Everything old is new again

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In a span of 15 minutes on Wednesday morning, three top recruits from John Curtis Christian High School of River Ridge, La., announced their plans to play college football in the Pac-12.

Cornerback Terrence Alexander picked Stanford.

Linebacker Kenny Young chose UCLA over LSU, among others.

Safety Mattrell McGraw selected Oregon.

What in the name of John David Booty was happening?

Louisiana prospects don't run to the West Coast. Was this an uprising? Alarms sounded on social media.

Soon, though, Malachi Dupre, the nation's No. 1-rated receiver, showed his high school teammates how it works in the South. He picked the home-state Tigers, restoring order and returning perspective on a day when it's easy to get carried away with results of a small sample size.

Such is the nature of signing day. Look more closely: The top 12 prospects from Louisiana signed with SEC programs, including four of the top seven with LSU. Recruiting never stops, yet so many of us watch through an altogether different lens on this first Wednesday of February.

Despite the drama -- and we had some, as usual, this year -- Wednesday's results went pretty much as expected. Take a step back from the recruiting crisis or cause for celebration at your school, and notice that the game's hierarchy looks basically the same as it did last week, or, with few exceptions, last year.

Alabama won the recruiting race again, signing the nation's top-rated class for the third straight year by securing signatures from five of 15 five-star prospects.

"We're very pleased and happy with the character and quality of the people that we're able to attract here," Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban said, "as well as the ability they have academically and athletically."

See, Saban still sounds like Saban.

LSU finished second to the Tide, followed by Florida State, Texas A&M, Tennessee, Florida, Ohio State, Auburn, Georgia and Miami. Five of the top six from the SEC.

Of course, signing day produced plenty of noteworthy decisions, starting early with No. 4-ranked defensive end Solomon Thomas of Coppell, Texas, who picked Stanford. Athlete Isaiah McKenzie of Plantation (Fla.) American Heritage, No. 286 in the ESPN 300, signed with Georgia after receiving an offer from the Bulldogs in recent days. Dual-threat quarterback Treon Harris, ranked 163rd out of Miami Booker T. Washington, flipped from Florida State to Florida. But the Seminoles got No. 2-ranked receiver Ermon Lane of Homestead, Fla., once a commit to the Gators.

The flipping of prominent recruits loomed large all year.

"Unfortunately, I do think we're going to see more of this," said Florida coach Will Muschamp, who lost third-ranked running back Dalvin Cook of Miami Central five weeks ago to FSU. "As early as recruiting is happening, I think young men are making the decision without all the information."

As the day progressed, No. 3-ranked offensive tackle Damian Prince (Forestville, Md./Bishop McNamara) chose to stay home in the Big Ten at Maryland. Outside linebacker Rashaan Evans of Auburn, Ala., ranked No. 2 nationally at his position, picked Alabama over Auburn. Some considered it a stunner. To others, even at Auburn, it's all part of the enjoyment of signing day.

"All of a sudden, you don't get that guy," Auburn athletic director Jay Jacobs said, "but you get two that you got in on late. It's really fun."

Everything's fun, apparently, when you're the reigning SEC champion. Fourth-ranked guard Damien Mama of Bellflower (Calif.) St. John Bosco started the party at USC with his pledge, followed soon to the Trojans by No. 1 athlete Adoree' Jackson of Gardena (Calif.) Junipero Serra and third-ranked athlete Juju Smith of Long Beach (Calif.) Poly.

But it wasn't quite so smooth for everyone. Fifth-ranked defensive end Malik McDowell of Southfield, Mich., who announced his choice of Michigan State on Wednesday morning, never shipped the paperwork. Then there was running back Dacorius Law of Haines City, Fla., who appears to have signed with Utah, Ole Miss and a junior college. His situation may take some time to unravel.

Meanwhile, at Penn State, new coach James Franklin signed a class that ranks 24th, in part by flipping five recruits who were considering Vanderbilt, his former school.

Questioned by ESPN's Paul Finebaum, Franklin fired back. "I feel very, very comfortable with what I did professionally," Franklin said. "It bothers me and I'm upset that people are angry with me."

Such is recruiting. People are angry. People are happy. It happens every day, especially on signing day.

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