Deon Jones, Tariq Castro-Fields, Micah Clark, Tommy DeVito and Devon Hunter (photos by Brian Dohn)

Penn State, Syracuse, Rutgers, Maryland and Virginia Tech signing day thoughts

With the 2017 class now signed and delivered, Scout gives five thoughts on signing day in the East.

National signing day is over, the 2017 classes are set and the focus is on recruiting the 2018 players.

But before we move forward with the next round of prospects, and the battles that will ensue, we take a look back with "Five Thoughts From The East" from national signing days.

Maryland Terrapins

Class Rank: 12th, 3rd in Big Ten

Final Thought: What does it mean when the staff works hard, sells its vision and the local coaches buy in? Terps coach D.J. Durkin is seeing that. Even with a signing day miss of local cornerback Tariq Castro-Fields (Penn State) and a flip from defensive end Kofi Wardlow to Notre Dame, the Terps still had a great, great class.

Seven four-star prospects from the DMV (District of Columbia, Maryland, northern Virginia) signed with the Terps, and Maryland also did a great job in Virginia Beach, Va. Landing the nation's No. 6 running back in Anthony McFarland, its quarterback of the future in Kasim Hill and flipping Virginia Tech commit Tahj Capehart the night before signing day are all positive signs as the Terps look to rebuild its talent pool.

Penn State Nittany Lions

Class Rank: 14th, 4th in Big Ten

Final Thought: It was a not a deep year in Pennsylvania, so the coaching staff had to use its contacts outside of the the Keystone State to build the class. The Nittany Lions signed five in-state players, and 16 from outside of the state, and the ability to close on four-stars Ellis Brooks, a linebacker, and Tariq Castro-Fields, a cornerback, put a nice cap on the class.

With the run to the Rose Bowl, it is easy to forget Penn State is still replenishing its depth, and the Nittany Lions did a great job there. Bringing in defensive ends Yetur Matos and Damion Barber are huge additions because both are superb athletes who can rush the quarterback.

Rutgers Scarlet Knights

Class Rank: 45th, 10th in Big Ten

Final Thought: Know that part about the local coaches buying in about Maryland? It does not happen in that way in many (not all) parts of New Jersey. Still, coach Chris Ash's first full class went a long way in upgrading the talent in the program, and he did it by landing two of the most sought-after players in the East, and keeping them in state. Scout 100 offensive tackle Micah Clark, the top player in the state, and Scout 300 receiver Bo Melton stayed in New Jersey. 

Rutgers landed its quarterback of the future in Johnathan Lewis, and added much-needed linebacker depth with the addition of four at the position, including Scout 300 inside guy Tyshon Fogg. The short-term blow of losing in-state cornerbacks Bryce Watts (Virginia Tech) and Ihmir Marsette (Iowa) hurts, but overall the Scarlet Knights upgraded its physical talent in a lot of areas.

Syracuse Orangemen

Class Rank: 54th, 9th in ACC

Final Thought: Coach Dino Babers is rebuilding Syracuse, and speed is the focus, especially on the offensive side. The Orange did a very good job of finding it at the skill positions, and also landed a quarterback who is perfectly suited to run the uptempo offense in Tommy DeVito.

Needing to fill immediate needs because of big depth issues, the Orange signed a trio of junior college players, including two on the defensive side in defensive end Brandon Berry and safety Mykelti Williams. Also, Syracuse did a good job of being more noticeable in the East region as it smartly identified and picked its spots with prospects. The Orange brought in players from Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland and Washington, D.C., and recruiting the region is a promising way to rebuilding the program.

Virginia Tech Hokies

Class Rank: 20th, 3rd in ACC

Final Thought: It was a rollercoaster ride for Virginia Tech, which had big momentum in the two weeks leading up to signing day, but saw a few tough decisions go against the Hokies in the hours before letters were signed. The Hokies got the top player in the region in five-star safety Devon Hunter, and got four-star defensive end TyJuan Garbutt to re-commit and sign and flipped four-star linebacker Dylan Rivers from Penn State.

However, the Hokies also lost Tahj Capehart on a late flip to Maryland, and saw in-state offensive tackle Mekhi Becton head to Louisville. The Hokies also need to re-establish their presence in the Virginia Beach, Va., area. It was a strong class for coach Justin Fuente's first full cycle, but it was nearly stellar.


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