Above: St. Francis’ Dietrich Riley is a pretty good “Christmas” present for UCLA football coach Rick Neuheisel today on National Signing Day.
National signing day is college football’s version of Christmas, and most of the top schools in the country are liking their presents.
Here are some of the top national names to sign:
Dietrich Riley, DB, UCLA - A major get for Rick Neuheisel and clan. Riley is one of the top defensive backs in the country. But it’s also big for UCLA’s intra-city battle with USC, who somehow lost an admitted Trojan fan to the hated Bruins.
Ronald Powell, DE, Florida – Coach Urban Meyer may have taken a leave of absence, but the the top recruits still go to the Gator Nation, and Powell, from Rancho Verde of Moreno Valley is considered the top recruit in the country after being named of the recent U.S. Army All-American Bowl.
Jackson Jeffcoat, DE, Texas - This is a major get for the Longhorns, who get a Texas legacy. Jeffcoat’s father played for the Dallas Cowboys.
Calvin Smith, DT, New Mexico - Smith was one top signing day surprises, switching from Tennessee to New Mexico.
Markeith Ambles, WR, USC – Ambles is one of the top receivers in the country. The McDonough, Ga. product, originally a Tennessee commit, follows Lane Kiffin to USC.
Kyle Prater, WR, USC, – A big save for the Trojans, who have a done a good job saving a solid class after Pete Carroll bolted for the NFL. USC also received letters from Serra’s Robert Woods, San Diego Mission Bay’s Dillon Baxter and Don Lugo’s George Uko.
Owamagbe Odighizuwa, DE, UCLA - One of the top defensive lineman in the country, who some believe can eventually dominate like Nebraska’s Ndamukong Suh. This is a major get for UCLA, which also received letters from Huntington Beach Edison linebacker Jordan Zumwalt, Oaks Christian products Cassius Marsh and Malcolm Jones, Loyola’s Anthony Barr and Kaiser’s Josh Shirley. You can also add DB Anthony Jefferson of Cathedral to the mix.
Comments: And how about that Rick Neuheisel? Love him,or hate him, but there’s no doubt about his recruiting skills. I look at him and can’t help but think of the line in Seabiscuit when trainer Tom Smith is talking about the Santa Anita Handicap and for his jockey, Red Pollard, to look out for Rosemont. “He closes like a freight train and he’ll fight you for it at the end.” It describes Neuheisel’s recruiting skills to a tee. Back in the summer, UCLA’s class wasn’t ranked among the top 30, but now some, including Rivals, are saying it could be a top 10 class. …You have hand it to Lane Kiffin. He came in late, after the quick departure of Carroll, and held together a very solid class, which should keep Troy in the fray for a few more years. …And it looks like the rich continue to get richer, with Florida pulling in the top player in the country and Texas getting some top 10 picks. And let’s not forget Oregon, which pulled in Bryan Bennett, their next spread-option QB, and Ricky Heimuli, one of the top DTs in the country. … I will say I’m amazed how far National Signing Day has come. I can remember a time when the announcements were made, it like reading a phone-book listing. Now, its more like the NFL Draft, where the top players are paraded out on national television. And speaking of that, it’s funny how it’s completely opposite than the draft. In the draft, the players sweat it out, hoping to be picked; on NSD, its the coaches – and to some degree the fans – who are doing the sweating.