Signing Day Rewind: East Region

Plenty happened with the schools and players in the East Region leading up to and on signing day, and FOXSportsNEXT takes a look at what transpired and how classes were shaped.

Signing day has come and gone, but there was plenty of interesting storylines in the days leading up to it and on the actual day throughout the East Region and FOXSportsNEXT takes a look back at them.

Nittany Lions Keep Core Intact
Penn State coach Bill O'Brien and his staff deserve a ton of credit for keeping the class intact. The Nittany Lions finished 44th in the nation, and seventh in the Big Ten, but that doesn't even begin to tell the story.

Despite severe NCAA sanctions, O'Brien was able to keep a pair five-stars – quarterback Christian Hackenberg and tight end Adam Breneman – and also had pair of four-star signees in defensive end Garrett Sickels and linebacker Zayd Issah.

Solid three-star prospects Curtis Cothran (defensive end), Brandon Bell (middle linebacker), Brandon Mahon (offensive guard), DaeSean Hamilton (receiver) and Andrew Nelson (offensive tackle) are also part of the class.

Also, the while there were defections of four-star offensive tackle Dorian Johnson and four-star receiver Will Fuller, O'Brien and Co. did a masterful job of keeping the core of the class together.

Penn State's rating of 3.06 stars per player tied for No. 26 in the nation.

Scarlet Knights Lead Big East
Rutgers didn't have a big finish its fans became accustomed to the last few years, but it didn't diminish the strength and depth of the class.

The Scarlet Knights finished first in the Big East and 31st overall, and did so by pulling players from six states – New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Virginia and Florida. In fact, despite losing coach Greg Schiano prior to last year's signing day, Rutgers remained heavily involved in Florida and landed four players from the Sunshine state.

It is a class heavy on projection with several phenomenal athletes – defensive end Kemoko Turay, safety T.J. Taylor and linebacker Myles Nash – who need to spend a year or so in the weight room, but they have enormous upside.

The Scarlet Knights didn't land any of the top eight players in the state, but did land four-stars Dorian Miller (offensive guard) and Nadir Barnwell (cornerback). Rutgers also dipped into Delaware and landed the No. 1 player in receiver Andre Patton and also flipped Syracuse commit Devan Carter nine days before signing day.

Panthers Trinity
Pittsburgh, which moves to the ACC in 2013, had a nice closing day by holding onto Clairton (Pa.) High four-star receiver Tyler Boyd, which gave the Panthers a nice trifecta of landing three of the top players in the area.

Boyd, who announced on signing day he was Pitt-bound after late dalliances with Tennessee and West Virginia, joins four-star offensive tackle Dorian Johnson and Clairton teammates Terrish Webb (receiver) and Titus Howard (safety) in the class.

Pittsburgh also landed 14 players from the Keystone state, and it was one solid prospect after another.

There was a heavy concentration on both sides in the trenches. Pittsburgh secured five defensive lineman and five offensive lineman as coach Paul Chryst sought to add depth with both units as the Panthers finished tied for 21st in the nation, and were third in the ACC.

Terps End Strong
No team closed the region like Maryland, which flipped Ohio State commit Taivon Jacobs on signing day and also landed cornerback Jacquille Veii and got middle linebacker Yannick Ngakoue, who committed in the summer and then decommitted in the fall, to get back into the fold.

Thirteen of Maryland's 22 commitments came from Maryland or Washington, D.C., and the Terps were masters of the flip. Tight end Andrew Isaacs flipped from Boston College and offensive tackle Moise Larose flipped from Rutgers.

Maryland also dominated Washington, D.C., landing four of the top five players, and each of them was from Edison Friendship. The standout of the group is four-star offensive tackle Derwin Gray.

Still, even with the strong finish, the Terps finished eighth in the ACC, and 49th overall. They are moving to the Big Ten, likely for the 2014 season, and their class would have ranked eighth in the conference.

WUV Looks JUCO
West Virginia went heavy into the junior college ranks in its 2013 class, landing nine jucos, including four in the last four days leading up to signing day.

The idea behind jucos is to have them on the two-deep immediately, especially if they only have two years to complete their two years of eligibility. And West Virginia targeted a number of positions, grabbing two junior college running backs, two outside linebackers, punter, defensive end, offensive lineman and two receivers as coach Dana Holgorsen looked to plug numerous holes on the roster.

The Mountaineers went all over the place for high school players in landing prospects from New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Texas, West Virginia, Maryland, Florida and Georgia.

West Virginia finished 26th nationally in the rankings, and fifth in the Big 12, but with the heavy push on junior college players, the Mountaineers will need to fill plenty of slots again in short period of time.

Huskies Send Thanks to B.C.
Connecticut landed one of the top quarterbacks in the northeast days before signing day when Xavier High (Middletown, Conn.) standout Tim Boyle switched from Boston College to the Huskies. The impetus was a coaching change and offensive philosophy shift at Boston College, and UConn benefitted greatly.

The big thing with Connecticut was keeping players home. Boyle is the third-rated player in the state, and the Huskies landed six of the top eight players from the Nutmeg state.

Also, the Huskies remained patient and closed with a flurry of commitments.

In the last two weeks leading up to signing day, UConn received eight commitments, beginning with defensive end Cole Ormsby flip from UMass.

The Huskies finished with the 64th ranked class, and were sixth in the Big East.

Orange End with Flurry
Syracuse put together an interesting class, which included a three-commit day Jan. 27 when Corey Cooper, Aaron Batten and Alex Hayes each committed. The Orange also had a signing day commit in Miami quarterback Akeem Jones, who was one of three quarterbacks to commit with the Orange, but he is yet to sign his binding letter of intent.

Syracuse also had a disappointing finish in New York in not landing Laray Smith or August Edwards, both of whom are running backs, but also had to withstand a coaching change and a seismic shift of the coaching staff.

The Orange went heavy with junior college players, signing six of them. And the only New York prep player Syracuse landed was one-time Old Dominion commit Chauncey Scissum of Rush-Henrietta (N.Y.) High.

The class finished No. 75 overall, and 13th among the 14 teams that will compete in the ACC in 2013.

Other Notes Around the Region
  • Four-star defensive end Tashawn Bower of Immaculata High (Somerville, N.J.) said he wasn't sure if he was going to pick LSU or Florida until "two or three minutes before" he made his announcement at his high school.

    There was then a delay after he announced for LSU and sent his national letter of intent in. In the end, though, Bower elected to become a Tiger, but much to the chagrin of Auburn fans (Bower was committed there since June), it was an LSU Tiger.

  • When the Alexander twins (Mackenzie and Mackenro) opted for Clemson, it left Mississippi State in need of a cornerback. And that worked well for Eastern Christian Academy (Elkton, Md.) cornerback Jahmere Irvin-Sills.

    After not hearing much from the Bulldogs in the week leading up to signing day, he received his national letter of intent, signed it and is now heading to the SEC.

  • Laray Smith of Xaverian High (Brooklyn) went from barely considering Indiana to making an official visit over the weekend and then committing to the Hoosiers over Syracuse and UConn. Smith said the ability to run track there was a big reason for choosing the Big Ten school.

  • Prior to a weekend trip to Miami, Tottenville High (Staten Island, N.Y.) running back Augustus Edwards had Florida State as his leader. However, after the trip he knew Miami was the school for him and he announced his commitment on signing day.

  • Cedar Creek Regional High (Egg Harbor City, N.J.) quarterback Damon Mitchell committed to Georgia Tech during the summer, but put his scholarship in jeopardy when he made an official visit to Arkansas on the final weekend of the recruiting season.

    In fact, Georgia Tech told Mitchell if he made the trip, his scholarship would be pulled. But the Yellowjackets eased the harshness their original stance and recruited Mitchell in the final two days leading up to signing day, but he selected and signed with Arkansas.

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