It only takes one good recruiting class to reshape the future of a program, and one player can be the difference between mediocrity and success.
On February 6, some of the nation’s top talent will take center stage to announce their destination for the 2013 college football season. While most of the country’s top talent has already made a commitment, there is still a lot of elite talent to be had.
ESPN will be broadcasting each announcement on national signing day, beginning with the consensus No. 1 recruit in Robert Nkemdiche at 7:35 a.m. EST. He’ll be the first piece to fall into place, but he won’t be the only recruit who will be a game-changer for his future program.
We’ll take a look at some of the nation’s top undecided recruits and project their potential at the college level.
*All rankings courtesy of 247Sports.
Robert Nkemdiche: 5-star defensive end
There’s no denying Nkemdiche’s talent, and with all the tools to be a star at the college level, he has the potential to be the biggest signing in years.
At 6'4" and 285 pounds, the top-rated defensive end already has the frame to hold up at any position on the defensive line. He’s big, quick, powerful and tough, meaning one lucky school will be welcoming a ready-made starter and potential star on February 6.
Ole Miss appears to be leading the pack, and adding a player with this much talent would be enough to move the Rebels well ahead of several top programs. They currently have the No. 9 recruiting class in the nation, according to 247Sports, and Nkemdiche would be the fourth 5-star recruit Ole Miss has locked down this offseason.
Nkemdiche is already capable of being a starter on nearly any college defense. With a little coaching and some work in a college weight room, he has the potential to be absolutely dominant for the next three or four years.
Antonio Conner: 5-star safety
This year’s crop of defensive backs in exceptionally talented, and Conner is one of the most talented of the bunch.
Simply put, Conner is a rare player at the safety position. He’s big (6'2", 203 pounds), physical and fast, and he plays both the run and the pass with equal tenacity. There may not be a more complete defensive back in the country.
While Conner projects as a safety right now, he has the athleticism to be a versatile defender at the next level. He’ll need to work on becoming more fluid in man-to-man coverage, but he has the potential to play almost anywhere in the defensive secondary.
According to 247Sports, the leading suitor for Conner is Ole Miss, who could have one of the scariest defenses in the country if it can land both Nkemdiche and Conner. Alabama is also in the mix, and a lot can change between now and February 6.
Finding a fit at the next level won’t be an issue for Conner. He’s a ready-made star who will have an immediate impact going forward.
MacKensie Alexander: 4-star cornerback
Alexander is a blazing fast cornerback with skills to match, and despite being a little smaller than the average cornerback (5'10", 180 pounds), he makes up for it by playing with an edge.
Of all the defensive backs in this year’s class, Alexander might be the most athletic. He’s a quick-twitch player with fluidity and awareness, and his skill set translates well to both man-to-man and zone coverage schemes.
Alexander will announce his decision at 11:15 a.m. EST on national signing day. Auburn, Mississippi State, Clemson and Rutgers are all in the mix for the nation’s No. 4 cornerback (according to 247Sports).
Not all defensive backs have to be elite playmakers to have an impact on Saturdays, but Alexander is just that. One lucky team will be getting one of the best playmakers in the country when he announces his decision on national signing day.
Asiantii Woulard: 4-star quarterback
In an age of spread offenses and dual-threat quarterbacks, Woulard stands to be one of the most electric players at the college level.
Woulard is a 6'4", 200-pound quarterback who can do damage with both his arm and his legs. With an exceptionally strong arm and room to grow, he is a pass-first signal-caller, but he’s fully capable of being much more than that in the next phase of his football career.
A handful of schools are still in the race to land Woulard on national signing day, including UCLA, Clemson and Kentucky. The No. 2 dual-threat quarterback in the nation, Woulard has had no lack of interest from a bevy of programs this season.
The key to Woulard’s success will be finding the right fit for his skill set, which means making the right decision on February 6 will be critical for both he and the program he chooses. If Woulard can take over in a system that features a spread offense, he’ll be a valuable weapon with a chance to start almost immediately at the college level.