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How National Signing Day 2014 can change the top 25 classes

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Alabama's just about locked in at No. 1, but LSU and Florida State could make big gains in the top five if Signing Day decisions go their way. And don't be surprised if Wednesday's biggest winner plays in Los Angeles.

Kevin C. Cox

National Signing Day, college football recruiting's Super Bowl, is coming up on Wednesday, and the current top 25 recruiting classes could change quite a bit. Let's take a look at where they stand and where they could end up, using the 247Sports Composite rankings and ratings.

1. Alabama Crimson Tide

The Tide have 26 commitments, with an astonishing 20 coming in either four- or five-star variety, landing them firmly on top of the recruiting rankings. Their highest-rated commitment is offensive tackle Cameron Robinson, who is considered the fourth-best player in the nation and has already enrolled in Tuscaloosa.

With 25 commitments, Alabama is just about locked up for the class, but the Tide are still pursuing top-rated linebacker Rashaan Evans (among several others), who is considered the second-best player in Alabama and might be favoring Auburn.

With Evans, the Tide would further their lead at the top of the recruiting rankings and slightly top the 247Sports Composite score of 319.47 of last year's class, giving them one of the best ever. Add five-star receiver Malachi Dupre to Evans, and the Tide would have the highest-rated class of the rankings era (since 2002). Neither is predicted, but don't count out Bama.

2. Ohio State Buckeyes

The Buckeyes hold a very strong class, with 22 commitments led by five-star inside linebacker Raekwon McMillan, who has already enrolled in Columbus. Their top remaining target is Michigan defensive end Malik McDowell, a five-star recruit who could be favoring Michigan State, along with Florida State and Michigan.

With McDowell, the Buckeyes would get a significant boost to their class and a very promising prospect (and take one away from a division rival), but it would not be enough to overtake the Tide in the recruiting rankings, unless Alabama loses significant unexpected pieces on Signing Day. McDowell's final visit was to Columbus.

3. Texas A&M Aggies

The Aggies' move to the SEC has seen success on the recruiting trail, as they currently just trail unstoppable dynamo Alabama in the conference rankings. Kevin Sumlin's class has 22 members, led by defensive end Myles Garrett, who is considered the second-best player in the country, and Kyle Allen, considered the country's best quarterback. Texas A&M has a few targets left on the board, with the biggest one being four-star offensive guard Braden Smith, who is also considering TCU and Auburn.

The Aggies are also in the running for four-star linebacker Kenny Young and three-star safety Mattrell McGraw, and landing all three would give them an extra 10 points in the 247Sports Composite -- bringing them closer to second-place Ohio State, but still firmly in third, with all else equal. A&M isn't considered the favorite for any of them; expect the Aggies to dip a little bit in the final rankings.

4. LSU Tigers

The Tigers have just 19 commitments, but their class is significantly boosted by the presence of running back Leonard Fournette, who is considered the top prospect in the nation.

The best player LSU is still going after is five-star cornerback Adoree' Jackson, the highest-rated player who has yet to commit. His three other finalists -- Florida, UCLA and USC -- are also on this list, and no one claims to have a solid idea on where he's headed. His decision should be Wednesday's single biggest game-changer.

For what it's worth, Jackson's last two visits were to the Los Angeles schools. At the moment, Bud Elliott predicts USC to land him.

Still, LSU has a chance to do more damage to the top five on Signing Day than anybody else. In addition to Jackson, the Tigers are also in the race for five-star wide receiver Malachi Dupre, five-star defensive end Lorenzo Carter, four-star defensive tackle Travonte Valentine, four-star inside linebacker Kenny Young and a pair of three-star prospects. If LSU is able to haul in all of those prospects, they could rise past Texas A&M and Ohio State and have a class right behind Alabama's in the 247Sports Composite rankings. Or maybe even better.

Elliott predicts the Tigers to land Dupre, Valentine and three-star defensive tackle Trey Lealaimatafao.

5. Florida State Seminoles

The defending national champions have a firm hold on the ACC lead in recruiting, but still trail the big boys of the SEC in the rankings. The Seminoles have 27 commitments in the class, led by five-star early enrollee running back Dalvin Cook. Florida State still has plenty of prospects left on the table despite that gaudy commitment number, with the highest being Dupre.

In addition, the Seminoles are pursuing five-star defensive end Lorenzo Carter, five-star wide receiver Ermon Lane, five-star defensive end Malik McDowell, four-star defensive tackle Derrick Nnadi and four-star tackle Roderick Johnson, as well as a number of other lower-profile recruits. Florida State's class could rise as high as second in the rankings.

Elliott picks Lane, Nnadi and Johnson to join the Noles on Signing Day.

6. Tennessee Volunteers

Butch Jones has done an incredible job on the recruiting trail for Tennessee, as the Vols are by far the highest team on this list that did not make a bowl game. They've had a unique approach: just get a ton of guys. Tennessee currently has 34 commitments in the class, led by four-star wide receiver Josh Malone (one of 14 early enrollees, the highest number in the country in at least two years).

Jones still has room in the class to pursue a few more players, led by four-star running back Darrel Williams. Williams, currently an LSU commit, and three-star lineman Michael Sawyers are the two players Tennessee is still pursuing. If the Vols land both, they would likely not be able to pass anyone in front of them in the recruiting rankings, but it would make their position in sixth all the stronger.

7. Auburn Tigers

Last year's national title runner-up, Auburn has hit the recruiting trail hard under Gus Malzahn, bringing in what looks to be a top-10 class for the first time since the 2011 class. The Tigers hold 21 commitments in their 2014 haul, led by five-star running back Roc Thomas, and are pursuing a number of prospects, including five-star outside linebacker Rashaan Evans.

He is one of eight prospects still on the table for the Tigers, including four-star safety Steven Parker, four-star defensive end Andrew Williams and four-star quarterback Treon Harris, a Florida State commit. Evans and Harris spent their final visits in Auburn. If they are able to land all eight, the Tigers could rise as high as third in the recruiting rankings, right behind Ohio State.

Elliott has the Tigers picking up Evans and Williams, which would put them on the verge of the top five classes.

8. Georgia Bulldogs

Georgia has 19 commitments in its 2014 class, with five-star running backs Sony Michel and Nick Chubb looking to combine for another formidable Bulldog backfield.

There are some quality prospects out there for Georgia, led by local five-star defensive end Lorenzo Carter, who is also considering Florida State, LSU and Florida. His expected addition would ensure the Dawgs of a top-10 class and perhaps move them ahead of Auburn.

Georgia's also pursuing names like four-star defensive end Andrew Williams and four-star cornerback Wesley Green. With the perfect combination of commitments, the Bulldogs could rise as high as fourth in the recruiting rankings, but that's unlikely.

9. Notre Dame Fighting Irish

The Irish hold 22 commits heading into Signing Day, with two (four-star wide receiver Justin Brent and four-star defensive end Andrew Trumbetti) as early enrollees. The top-rated player in the class is four-star inside linebacker Nyles Morgan, but four-star offensive tackle Quenton Nelson and Brent are both considered near that level.

The Irish still have a five-star target in California athlete John "JuJu" Smith, but they're competing with USC, UCLA and Oregon for his services. If the Irish are able to land Smith, four-star athlete Michiah Quick, four-star defensive tackle Daniel Cage and their other targets -- here's a good breakdown -- they could rise as high as fifth. A slight slide is more likely, however.

10. Florida Gators

Our second team on this list that went without a bowl in 2013. Will Muschamp has hit the recruiting trail hard to try to bring in immediate help for 2014. The Gators have 21 commitments in the class, led by five-star cornerback Jalen Tabor (one of nine early enrollees). Florida still has plenty of top targets in the 2014 class, including Adoree' Jackson.

The Gators are also in the mix for five-star defensive end Lorenzo Carter, five-star offensive tackle Damian Prince (who was in Gainesville for his last visit), four-star wide receiver Travis Rudolph, four-star quarterback Treon Harris, four-star wide receiver Isaiah McKenzie and a number of three-star prospects. With the right news, Florida could zoom as high as second, but the Gators would have to pull some big upsets.

11. Miami Hurricanes

Miami holds 26 commitments in its 2014 class, topped by five-star defensive end Chad Thomas. Nine commitments are early enrollees for Al Golden, led by four-star running back Joseph Yearby.

The Hurricanes still have multiple targets left, including four-star defensive tackle Travonte Valentine, who is also considering LSU. If they are able to land Valentine, four-star wide receiver and Florida soft commit J.C. Jackson, four-star quarterback Treon Harris and a number of other prospects, they could end up as high as fourth.

Canes fans predict something like two pieces of good news. Stealing Jackson and grabbing four-star defensive tackle Lamont Gaillard would just about clinch a top-10 class.

12. Texas Longhorns

Texas has 22 commits in the class under new head coach Charlie Strong, with three already enrolled. The top-rated commit in the class is four-star defensive end Derick Roberson, with only five-star defensive end Solomon Thomas left to prevent an embarrassing haul of zero of the state's top eight prospects. The Longhorns still manage to boast a solid class, with seven four-stars, but could go a long way if Signing Day goes in their direction.

Besides Thomas, Texas is also looking for a commitment from four-star defensive tackle Poona Ford, who had previously committed to Strong at Louisville. If the Longhorns land Thomas, Ford and the various three-star prospects they are pursuing, they could end up around 11th.

The best development for Texas? After some class attrition due to the coaching change, things seem to be coming back together.

13. Ole Miss Rebels

Hugh Freeze continues to recruit well after last year's stunning haul, with 23 commits in a solid 2014 class. The most prized recruit in the class is guard Roderick Taylor, who is one of five four-stars.

The Rebels' most highly coveted target is Dupre. If Freeze is able to land him, four-star defensive end Andrew Williams, four-star wide receiver Isaiah McKenzie and a couple of other targets, Ole Miss's class could jump as high as 11th, right behind Florida. Dupre is also considering LSU, UCLA, Florida State, and Alabama.

The most likely additions, three-star linemen Elisha Shaw and Jordan Sims, wouldn't move the needle, but they could keep the Rebels in place in the rankings.

The Signing Day announcement by five-star receiver Malachi Dupre (No. 15) will mean a rankings jump for either Florida State, LSU, Ole Miss, or UCLA. Or he could just go to Alabama. Kim Klement, USA Today.

14. Stanford Cardinal

It's not only the on-the-field product that has increased at Stanford in the post-Harbaugh era -- the recruiting has become much better, as well. The Cardinal brought in one of the best offensive line classes ever just two years ago. And Stanford currently holds the top recruiting class in the Pac-12, with its 19 commitments led by four-star quarterback Keller Chryst.

Five-star defensive end Solomon Thomas is the top target left for the Cardinal, who could still make other improvements to their class. If they land their remaining targets (including four-star defensive end Nifae Lealao [who was formerly committed to Stanford, but reportedly wasn't cleared by admissions]), they could rise as high as 10th place. Elliott's projecting Thomas to Stanford and Lealao to Vanderbilt.

15. Clemson Tigers

Dabo Swinney's Clemson squad comes in at third in the ACC in the recruiting rankings, with nine four-stars in a 19-commit class. Its top-rated commit is dual-threat quarterback Deshaun Watson, who is one of five early enrollees.

Any big news out of Clemson on Signing Day will be a surprise. The top remaining target for Clemson is four-star outside linebacker Richard Yeargin III, who was previously a Notre Dame commitment -- and Yeargin appears to already be in the bag, but he hasn't announced it yet. If Swinney can officially land Yeargin and the three three-star prospects the Tigers are targeting, his class could end up a spot or two higher, but Clemson might slip.

16. Michigan Wolverines

The Wolverines have just 16 commits in their 2014 class, but with one five-star and eight four-stars, it's a solid group. Potential cornerback Jabrill Peppers is the aforementioned five-star -- he's a multi-positional player who is considered the third-best prospect in the entire class.

That class will likely stay around the same size. Michigan's biggest target is five-star defensive end Malik McDowell. McDowell is considered the best player in the state of Michigan, and is also considering Michigan State, Ohio State and Florida State. His addition could secure a spot in the top 15 for the Wolverines.

McDowell's parents could end up swinging him away from the Spartans, but Elliott's still projecting him to East Lansing.

17. UCLA Bruins

Jim Mora has 17 commitments in his 2014 class, led by Houston linebacker Zach Whitley, a four-star recruit.  Whitley is one of seven four-stars for the Bruins, who stand in second place in the Pac-12 recruiting rankings, behind Stanford.

The Bruins are one of the teams with the most to gain on Signing Day. Five-star Adoree' Jackson is their top remaining target (choosing between them and Florida, USC and LSU), as well as five-star defensive end Solomon Thomas, five-star wide receiver Malachi Dupre and five-star athlete "JuJu" Smith. If they can land that group as well as some other targets (which include five four-stars), they could rise all the way up to second place. One or two Signing Day pickups is more likely, of course.

18. Oklahoma Sooners

Our second representative from the Big 12 finds itself fairly far down on this list, but Oklahoma has a solid class of 23 commitments, with one five-star and five four-stars. Its top prospect is five-star running back Joe Mixon, who is considered the best all-purpose back in the nation.

Oklahoma's top remaining target is four-star California athlete Michiah Quick, but four-star local safety Steven Parker is also highly coveted. If those chips and others all fall their way on Signing Day, the Sooners could reach eighth, above Texas for the Big 12 lead. Adding Quick and Parker alone, as expected, would put OU in top-15 contention.

19. Oregon Ducks

The Ducks stand at third in the Pac-12 recruiting rankings, with 18 commitments and seven four-star recruits. The best player in the class is four-star running back Royce Freeman, who is considered the fourth-best player in the state of California.

Oregon's top remaining target in the class is five-star athlete John "JuJu" Smith. If the Ducks are able to nab Smith away from USC, Notre Dame and UCLA, as well get a handful of their three-star targets, they could make it to around 13th in the rankings. Holding steady at 19th would still mean a very good class by Duck standards.

20. Kentucky Wildcats

Kentucky completes our SEC trifecta of teams that missed bowls in 2013 but still found their way onto this list, with last year's recruiting surge only continuing.

The Wildcats have 28 commitments, with six four-stars. Their top commitment is four-star quarterback Drew Barker (the top player in the state of Kentucky), who is one of seven early enrollees. The Wildcats also managed to grab a commitment from four-star defensive tackle Matt Elam (the second-best player in the state) over Alabama.

The UK class appears to be just about done, with only a few names left as targets. The top possibility is three-star outside linebacker Demarquis Gates, who is currently committed to Ole Miss.  If they can land Gates and their other targets, the Wildcats could top Oregon for 19th place. Otherwise, a small drop is likely.

21. Penn State Nittany Lions

James Franklin's first recruiting class has 25 commitments, loaded mostly with solid three-stars and five four-stars (including a big batch of players who followed Franklin from Vanderbilt), ranking third in the Big Ten. Three of those four-star recruits are wide receivers, led by star playmaker Saeed Blacknall, out of New Jersey.

The Nittany Lions' top remaining target is five-star offensive tackle Damian Prince, who is focused on Florida and Maryland. If Franklin is miraculously able to land Prince and can also steal three-star cornerback Lamont Simmons away from USC, his class could end up as high as 16th. That would place PSU just above Michigan for second in the Big Ten recruiting rankings.

South Carolina, No. 26 Virginia Tech and No. 28 USC all have good shots at crowding the top 20, while PSU might be more or less done adding players.

Screen_shot_2014-02-03_at_6Five-star cornerback Adoree' Jackson, the player who'll likely do the most to change Signing Day. He's down to Florida, LSU, UCLA or USC. Student Sports Photos.

22. Arizona State Sun Devils

The Sun Devils have 25 commits, with eight four-star players. That places them fourth in the Pac-12, behind Stanford, Oregon and UCLA. Their top commit is four-star California outside linebacker Derik Calhoun, although four-star wide receiver Tyler Whiley is also considered a top prospect.

Arizona State's top remaining target is three-star offensive tackle Kenyon Frison, who is also considering Nebraska and Oklahoma. If the Sun Devils can secure commitments from Frison, JuCo defensive tackle Dalvon Stuckey and their other targets, they also could pass Penn State for 21st place.

23. South Carolina Gamecocks

The Gamecocks are struggling on the recruiting trail, ranking 10th in the SEC (above just Arkansas, Mississippi State, Missouri and Vanderbilt), but they still have a solid class of 17 players, with seven four-star recruits. Bryson Allen-Williams is the top-rated recruit in the group, as the four-star outside linebacker is considered the sixth-best prospect in the state of Georgia.

The top remaining target for South Carolina is four-star cornerback Wesley Green, who is also considering Georgia. If the Gamecocks can collect Green, four-star cornerback Chris Lammons (Elliott doubts the 'Cocks can land both corners) and a few other targets, they could pass Ole Miss for eighth place in the SEC.

However, South Carolina's already gotten its best news, as Bryson Allen-Williams announced he won't be flipping to division rival Georgia.

24. Baylor Bears

Baylor has been able to turn its wildly successful 2013 into a recruiting surge, bringing in 28 commitments with one five-star and three four-stars. The five-star is Texas wide receiver KD Cannon, considered the fourth-best receiver in the country. Four-star athlete Davion Hall joins him at the top of the Bears' class. Hall is one of seven early enrollees for Baylor.

The top remaining target for the Bears is four-star safety John Bonney, who is currently committed to Texas but is also considering Baylor and Auburn. If the Bears are able to bring in Bonney and three-star Nebraska cornerback commit Trai Mosley, they could rise above South Carolina and Arizona State, landing in 22nd place.

25. Oklahoma State Cowboys

Here we have another revitalized Big 12 team, as the Cowboys have brought in 28 commitments, including five four-stars. Two pledges -- four-star junior college weapon Tyreek Hill and three-star junior college inside linebacker Devante Averette -- have enrolled early, and Hill is considered the top player in the class, with a real chance to play right away. The top-rated commitment yet to sign is four-star outside linebacker Gyasi Akem, considered the fifth-best player in the state of Oklahoma.

The Cowboys appear to be just about done for the 2014 class, which means a spot in the final top 25 is probably not going to happen.

No. 26 Virginia Tech Hokies

The Hokies have 26 commits, led by four-star safety Holland Fisher, four-star athlete Javon Harrison and four-star early-enrollee running back Shai McKenzie. They don't yet have a lot of big names, but rather have solid depth and appear likely to finish with the ACC Coastal's second-best class.

Bigger names could be on the way. The Hokies remain in the running for four-stars in defensive tackle Derrick Nnadi and receiver Isaiah McKenzie, plus some more talented three-stars.

If things break as expected for Virginia Tech (Elliott has the Hokies adding McKenzie and three-star athlete Raymon Minor, perhaps among others), a top-25 class is likely.

No. 27, North Carolina, doesn't appear to have a very good chance of finishing in the top 25. Neither do other nearby teams below USC like Arizona, Arkansas, Virginia or Wisconsin. No. 32 Michigan State is in on enough top targets that it could surge with a huge Signing Day, but that's quite a rise.

No. 28: USC Trojans

USC could make quite the meteoric rise on Signing Day if everything falls its way.

The Trojans currently have just 15 commitments after going through NCAA sanctions and multiple coaching changes before eventually landing on former Washington head man Steve Sarkisian, but it's a dense class. Their No. 28 group is currently led by four-star offensive guard Viane Talamaivao. USC also has a group of five talented early enrollees, with four-star offensive guard Toa Lobendahn and four-star defensive end Claudeson Pelon the highest-rated among them.

The Trojans are still in the mix for a pair of five-star recruits -- top-rated cornerback Adoree' Jackson and athlete John "JuJu" Smith, who are the two top prospects in the state of California. If Sarkisian and his staff are able to land both of them, as well as four-star guard Damien Mama, four-star athlete Michiah Quick and their other targets, USC could rise as high as sixth in the recruiting rankings.

Elliott's predicting USC for Jackson, the top uncommitted prospect. The Trojans are also favored for Mama and have a great chance at Smith. That haul would likely vault them into the final top 15.

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