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updated: 2/7/2018 4:08 PM

Georgia holds on this time to finish No. 1 in recruiting

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  • Tyson Campbell, a defensive back from the football team at American Heritage High School, announces he is signing with Georgia on national signing day, Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2018, in Plantation, Fla.

    Tyson Campbell, a defensive back from the football team at American Heritage High School, announces he is signing with Georgia on national signing day, Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2018, in Plantation, Fla.
    Associated Press

  • Patrick Surtain Jr., left, and Tyson Campbell, from the football team at American Heritage High School, sign to the University of Alabama and University of Georgia respectively, on national signing day, Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2018, in Plantation, Fla. (Taimy Alvarez/South Florida Sun-Sentinel via AP)

    Patrick Surtain Jr., left, and Tyson Campbell, from the football team at American Heritage High School, sign to the University of Alabama and University of Georgia respectively, on national signing day, Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2018, in Plantation, Fla. (Taimy Alvarez/South Florida Sun-Sentinel via AP)
    Associated Press

  • Tyson Campbell, from the football team at American Heritage High School, announces that he's going to the University of Georgia on national signing day, Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2018, in Plantation, Fla. (Taimy Alvarez/South Florida Sun-Sentinel via AP)

    Tyson Campbell, from the football team at American Heritage High School, announces that he's going to the University of Georgia on national signing day, Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2018, in Plantation, Fla. (Taimy Alvarez/South Florida Sun-Sentinel via AP)
    Associated Press

  • American Heritage High School football players, from left, Patrick Surtain Jr., Tyson Campbell and Nesta Silvera celebrate signing with the University of Alabama, University of Georgia and University of Florida respectively on national signing day, Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2018, in Plantation, Fla. (Taimy Alvarez/South Florida Sun-Sentinel via AP)

    American Heritage High School football players, from left, Patrick Surtain Jr., Tyson Campbell and Nesta Silvera celebrate signing with the University of Alabama, University of Georgia and University of Florida respectively on national signing day, Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2018, in Plantation, Fla. (Taimy Alvarez/South Florida Sun-Sentinel via AP)
    Associated Press

  • Shelby High School football player Dax Hollifield sits in a full auditorium as he   waits to reveal his college decision during a signing day event at Shelby High School in Shelby, N.C. Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2018. Hollifield chose to attend Virginia Tech. (Brittany Randolph/The Star via AP)

    Shelby High School football player Dax Hollifield sits in a full auditorium as he waits to reveal his college decision during a signing day event at Shelby High School in Shelby, N.C. Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2018. Hollifield chose to attend Virginia Tech. (Brittany Randolph/The Star via AP)
    Associated Press

  • Berkeley Prep high school football player Nicholas Petit-Frere adjusts his cap after committing to Ohio State University during signing day Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2018, in Tampa, Fla.

    Berkeley Prep high school football player Nicholas Petit-Frere adjusts his cap after committing to Ohio State University during signing day Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2018, in Tampa, Fla.
    Associated Press

  • Former University of Oklahoma football coach Bob Stoops uses his cell phone as he waits for his sons, Isaac and Drake Stoops, to announce they will be preferred walk-on for Oklahoma during national signing day at Norman North High School in Norman, Okla., Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2018. (Chris Landsberger/The Oklahoman via AP)

    Former University of Oklahoma football coach Bob Stoops uses his cell phone as he waits for his sons, Isaac and Drake Stoops, to announce they will be preferred walk-on for Oklahoma during national signing day at Norman North High School in Norman, Okla., Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2018. (Chris Landsberger/The Oklahoman via AP)
    Associated Press

  • Westmoore High School's Damoriea Vick shakes hands with football coach Lorenzo Williams before he signed his letter of intent to play football for Missouri State University during national signing day in Norman, Okla., Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2018. (Chris Landsberger/The Oklahoman via AP)

    Westmoore High School's Damoriea Vick shakes hands with football coach Lorenzo Williams before he signed his letter of intent to play football for Missouri State University during national signing day in Norman, Okla., Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2018. (Chris Landsberger/The Oklahoman via AP)
    Associated Press

  • Nesta Silvera, from the football team at American Heritage High School, gestures after announcing that he signed with the University of Miami, on national signing day, Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2018, in Plantation, Fla. (Taimy Alvarez/South Florida Sun-Sentinel via AP)

    Nesta Silvera, from the football team at American Heritage High School, gestures after announcing that he signed with the University of Miami, on national signing day, Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2018, in Plantation, Fla. (Taimy Alvarez/South Florida Sun-Sentinel via AP)
    Associated Press

  • The family of Andrew Chatfield gesture after Chatfield signed with the University of Florida on national signing day in Plantation, Fla., Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2018. From left are Candy Diggs, Tiaunte Diggs and Lamont Green. (Taimy Alvarez/South Florida Sun-Sentinel via AP)

    The family of Andrew Chatfield gesture after Chatfield signed with the University of Florida on national signing day in Plantation, Fla., Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2018. From left are Candy Diggs, Tiaunte Diggs and Lamont Green. (Taimy Alvarez/South Florida Sun-Sentinel via AP)
    Associated Press

  • The family of five-star cornerback Patrick Surtain Jr., a defensive back from the football team at American Heritage High School, holds up photos of him on a stick on national signing day, Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2018, in Plantation, Fla. (Taimy Alvarez/South Florida Sun-Sentinel via AP)

    The family of five-star cornerback Patrick Surtain Jr., a defensive back from the football team at American Heritage High School, holds up photos of him on a stick on national signing day, Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2018, in Plantation, Fla. (Taimy Alvarez/South Florida Sun-Sentinel via AP)
    Associated Press

  • Patrick Surtain Jr., a defensive back from the football team at American Heritage High School, is interviewed after announcing he is signing with Alabama on national signing day, Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2018, in Plantation, Fla. (Taimy Alvarez/South Florida Sun-Sentinel via AP)

    Patrick Surtain Jr., a defensive back from the football team at American Heritage High School, is interviewed after announcing he is signing with Alabama on national signing day, Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2018, in Plantation, Fla. (Taimy Alvarez/South Florida Sun-Sentinel via AP)
    Associated Press

 
 

Georgia was not about to blow this lead.

The Bulldogs, who let a 13-0 halftime advantage get away in a national championship game loss to Alabama, finished their 2018 recruiting class with a flourish and laid claim to the No. 1 ranking on national signing day.

Georgia loaded up in the new early signing period and came into Wednesday's start of the traditional signing period with the top-rated class, according to 247 Sports' composite rankings. Coach Kirby Smart and the Bulldogs put the finishing touches on the recruiting championship by flipping a pair of four-star linebackers, one who had been committed to Michigan (Otis Reese) and another who had been committed to Alabama (Quay Walker), and grabbing a highly touted wide receiver from Texas (Tommy Bush).

Georgia also beat Miami and Alabama for star cornerback Tyson Campbell from American Heritage High School in Plantation, Florida.

"It's ridiculous," said Mike Farrell, the national recruiting coordinator for Rivals. "The average star ranking is near historic levels."

National champion Alabama had finished on top of the recruiting rankings each of the last seven years, but the Tide finished outside the top three this year. No, coach Nick Saban is not slipping. The Tide had a relatively small class (18 signees), which kept down its ranking. Alabama also landed the top-rated uncommitted recruit left in the country entering the second signing period when cornerback Patrick Surtain Jr. picked the Tide over LSU early in the day.

It's the first time that major college football has had two signing periods, thanks to changes to the recruiting calendar. The vast majority of top prospects signed back in December and most FBS schools had signed the bulk of their classes. That made for a quiet signing day for most schools.

Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald tweeted "6:34 a.m. ... that's a wrap on #NSD18 and #NUView18." The Wildcats signed two more players and called it a day.

The recruiting calendar was new, but it was a typical signing day in this respect: The rich got richer.

Ohio State finished with the second-ranked class, topped with five-star offensive lineman Nicholas Petit-Frere from Tampa, Florida. Texas came in third, with its best class in years. Coach Tom Herman cleaned up in state, signing 10 of the top-20 ranked recruits in the Lone Star state. Penn State and Clemson, which signed the top-rated player (receiver Justyn Ross) in the state of Alabama on signing day, rounded out the top five in 247's composite rankings.

Alabama was ninth with a few more players left to sign, but not enough to make a huge leap.

It was Smart, Saban's former assistant, who won this round.

"I don't think that's what's important," Smart said. "What's more important is the quality of kids we were able to get, both academically and athletically."

Other notable goings on from national signing day:

BETTER THAN EXPECTED

Coming off a 1-11 season and just a couple years removed from an ugly scandal involving the handling of sexual assault cases under former coach Art Briles, Baylor and coach Matt Rhule signed a top-30 class.

Mississippi also was right around top-30, solid work by new coach Matt Luke, coming on the heels of the NCAA sanctions that will keep the Rebels out of the postseason for another season.

DISAPPOINTING

Michigan is looking at a top-20 class. Not bad, but considering coach Jim Harbaugh's first two full classes in Ann Arbor were top-five level this has to qualify as a disappointing recruiting year for the Wolverines. Especially with Big Ten rivals Ohio State and Penn State cleaning up.

Coming off an 8-5 season on the field, 2018 will be huge for Michigan to change the trajectory.

NEW COACHES

For new coaches, the first recruiting class is generally a bit underwhelming after getting a late start.

Not for Willie Taggart of Florida State. The Seminoles closed strong enough to have a borderline top-10 class. Signing day started for Florida State by flipping Tennessee commit Anthony Grant, a three-star running back.

- Former Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher, now at Texas A&M, got the Aggies into the top-20, flipping defensive lineman Bobby Brown away from an Alabama verbal commitment.

- Oregon, which promoted offensive coordinator Mario Cristobal after Taggart left, did a solid job of holding together a class that had top-10 potential when Taggart was there.

- Scott Frost showed off the recruiting reach Nebraska hoped he would bring to Lincoln, signing a top-25 class that included linebacker Caleb Tannor from Georgia and running back Maurice Washington from Texas.

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Follow Ralph D. Russo at www.Twitter.com/ralphDrussoAP

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More AP college football: http://collegefootball.ap.org and http://www.twitter.com/AP_Top25

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