Closers: Five schools to watch as National Signing Day approaches

Closers: Five schools to watch as National Signing Day approaches

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Closers: Five schools to watch as National Signing Day approaches

Alabama head coach Nick Saban watches over a Peach Bowl NCAA college football practice in Atlanta, Wednesday, Dec. 28, 2016. Alabama and Washington will face off in the Peach Bowl football game Saturday. (AP Photo/David Goldman) ORG XMIT: GADG112

Alabama head coach Nick Saban. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

With National Signing Day less than three weeks away and the dead period ending Thursday, here are five teams we are watching to see how they fare with a closing push.

TEXAS

The Longhorns have 13 commits with seven having committed after Tom Herman replaced Charlie Strong. That includes Houston area running back Toneil Carter, the Longhorns’ highest rated recruit, who flipped from Georgia and two players who had committed to the University of Houston when Herman was coach there — three-star running back Daniel Young and three-star outside linebacker Marqez Bimage. (Houston has had six prospects decommit since Herman left.).

A number of players from Texas remain on the board and have high interest in the Longhorns, led by Under Armour All-Americans K’Lavon Chaisson, a defensive end from North Shore (Galena Park), and Chevin Calloway, a cornerback from Bishop Dunne (Dallas). Texas also has eyes of potentially flipping Army All-American wide receiver Omar Manning of Lancaster (Texas) away from TCU.

LSU

Ed Orgeron has retained and built up the class for the Tigers since taking over and has 19 players committed. That includes two four-star early enrollees  — offensive lineman Austin Deculus and quarterback Lowell Narcisse. Along with Narcisse, LSU also has a commitment from four-star quarterback Myles Brennan, the leading passer in Mississippi prep history.

LSU has commitments from five of the top 20 players in the state of Louisiana. Where this class can grow is hauling in more in-state prospects led by five-star wide receiver Devonta Smith, who is ranked No. 8 nationally at the position and No.  1 overall in Louisiana, along with four-star safety Todd Harris, who is ranked No. 11 at his position and No. 3 overall in the state. Four-star running back Travis Eitenne, No. 8 in Louisiana, and three-star defensive lineman Phidarian Mathis, ranked No. 12 in the state, also are on the Tigers’ radar.

LSU also might be Texas’ biggest competition for Chaisson. Four-star linebacker Willie Gay from Starkville (Miss.), has an LSU visit scheduled for Jan. 20.

FLORIDA STATE

The Seminoles have just 17 commitments led by running back Cam Akers from Clinton (Miss.) and defensive end Joshua Kaindoh from IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.).

Where things get interesting is who might be added to the Florida State class. FSU is among the five finalists for Marvin Wilson, a defensive lineman from Episcopal (Bellaire, Texas), who is the highest ranked uncommitted player in the class.

Jarez Parks, the No. 4 weakside defensive end from Sebastian River (Fla.), could potentially remain in state. Wide receiver Henry Ruggs spent time with Alabama quarterback early enrollee Tua Tagovailoa at the Army All-American Bowl but has visits scheduled for FSU and Alabama over the next two weeks.

Linebacker Levi Jones from Westlake (Austin, Texas), is giving Florida State the last shot with a visit scheduled on the final weekend before signing day. He also will visit Florida and Texas A&M.

ALABAMA

Alabama is, well, Alabama. The Crimson Tide have the top-ranked recruiting class unanimously among the top recruiting services. Alabama likely will win the recruiting title again.

Where it gets scary is that Alabama has 26 players in the class — 12 are already on campus; some took part in practice sessions before the Tide played Clemson in the national championship game Monday. Of the 26, four are five-stars according to 247 and 17 are four-stars.

So what’s left? Four-star Army All-American defensive tackle Aubrey Solomon has the Tide in his final four and Alabama could be the leader. Parks and Ruggs, who also are considering Florida State seem to be Tide leans.

The top-ranked recruit in the state of Alabama hasn’t made his decision yet and defensive end LaBryan Ray could very well end up at Alabama. The No. 3 recruit in the state, wide receiver Nico Collins, also could end up with the Tide, although Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh is scheduled to visit him Thursday, according to a report from 247Sports.

OREGON

The imprint of a new coach is usually felt in the recruiting cycle after he is hired, and so Willie Taggart and the Ducks have a lot of offers out for 2018 prospects. But Oregon also needs to close on the 2017 class and retain the players who committed under previous coach Mark Helfrich.

Oregon currently has the No. 7 class in the Pac-12 and No. 36 class overall, according to 247Sports. The Ducks have two four-star commits in Rancho Cucamonga (Calif.) teammates and defensive backs Jaylon Redd and Thomas Graham. Redd has said he will be actively making visits this month heading into signing day.

A number of players could be on the horizon for the Ducks, most notably four-star tight end Josh Falo.

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