Decision Day is here. After the majority of the class of 2018’s top prospects sealed their college choices in late December during college football’s new early signing period, top teams were left to vie for the services of the final few blue-chip talents available across the country in rounding out their recruiting classes. Now as the traditional National Signing Day arrives, those holdout high school stars will write the first chapter of their college careers.
Which schools will land signing day’s biggest fish? Is Ohio State’s place atop the class rankings safe? And are there any big surprises in store? We’re tracking all the high-profile commitments, news and rumors of Wednesday’s action below. Unless otherwise specified, all star counts and position rankings are via the 247Sports Composite.
• 2018 Signing Day All-Name Team | Why one QB chose Princeton over Alabama
10 a.m. ET: The American Heritage Four make their calls
• First up from the Florida state champions in Plantation, which have gone 27–0 the past two years with help from the nation’s top two DBs: DE Andrew Chatfield picks the Gators (with the hat fake to jab Miami fans in the heart). Then five-star CB Tyson Campbell picks Georgia.
• High praise for five-star Xavier Thomas, who signed with Clemson in December:
• Four-star edge defender Caleb Tannor turned some heads by selecting Nebraska over Florida and Auburn earlier this morning. The Miller Grove (Ga.) High School product told Rivals that Scott Frost’s Huskers staff wants to use him the way they used Shaquem Griffin at UCF.
9:30 a.m. ET: Here come the big fish
• Three five-star recruits are set to announce in a flurry in the 10 a.m. hour, once ESPN begins its day-long coverage: Patrick Surtain Jr., Tyson Campbell and Nicholas Petit-Frere. Surtain and Campbell are two of four teammates at American Heritage High School set to announce at the top of the show. Surtain, the top uncommitted prospect, was “torn” as recently as last night, according to ESPN’s Tom VanHaaren.
The latest update from American Heritage, with four-star DT Nesta Silvera (set to choose between Miami and Florida) making things interesting:
• Last night’s Josh McDaniels saga could mess with Baylor’s signing day—the Bears are/were closing in on a top-25 class.
• Four-star Stockbridge (Ga.) athlete Marquez Ezzard, a top-40 prospect in one of the country’s most talent-rich states, is headed to Miami. Ezzard decommitted from Florida State in the fall.
• Another Swinney son joins Clemson, joining Will Swinney, the Tigers’ holder last fall. Probably not Dabo’s most difficult recruiting pitch.
• Meanwhile in Tallahassee:
9 a.m. ET: SEC West intrigue!
• Jimbo Fisher is making use of today to polish up his first Texas A&M class, and things are off to a rollicking start in College Station, as four-star Lamar (Texas) DT Bobby Brown has flipped from Alabama to the Aggies. Brown is No. 17 tackle in the country, according to the 247Sports Composite.
8:45 a.m. ET: Goodrich picks Clemson, Texas secures Coburn
• Clemson nabs Lee’s Summitt West (Mo.) athlete Mario Goodrich, a four-star receiver-DB-return man who could be asked to replace some of the explosiveness lost when Deon Cain and Ray-Ray McCloud left for the NFL draft. LSU and Georgia were also in on Goodrich.
• Four-star defensive tackle Keondre Coburn, the No. 13 recruit in the state of Texas, had committed to the Longhorns last year but didn’t shut things down during the early signing period. Now Tom Herman and company can rest easy, as the Cypress Ranch product has sent in his National Letter of Intent.
Texas has 11 of the state’s top 15 prospects in the fold.
8 a.m. ET: Here Come the Irish
• Notre Dame secured the commitment of defensive back D.J. Brown, a three-star out of D.C. who had been committed to Virginia. As of right now, Brian Kelly’s 2018 haul (the largest in Notre Dame history) sits near the bottom of the national top 10—if the Irish are somehow able to snag highly-touted tackle Nicholas Petit-Frere later this morning, they could start climbing.
• Javontae Jean-Baptiste will choose from Virginia Tech, Nebraska, Texas A&M and Ohio State … eventually. A source told Rivals.com’s Adam Friedman that Jean-Baptiste “has legitimately changed his mind four times.”
7:15 a.m. ET: Off and running
• Buford (Ga.) High three-star running back Anthony Grant has flipped from Tennessee to Florida State, an early-morning win for few coach Willie Taggart in his effort to salvage a Seminoles class that lost a lot of bodies when Jimbo Fisher took his time heading out the door. Grant had committed to the Volunteers last June but kept his options open in December. Virginia Tech was the last team in his revisited final three.
• Notre Dame lands three-star RB C’Bo Flemister, another Georgia back (Pike County) notable in that he was honored on our 2018 National Signing Day All-Name Team. Flemister had been committed to Georgia Tech prior to Wednesday.
• Interesting story from ESPN’s Tom VanHaaren: Utah was actually able to get a head-start on signing day by making things official with tight end Thomas Yassmin at 4:54 p.m. ET on Tuesday. Yassmin faxed his NLI in to Salt Lake City from Sydney, where it was already Wednesday morning.
“I’ve never played football in my life,” Yassmin told Fox Sports Australia. “I’ve watched it. I’ve played Madden, but I’ve never played it.” Good start.
Who’s Still Available?
Need to set some alarms for the day’s biggest decisions? These are the top 11 uncommitted recruits remaining (all with a 247 Composite rating of over .9700) and when they’re scheduled to commit (all times Eastern):
1. CB Patrick Surtain Jr., American Heritage (Fla.) — 6th overall (10 a.m., ESPNU)
2. OT Nicholas Petit-Frere, Berkeley Prep (Fla.) — 7th overall (10 a.m., ESPNU)
3. CB Tyson Campbell, American Heritage (Fla.) — 12th overall (10 a.m., ESPNU
4. CB Olaijah Griffin, Mission Viejo (Calif.) — 28th overall (1 p.m., ESPN2)
5. CB Isaac Taylor-Stuart, Helix (Calif.) — 32nd overall (5:15 p.m.)
6. WR Jaylen Waddle, Episcopal (Texas) — 39th overall (4:30 p.m.)
7. WR Devon Williams, Antelope Valley (Calif.) — 40th overall (2 p.m. ESPN2)
8. WR Justyn Ross, Central (Ala.) — 45th overall (1 p.m., ESPN2)
9. QB Tanner McKee, Centennial (Calif.) — 46th overall (11 a.m., ESPNU)
10. OT William Barnes, Apopka (Fla.) — 53rd overall
11. G Penei Sewell, Desert Hills (Utah) — 57th overall (5 p.m., Twitter)
What’s Going to Happen?
A lot less than normally transpires on the first Wednesday of February. With more than 70% of the class of 2018 already locked up, the past six weeks have been a little lighter on the craziness typically associated with peak recruiting season, as all sides can take stock of their options a little more deliberately. While most contenders’ classes are nearly complete, the final one or two additions could provide an extra boost of program momentum heading into spring practice (and the early stages of the 2019 recruiting cycle)—or at least swing the national class rankings for a feather in the school’s cap.
Georgia was dubbed the big winner of the early signing period, but January’s recalculation of top prospects’ star ratings helped Ohio State regain a slight edge heading into signing day. There’s a slight gap to the next group of teams in the rankings, making it unlikely that someone other than the Bulldogs or Buckeyes will hold bragging rights by the end of the day.
For a more in-depth look at what’s on the line today, check out Chris Johnson’s preview of seven key signing day storylines.
TV Guide to National Signing Day 2018
ESPN’s live coverage begins on ESPNU at 10 a.m. ET and moves over at noon to ESPN2, where it will run until 3 p.m. The SEC Network, Pac-12 Networks and Longhorn Network will all hold wrap-up coverage later in the afternoon.