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National Signing Day 2013 basics: Your college football recruiting primer

College football's National Signing Day is on Feb. 6, and chances are you're too sane to have spent much time reading about recruiting yet. If you or a loved one would like to sound like experts anyway, read on.

Reuben Foster and Robert Nkemdiche
Reuben Foster and Robert Nkemdiche

So you don't follow recruiting, but hear your buddies talking about the prep ranks. Or maybe you don't like following for 11 months but like to know who the top prospects and which teams are going to be in the coming years of college football. This article is for you.

The top 10 classes


Nick Saban, Streeter Lecka-Getty

You probably can guess most of these schools.

  1. Alabama: The Crimson Tide are on pace to sign yet another fantastic recruiting class. Nick Saban's group already has commitments from four of the best 20 recruits in the country, including three of our top 10 (see below). Top receiver Robert Foster also has a chance to be a special player if he sticks with Alabama, and the Tide are still strong contenders to sign Laremy Tunsil, Alvin Kamara and Dee Liner from the Uncommitted section below. The Tide currently boast 21 commitments. Read more on Alabama's recruiting.
  2. Florida: The Gators failed to close strong in 2012 and still managed to sign a great class. If that happens again this year, the class will be even better. Florida got off to a strong start over the summer and never looked back. Florida has six of the top 100 players nationally, another eight in the top 300, and top JUCO offensive line recruit, Trenton Brown. The star of the class is Vernon Hargreaves III (see below), but running back Kelvin Taylor (son of Gator legend Fred) and Alex Anzalone are stars as well. Read more on Florida's recruiting.
  3. Ohio State: Urban Meyer is killing it on the recruiting trail? At Ohio State? You don't say. When Meyer arrived at Ohio State, word was that he thought the speed on the edges was really lacking. His second recruiting class in Columbus is fixing that in a big way. Defensive backs Cam Burrows, Eli Apple and Gareon Conley are all excellent players. Receiver Jalin Marshall and tight end Marcus Baugh should work their way into the offense quickly. Defensive ends Tyquan Lewis and Joey Bosa are college ready. The Buckeyes have eight top-100 type players, and eight top-300 recruits. Read more on Ohio State's recruiting.
  4. USC: There are only 14 commitments in the class, and a large amount of scrutiny has been cast upon Lane Kiffin's recruiting practices of late, but what a group of 14. Star defensive tackle Kenny Bigelow, safety Su'a Cravens, QB Max Browne, CB Jalen Ramsey, and safety Leon McQuay III are all among the best at their positions nationally. Of the 14, six are considered to be among the 50 best nationally. USC is trying to hang onto Ramsey, and will try to woo linebacker Matthew Thomas out of Miami.
  5. Michigan: There are two teams absolutely dominating the Big Ten in recruiting -- Ohio State and the Michigan Wolverines. Michigan is set to bring in five top-100 recruits, plus an additional 12 top-300 players. The best of the bunch include safety Dymonte Thomas, Shane Morris and David Dawson. Read more on Michigan's recruiting class.
  6. Notre Dame: Read more on Notre Dame's 2013 recruiting class.
  7. LSU: Les Miles has assembled another ridiculous class in the Bayou.
  8. Texas A&M: See how Texas A&M is capitalizing on its amazing success in its first year as an SEC team.
  9. Georgia: Read about Georgia's recruiting class.
  10. Florida State: After a slow start, perhaps no team is closing as strong as the Seminoles.

The top 10 committed recruits


Vernon Hargreaves III vs. Robert Foster, Bud Elliott-SB Nation

These 10 recruits have committed to their schools and are considered extremely unlikely to change their minds as National Signing Day approaches. Many are aggressively recruiting other blue chips to join them at their schools of choice.

  1. Vernon Hargreaves III, Florida: The top corner in the country. Hargreaves has tremendous instincts and quickness, capable long speed, and good size. His ability to elevate mid-stride is exceptional. Follow Hargreaves' recruitment here.
  2. Jaylon Smith, Notre Dame: Smith is a freakish outside linebacker who will soon be terrorizing opponents in the Big Ten and the ACC. At 6'3.5 and 215 pounds, Smith can easily carry 240 after a few years in a college strength program. Follow Smith's recruitment journey here.
  3. Christian Hackenberg, Penn State: The best quarterback in the country committed to and then stuck with Penn State as the Jerry Sandusky scandal unfolded. Hackenberg has a great arm, a quick release, and is more athletic than one might think.
  4. Derrick Henry, Alabama: The 6'4, 245-pound "running back" broke the national high school rushing record that had stood for 60 years. Out of the Jacksonville area. Catch up on Henry's recruitment story here.
  5. Su'a Cravens, USC: Cravens is the perfect safety for USC's battle with Oregon. He can play in space, but still capably stop the run. Here's Cravens' recruitment story.
  6. Tre'Davious White, LSU: I first saw White at a tournament in Bradenton over the summer and thought to myself, "oh man, another relatively unheralded star from Louisiana." He didn't stay under the radar for long. White is a special corner recruit.
  7. Jonathan Allen, Alabama: Allen is a defensive end out of Virginia who has the size (6'2, 250) to immediately make an impact as a pass rusher at outside linebacker for the Crimson Tide.
  8. O.J. Howard, Alabama: Alabama hasn't had a pass-catching tight end type line Howard in, well, forever. Howard is 6'6, 225 pounds with the ability to carry 250, and runs like a receiver. He could catch 20 balls for Alabama as a freshman.
  9. Ricky Seals-Jones, Texas A&M: The 6'5, 230-pound "receiver" was once committed to Texas before eyeing the SEC, choosing Texas A&M over LSU. Read up on Seals-Jones' recruitment.
  10. Max Browne, USC: He's the 1B to Christian Hackenberg's 1A, and surprising no one, he's committed to USC. Browne is very much a statue in the pocket, but with the right protection, he'll be able to show off an excellent arm. Here's the story stream on Browne.

The top 20 uncommitted recruits


Robert Nkemdiche, Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Here are the 20 names you need to know and follow as National Signing Day approaches.

  1. Robert Nkemdiche: The top player in America is 6'5 and 275 pounds, but moves like someone 40 pounds lighter. This freak was once committed to Clemson, but all signs now point to him joining his brother at Ole Miss.
  2. Laremy Tunsil: The best offensive tackle in the country out of Lake City (Fla.) Columbia High School is down to Georgia and Alabama, with Ole Miss and perhaps Florida State having an outside shot.
  3. Eddie Vanderdoes: The former USC commit is arguably the best defensive tackle recruit in the country. He's now considering Notre Dame, UCLA, Washington and Alabama, as well as the Trojans.
  4. Matthew Thomas: Thomas, a lanky linebacker out of Miami (Fla.) Booker T. Washington high School, is ridiculously explosive and has the frame to add considerable muscle. Thomas has narrowed his list to Miami, Florida State, Alabama, Georgia and USC.
  5. Montravius Adams: Adams' quickness off the ball is excellent for a defensive tackle. He's thought to be a battle between Clemson and the home-state Georgia Bulldogs.
  6. Laquon Treadwell: Treadwell is arguably the best receiver in the country. Out of Illinois, he was long considered a lock to head to Michigan, but a falling out now has Ole Miss in the driver's seat. Oklahoma State and Oklahoma are also in contention. Update: Treadwell did indeed commit to Ole Miss.
  7. Reuben Foster: Foster is the best inside linebacker recruit in the class. A hair under 6'2 and 240 pounds, Foster's highlight tape is the stuff of legend. Oh, and he transferred from Lagrange (Ga.) to Auburn (AL.) High School, committed to the Tigers, got an Auburn tattoo and subsequently decommitted. Georgia, Alabama, Auburn and Washington are all contenders for his signature.
  8. Elijah Daniel: One of two five-star types in a rare good year for the state of Indiana, the 6'4, 255-pound defensive end was once committed to Clemson, but is now considering Ole Miss, Mississippi State and Florida. Update: Daniel committed to Ole Miss.
  9. Vonn Bell: A five-star safety out of Georgia, Bell is down to Alabama, Ohio State and Tennessee. Bell has a ton of range, and most believe Alabama will be his destination come National Signing Day.
  10. Tony Conner: Conner is a classic run-stopping safety out of South Panola (MS) High School. He delayed his announcement in early January, and will now announce closer to signing day between Alabama, Ole Miss and Auburn. Ole Miss expects to sign Conner.
  11. Derrick Green: One of the best, and more underrated (by some) running backs in the class. Derrick Green has loved Michigan for a while, though Auburn still remains in contention. A no-nonsense power back, Green has good quickness for his size and doesn't try to do things outside of his skill set.
  12. MacKensie Alexander: What an interesting recruitment it's been for this five-star corner from Immokalee (Fla.) High School. He was a Tennessee commitment for a time, then, after FSU took a commitment from his brother, some expected him to end up in Tallahassee. That situation didn't work out, as MacKensie didn't join Mackenro, and FSU and Mackenro parted ways. Clemson is thought to have the best shot at him, with Texas A&M, Auburn, and Nebraska also in contention. His mother reportedly wants the school that gets Mackensie to also take Mackenro, and that could be tough at some places.
  13. Alex Collins: One of the best running backs in the country out of South Plantation (Fla.) High School. A long-time Miami commitment, Collins backed off after realizing the magnitude of potential sanctions coming from the NCAA. He then really liked Florida State until running back coach and primary recruiter Eddie Gran left for Cincinnati to take the offensive coordinator job. Having always been fond of Wisconsin, Collins then began eying Arkansas when Bret Beliema headed to Fayetteville. Florida is still in the mix as well, as is Miami. Read up on Collins' recruitment here.
  14. Dee Liner: Two incidents with police and a commitment to Auburn had Alabama fans talking trash about the five-star defensive linemen out of Muscle Shoals (AL) High School. But after Monday's decommitment from Auburn, Tide fans will welcome him with open arms if (when) he eventually chooses Alabama.
  15. Stacy Coley: Coley doesn't say much about his recruitment. The five-star receiver out of Ft. Lauderdale Fla.) Northeast High School is one of the more natural receivers in the class. Everything he does is smooth, and he has plenty of athleticism to go with his feel for the game. Most think he ends up at Florida State, though several other schools, including Miami, are in the mix.
  16. Priest Willis: Willis is a promising safety recruit (or a corner in select systems) out of Arizona. LSU is thought to be his leader, but Nebraska, UCLA, and Florida State are also in the mix.
  17. Alvin Kamara: Another border war is brewing between Alabama and Georgia for the talented Peach State running back. Kamara reminds me of Marshall Faulk. He is undersized, and doesn't have track speed, but is very quick, catches the ball as well as many receivers, and has a great feel for the game.
  18. Tahaan Goodman: Goodman is a big-hitting safety out of California. His leaders include USC, UCLA, LSU and perhaps Oklahoma. Here's our scouting report of Goodman.
  19. Asiantii Woulard: The former USF QB commitment out of Central Florida is now on the market again. At 6'4, 200 pounds with lots of athleticism and a big arm, Woulard has a lot of tools. He will also need a redshirt and probably another year or two on the bench to learn the game, depending on the system. Woulard is considering UCLA, Clemson, Kentucky, South Florida and N.C. State.
  20. Kylie Fitts: Fitts was one of the stars in USC's class and was set to enroll early. Then USC really screwed him over and didn't allow him to enroll early, causing Fitts to decommit. The talented defensive end from California is still considering the Trojans, but UCLA, Oregon, Alabama and Notre Dame have jumped in the mix.

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