Craziest National Signing Day Moments of All Time
What happens when you combine famous teenagers, millions of dollars, big-time college football and overbearing parents? You get National Signing Day — or in today's era, Early National Signing Day, which happens before the actual National Signing Day in February.
With Early Signing Day upon us on Dec. 21, we thought it might be fun to take a trip down memory lane to look at some of the craziest moments of all time when it comes to the best high school football players in the country picking a college. As you can imagine, things don't always go smoothly.
Here's a look at the craziest moments leading up to and occurring on National Signing Day in recent memory.
5. I'm Going to Auburn ... Just Kidding
Dematha Catholic offensive lineman Cyrus Kouandjio was one of the nation's most sought-after recruits from the Class of 2011 — a five-star prospect who was projected as a multiyear starter and likely NFL Draft selection in the near future.
Kouandjio's college choices seemed to boil down to two of the nation's top schools and hated Iron Bowl rivals Auburn and Alabama, with defending national champion Auburn winning the recruiting battle when Kouandijo committed to the Tigers in a nationally televised press conference on ESPN.
A few hours later, Auburn still hadn't received the fax with Kouandjio's signature to his National Letter of Intent. Two days later, the nation's No. 2 recruit signed with Nick Saban and Alabama. You ever hear that old saying, "Don't believe everything you see on TV?"
Kouandjio became an All-American and won two national championships at Alabama in 2012 and 2013. He was selected in the second round of the 2014 NFL Draft by the Buffalo Bills and played six years in the league for three different teams.
4. Deion Flips Nation's Top Recruit to HBCU Jackson State
Utter shockwaves went through the college football recruiting world when the nation's No. 1 recruit from the Class of 2022, Collins Hill (Ga.) High defensive back/wide receiver Travis Hunter, flipped from his commitment to Florida State to HBCU Jackson State and head coach Deion Sanders on Early National Signing Day in December 2021.
In doing so, Hunter became the first five-star recruit to ever sign with an HBCU, and Sanders screwed over his alma mater, Florida State, in the most epic way possible. "Probably the most shocking decision in the history of college football recruiting," said Sports Illustrated's Dustin Lewis, while 247Sports recruiting guru Steve Wiltfong called it "the biggest signing day moment in the history of college football."
Hunter played one season at Jackson State, where he helped lead the team to a SWAC championship and 12-1 record before Sanders left to become the head coach at Colorado — and Hunter promptly entered the transfer portal.
3. 'LSU Tigers, No. 1 ... Go Tigers'
Landon Collins was the most highly anticipated recruit set to announce his commitment at the Under Armour All-American Game in January 2012. He was a five-star safety out of Dutchtown High School in Geismar, Louisiana, who seemed like a surefire future first-round NFL Draft pick.
Collins' decision was nationally televised and came during the game — it came down to Alabama or in-state LSU — and he was surrounded by family and friends. After Collins' picked Alabama, it was one family member's reaction that drew national attention when his mother, April Justin, reacted with disgust.
While Collins put on a pair of gloves with the Alabama logo to celebrate his decision, the reporter interviewing him turned the microphone to April and asked for her reaction. "LSU Tigers, No. 1 ... Go Tigers," she said.
Collins won a national championship at Alabama in 2013 and was selected No. 33 overall by the New York Giants in the 2015 NFL Draft. He has been a three-time Pro Bowler and was named NFL All-Pro in 2016, and he's currently in his eighth season in the NFL.
2. Where You Going, Mom?
Escambia (Fla.) High School wide receiver Jacob Copeland was one of the most sought-after recruits in the country on National Signing Day in 2018 when he was set to pick between three SEC schools — Tennessee, Florida and Alabama — in front of a packed gymnasium.
The commitment, which was nationally televised on ESPN, ended in one of the more bizarre moments in National Signing Day history when Copeland walked out on stage, saw his mother wearing an Alabama sweatshirt and a Tennessee stocking cap ... and picked Florida.
Copeland's mother got up and walked out of the gym following the commitment, reducing her son to tears. She eventually returned to give her son a hug, but the moment went viral and was even lampooned on "Jimmy Kimmel Live!" that night. Copeland played three full seasons at Florida before transferring to Maryland for his final season in 2022.
1. The Recruit Who Actually Wasn't
Fernley (Nev.) High School offensive lineman Kevin Hart grew up watching Pac-12 games and nicknamed himself "D1," telling anyone who would listen that he was going to play Division I football. Hart's dream appeared to have come true when he announced he was signing with Cal in a press conference on Feb. 1, 2008, in front of a gym packed full of fans, friends, family and media. He even had multiple hats, dramatically picking a Cal hat over an Oregon hat.
"Coach (Jeff) Tedford and I talked a lot, and the fact that the head coach did most of the recruiting of me kind of gave me a real personal experience with that coach," Hart told reporters. "And we had like a really good relationship."
One problem — Hart, who had a 1.8 GPA, was never recruited by Cal. After receiving letters from Oregon, Washington and Nevada as a junior, he'd never been recruited by anyone, actually. Within hours, his hoax had been uncovered by Fernley officials, who contacted Cal and found out he'd never been in contact with the school. Hart finally confessed to his lies and became a national pariah. He eventually went to play for a junior college then signed with NCAA Division II Missouri Western on Feb. 1, 2012 — four years to the day from his legendary hoax.