On paper, much of the 2016 college football recruiting season is a formality at this point in the game with thousands of high school and junior college recruits verbally committed to their dream school or program of choice. Regardless of the stability many fan bases believe they have in regards to how their class was shaping up on Tuesday, things are sure to change by the end of today.
The perch atop the recruiting rankings, per Rivals, is a familiar sight with a couple of surprises. Ohio State is leading the way followed by LSU, Florida State, Ole Miss and Michigan in the top five. The wrinkle within this first tier is that every team but the Wolverines have left open a couple of spots for last-minute additions and late flips. The surprise go-getters based on recent history is Ole Miss and Michigan. Both programs have excelled on the trail, especially the Rebels with two 5-star commitments paired with eight 4-star talents.
The biggest teams with the most ground to gain within the top 10 are No. 8 Clemson and No. 9 Alabama. The College Football Playoff National Championship Game foes are battling it out again on the recruiting trail with several overlapping interests in top prospects. Oddly enough, both were sitting on 17 verbal commitments entering National Signing Day.
Programs with high expectations outside the current top 10 include No. 14 Auburn (17 commits), No. 15 Oklahoma (19), No. 17 Georgia (16), and No. 19 Texas A&M (18). Of the four, watch for Georgia to make the biggest gains, perhaps even over some of the teams in the top 10 thanks to the wealth of in-state talent that has yet to announce a decision.
Teams like No. 23 Miami (17 commits), No. 24 Tennessee (17), No. 32 Arizona State (18), and No. 36 Mississippi State (18) have a lot of room to add talented prospects but are floating around an average class per their peer group. Mississippi State has been pushing hard for in-state prospects but has so far lost out to Ole Miss and Alabama. The final decisions of defensive end Jeffery Simmons (Noxubee County), wide receiver A.J. Brown (Starkville), offensive lineman Scott Lashley, and wide receiver Daniel Crowell could make for a boom-or-bust recruiting class for the Bulldogs.
The two biggest teams with the most to prove on a national level today are the USC Trojans and Texas Longhorns. Two of the bigger pillars of college football history and tradition have missed the mark so far on the recruiting trail. New USC head coach Clay Helton has just 13 verbal commitments so far. In Helton’s favor, the 13 are very impressive with one 5-star (wide receiver Tyler Vaughns) and eight 4-star prospects, a group that’s highlighted by in-state offensive linemen Nathan Smith (Murrieta) and Frank Martin (Santa Ana).
Texas head coach Charlie Strong cannot make the same claim as Helton. The Longhorns have 16 commitments and thus far have been outperformed by in-state rivals Baylor (No. 12 per Rivals), TCU (No. 16) Texas A&M (No. 19), and even Houston (No. 30). The news did start getting a little bit better for Texas on Tuesday when 4-star running back Kyle Porter (Katy) picked the Longhorns over Arkansas and TCU.
The following recruits will help swing the pendulum in favor of a lot of teams while giving fan bases a reason to feel optimistic about their favorite program’s chances for success in the near future.
2016 National Signing Day Commitment Times
Note: All times listed are ET and subject to change
CB Trayvon Mullen – 9:10 a.m. on ESPNU
Coconut Creek (Fla.)
Contenders: LSU, Clemson, Florida State, TCU, Louisville
Pick: Mullen announced he would be signing with Clemson
DB Jared Mayden – 9:15 a.m.
Contenders: Oklahoma, Texas, Alabama, Georgia, Oregon, Michigan
Pick: Mayden announced he would be signing with Alabama
SS Brandon Jones – 9:30 a.m. on ESPNU
Contenders: Texas, Baylor, Arkansas, Texas A&M
Pick: Jones announced he would be signing with Texas
LB Ben Davis – 10:10 a.m. on ESPNU
Contenders: Alabama, Auburn, Georgia, Notre Dame
Pick: Davis announced he would be signing with Alabama
SS Deontay Anderson – 10:30 a.m. on ESPNU
Contenders: Ole Miss, LSU, Alabama, Texas A&M, Texas
Pick: Anderson announced he would be signing with Ole Miss
Related: 4-Star Deontay Anderson Commits to Ole Miss By Skydiving
LB Dontavious Jackson – 10:45 a.m. on ESPNU
Elsik (Houston, Texas)
Contenders: Alabama, Florida, Michigan, Texas, Florida State
Pick: Jackson announced he would be attending Florida State
WR Nate Craig-Myers – 11:10 a.m. on ESPNU
Tampa Catholic (Fla.)
Contenders: Ole Miss, North Carolina, Florida State, Auburn, Florida
Pick: Craig-Meyers announced he would be attending Auburn
LB Jeffery McCulloch – 11:30 a.m. on ESPNU
Aldine Davis (Houston, Texas)
Contenders: Texas, Alabama, Notre Dame, Texas A&M, Stanford
Pick: McCulloch announced he would be signing with Texas
OT Landon Dickerson – 12:30 p.m. on ESPNU
South Caldwell (Hudson, N.C.)
Contenders: Tennessee, Florida State, Virginia Tech, Auburn
Pick: Dickerson announced he would be attending Florida State
CB Kristian Fulton – 1:00 p.m.
Archbishop Rummel (Metairie, La.)
Contenders: Arkansas, LSU
Pick: Fulton announced he would be attending LSU
DT Rashan Gary – 1:10 p.m. on ESPN/ESPN2
Paramus Catholic (N.J.)
Contenders: Alabama, Clemson, Michigan
Pick: Gary announced he would be signing with Michigan
DE Terrell Hall – 2:00 p.m.
St. John’s College High (Washington D.C.)
Contenders: Alabama, Florida State, Maryland, Ole Miss, Florida
Pick: Hall announced he would be signing with Alabama
LB Lyndell “Mack” Wilson – 2:05 p.m. on ESPN2
Carver (Montgomery, Ala.)
Contenders: Alabama, Georgia, Auburn
Pick: Wilson announced he would be attending Alabama
DT Derrick Brown – 3:10 p.m. on ESPN2
Lanier (Sugar Hill, Ga.)
Contenders: Georgia, Auburn, Alabama, Mississippi State, Tennessee
Pick: Brown announced he would be attending Auburn
TE Devin Asiasi – 3:20 p.m. on ESPN2
De La Salle (Concord, Calif.)
Contenders: USC, Alabama, Washington, Michigan
Pick: Asiasi announced he would be heading to Michigan
DT Boss Tagaloa – 3:20 p.m. on ESPN2
De La Salle (Concord, Calif.)
Contenders: USC, UCLA, Washington, Michigan
Pick: Tagaloa annouced he would be signing with UCLA
LB Caleb Kelly – 8:30 p.m.
Clovis West (Fresno, Calif.)
Contenders: Oklahoma, Michigan, Notre Dame, Oregon
Pick: Kelly announced he will attend Oklahoma
— Written by Ryan Wright, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and an established media professional with more than two decades' worth of experience. Over the years, Wright has written for numerous sites and publications and he recently started his own recruiting site, www.recruitingnewsguru.com. Follow him on Twitter @HogManInLA.