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February 1, 2006

Signing Day stunners

Like any year in recruiting, 2006 didn't come and go without its share of shockers at the end.

Teams like Florida State, Michigan and Southern Cal are usually known to be in the mix for the hot news around Signing Day and even though those teams were part of some big headlines, a few others got involved with some big news of their own.

Clemson definitely stole the show this year.

Most figured it would be an in-state battle for the No. 1 all-purpose back in the country, five-star C.J. Spiller. That was definitely not the case when Spiller made a surprise pick and announced he was heading to Clemson.

It was a complete surprise that Spiller would leave the state, but credit is due to the Tigers staff led by assistant Dabo Swinney, who did quite the job in landing the star player. Not only is it being hailed as one of the top players in several years, but also the first time in the history of Clemson's recruiting that the Tigers have landed the top recruit out of the state of Florida.

It also made two five-star commitments for the Tigers along with defensive end Ricky Sapp for the 2006 group.

Two years in a row, Clemson has done well with high-profile backs. Spiller will join James Davis.


Trojans start day with bang

A summertime commitment to Oregon State didn't completely push the USC Trojans out of the mind of three-star defensive back Alfred Rowe. The only problem was that an offer had not been extended.

That all changed when just 24 hours before Signing Day the Trojans found out they were going to miss on longtime target Jonas Mouton and the scholarship was finally in hand for Rowe.

His father, Alfred Rowe Sr., said it was tough for his son to turn that one down and made a big switch at the end.

"He committed to coach Pete Carroll and even though it probably isn't the ideal way for it to go down, we're still all excited that he'll be fulfilling a lifetime dream."

Britt makes switch

Last week, it looked like four-star receiver Kenny Britt was going to be signing with Illinois, but word on Signing Day broke that he was having second thoughts and leaning to Rutgers.

In a big switch, the talented prospect made it official with the Scarlet Knights and signed on the dotted line.

"He had an immediate connection with the coaching staff there and spoke very highly of them," Britt's coach, Frank Blunda, said. "He also really liked the academic advisors and counselors. He thinks the program is headed in the right direction."

Whitehead makes Signing Day eve surprise

Four teams remained for Rivals100 defensive end Deantwan Whitehead with Alabama, Auburn, Louisville and Tennessee all being legitimate contenders.

However, when the four-star rated prospect made his announcement for the Cardinals, numerous people around the country were definitely not expecting the pick. Alabama and Auburn seemed like the teams to beat, even though Whitehead had kept things relatively quiet in the days before the big decision.

"It was a hard decision," Whitehead said during his news conference. "I know it shocked a lot of people. A lot of people had me going to Auburn and a lot of people had me going to Alabama, but I thought Louisville was the best place for me."

While surprises aren't out of the ordinary, this certainly got the Signing Day shockers started in a big way.

Peters headed to Kentucky

After an official visit to Michigan, it looked all even for four-star Corey Peters. The No. 3 prospect in the state of Kentucky though added to a very impressive class for the Wildcats when he kept his decision an in-state one.

Peters made his announcement and signed his letter of intent with UK, turning down programs that were once considered in the driver's seat like Auburn and Ohio State. However, he never stopped mentioning Kentucky even when his leaders were up in the air.

Peters adds to a very solid defensive class along with fellow Kentucky star Micah Johnson.

Mouton goes the other way

USC was considered the team to beat pretty much throughout the entire process with four-star Jonas Mouton. Then things went another way when the top California player left the Army All-American Bowl talking about a new team - Texas.

On Signing Day, things shifted yet again as the Michigan Wolverines ended up being the program he inked with which shocked both Trojans and Longhorns fans who felt their school was the team to beat.

Smith surprises with announcement, not choice
Though Alabama fans were patiently awaiting the announcement of the nation's No. 2 player, five-star Andre Smith, he didn't disappoint the Crimson Tide faithful when he chose the in-state school.

However, he made his live announcement one of the more fun ones. While three modern sports caps were arranged neatly on the table in front of him, there was no Tide hat to be found.

That had a lot to do with when he made his pick. When ready, Smith pulled out a houndstooth hat, a la legendary Alabama coach Paul "Bear" Bryant".

Smith may not have shocked with his team choice, but he definitely got creative with the big declaration.

Cowboys end up with Cox

Since late December, LSU fans were just counting the days until four-star Perrish Cox made it official for the Tigers with his signed letter-of-intent.

Things certainly didn't go according to plan on Signing Day when in the afternoon Cox announced that his college plans were changing.

"I'm going to Oklahoma State," Cox said. "I think I'll be better off there. Oklahoma State needed DBs."

While it's a huge shock at the last minute to Les Miles and the Tigers staff, the switch that Jai Eugene pulled earlier from Michigan to LSU softened the blow.

Nonetheless, Cox put his stamp on Signing Day with a big surprise in the final hours.

Photo Gallery: Signing Day 2006



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