The SEC continued its stranglehold on recruiting, and USC and UCLA were the biggest winners for uncommitted players as FBS teams collected letters of intent from top high school prospects Wednesday on national signing day.
Why does signing day matter? Consider this: The past four national champions had a four-year average recruiting ranking in the top six.
SEC, Alabama cash in
Five of the top 10 players in the ESPN 300 were defensive linemen. All five went to SEC schools. Of the top 15 players in the ESPN 300, 10 signed with SEC schools.
Looking at the top 100 players, 44 signed with SEC schools (3.14 recruits per school). Taking it a step further, the SEC West has 33 of those 44. The Pac-12 ranked second among conferences with 20 of the top 100 (1.67 per school).
Alabama had a fairly quiet national signing day, but the lack of surprises turned out well for the Crimson Tide. They finished with the No. 1 class for an unprecedented fourth consecutive year.
The Tide signed 19 players in the ESPN 300, three more than any other FBS school (USC). This is the fourth year in a row Alabama has been No. 1 in ESPN 300 signings.
Signing Day winners: UCLA, USC
Biggest rise in class rankings
among teams to begin in top 40
Los Angeles rivals UCLA and USC combined to sign eight of the 17 players who announced their college choice on ESPNU on Wednesday.
Among UCLA's nation-high five players committing on signing day was Cordell Broadus, the No. 14 wide receiver in the nation and son of noted USC supporter Snoop Dogg.
Landing Broadus helped UCLA rise from 17th in the team recruiting rankings entering the day to 11th at the end of the day, the largest jump of any school that began in the top 40.
USC recruiting class rankings
Past 5 years
USC signed its highest-ranked class since the team was put on probation. The Trojans signed 16 players in the ESPN 300 (three of whom committed Wednesday).
Florida signs two five-star recruits
Florida began the day outside the top 40 in the team rankings, but after signing two five-star players, the Gators rose to 20th. This is the first year since 2006 that Florida ranks outside of the top 12, but it might have been lower without a late push by coach Jim McElwain.
The Gators signed two five-star players Wednesday: offensive tackle Martez Ivey and defensive end CeCe Jefferson. The Gators have signed five five-star players the past three years, second most in the nation behind Alabama (eight).
Top five classes fill needs
Alabama has to replace wide receiver Amari Cooper, who declared for the NFL draft. Cooper had 107 more targets and 84 more receptions than any other Crimson Tide player. The Tide signed the No. 1 wide receiver, Calvin Ridley, and another top-10 receiver Wednesday.
Florida State had an FBS-high five early declarations for the NFL draft. The Seminoles rebounded with the most five-star players (three) of any school in 2015.
USC, with top-ranked Jones at running back, has someone to succeed Javorius Allen, who gained a Pac-12-high 1,947 yards from scrimmage. The Trojans signed three defensive tackles from among the ESPN 300 with the potential to replace Leonard Williams.
Tennessee allowed 43 sacks last season, most in the SEC, and signed three ESPN 300 recruits on the offensive line in its 2015 class.