10 Biggest Recruiting Battles to Watch as 2014 National Signing Day Approaches

Edwin WeathersbyAnalyst IJanuary 22, 2014

10 Biggest Recruiting Battles to Watch as 2014 National Signing Day Approaches

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    Christopher Lee/Getty Images

    With the first Wednesday in February getting closer and closer by the minute, many recruiting battles are starting to heat up.

    Sure, a majority of the prospects in the 2014 college football recruiting class are committed, but a solid number of recruits remain available. Looking at those uncommitted recruits, several of them are the subject of fierce recruiting battles.

    An SEC team is trying to keep a 5-star cornerback away from an ACC juggernaut, while a Pac-12 powerhouse is battling on several fronts for recruits. Plus, a pair of Big Ten teams are at odds over a talented defensive tackle.

     

    Player evaluations are based on review of tape at Scout.comRivals and 247Sports. All recruiting rankings and information courtesy of 247Sports, unless otherwise noted.

Maryland vs. South Carolina vs. Florida for Damian Prince

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    A 5-star offensive tackle, Damian Prince has a trio of schools fighting over him right now. In-state Maryland is trying to keep Prince home, while South Carolina and Florida are trying to lure him to the SEC, per 247Sports

    Usually in recruiting, people have a solid idea of where an uncommitted prospect will sign this late in the process. However, Prince could realistically end up at any of his three main schools.

    The Terrapins could have the inside track, but don't count out the Gators or Gamecocks for a second.

Alabama vs. Kentucky for Matt Elam

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    Matt Elam is a 4-star defensive tackle who is 6'5" and 372 pounds. With his impressive size, Elam is a powerful man in the trenches who uses his strength to bully offensive linemen.

    Alabama and Kentucky are his top schools, according to 247Sports. This will be an interesting battle to watch, as the chance to stay home and play early for the Wildcats opposed to playing for perhaps the premier program in the country are factors Elam will be weighing.

South Carolina vs. Tennessee vs. Florida for Derrell Scott

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    247Sports

    Hailing from North Carolina, 4-star running back Derrell Scott is one of the top uncommitted players at his position.

    With his speed, quickness and ability to factor into the passing game, the 5'11", 180-pounder is coveted by several schools. However, South Carolina, Tennessee and Florida appear to be programs Scott likes the most, per 247Sports

    The Gamecocks have been thick in the mix for a while, but Tennessee also looks good. Plus, the folks in Gainesville can never be counted out of a recruiting battle.

Arizona State vs. Stanford for Casey Tucker

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    247Sports

    A nasty blocker, 4-star offensive tackle Casey Tucker looks like he will play in the Pac-12. The Arizona native has Stanford and Arizona State in front, says 247Sports

    Tucker, who is 6'6" and 270 pounds, can't go wrong with either choice. He can stay home and play in front of his family and friends as a Sun Devil, or opt to get a prestigious degree from Stanford.

    It'll be interesting to find out what Tucker decides to do.

TCU vs. Texas A&M vs. Auburn vs. Notre Dame for Braden Smith

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    247Sports

    At 6'6" and 290 pounds, Braden Smith has the size, strength and enough athleticism to play at a high level in college. The 4-star offensive lineman is a Kansas native who has great toughness and fight.

    Smith has TCU, Texas A&M and Auburn at the top of his list, according to 247Sports. His sister attends TCU, according to Alex Apple of The Dallas Morning News/SportsDayDFW, so family ties have the Horned Frogs thick in the mix.

    Yet, Auburn is making up a ton of ground, with Texas A&M also being an option. Smith could be the breakthrough recruit TCU needs to establish itself on the recruiting trail.

Michigan vs. Michigan State for Malik McDowell

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    While LSU and Florida State have gotten into the race for 5-star defensive lineman Malik McDowell, according to 247Sports, it would still be surprising if he signed with any school other than Michigan or Michigan State.

    The 6'7", 290-pounder is a Michigan native who has his two in-state powers fighting over him. The Wolverines were felt to be in a good position, but the Spartans' Rose Bowl victory seems to have changed things.

    Stay tuned for McDowell's decision.

USC vs. UCLA vs. Notre Dame vs. Alabama vs. Oregon for John Smith

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    A California native, 5-star athlete John Smith has a tough decision to make. USC, Alabama, Oregon and Notre Dame are among his top schools, says 247Sports.

    Also, don't be surprised if Oregon and UCLA also get serious consideration by Smith before he makes his choice. Smith grew up rooting for the Trojans, according to Greg Biggins of Scout.com (subscription required), so USC will be tough to beat.

    Yet, with the competition the Trojans have for Smith's services, this recruiting battle is going to be awfully tough.

Georgia vs. Florida vs. Florida State vs. LSU for Lorenzo Carter

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    A Georgia native, Lorenzo Carter is a 5-star defensive end who is UGA's biggest recruiting priority. However, the Bulldogs will have to beat LSU, Florida and Florida State for his services, says 247Sports

    Georgia defensive coordinator Todd Grantham bolted for Louisville earlier this month, which prompted head coach Mark Richt to lure Florida State defensive chief Jeremy Pruitt to Athens. Both coaching moves will surely factor into Carter's decision.

    This race will likely go down to the wire.

USC vs. Florida vs. Several Others for Adoree' Jackson

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    Pound for pound, 5-star athlete Adoree' Jackson may be the best all-around athlete in the nation. Not only is the 5'9.5", 182-pounder an elite football recruit, but he's also one of the best long-jumpers in America.

    Jackson has USC, Florida, Tennessee, LSU, Oklahoma and UCLA as his finalists, per Greg Biggins of Scout.com (subscription required). Based on a gut feeling, the Trojans and Gators have the best chance to land Jackson.

    But then again, LSU, Tennessee, UCLA and Oklahoma are programs recruits don't sneeze at either.

Alabama vs. Florida State for Marlon Humphrey

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    Marlon Humphrey is a 5-star cornerback from Alabama whose father played for the Crimson Tide. The 6'1", 175-pounder plays a position of need for 'Bama, plus he'd be personally coached by head coach Nick Saban every day, as Saban is a renowned defensive backs tutor.

    However, Florida State is also right there for Humphrey, per 247Sports. The Seminoles have everything going for them right now, plus they have a great tradition of producing defensive backs. 

    Either Humphrey is leading FSU on, or the 'Noles have a serious shot at edging Alabama out for him.

    Yet, defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt's defection from Florida State to Georgia could hinder the Seminoles' chances in the end. 

    This will be fascinating recruiting battle to watch.

2014 Bleacher Report College Football Recruiting Heat Map

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    Use the 2014 Bleacher Report College Football Recruiting Heat Map to track recruits involved in the fiercest recruiting battles right now!

    Edwin Weathersby is the College Football Recruiting Analyst for Bleacher Report. He has worked in scouting/player personnel departments for three professional football teams, including the New York Giants and Cleveland Browns.