2013 National Signing Day preview
Fax machines take centerstage across the country this morning as National Signing Day has arrived for high school football players and college football fans.
Class of 2013 recruits will send in their signed Letters of Intent to the schools of their choice, as the stars of tomorrow continue their academic and athletic journeys to the next level.
Let's take a look at some of the storylines that will play out throughout the day.
The best player in America
Robert Nkemdiche, who is the nation's top overall player, is a near-lock to Ole Miss.
Defensive end Robert Nkemdiche, who is regarded as the best overall player in the Class of 2013, will hold a 7:30 a.m. ET presser to announce his college destination. And although LSU has made a huge late push, most every recruiting analyst believes that Nkemdiche will join his brother at Ole Miss. While Nkemdiche isn't expected to have quite the impact as Jadeveon Clowney when he landed at South Carolina, he should in fact see early action no matter where he ends up. If it is indeed in Oxford, it could help the Rebels close hard on one or two other top recruits. In that case, Hugh Freeze's first full haul in Oxford could go from a Top 10 national class to a potential Top 5 crop.
How 'bout them Rebels?
As mentioned above, Freeze is delivering an incredible Class of 2013 coming off of a 7-6 campaign. We'll see if this haul ends up being more of an aberration down the line, but the Rebels unquestionably are bringing in a talented class even if they don't land anymore big names on Wednesday. Laquon Treadwell is the best wide receiver in the country, and defensive end Elijah Daniel has also given his verbal. But the focus will turn to the nation's No. 1 offensive tackle, Laremy Tunsil, who is considered an Ole Miss lean, as well as Mississippi State defensive end commit Chris Jones and uncommitted top safety Tony Conner. Tunsil will announce at 9:35 a.m., Jones has not yet set an announcement date, and Conner will announce at 10:45 a.m. However, it will be hard to see Conner not land at Alabama.
The best uncommitted prospects
On Monday at the NFP, I put together my final Top 25 list of uncommitted recruits in this class. Two have come off of that list since then, as linebacker Reuben Foster is headed to Alabama and running back Alex Collins will be playing for Arkansas. CLICK HERE to see the final list of players still undecided and where they could end up.
Speaking of Foster, he held a press conference Monday night and said that he would sign with the Crimson Tide. But he reportedly didn't even choose 'Bama until he was on the way to the announcement. Is a flip still possible? The former Auburn commit, who has an Auburn tattoo on his forearm to honor late cousin and former Tigers running back LaDarious Phillips, will likely keep Tide fans and coaches on the edge of their seats until he faxes over his signed Letter of Intent.
Other NSD notes
Alabama-bound O.J. Howard is the best tight end in the Class of 2013.
- It is very likely that Alabama will have Rivals.com 's No. 1 class for the fifth time in six years even if Foster happened to throw a curveball and sign somewhere else. The Tide's class is led by running back Derrick Henry, tight end O.J. Howard, wide receiver Robert Foster and defensive end Jonathan Allen. Nick Saban and Co. have won the BCS national championship three times in the last four seasons. And while the star system that recruiting services use has some flaws, there's a reason why the Tide have been atop the mountain at the end of the year so many times in recent seasons.
- Notre Dame should compile a Top 5 class by the end of the day. The Fighting Irish's haul is headlined by outside linebacker Jaylon Smith, who is the team's highest-rated prospect since Manti Te'o in 2009. Fellow outside 'backer Doug Randolph, safety Max Redfield and running backs Greg Bryant and Tarean Folston also lead the way. Brian Kelly hopes that defensive tackle Eddie Vanderdoes, a former USC pledge, chooses the Irish as well. Meanwhile, Bryant and Folston are a pair of Sunshine State running backs who have a chance to see early action in the backfield with Theo Riddick and Cierre Wood moving on.
- James Franklin is at it again. The Vanderbilt head coach and his staff put together a very good class in 2012 and are following that up with an even more impressive haul this February. Georgia inside linebacker Nigel Bowden and dual-threat quarterback Johnathon McCrary headline the Commodores' haul.
- Christian Hackenberg is set to become the highest-rated quarterback to sign with a Big Ten school since Terrelle Pryor at Ohio State. Hackenberg is one of the best signal-callers in the country, and he represents hope for a Nittany Lions program crippled by scholarship reductions and a postseason ban.
- A reminder that ESPNU will have full National Signing Day coverage all day long. Seventeen top prospects will announce their destinations over the course of 11.5 hours on the network.