Most college football recruiting visits take place in the fall, as coaches love having the opportunity to showcase their program's game-day atmosphere to recruits.
However, there is a school of thought that it is better to make a recruiting visit after the season so that the visit is the sole focus of all parties involved. That seems to be a popular feeling among the 2014 recruits, as a large number of prospects still have important visits to take before national signing day.
A talented defensive end will be making the rounds this month while USC has some big visits planned as well. Several other underrated recruits will also be taking important trips.
A 4-star receiver, Trevion Thompson has a chance to be fantastic in college. He has solid speed and hands, plus he's already 6'3" and 188 pounds.
Either Clemson seals the deal with Thompson during this visit or else it gives its competitors more room to steal him away.
At 5'11" and 196 pounds, Jones has quick feet to skate through creases and dodge defenders in tight space. He has solid power, plus he displays enough speed to threaten defenses in the open field.
He's the headliner of Minnesota's class, but the Gophers are sweating about their chances to hang on to him.
Washington is not enjoying its best recruiting cycle, as head coach Chris Petersen has yet to catch fire in Seattle. However, recruiting wasn't going great even before Steve Sarkisian bolted for USC.
There could be a light at the end of the tunnel for the Huskies, as 4-star defensive end Kaleb McGary will visit Washington on Jan. 24, according to 247Sports. The 6'7", 270-pound defensive lineman could be a late recruiting prize for Petersen.
Myles Autry is a 4-star athlete from Georgia who can excel as a running back or cornerback. Although he is only 5'9" and 175 pounds, Autry has deceptive strength.
He has impressive quickness, plus he is a tough customer on the field. Georgia Tech is in the mix for Autry, says 247Sports, but so is Florida State. In fact, the Seminoles will be hosting Autry on Jan. 31, reports 247Sports.
Look for the 'Noles to pull out all the stops to make sure they keep Autry away from a conference rival.
While California is not setting the recruiting trail on fire this offseason, it still has a chance to land some solid players between now and national signing day.
Among the Bears' top recruiting targets is former Washington State commit Chandler Leniu. A 3-star linebacker, Leniu is a 6'1", 230-pound instinctive defender who would be a huge help to Cal's defense.
Leniu, who is from southern California, will visit Berkeley on Jan 24., per 247Sports.
An underrated 3-star running back, Mikale Wilbon is one the biggest sleepers in the 2014 class. At 5'9" and 195 pounds, he has a solid combination of speed, quickness and deceptive power.
Wilbon was set to sign with Vanderbilt, but backed off due to head coach James Franklin leaving for Penn State. Nebraska could definitely use a running back of Wilbon's caliber and the Chicago native's skill set would work well in Lincoln.
Wilbon will visit the Cornhuskers on Jan. 18, then is scheduled to see Vanderbilt one last time on Jan. 24, per 247Sports.
South Carolina is No. 22 in the 247Sports recruiting rankings and would like to finish strong on the recruiting trail.
A player the Gamecocks would love to land is 4-star cornerback Wesley Green. Green is a 5'11", 175-pound cover-corner out of Georgia who also has the University of Georgia as his co-leader, according to 247Sports.
If South Carolina wants to keep Green away from its SEC foe, plus strengthen its own recruiting class and secondary, it will do everything it can to impress Green on Jan. 17.
A one-time Southern Cal commit, Casey Tucker is a 4-star offensive tackle from Arizona. He's 6'6" and 270 pounds, plus he plays with an impressive nasty streak.
Tucker has Arizona State and Stanford as his finalists, according to 247Sports. He would be a major asset for either program and he could be ready to play early in his career.
Stanford will get its shot to host Tucker on The Farm on Jan. 17, says 247Sports. Either Tucker leaves Palo Alto sold on the Cardinal or he comes away ready to stay close to home and block for the Sun Devils.
At 6'1" and 305 pounds, 4-star defensive tackle Derrick Nnadi is one of the best run-stuffing defenders in the nation. The Virginia native has solid quickness at the snap, but it's his strength that allows him to make plays.
Nnadi is wanted by several schools, including Virginia Tech and Ohio State. He will be in Columbus on Jan. 17, then will head to Blacksburg on Jan. 24, per 247Sports.
The pressure is on the Buckeyes here, as they must impress Nnadi so much that they stay on his mind during his visit with the Hokies. If not, then his trip to Virginia Tech should seal the deal for him to stay in his native state.
While he is committed to California, 3-star safety Koa Farmer is looking around. Vanderbilt will host him for a visit on Jan. 24 while USC, UCLA and Utah remain in the picture, according to 247Sports.
That is why Farmer's visit to Berkeley on Jan. 17 is so important for the Bears. It will be their last chance to personally show the 6'1", 200-pound safety their campus and all that the university has to offer him.
Cal must leave a lasting impression on Farmer during his trip, because he could easily opt to sign with another school on national signing day.
Daniel Cage is a 6'3", 295-pound defensive tackle from Ohio who has a good skill set. The 4-star prospect displays great quickness to jump on top of blockers, plus he has above-average strength.
Cage has Michigan State and Louisville in front of several other schools, according to 247Sports. He will visit the Cardinals on Jan. 17, the Spartans will host him on Jan. 24 and Cage is scheduled to visit Missouri on Jan. 31, per 247Sports.
Travonte Valentine decommitted from Miami earlier this month. The 4-star defensive tackle is a mammoth at 6'4" and 338 pounds whose stock isn't as high as it could be due to him not always giving maximum effort on the field.
Upon him backing off his pledge to the Hurricanes, Valentine now has LSU as his leader, shows 247Sports. He'll be visiting Baton Rouge on Jan. 24, while Miami will get to host Valentine for an official visit on Jan. 31, according to 247Sports.
An interesting side note for Valentine's trip to Coral Gables is that he will be joined by 4-star Florida State commit and Miami native Treon Harris. Harris is also visiting Florida on Jan. 17 and Auburn on Jan. 24, reports 247Sports.
A 4-star defensive end, Malik Dorton is a 6'3", 230-pound defender who can also play outside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme.
Dorton is committed to USC, but the Trojans are doing some serious reshuffling to their recruiting class under new head coach Steve Sarkisian.
Dorton could find himself without a slot in the Trojans' group, which is why he needs to take everything in on his trip to Arizona State on Jan. 24 and Washington on Jan. 31, which have both been set, according to 247Sports.
Braden Smith is among the nation's top overall players as an elite 4-star offensive lineman who can play guard or tackle.
Smith, who is 6'6" and 290 pounds, has great strength and toughness. He hits anything that moves, plus he plays with good power when striking an opponent. Smith will be busy this month, opting to take three official visits.
Auburn will see him on Jan. 17, he'll be at Texas A&M on Jan. 24 and Smith's final trip will be to TCU on Jan. 31, says 247Sports. All three schools will be rolling out the red carpet for the talented blocker.
Formerly committed to Louisville, Poona Ford is now back on the market. The 4-star defensive tackle from North Carolina still seems interested in playing for Charlie Strong and the Longhorns, as he will take a visit to Texas on Jan. 17, per 247Sports.
Strong is now the head coach of the Longhorns, so it's not shocking that Ford is interested in checking out Austin. The 6'0", 285-pound defensive tackle has the quickness and motor to be effective in the Big 12.
The recruitment of 4-star defensive lineman Malik McDowell is starting to take clearer shape. Michigan has been thought to be McDowell's leader, but that may not be the case.
McDowell is set to visit Florida State on Jan. 17, LSU on Jan. 24 and Ohio State on Jan. 31, says 247Sports. Michigan and Michigan State also remain in the thick of the picture, according to 247Sports.
A 5-star offensive tackle from Maryland, Damian Prince is one of the most athletic blockers in the nation. The 6'5", 295-pounder is quick and light on his feet, plus he has the ability to hit moving targets in space.
Prince has a list that features South Carolina, Florida and Maryland at the core, according to 247Sports. The Terrapins hosted him last fall while the Gamecocks will see him Jan. 17. Florida will get a chance to show Prince a good time on Jan. 31, per 247Sports.
At 6'2.5" and 258 pounds, 5-star defensive lineman Solomon Thomas has impressive strength to set the edge. The Texas native also has solid quickness at the snap, plus he does a solid job of escaping blocks to make tackles.
Stanford is one of his top schools, according to 247Sports, and will host him on Jan. 18. However, that will not be it for Thomas this month, as he has planned visits to Arkansas on Jan. 25 and Ohio State on Jan. 31, reports 247Sports.
Elam, who is 6'5" and 372 pounds, is a 4-star defensive tackle who is the top recruiting priority for the Wildcats. However, playing for the Crimson Tide is also appealing to him.
Kentucky will be sweating bullets throughout the time that Elam is visiting 'Bama.
At 6'3" and 220 pounds, Rashaan Evans is a 4-star defensive player who could play an array of positions in college. Before he graduates, Evans may take snaps as a defensive end, linebacker, safety and rover.
Auburn, Alabama and UCLA are his top schools, says 247Sports. The Alabama native is from the city of Auburn, so he won't have to travel far when he visits the Tigers on Jan. 24, according to 247Sports.
However, Evans will be in Tuscaloosa a week before his trip to The Plains, as Alabama will host him on Jan. 17.
Hailing from New Orleans, Malachi Dupre is a 5-star receiver who is nearly 6'3" and 190 pounds. He has gliding speed and smooth movement skills on the perimeter, which allows him to make plays in the passing game.
Dupre is finally set to take his official visits and the list features several heavyweights.
The talented receiver's tour starts with a trip to LSU on Jan. 17, then moves to Alabama on Jan. 20. Dupre will be at Florida State on Jan. 24 before finishing things up with a visit to UCLA on Jan. 31, according to 247Sports.
Lorenzo Carter is wanted by several recruiting juggernauts, which is why the 5-star defensive end's month of January will be busy.
Carter will take trips to LSU on Jan. 17, Florida State on Jan. 24 and Georgia on Jan. 31, says 247Sports. At 6'5" and 232 pounds, Carter needs to add more strength and bulk to his frame.
However, with his length, quickness and range, he could be ready to contribute as a sub-package pass-rusher as a true freshman.
At 6'3" and 193 pounds, Lane is a 5-star receiver who is a quicker-than-fast athlete with great hands. This trip is really just a formality because it would be surprising if Lane didn't end up in Tallahassee. All FSU has to do is show Lane a good time and not say anything stupid.
USC could be in for a great finish to the 2014 recruiting trail. The Trojans will host 5-star offensive lineman Damien Mama and 4-star athlete Michiah Quick on Jan. 17, with 5-star athlete John Smith visiting on Jan. 24, according to 247Sports.
The Trojans have limited room in their 2014 class due to scholarship sanctions. However, they still have a few more slots open and would love the above-mentioned prospects and 5-star cornerback Adoree' Jackson to fill them.
Use the 2014 Bleacher Report College Football Recruiting Heat Map to track the nation's best prospects through national signing day.