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Early Signing Period: Why Each Team Won and Why Each Team Lost.

A look at the outcomes of this first ever early signing.

NCAA Football: Georgia State at Air Force Ray Carlin-USA TODAY Sports

This is yet another attempt to unpack last week’s signings a bit more. Take all of these with a scoop (or two) of salt. How a team ended up last Friday doesn’t mean they won’t have a great class by February. Originally, I was going to label some of the teams winners and losers of the signing period. However, I could already hear the arguments being made and quite honestly, I hated having to label teams “losers”. In reality, every team was a winner because they secured players for their future and did so without having to worry until February that another team may steal them away. Sure, some teams were definitely bigger winners than others and a few teams only had a few bright spots. However, every team has some positives and negatives (to varying degrees of each), so why not tell the whole story?

Air Force:

  • Why they won: The Falcons were able to sign 11/13 players to their roster and build for the future. They secured some nice athletes and players who are excited to be joining the program and not just using it at a back-up option.
  • Why they lost: Due to their own standards and rules, none of the players signed can enroll on campus until the summer. While this in itself isn’t a bad thing, it does automatically put them behind their conference mates who are able to have players arrive on campus earlier and start working out with the team.

Boise State:

  • Why they won: The Broncos signed every one of their verbal commits, and have tied for the most signed with 20. They even had two signing day surprise announcements to keep things interesting. 5 of the 20 are WRs, making it the deepest position group in the entire conference. 3 players will enroll early, which is a nice cherry on top.
  • Why they lost: They failed to sign a high school quarterback. While they did sign a JUCO QB on Friday, the glaring hole in their class still remains. Not securing a QB in December will force them to scan far and wide for someone to fill the position and although they can still find a solid prospect, it will probably be someone with a lower ceiling that before.

Colorado State:

  • Why they won: The Rams signed 17 players in their very impressive class. They’ve brought in a ton of talent along the defensive line as well as linebacker. Among those was DE Brandon Derrow, who originally did not intend on signing but after talking with the coaches, found signing early was the best decision for him.
  • Why they lost: They did not secure a signing from WR Jammal Houston, who is their best verbal commit and one of the best commits in the conference. In fact, there were three other recruits that didn’t sign, including one of their better DBs, Nick Martin Morman. They also didn’t secure a QB commit and will now have to compete with a team like Boise State for a decent one.

Fresno State:

  • Why they won: The Bulldogs signed 15 of their 17 verbal pledges. They have planted deep roots in their home base of California, with all 15 (plus their two unsigned) coming from Cali. They have two quarterbacks with upside, a few receivers with great potential and added lots of talent on both sides of the line.
  • Why they lost: There isn’t much variety here, with no commits at RB, TE, only 1 LB and 2 DBs. Two of their better commits did not sign in December and it’s possible talent could have been recruited in other states such as Arizona.


  • Why they won: They signed 15 of their commits, including 4 from the islands. They bring in two quarterbacks with huge upside, which is a great “problem” to have. There is a ton of talent across the defensive line.
  • Why they lost: The Rainbow Warrior failed to sign and then lost a promising DL in Baraka Beckett. They could use a bit more talent in the skill positions on both sides of the ball. Also, a good amount of talent from Hawaii is still leaving for other schools.


  • Why they won: Many of their 14 players signed fit their system perfectly. Two of their WRs will go far in the air-raid, plus three athletic linebackers and three defensive backs. In addition, a quarterback who flew under the radar and has good upside.
  • Why they lost: They failed to sign six of their verbal pledges, including 2 each of their talented WRs and CBs. Only one of their signees is from in-state, which isn’t exactly taking advantage of their talent in the state.

New Mexico:

  • Why they won: 10 of their 12 signees were JUCO players, which will help them infuse ready to play players onto the field next season. Many of them will arrive on campus for the spring semester and immediately dive into their system.
  • Why they lost: 10 of their 12 signees were JUCO players, which will hurt them in the future. The players they brought in aren’t going to push them over the top to compete for the conference, so there is no need to compromise their long-term chance for success.


  • Why they won: The Aztecs secured 17 signees, including local stud WR JR Justice, who chose to stay home despite some bigger offers. They rounded up players in the state of California very nicely. They also cleaned up well at WR, DE, and TE.
  • Why they lost: One of their two unsigned commits was one of their most talented pledges. They could use another RB to replenish their most important offensive position.


  • Why they won: The Spartans added a lot of depth in this class. Most notably on the offensive and defensive lines. There are several players who can make an early impact and others who can develop and in a few years could be major contributors.
  • Why they lost: They only brought in 13 players, which is lower than many of their peers in the conference. Much of that number is only spread out to a few positions, with no quarterback, running back and only one wide-receiver signing. A team short on offensive impact players did not add to it yet.


  • Why they won: They signed most of the top players in their class. This includes two QBs; a good looking HS prospect and a former top prospect who bounced back at the JUCO level. RB and DB also look good in this class.
  • Why they lost: Only one of their signees (and two total from their commit list) come from the state of Nevada, where the program is thought to have strong roots. Three of their signed players are from the JUCO ranks, which isn't a bad ratio but they targeted many players from that level.

Utah State:

  • Why they won: Few teams were hotter during recruiting in December, with many of their 12 signees coming during that time. They recruited extremely well on the offensive line, added a nice JUCO DB, as well as a nice QB/WR tandem.
  • Why they lost: There wasn’t much at the skill positions in terms of signees. They also didn’t secure signings from four players, all on the defensive side.


  • Why they won: They signed 20 players in December, tied with Boise State for most in the conference. Among the group was a big emphasis on the skill positions on both sides of the ball. They held on to their QB commit, who flipped from P5 Rutgers.
  • Why they lost: They only have one commit at linebacker neglecting a spot of need. The Cowboys are also lacking a “headliner” in their class when compared to other teams.

There you have it. Feel free to weigh in with your thoughts in the comments section below. Agree or disagree? Who were the true winners or losers in your eyes?