Early National Signing Day 2021: Top Unsigned Recruits After Initial CommitmentsDecember 17, 2021
The start of the early signing period for the 2022 class produced one massive surprise, some interesting players flipping their initial commitment and a lot of expected results.
Wednesday's biggest move saw cornerback Travis Hunter, the top overall player in this class by 247Sports composite rankings, surprise everyone by flipping his commitment from Florida State to Jackson State.
Travis Hunter @TravisHunterJr
It’s OFFICIAL <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/jsu?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#jsu</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/gotigers?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#gotigers</a> 🐅 <a href="https://twitter.com/jacksonstatefb?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@jacksonstatefb</a> <a href="https://t.co/UTyzMPgVH6">pic.twitter.com/UTyzMPgVH6</a>
One thing that isn't a surprise this recruiting cycle is the teams at the top. Texas A&M and Alabama currently rank first and second with 50 combined commitments, including 45 rated as 4- or 5-star players, per 247Sports' composite rankings.
As of right now, 15 of the top 20 prospects in the 2022 class have signed. There are still be many key decisions to come before National Signing Day on Feb. 2.
Looking at where things stand, here are the best players still unsigned.
Harold Perkins, LB (Cy Park HS, Texas)
The highest-ranked player still available (No. 5 overall), Harold Perkins has already narrowed down his list of options. LSU, Texas and Texas A&M are the finalists, with the decision set to be made during the Under Armour All-American Game.
Texas A&M is considered the favorite based on 247Sports' crystal ball projections.
Perkins had a memorable moment during a visit to Texas in November when he recorded video of himself watching the Longhorns lose to Kansas on a two-point conversion.
That doesn't necessarily mean Texas head coach Steve Sarkisian and his staff can't get Perkins to commit, but the Aggies play in the same state and are much better positioned to compete on a national stage.
LSU is also in an interesting position because the staff that originally recruited him has been changed. Brian Kelly is replacing Ed Orgeron as head coach. It hasn't had a negative impact on the 2022 class, which ranks third overall behind Alabama and Ohio State.
The Aggies are coming off an 8-4 regular season in 2021, but that record does include a 41-38 victory over Alabama on Oct. 9. Head coach Jimbo Fisher has a lot of the pieces in place to have this program compete, as long as they can play consistent from week to week.
Perkins can be the leader of any defense in the country with his combination of speed and athleticism.
Wherever Perkins decides to play in college, he will immediately transform their 2022 class into a special group because he has that kind of rare upside.
Domani Jackson, CB (Mater Dei HS, California)
Domani Jackson, the No. 2 cornerback in the class, has already made one big move this recruiting season. He decommitted from USC last month to reopen his recruitment.
“I’m still considering USC and will be taking my official visit there this weekend for the UCLA game,” Jackson told Greg Biggins of 247Sports on Nov. 14. “I just felt like the best way to really evaluate all my options was to de-commit so every one would be on the same level.
It's important to note that Jackson made his decision before USC hired Lincoln Riley away from Oklahoma as its new head coach.
Riley and his staff have made noise in recruiting, though not for this year. Malachi Nelson, a 5-star quarterback recruit in the 2023 class, flipped his commitment from Oklahoma to USC.
Jackson told Biggins on Nov. 30 he's down to USC and Alabama, adding that Riley "has been blowing my phone up and that’s been impressive." He also said he was planning to commit on Dec. 15, but there has been no announcement from him as of this writing.
USC has a greater need for Jackson than Alabama. Nick Saban and his staff are already loaded with incoming talent, while the Trojans only have six commitments.
Riley's track record of recruiting at Oklahoma indicates that won't be an issue at USC. His staff just needs time to let prospects know what they'll do with the program.
Shemar Stewart, DL (Monsignor Pace HS, Florida)
In the video showing Perkins laughing at Texas losing to Kansas, the other player with him on a visit to Austin was Shemar Stewart. He is a 5-star recruit and the No. 9 overall player in the 2022 class.
Unlike Perkins, Stewart is no longer considering the Longhorns barring a late change in his thinking.
The 270-pound defensive lineman told Hayes Fawcett of On3.com that he's deciding between Georgia, Miami, and Texas A&M.
"I feel like these 3 schools give me the best chance to be developed to the best of my ability and to have a successful future," Stewart said.
Those programs will have to wait for his final decision, as Hayes noted Stewart won't announce his commitment until Feb. 2.
Texas A&M could have a leg up in the three-school race. The program is considered the favorite, per 247Sports crystal ball projections. He took an official visit to the school on Oct. 22.
If Fisher and his staff can land both Perkins and Stewart, the Aggies will be well positioned to challenge Alabama and compete for a national title as soon as next season.
Ratings via 247Sports composite rankings.