Alabama has been the national champion of recruiting for the last five years.
That designation is likely to change as the countdown to National Signing Day on Feb. 3 continues.
You can never count out Nick Saban and many top prospects are still considering the Crimson Tide, but LSU, Ohio State and Michigan have been big winners on the recruiting trail thus far.
Here is a snapshot look at the top programs based on commitments or players enrolled as of Jan. 24.
Despite initial concerns, the Tigers’ class was largely unaffected by the uncertainty surrounding Les Miles’ job status during the season. LSU could set a record for most ESPN 300 prospects in the same class and the group got stronger with the commitments last week of offensive tackle Willie Allen and defensive tackle Rashard Lawrence.
The question remains at quarterback. Feleipe Franks decommitted from LSU and flipped to Florida. The Tigers had an official visit scheduled with Dwayne Haskins Jr. before the Maryland commit flipped to Ohio State and they considered an offer to former Rutgers commit Anthony Russo.
“The hole is at the QB position” said Craig Haubert, national recruiting director for ESPN.com. “They have offensive linemen, one of the top three running backs in college football with Leonard Fournette and an impressive stable of wide receivers with more to come. They can’t seem to solve that quarterback position.”
LSU has offered Lindsey Scott, who played 20 miles from Tiger Stadium in Zachary, La.
The Buckeyes had a strong class and took a major step forward by adding three players within a span of hours on Jan. 18. Four-star wide receiver Binjimen Victor committed and then two All-American players from Maryland who were committed to the Terrapins flipped: quarterback Dwayne Haskins Jr. and linebacker Keandre Jones. Ohio State also has commitments from two top defensive linemen in Nick Bosa, the younger brother of NFL draft-bound Buckeye Joey Bosa, and Jonathan Cooper.
Urban Meyer is also in the running for several other top prospects.
“Urban sees his recruiting territory as coast-to-coast,” said Scout.com’s Bill Greene. “He goes for the very best guys he can get, and the results speak for themselves.”
Jim Harbaugh has been making headlines for sleepovers, climbing a tree at a recruit’s house, going to class with a recruit and pulling a scholarship from Michigan’s longest-tenured recruit. But he’s also been loading up on talented recruits and many believe unanimous No. 1 overall player Rashan Gary, a defensive tackle from Michigan, is heading to Ann Arbor.
Among the 22 committed players as of the weekend are 12 four-star players. The class has seven early enrollees, including quarterback Brandon Peters and running back Kareem Walker.
The Rebels had the No. 1 class in the nation at one point thanks to a pair of top-five overall players: Quarterback Shea Patterson and offensive tackle Greg Little. Benito Jones, the No. 2 player in the state of Mississippi according to the 247Sports Composite, is among eight early enrollees, including Patterson.
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Hugh Freeze is also bringing in two other top in-state recruits: wide receiver D.K. Metcalf and tight end Octavious Cooley.
Coach Jim McElwain had a strong first class a year ago despite being hired in December. Now, he’s making a bigger impact with the benefit of a full recruiting cycle.
The Gators have 26 commits and 12 are already on campus. The most significant of that group might be Army All-American quarterback Feleipe Franks, although Franks is expected to take some time to develop. Florida also upgraded its defensive line with ends Antonneus Clayton, ranked No. 10 by ESPN, Jordan Smith and tackle Shavar Manuel.
The big name in the Seminoles’ class is Virginia defensive back Levonta Taylor, ranked in the top 10 nationally, but he is far from the only one. Florida State also is bringing in No. 1 center Baveon Johnson, No. 2 athlete Jamel Cook and No. 5 tight end Naseir Upshur.
Linebacker Keion Joyner was ranked as the No. 1 overall recruit in the nation at one point but has fallen down the rankings after he was dismissed from his high school team. Quarterback Malik Henry is already on campus and his development will be watched closely.
The Fighting Irish have nine four-star commits and one five-star commit in offensive tackle Tommy Kraemer, who is ranked as the No. 8 overall player in the nation by 247Sports.
Notre Dame could be in position to surge with the potential addition of wide receiver Demetris Robertson and Butkus Award-winning linebacker Caleb Kelly.
The Crimson Tide have had the best class for the last five years, but it might be difficult to get to that point this year. Still, Alabama has had an impressive list of visitors as National Signing Day approaches and could be in position to again close strong.
Some of the big names still considering the Tide are five-stars Ben Davis, Lyndell “Mack” Wilson and Mique Juarez, as well as players such as cornerback Nigel Knott and defensive end Terrell Hall.
Mark Dantonio isn’t doing sleepovers, but the Spartans are continuing to attract top players. Army All-American wide receivers Donnie Corley and Cameron Chambers are already enrolled as is Elite 11 finalist quarterback Messiah deWeaver.
Among the other names to watch are the top two players in Illinois: defensive end Josh King and defensive tackle Naquan Jones.
Kirby Smart’s biggest recruiting success for the Class of 2016 came within days of his hire when he convinced quarterback Jacob Eason and offensive lineman Ben Cleveland to remain committed to the Bulldogs.
Georgia then added the No. 1 tight end prospect in Isaac Nauta. All three are already on campus. The Bulldogs also are in very good shape to land Derrick Brown, the No. 8 overall player in the nation.
The national finalists already have defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence, the No. 2 overall player in the nation, and highly regarded inside linebackers Tre Lamar and Rashshaun Smith on campus.
Tavien Feaster, the top running back recruit in the nation according to 247Sports, is remaining in state and is committed to Clemson. Defensive end Xavier Kelly also bolsters the Tigers’ class.