The festivities and surprises started early as New Orleans (La.) Edna Karr blazing receiver Devante Noil checked off on the home state LSU Tigers and slipped on some gloves bearing the Texas A&M insignia.
The high flying offense of the Aggies is something that certainly played a role in his decision and his explosive ability was on display hauling in a long touchdown in the game Thursday night.
Next up for his decision was Palm Beach (Fla.) Cardinal Newman receiver Travis Rudolph. Even though his was less of a drama on the day, the consensus among reporters was that Rudolph would end up at Alabama.
It didn’t take long during a short ceremony on the sideline for Rudolph to put on a Florida State hat and announce for the Seminoles. In Rudolph, the Noles are getting a dynamic play maker with freakish strength.
Not a surprise to anyone in attendance was the choice of Jamal Adams to LSU. The huge five-star safety from Lewisville, Texas brought a small child on the set with LSU garb under a large shirt and then uncovered to show the Tiger outfit.
LSU was a late comer for Adams and he chose the Bayou Bengals over Florida in the end. He is an elite safety with every tool you need to play in the SEC and a huge get for Les Milles, late in the process.
Another shocker of sorts came at half time. Gerald Willis, a high school teammate of Noil, decided he would also head out of state and play for the Florida Gators. Sliding on a pair of game gloves donning the Florida logo, Willis stood by both parents as his mother looked not so pleased with his decision. Willis is the half-brother of Landon Collins who picked Alabama two years ago over the home state Tigers. Mom was none too pleased at the time.
In Willis, Florida gets that big defensive end that the Gators love, a great run stuffer and pass rusher all in one that can actually slide inside and play some defensive tackle in long down and distance situations. The five-star Willis visited Florida four times over the last three years so the family was very familiar with Gainesville before the decision.
Another big time surprise on the day was the choice for Jalen Tabor. The Washington (DC) Edison Friendship star cornerback earlier in the week eliminated local school Maryland and was to decide on television between Alabama and Arizona. The prevailing thought all week has been a strong lean to Alabama, but in the end Tabor decided to follow high school teammate Jonathan Haden out West and committed to the Wildcats.
Tabor to Arizona may have been the biggest shocker of the day.
In Tabor, Arizona gets a huge cornerback and terrific athlete. At 6-foot-2 and 190 pounds he is an aggressive and punishing as a cornerback prospect. He has a chance to start right away for the Wildcats.
Depending on who you talked to beforehand, Beaumont (Tex.) cornerback Tony Brown may or may not have been leaning to Alabama. But the folks in Louisiana surely thought he was heading their way. Brown pulled out a stuffed elephant doll with the Alabama logo and committed to the Crimson Tide.
The number one rated cornerback in the country on Scout.com, Brown is as fast as they get at the position and at 6-foot-1 and 185 pounds he has prototype size for the position as well.
LSU may have come out on the wrong end of a few decisions on Thursday, but they closed with a smile when New Orleans (Louis.) St. Augustine running back Leonard Fournette pledged to the Tigers. The number one ranked player in the 2014 class according to Scout.com he is an elite running back prospect that scouts and fans have been admiring for three years.
The Tigers lose a few backs this year and this is a prime time for a guy like Fournette to step in and be a star.
In the end, Jamal Adams and Leonard Fournette’s announcements were the only two of seven commitments that went the way the consensus was thinking. Recruiting is a tricky thing to follow, days like today make it not for the faint of heart. But overall, it is still so much fun.