While high school recruits must wait until Feb. 1 to sign with a school, junior college recruits enrolling for the spring semester are able to sign today. And there should be a lot of junior college signings, both today, and during the next few weeks.
Recruits go to a junior college for any number of reasons. The primary reason is academics. Some kids lack the core classes coming out of high school. Others are unable to earn a qualifying test score.
But it's not just academics. Some recruits are unsatisfied with their list of offers as a high school player and want to go to a junior college to improve their football standing. It's not all that uncommon to see a lightly recruited high school receiver keep growing and suddenly end up at defensive end.
And of course, some guys end up in JUCOs after flunking out of getting the boot from four-year universities.
And even though not all JUCO players are questionable academically, some schools often refuse to take them. This group includes much of the Big Ten.
Then there are the colleges who routinely take a lot of JUCOs: Alabama, Auburn, Mississippi State, USF, Kansas State and Arkansas.
Heck, Auburn won a national title on the back of two JUCOs in Cam Newton and Nick Fairley. JUCO players have a greater ability to make an instant impact than do high schoolers because JUCOs are more physically mature.
This year features an incredibly strong crop of receivers, including three of the top 10 JUCO players in the country. While the top receiver, Corradelle Patterson, is uncommitted, three schools have grabbed fine players at the position. Arkansas holds a commitment from Courtney Gardner, but will have to work to keep it with a visit to Florida State still on the schedule. And Mike Leach probably wishes he was still at Texas Tech so that he could work with Javon Bell.
Mississippi State has already struck gold with the commitment of Denico Autry, the nation's top defensive end. And the Bulldogs also reeled in Dylan Holley and Charles Siddoway, both of whom are expected to contribute on the offensive line.
Florida recently pulled in a massive nose guard in Visesio "Junior" Salt. Oklahoma State plucked the nation's top JUCO tight end in Blake Jackson. But the Cowboys lost offensive tackle Donald Hawkins to the Longhorns.
Quite a few prospects are expected to decide in the near future, including a few players today.
Tennessee commitment Damien Jacobs is set to decide today at Noon EST. The 6'4", 300-pound defensive tackle initially signed with Florida State out of high school, but didn't qualify. He's worked his way into form at East Mississippi Community College, and Tennessee fans will be waiting with bated breath today to see if he signs with the Vols. Jacobs is being courted by Florida and Texas A&M, as well.
The Vols also look to sign defensive lineman Darrington Sentimore, of Gulf Coast Community College, per Rocky Top Talk:
The Vols are hoping to sign 6-3, 275-pound DL Darrington Sentimore of Gulf Coast C.C. in Perkinston, Miss., on Wednesday, the first day midterm JUCO prospects can sign. Sentimore registered nine tackles and a forced fumble in the 11 games he played for Alabama in 2010 before he left the program and ended up at Gulf Coast C.C.
The Vols can offer a lot of playing time to defensive linemen, thanks to some poor recruiting by Phillip Fullmer and Lane Kiffin. It is unknown what time Sentimore will sign.
At 3 p.m. (EST), defensive back Gerald Bowman will decide between USC, Oklahoma and Miami (Fl.). There are strong rumors that Bowman has already informed USC of his choice to play for the Trojans. The 6'1", 215-pound safety from Pierce Community College in Los Angeles has some special highlights:
Then at 8 p.m. (EST), cornerback Travell Dixon is expected to make his announcement via twitter. He's down to Alabama, Florida State and Mississippi State.
A 6'2", 200-pound cornerback is rare indeed. Dixon's abilities are readily apparent in the highlight film below. He can play press coverage and physically bully opposing receivers. That's standard for a corner this size, but what makes Dixon special is his ability to turn and run after the initial bullying. Dixon's instincts look good as well.
It was believed that massive defensive tackle Daniel McCullers (6'7" 380) would sign today, but he has pushed back his announcement, as has running back Damien Williams. Both players hold major BCS offers, including Alabama, Arkansas and Tennessee.