Georgia, Clemson win big as early signing period opens

Top recruit Fields signs as a Georgia Bulldog (1:20)

Ranked No. 1 in ESPN's top 300, QB Justin Fields officially signs with Georgia. (1:20)

As the first day of the early signing period comes to a close, two teams vying for a national championship this season made a push to repeat their College Football Playoff appearance in 2018. Georgia and Clemson are both preparing for their matchups in this season's playoff, and both came out on top on the recruiting trail Wednesday.

Georgia started the day by adding ESPN 300 offensive lineman Jamaree Salyer and went on a run throughout the rest of the day, landing ESPN 300 offensive lineman Cade Mays, ESPN 300 defensive lineman Brenton Cox and ESPN 300 defensive back Divaad Wilson. Later in the day, Georgia flipped ESPN 300 defensive back Nadab Joseph from Alabama.

The Dawgs were also able to get signatures from the No. 1-ranked prospect in the country, quarterback Justin Fields, who had already been committed but had been rumored to be listening to other programs.

"He's one of the alpha dogs of the alpha dogs. He took over The Opening, he won a lot of games, he made throws," Georgia coach Kirby Smart said. "And he did it all while keeping a calm, cool presence that is kind of unmatched -- never real high, never real low. He's really exciting, he can win the game with his feet, but he can win the game with his arm, and he's not afraid of competition. He's been very adamant that he wants to come in here and compete, and he knows we're going to give him the opportunity to do that."

The same goes for ESPN 300 running back James Cook, a former Florida State commit who stayed with his pick of Georgia.

Those commitments moved Georgia past Ohio State for the No. 1-ranked recruiting class after this first day of early signing.

Clemson also improved its standing and added some insurance along the defensive line in case redshirt sophomore Clelin Ferrell and Christian Wilkins were to leave early for the NFL. The Tigers added four ESPN 300 defensive linemen, including five-star defensive ends Xavier Thomas and K.J. Henry.

The staff was also able to pull in five-star offensive lineman Jackson Carman, who is the top prospect from the state of Ohio. Carman chose Clemson over Ohio State and USC in what was somewhat of a surprise in that he was leaving the state of Ohio.

With the number of players Clemson has returning next season, and adding in the prospects from this 2018 class, Clemson should have a very good shot of making it to the playoff for the fourth year in a row next season.

"This is awesome. We just signed up an unbelievable group of young men to come to Clemson, and it never gets old," Tigers coach Dabo Swinney said. "This is going to be our fourth senior class in a row leaving here as the winningest senior class in school history. But the key word there is they're leaving. So any time you have great, successful people leaving your program, it's the lifeline of your program to bring quality people in the front door. I feel like that's what we've done today."

Ole Miss won't be going to the playoff next season, partially because of the sanctions levied by the NCAA that included a one-year bowl ban, but the Rebels were the surprise team of the day. Head coach Matt Luke and his staff had four prospects announce their commitment to Ole Miss on Wednesday, including a flip from ESPN 300 wide receiver Elijah Moore, who switched his commitment from Georgia.

Alabama didn't flip any ESPN 300 prospects, but the Tide pulled in five-star defensive end Eyabi Anoma, who chose Alabama over Michigan and Maryland. ESPN 300 defensive tackle Christian Barmore also jumped in the class for Alabama, which has taken some heat in recent weeks for being ranked outside of the top 10 of the class rankings.

After today, Alabama moved to the No. 6 ranking, but it is still very likely it doesn't finish in the top two of the rankings. If Alabama doesn't sign the No. 1-ranked class, it will be the first time since 2010 that neither the Tide nor Florida State are the No. 1-ranked team.

With the day Clemson and Georgia had, that stat seems closer to reality than a pipe dream.