit counts here. They’re in no particular order, but they represent the cream of the decommitment crop.
- The Noles have nine decommits, not counting one who decommitted and eventually recommitted. (I won’t count those players throughout this post.)
- They lost two different five-star offensive tackles, Charles Cross and Wanya Morris, who went to Mississippi State and Tennessee, respectively. There are only six five-star tackles in the whole country, and 33 percent of them flipped from FSU.
- They lost four other blue-chips, including QB Sam Howell to UNC on the Early Signing Day.
- And I’m not counting four-star safety Nick Cross, who’s nominally committed to Florida State but hadn’t signed as of 3 p.m. on the February Signing Day and was known to be considering both Penn State and Maryland, too.
Give FSU credit for stockpiling all this talent at one point or another.
This class has five blue-chips, one of the highest counts in the country, including:
- The No. 7 corner in the class, Akeem Dent, to FSU
- The No. 14 outside backer, Anthony Solomon, to Michigan
- The No. 21 strong-side defensive end, Derick Hunter, to Texas A&M
- the No. 22 offensive tackle, Michael Tarquin, to Florida
- The No. 26 running back, Marcus Crowley, to Ohio State
One of the most impressive things about this decommit class is its versatility and ability to fill holes all over the field. Few decommit classes have this much positional diversity.
In total, this class has 16 decommits, not counting decommit-and-recommit linebacker Samuel Brooks. Miami entered National Signing Day with exactly 16 actual commits and 13 signees. It’s since cleared its decommit total on the last day of the recruiting year.
- The Gators lost five blue-chips, all of them top-20 players at their positions.
- They get bonus points for losing blue-chip commitments to Georgia and Florida State, arguably their two bitterest rivals. (FSU also took a non-blue-chip away.)
With 10 decommits in total, few classes rival this mixture of elite talent, rivalry losses, and depth. The Gators also recruited a good actual class, which finished No. 9 and prevented this from being the first year ever with UF, FSU, and Miami all finishing outside the top 10.
- The Trojans pulled off something literally unprecedented when they signed the country’s No. 1 athlete, SoCal’s Bru McCoy, and lost him within six weeks to a transfer to Texas.
- They also lost the country’s No. 3 inside linebacker to Texas, making the 2019 recruiting class the second-worst loss USC has taken to UT this century.
- They also lost a top-five corner and top-five all-purpose back, for good measure.
The Sooners’ best decommit, five-star receiver Theo Wease, eventually signed anyway. So did three-star defensive tackle Derek Green.
So, this decommit class is doomed, right? Wrong.
- All five of the Sooners’ decommits who didn’t come back are blue-chips.
- Three of them play defense, the lone side of the ball where OU actually requires help.
The Wolverines’ decommit class took a hit when five-star safety Dax Hill recommitted to the maize and blue following a late flip to Alabama. But they still managed to lose three blue-chips, including two top-10 players at their positions. Those two:
- The No. 3 all-purpose back, Eric Gray from Tennessee
- The No. 7 weak-side defensive end, Stephen Herron Jr. from Louisville
It’s a six-man decommit class in total, but the top-flight talent gets it on this list.
An impressive decommit class that does all of its work with just five players:
- The No. 2 safety in the class, Jordan Battle, who flipped to Bama on the Early Signing Day
- The No. 6 guard in the class, Doug Nester, who flipped to Virginia Tech on the February Signing Day. (OSU replaced him with another four-star, but that’s not my concern here.)
- The No. 10 RB, Sampson James, who flipped to Indiana
- The No. 11 pro-style QB, Dwan Mathis, who went to Georgia (more on him later)
- The No. 20 inside linebacker, Kane Patterson, who became the latest in a long line of recent OSU losses to Clemson
- The No. 1 receiver, Jadon Haselwood? Had him and lost him to Oklahoma.
- The No. 2 running back, John Emery Jr.? Had him and lost him to LSU.
- In addition, three four-stars left the class and went elsewhere, as Kirby Smart made his seven-man decommit class hit hard.
This placement doesn’t factor in the recent transfers of the class of 2018’s top dual-threat QB, Justin Fields, and No. 3 tight end, Luke Ford, but they’re noted here for posterity.
Oregon lost four four-stars, a high-three-star who matters extra because he left for Washington, and two other upper- to mid-three-stars. The most elite losses:
- The No. 23 receiver, Arjei Henderson, who’d also been committed at one time to Oklahoma
- The No. 15 safety, Jeremiah Criddell, who signed with Oklahoma
- The No. 1 JUCO corner, Elijah Blades, who signed with Texas A&M
- The No. 21 inside linebacker, Jared Casey, who went to Kentucky
- The No. 34 safety, Cameron Williams, who picked UW
The team with the No. 1 actual signing class closed strong on the February Signing Day to land itself on this list of decommit classes. The final damage:
- The No. 1 safety in the country, Dax Hill, flipped to Michigan, his original destination.
- The No. 3 weak-side end, Khris Bogle, flipped to Florida.
- The No. 11 safety, Brendan Gant, flipped to FSU.
- The No. 20 corner, Christian Williams, flipped to Miami.
- The No. 15 guard, Deyavie Hammond, flipped to Florida.
This class would’ve been even better if the No. 1 RB, Trey Sanders, and No. 1 OT, Evan Neal, didn’t recommit to the Tide after backing off earlier pledges. The Bogle and Williams flips happened on the last day of the recruiting cycle and salvaged this class anyway.
The Tigers got back their most prolific decommit, No. 1 DB (and some say No. 1 overall player) Derek Stingley. But they lost:
- Five-star OT Kenyon Green, who chose A&M
- Four-star defensive end Jaren Handy, who chose Auburn
- Four-star cornerback Marcus Banks, who chose Bama
- Four-star corner Dreshun Miller, who chose West Virginia
There is plenty of blue-chip heft here, and most of it’s going to rivals.
The Bulldogs are punching above their weight class on this list. Most of the teams here are perennially strong recruiters that will naturally have some churn of blue-chip talent over the course of any cycle. But MSU, which has a class outside the top-20, lost five four-stars:
- No. 6 strong-side defensive end Charles Moore to Auburn
- No. 9 inside backer Diwun Black to Florida and Dan Mullen
- No. 10 dual-threat Q Jalon Jones also to Florida and Dan Mullen
- No. 25 receiver Dannis Jackson to Ole Miss
- No. 36 corner Gregory Brooks to Arkansas
All of them went in conference. Two went to the coach who left them. That’s tough.
Also, meet the class of 2019’s MVD — the Most Valuable Decommit.
That’s four-star Georgia QB signee Dwan Mathis, who committed to Iowa State in February 2017, committed to Michigan State in September 2017, committed to Ohio State in June 2018, and finally committed to (and signed with) UGA in December 2018.
That’s all fine. Players should do exactly what’s best for themselves, and Mathis gradually climbing up the recruiting latter like that was an amazing feat of persistence.