Winners and Losers on College Football Recruiting Trail for November

Winners and Losers on College Football Recruiting Trail for November

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Alabama and head coach Nick Saban were among the programs who scored big on the recruiting trail in November.

With most high school programs around the country having finished their 2016 season or in the middle of competing in the postseason, the focus is beginning to shift from the action on the field to the happenings on the recruiting trail. 

For a handful of elite recruits who are choosing to enroll at their school of choice in January, December represents the climax of their recruiting process.

However, the action in November was still hot and heavy as a flurry of commitments and decommitments shook things up.

Which programs came out on the positive end of the recruiting carousel, and which schools are licking their wounds heading into the stretch run before national signing day?

Let’s take a look at the winners and losers of the college football recruiting trail for November.

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Given that Alabama is undefeated and trying to capture its fifth national title since the 2009 season, it’s not a surprise to see the Crimson Tide racking up on the recruiting trail.

Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban and his staff head into December with the nation’s top overall class in the 2017 cycle. 

The Tide added verbal commitments in November from a pair of recruits who rate among the nation’s top 100 overall prospects in the 2017 cycle—4-star offensive lineman Jedrick Wills and 4-star linebacker Chris Allen

With the Tide steamrolling toward another national-title run, don’t expect the parade of blue-chippers heading to Tuscaloosa to slow down anytime soon.

Loser: LSU

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With new head coach and ace recruiter Ed Orgeron firmly entrenched as LSU’s permanent head coach, the Tigers can finally look forward to a future that appears to be as bright as ever.

Still, with all of the uncertainty surrounding the program and who would eventually replace Les Miles, the instability hurt the Tigers on the recruiting trail.

Allen, who hails from Baton Rouge, became the second talented linebacker from LSU’s backyard to cast his lot with Alabama—joining 5-star Dylan Moses on the Tide’s commit list.

Another big loss for the Tigers was the decommitment of 4-star receiver Jhamon Ausbon—who flipped to fellow SEC West rival Texas A&M.

While the Tigers endured those losses in November, having Orgeron stabilize the head coaching situation should help them close strong over the final two months before signing day.


One of the main beneficiaries of the coaching situation at LSU was Texas A&M.

In getting Ausbon to flip, the Aggies offense will feature a dynamic duo in Ausbon and 4-star quarterback pledge Kellen Mond—both of whom transferred to Florida prep powerhouse IMG Academy in the offseason.

The 6’3”, 217-pounder—who rates as the nation’s No. 8 receiver and the No. 55 player overall in the 2017 cycle—flipped shortly before the Aggies and Tigers met in College Station.

As an early enrollee, Ausbon has the chance to become an impact player in an offense friendly to talented pass-catchers. 

While the Aggies lost a commitment from 3-star JUCO defensive end Tyree Owens, adding Ausbon is a huge win for Aggies head coach Kevin Sumlin and his staff.

Loser: South Carolina

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Sitting on the cusp of the Top 25 of the team rankings, South Carolina has a chance to finish strong in first-year head coach Will Muschamp’s first full cycle in Columbia.

However, the road to moving up in the rankings became a little tougher in November as the Gamecocks lost pledges from 4-star JUCO defensive tackle Javon Kinlaw and 3-star corner Demarri Mathis.

The Gamecocks now sit with 20 commitments in the 2017 cycle.

While Muschamp has a solid class to show for his efforts, he and his staff will have to right the ship a bit before gearing up to finish the cycle on a strong note.

Winner: Penn State

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With Penn State competing for a chance to win the Big Ten title this weekend, head coach James Franklin and the Nittany Lions are riding a wave of momentum sweeping the program.

That positive energy has spilled over to the recruiting trail as the Lions were able to pull off a massive commitment in 4-star defensive tackle Fred Hansard.

The 6’3”, 306-pounder was previously committed to SEC power Florida in August. However, a late visit to Happy Valley for the Lions’ win over Michigan State on Nov. 26 helped seal the deal in getting him locked in with Penn State.

With Hansard in the fold, the Lions are primed to improve on a class that currently sits at No. 20 nationally.


Loser: Duke

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Unlike its powerhouse basketball program, the Duke football team isn’t likely to be confused as a recruiting juggernaut.

However, Blue Devils head coach David Cutcliffe and his staff scored a major bounty in August in landing 4-star quarterback Jack Sears.

But the good news didn’t last, as Sears announced he would flip to in-state power USC in mid-November.

Losing out on a potential longterm quarterback recruit is a blow that will take some time for the Blue Devils to fully recover from.


USC’s fortunes this season changed when redshirt freshman Sam Darnold seized the Trojans quarterback job.

The Trojans uncovered Darnold at San Clemente High School in the 2015 class.

Head coach Clay Helton and his staff are hoping lightning strikes twice with San Clemente quarterback products after getting Sears—who took over for Darnold after he went to college—to flip from Duke.

As a junior, Sears accounted for 3,459 yards of total offense with 37 touchdown passes and another nine scores on the ground.

With Sears on board, the Trojans’ health at the most important position on the field appears to be as strong as it has ever been—which should help attract other elite skill players down the stretch of the 2017 cycle.

Loser: Tennessee

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After a 5-0 start on the field, Tennessee looked to be a program with a ton of momentum which could transfer over to its recruiting efforts. 

However, after limping to an 8-4 finish, head coach Butch Jones and his staff have suffered a flurry of decommitments. 

According to Bleacher Report’s Damon Sayles, five recruits who were previously committed to the Vols backed off their pledge this month.

The latest flurry of decommitments came from 4-star athlete C.J. Cotman as well as defensive tackles and twins in 4-star Breyon Gaddy and 3-star Brandon Gaddy.

There’s still time for Jones and the Vols to course correct and close the 2017 class on a high note. However, it’s clear that Tennessee has work to do in order to get things back on the right track.


Sanjay Kirpalani is a National Recruiting Analyst for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes obtained firsthand and all recruiting information courtesy of