National Signing Day is a mere two weeks away. We can’t wait, because following college football this time of year feels quite creepy. For those who don’t spend the full year thirsting over 17-year-olds on online messageboards, here are a few major stories you may want to follow.
Top Class: No trophy gets awarded. Though scoring the top class four of the past five years seems to have worked out well for Alabama. Rivals, 247 and ESPN have pretty much come to a consensus on the Top Five: Florida, Alabama, Ohio State, Notre Dame and USC. Michigan, LSU and Texas A&M are just behind. The Trojans are bringing in the most elite talent, with four of the Rivals Top 12 and seven of the Top 35 committed. Though other schools, able to bring in full classes, surpass them on bulk.
Linebacker Alex Anzalone, who decommitted from Ohio State after a sex offender obtained access to recruits, flipped from Notre Dame to Florida. Some other players who could tip the balance include Alabama linebacker Reuben Foster (Alabama, Auburn, Georgia), Florida linebacker Matthew Thomas (Alabama, USC, Georgia, FSU), California defensive tackle Eddie Vanderdoes (Alabama, USC, UCLA, Notre Dame, Washington) and Georgia defensive tackle Montravius Adams (Alabama, Auburn, Clemson, Florida, Georgia).
New Ole Miss: Hugh Freeze resurrected the Rebels on the field in 2012. Now, he’s looking for some Falernian reinforcements. Ole Miss has landed two five-star recruits in the past few days, with WR Laquon Treadwell and DE Elijah Daniel pledging to send a fax. The choice prize, though, remains No. 1 overall recruit Robert Nkemdiche. The Georgia native decommitted from Clemson. Barring a late push from Alabama, LSU or Florida, he looks destined to sign with Mississippi, where his older brother Denzel was a freshman All-American.
Woof: The Huskies spent heavily on assistants last year for Steve Sarkisian, bringing in two star recruiters in Tosh Lupoi from Cal and Peter Sirmon from Tennessee. It looks like this may be paying off. Washington is creeping toward the Top 10 in the Rivals and 247 rankings, with six of the Top 35 in California committed. The Huskies still have an outside shot at five-star defensive tackle Eddie Vanderdoes. Bellevue-based linebacker Myles Jack has been committed to UCLA since June, but has been accepting new offers (Florida State) and visits Washington on the 25th.
They Are Penn State: Bill O’Brien has done masterful damage mitigation. Highly-touted tight end Adam Breneman is already on campus. Five-star quarterback Christian Hackenberg remains committed, as does one of the top JUCO QBs in the country, Tyler Ferguson. Two of the top recruits from New Jersey, Garrett Sickels (DE) and Brandon Mahon (OL). This should be Penn State’s first top five class in the Big Ten since 2010. He has not landed a major commit since the sanctions, though. It will be interesting to see how that affects Penn State during the next cycle.
Confident Tailback: Entering the more conventional, post-Denard universe, Michigan needs a running back. Brady Hoke’s yearning gaze has been fixated on five-star Virginia running back Derrick Green. The 6’0″ 220-pound back, who compared his running style to “a combination of Bo Jackson, Herschel Walker and Trent Richardson,” was considering Michigan, Auburn and Tennessee before the season’s end. The latter two teams lost their head coach, leaving Michigan the presumptive favorite. He is purportedly down to those three, but Florida State or Miami might make a late push.
Best Name: Alabama defensive lineman Dee Liner. He decommitted from Auburn. Most expect him to be a Crimson Tide player soon. Apologies to Taco Charlton (Michigan – DE), and James Quick (Lousiville – WR).
[Photo via USA Today Sports]