National Signing Day 2013: Teams Who Unexpectedly Hit It Big with Great Classes

Mike MoraitisAnalyst IFebruary 7, 2013

OXFORD, MS - SEPTEMBER 15:  Head coach Hugh Freeze of the Ole Miss Rebels watches pregame warmups before the game against the Texas Longhorns at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium on September 15, 2012 in Oxford, Mississippi.  (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
Scott Halleran/Getty Images

While the usual suspects in college football ended up having an incredible year in their recruiting, there were some schools who unexpectedly made out like bandits on national signing day.

Programs like Ole Miss, Ohio State and Kentucky all had a great day on Wednesday and will have a stellar class of recruits for the 2013 season and beyond.

Let's take a closer look at some of the top players each of these schools landed and why their success was so unexpected.


Ole Miss

The Rebels landed themselves two of the top five players in this year's recruiting class in defensive end Robert Nkemdiche (No. 1 overall) and offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil (per 247Sports).

Nkemdiche was the most sought after player in the entire nation, and with schools like Alabama, LSU and Florida in the running, Ole Miss often looked like an outsider in the bid for his services.

However, thanks to an effective pitch and the presence of Nkemdiche's brother on the roster, Denzel, Ole Miss was able to win the battle for the premiere defensive player in the country.

Head coach Hugh Freeze was also fortunate enough to land the No. 1 receiver in the country, Laquon Treadwell, as well as talented offensive lineman Austin Golson and safety Antonio Conner.

Not a bad haul for a team that finished 7-6 and unranked in 2012, which was a great rebound after a dreadful 2011 season that saw the Rebels go 2-10.


Ohio State

The Buckeyes finished with the No. 2 overall recruiting class in 2013 (per 247Sports) and got a considerable boost from the signing of 5-star safety Vonn Bell.

Head coach Urban Meyer had some serious competition for Bell with Alabama being one of the programs in the running for the defensive stud. A late pitch by Tennessee seemed to be a danger to the Buckeyes' hopes, but they were able to land Bell nonetheless.

Ezekiel Elliott signed himself over to the Buckeyes. The 4-star running back spurned his hometown school, Missouri, and further gave a boost to Ohio St.'s class.

Ohio St. also landed themselves four 4-star receivers in James Clark, Dontre Wilson, Jalin Marshall and Corey Smith. There's no question that the Buckeyes will have one of the deeper receiving corps for years to come.

Meyer summed up his program's day perfectly, per Brandon Castel of

Urban Meyer: "It was a great day. I thought it was going to be a very good day, but I'd put it in the great category."

— Brandon Castel (@BCastOZone) February 6, 2013

With 19 players added on national signing day on top of the five already enrolled, I'd say I have to agree with him there. 



Head coach Mark Stoops is entering his first season as the head man at Kentucky, and already he's making a splash with what is easily the best recruiting class in the history of the school (per 247Sports).

The biggest splash for Kentucky came when 4-star defensive end Jason Hatcher unexpectedly decommitted from the USC Trojans and chose the Kentucky Wildcats instead. Hatcher had previously committed to USC, so it came as quite a shock that he joined Kentucky in the end.

Other 4-star players who will be joining the Wildcats are defensive end Za'Darius Smith, Marcus McWilson and running back Ryan Timmons.

In all, Kentucky signed 21 players on national signing day and will have 22 total new recruits entering the ranks next season. Not too bad for a first-year coach and a program that finished 2012 with an abysmal 2-10 record.