RIVALS.COM TOP 10 PROJECTIONS
School - Commits - (five-star prospects)
• 1. Alabama - 25 - (5)
• 2. Ohio State - 22 - (1)
• 3. Tennessee - 33 - (2)
• 4. Texas A&M - 21 - (3)
• 5. Florida State - 27 - (2)
• 6. LSU - 19 - (1)
• 7. Florida - 21 (- 1)
• 8. Georgia - 19 - (1)
• 9. Notre Dame - 22 - (1)
• 10. Auburn - 21 - (3)
With the Super Bowl in the rearview -- did you see the story that Vegas made a record $20 million on bettors in Sunday's blowout that had the underdog (Seattle) and the shortside on the the total (over) hitting? -- let's talk the future.
The future of college football could be shaped in the next 24 hours as national signing day is here. The painful trend of the "Hat dance" in which uncommitted players put three ballcaps with college logos on a table and fake and feign and finally pick one is fading some. This is a good thing. No, it has not affected the dramatic status of the event; rather, there simply are more and more players making their decisions before signing day.
That is as true this year as any. In fact, several of the area schools of interest will have relatively quiet signing days. Still, the import of this day is self-evident and the issues are real in terms of the now and the tomorrow. Let's explore:
• In Knoxville -- There's a very fair argument that this is the high-water mark for the Butch Jones era in Orange. He will have been the head coach of UT for 14 months come Friday, and this will signify the most relevant the program has been since 2007. Read that again. Tennessee is a player nationally in the recruiting rankings, and this has been a source of pride and hope for the last year for Johnny Vols Fans everywhere who have been starved for good news. With 33 commitments -- and only Cory Thomas seems in doubt -- and a real chance to add four-star defensive lineman Michael Sawyers, the Vols will finish with a consensus top-five class.
• In Tuscaloosa -- The Tide have assembled one of the best all-time classes. Seriously, it's that good. And not only is this bunch loaded with stars, it directly fills needs, considering what was Bama's two biggest weaknesses last year. Alabama has the best offensive line group in the country and arguably the best secondary group in the country. Heck, there's a real chance freshman Cam Robinson will be in the mix to start at tackle next year. He's that good. This class is that good. Good grief.
• In Athens -- Georgia could close with one of the nation's biggest finishes. The Bulldogs likely will get a signing-day commitment from Lorenzo Carter, a five-star defensive end, and are in the mix for a slew of other announcements today, including Andrew Williams. This is noteworthy considering the Bulldogs have the No. 8 class nationally with only 19 commitments and could move up quickly. Also of note here is that Georgia has recruited two of the nation's top five running backs in Nick Chubb and Sony Michel.
• In Auburn -- The Tigers have maximized the turnaround miracle of 2013 and have a top-10 national class according to most of the services. This class could improve with five-star linebacker Rashaan Evans, Andrew Williams and Braden Smith expected to make signing-day decisions and Auburn being in the mix for each.
Recruiting locally, there are a few big-time prospects in our coverage area this cycle, including Rafeal Gaglianone, the Baylor kicker who has committed to Wisconsin, and East Hamilton cornerback Tre Herndon, who has been a longstanding Vanderbilt pledge.
The large chunk of the rest of the cream of the area crop has been scooped up by UTC, including Northwest Whitfield defensive tackle Isaiah Mack and the talented McCallie duo of Cam Walker and C.J. Fritz. (We believe each of these three is a very good get for the Mocs. Very good.)
And locally, the crew of area high school recruits will be better even next year, highlighted by Notre Dame athlete Kareem Orr and Signal Mountain offensive lineman Harrison Moon, each of whom figures to have a host of SEC offers from which to pick.
For this year's class, a tip of the cap to the job done by UTC's Russ Huesman and staff, especially recruiting coordinator Will Healy, for putting together a recruiting haul that is so well-assembled that keeping the talent in the fold is the only chore left. In fact, we talked to a friend who is a college coach in the South, who, since he can't speak on players directly, requested anonymity. He said there are no fewer than five kids in UTC's class that are mid-FBS-level players, including two from the Atlanta area who are legit.
As UTC continues its ascent, there are a couple of names in this class that could be an exciting part of the next few chapters of Mocs football.
And that's the beauty and joy and goal of signing day.
Contact Jay Greeson at email@example.com or 423-757-6273. You can listen to "Press Row" with Jay and TFP sports writer David Paschall from 3 to 6 p.m. weekdays on ESPN 105.1 FM or at timesfreepress.com.
Jay was named the Sports Editor of the Times Free Press in 2003 and started with the newspaper in May 2002 as the Deputy Sports Editor. He was born and raised in Smyrna, Ga., and graduated from Auburn University before starting his newspaper career in 1997 with the Newnan (Ga.) Times Herald. Stops in Clayton and Henry counties in Georgia and two years as the Sports Editor of the Marietta (Ga.) Daily Journal preceded Jay’s ...