College football's National Signing Day is February 4, and there is a familiar name at the top of the team recruiting rankings: Alabama. No team has recruited better than the Tide over the last four classes, in which 73 percent of Alabama signees have been rated four- or five-stars by the 247Sports Composite.
This year, it's long been likely that Alabama will land the No. 1 class. The Tide had double-digit blue chip recruits at the time I tweeted this back in May:
The level of total talent is rather ridiculous. Alabama has 21 blue chips committed (six five-stars and 15 four-stars). No other team has more than 15.
The gap between the Tide and the next best recruiting class (currently Florida State) is substantial. Bama's Composite score is 19.07 points ahead of FSU, which is about the same margin currently separating No. 2 FSU and No. 7 Ohio State or No. 26 West Virginia and No. 40 Texas Tech.
There's also an element of completion to the Tide's class. Seemingly every position is filled with a star. Alabama went to California to grab quarterback Blake Barnett, added two defensive backs in Kendall Sheffield and Deionte Thompson from Texas, and picked up five offensive linemen, six defensive linemen, two running backs, and so forth. Thirteen of Alabama's commitments are ranked in the top 10 at their respective positions.
Oh, and with targets like five-star Terry Godwin and four-stars Chidi Valentine and Daylon Charlot, Alabama's class could get even better.
For a team to catch the Tide, Alabama would need to not land any more commitments and lose a few current pledges while the chasing team hits on all of its remaining targets and loses nobody. That's almost certainly not happening, so let's look at who could land the No. 2 class.
The Seminoles currently sit at No. 2, with 14 of their 21 commitments rated as blue chips (four five-stars, 11 four-stars). The class is led by five-stars like safety Derwin James, receiver George Campbell, defensive end Josh Sweat, and cornerback Tarvarus McFadden. FSU also managed to get seven of its recruits to enroll for the spring semester, including six blue chips, a major victory since more than half of the starters in Tallahassee are leaving.
FSU has room to take about five more players, if the right recruits want to come aboard. The top remaining targets are five-star defensive linemen Terry Beckner, Jr. of East St. Louis, and Byron Cowart of Seffner (Fla.) Armwood, as well as Long Beach (Calif.) Poly five-star cornerback Iman Marshall. Adding any of those longshots could cement FSU as the No. 2 class. Ohio State and Missouri are the main competition for Beckner, Auburn and Florida for Cowart, and USC for Marshall. The Seminoles are also trying to flip four-star running back Jordan Scarlett, who is committed to Miami.
Update 1/28: Florida State appears to be out of the running with Cowart.
Another strong contender for the No. 2 spot is the USC Trojans, currently No. 5. USC has 20 commitments, 13 of which are from blue chips (12 four-stars). Five-star offensive lineman Chuma Edoga, of Powder Springs (Ga.) McEachern, has great feet for the position, and Ventura (Calif.) St. Bonaventure four-star quarterback Ricky Town is a competitor with a strong arm.
The Trojans finally have a full allotment of scholarships and will be looking to make the most of them down the stretch, setting up for a close perhaps better than any other team's.
Top targets include Marshall, widely considered the No. 1 cornerback, Gardena (Calif.) Junipero Serra five-star defensive lineman Rasheem Green and Salt Lake City Brighton five-star linebacker Osa Masina. USC is also in very strong position to land a pair of four-star linebackers in Salem Hills' (Utah) Porter Gustin and Serra's John Houston. USC is seen as the favorite for all five, and as a heavy favorite for Marshall, Green, and Gustin.
Update: USC landed Masina on January 23.
Update: USC added Gustin on February 3 and is now in second place. This could be a close finish.
Tennessee currently has the No. 4 recruiting class, with 28 commitments, including a five-star and 13 four-stars. Five-star defensive tackle Kahlil McKenzie leads the pack, along with five other blue chip defensive linemen. Butch Jones has drastically upgraded the talent level in Knoxville, and in a hurry.
The issue for Tennessee? The Volunteers are almost out of room. The Vols likely only have a spot, maybe two left. Tennessee is still pursuing four-star offensive linemen Patrick Allen of Reisterstown (Md.) and Drew Richmond of Memphis University School. Linebacker Quart'e Sapp remains a top target, and the Vols may be able to land the four-star from Georgia. A running back like Bryce Love of North Carolina or John Kelly of Michigan could also nab a final spot.
If Florida State loses a commit or two and doesn't manage to land any of its remaining big fish while USC fails to sweep its remaining targets, Tennessee's score in the clubhouse will be very close.
Composite No. 5 Clemson is essentially done, and No. 6 Georgia likely doesn't have enough elite targets left to make it happen. Auburn could finish with a flourish, but is likely has too much ground to make up.