National Signing Day Predictions: Picks for Top 10 Uncommitted Recruits
National Signing Day is less than a month away, taking place on Feb. 5, and with its approach, the recruiting cycle has taken on a feverish pace.
Thirty-one of the top 40 players in the country have already committed to a school for next year, according to the 247Sports composite. Few (if any) teams should feel safe until a player signs his letter of intent, though, as this is prime season for recruits to be poached and commitments to be flipped.
Outside of those politics, however, some of the best players in the country remain uncommitted, refusing to even hand out a verbal. By landing one or more players from that field, a class can go from bad to decent, decent to good or good to great.
Here's where the top 10 unsigned players might land.
Rankings via the 247Sports composite.
5. CB Marlon Humphrey
247Sports Crystal Ball: Alabama 95%, Florida State 5%
Humphrey is a big, tall athlete (6'1'') with a thick-enough frame and advanced coverage skills. There's a reason he's the No. 1 cornerback in the class.
According to Matt Scalici of Birmingham News, Humphrey pushed back his schedule to compete in a track competition in Iceland on Jan. 17. He'll now take his official visit to Florida State on Feb. 1, a mere four days before National Signing Day. That could work to Jimbo Fisher's advantage.
Alabama has been the wire-to-wire favorite to land this Hoover High product, but after the Crimson Tide secured a commitment from No. 9 overall player Tony Brown at the Under Armour All-American Bowl, their defensive backfield got a little more crowded.
I'm not always one for predicting upsets, but in this case, why not?
Prediction: Florida State
7. CB Adoree' Jackson
247Sports Crystal Ball: USC 82%, Florida 16%, UCLA 2%
Jackson has consistently been one of the hardest players to predict. Despite his out-of-date "Crystal Ball" projections, the final six he announced are all over the map and don't include Florida State.
Instead, the diminutive-but-explosive cornerback will choose between Florida, LSU, Oklahoma, Tennessee, USC and UCLA. That's an eclectic group for a kid from California, and his obvious interest in the SEC has to worry folks on the Pacific Coast.
Still, USC has been the tentative leader for most of Jackson's recruitment, and new head coach Steve Sarkisian has always been able to recruit this area well. I'll take the favorite, but I'm not entirely confident about it.
13. ATH John Smith
247Sports Crystal Ball: USC 68%, Notre Dame 29%, UCLA 3%
John "JuJu" Smith is another Cali kid with an interest that extends beyond the Pacific shore. He has long been interested in Midwest powerhouses like Notre Dame, Michigan and Ohio State, along with the usual West-coast powers of USC, UCLA and Oregon
Smith did most of his official visits during the fall, but he has a trip to USC looming. That could be a good spot for Steve Sarkisian to lock JuJu up, though it's not entirely clear how sold he is on the Trojans.
I know Smith enjoyed his trip to Notre Dame in October, and the Irish have more playing time available at both safety and receiver—Smith's projected positions—than the Trojans. That might be the deciding factor.
Prediction: Notre Dame
14. SDE Lorenzo Carter
247Sports Crystal Ball: Alabama 48%, Georgia 48%, Florida 2%, LSU 2%
Carter had a great performance at the Under Armour All-American Bowl, which should only serve to heat up his already hot recruitment.
A Georgia product, the Bulldogs would love to land Carter and fill in some holes on their shaky-but-improving defense. Florida has been coming on late, however, and with Ronald Powell's decision to leave for the NFL, there is a more immediate path to playing time.
Let's go with the Gators.
16. WR Malachi Dupre
247Sports Crystal Ball: LSU 100%
This is the easiest call of the bunch.
Opportunity has emerged in the LSU receiving corps, with Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham Jr. declaring for the 2014 NFL draft. Beyond that, top-ranked receiver Speedy Noil spurned in-state LSU to play for Texas A&M, helping Dupre's path to early playing time even more.
A local product from John Curtis High School in New Orleans, Dupre has no reason not to join the hometown Tigers, especially with the pro-style system Cam Cameron has tailored. Even with visits to UCLA and Florida State lined up, expect Dupre to wear Purple and Gold next season.
22. SDE Solomon Thomas
247Sports Crystal Ball: Stanford 68%, Ohio State 20%, Texas 11%
Thomas showed well at the Army All-American Bowl, accepting the Munoz Lineman of the Year Award off the field before quickly showing people why (above).
Coaching upturn at Texas might make him uneasy about heading to Austin, even though Charlie Strong is a very good recruiter. Thomas has always showed a willingness to leave the state anyway, and while Texas is a good school, his priority value of academics makes another program the rightful favorite.
Stanford is exactly the type of team that can help Thomas reach his potential. With the exodus of Cardinal defenders to the NFL this offseason, the young end will see opportunity to play and eventually to become a professional.
25. OT Damian Prince
247Sports Crystal Ball: Maryland 67%, Florida State 25%, Florida 6%, Ohio State 2%
Randy Edsall has made recruiting the state of Maryland a place of importance, and it's starting to show. The Terps were favored to land 5-star cornerback Jalen Tabor for much of the season, though the trail went cold at the end, and are also favorites to secure a commitment from Prince.
But there's a problem. Tabor, who chose Arizona over Maryland and Florida at the Under Armour All-American Game, just flipped his commitment to Florida. He and Prince are close, and while Arizona isn't one of Prince's final three, Florida and South Carolina are.
That's a scary thought for Terps fans, for whom "close, but no cigar" has applied to almost every elite Maryland recruit (sans Stefon Diggs). Until Edsall restores some faith, I'm inclined to think this is another instance of that letdown.
30. OG Damian Mama
247Sports Crystal Ball: USC 100%
Mama is an absolute mauler in the running game, and he has the potential to become one of the best lead-blocking guards in college football. If he can get in better shape and refine his pass-blocking, his NFL future is bright.
As for predictions, far be it from me to go against a 100 percent on the "Crystal Ball." Those guys know the landscape better than anybody, so if not even one wants to call Mama for BYU—where he'll be visiting at the end of January—then neither will I.
37. SDE Malik McDowell
247Sports Crystal Ball: Michigan State 50%, Michigan 48%, Ohio State 2%
Michigan was the heavy, heavy favorite to land McDowell for much of the season, but his allegiance appears to have swayed in recent weeks. After watching what unfolded in 2013, teams like Ohio State and Michigan State are now in the running.
Mark Dantonio's Spartans are an attractive landing spot for any blue-chip defender, especially after coordinator Pat Narduzzi won the Broyles Award in 2013. They'll be sending a few players to the NFL this season, despite the fact that none were giant recruits, and there isn't massive competition for steady playing time.
McDowell is a 6'7'' menace at defensive end, and he would seem a good fit in a defense that loves to get pressure with four. The development of lesser recruits into superstars would have to loom large in his decision.
Prediction: Michigan State
41. OLB Rashaan Evans
247Sports Crystal Ball: Auburn 92%, Georgia 4%, Alabama 4%
Evans is from Auburn High School in Auburn, Ala., so it makes sense that Auburn University—also in Auburn, Ala.—is the clubhouse favorite to land him.
Ostensibly, one of the reasons he's taken so long to make up his mind has been the prestige of playing for Alabama or Georgia. But look at how those lusters have changed this season, even as recently as during the bowls.
Alabama and Georgia were both two-score favorites and lost outright. Auburn lost as well, in the BCS National Championship, but the Tigers were two-score underdogs and led for most of the game. The team momentum is clearly in their favor, and it should carry over into recruiting.