National Signing Day 2016: Projecting Where Every 5-Star Recruit Will Sign
With hours until national signing day, 11 of the nation's 25 5-star prospects have yet to make their announcement on where they will be attending college.
Included among that group is 5-star defensive tackle and No. 1 overall prospect Rashan Gary.
Gary is just one of the handful of elite prospects fans will be anxiously waiting to hear from on Wednesday.
Where are the rest of 2016's 5-star prospects heading, and will there be any surprises to watch for in their recruitments?
Let's take a look and project where every 5-star prospect will sign.
25. OLB Caleb Kelly
Oklahoma has been the longtime favorite for 5-star linebacker Caleb Kelly.
However, Notre Dame and Oregon are two schools pushing the Sooners for his services.
In particular, the Irish have made a late push for the California stud, as detailed by Tom Loy of 247Sports.
Still, the Sooners enter the stretch run of his recruitment with a leg up on landing his signature on signing day.
24. DT Benito Jones
One of the biggest risers after the conclusion of the postseason all-star games is 5-star defensive tackle Benito Jones.
The 6'2", 285-pounder was committed to Alabama early in the process before flipping to Ole Miss.
Jones is done with the recruiting process since he’s already on campus in Oxford, Mississippi, as an early enrollee.
PREDICTION: Ole Miss
23. DT Rashard Lawrence
It's a banner year in the state of Louisiana for defensive linemen.
At the head of that group is 5-star defensive tackle Rashard Lawrence.
The 6'3", 305-pounder is one of five in-state defensive linemen who are a part of LSU's top-rated class.
Lawrence committed to the Tigers over Ohio State late last month and looks to be solid with his decision.
22. CB Jack Jones
Last year, USC struck gold when it landed stud corner Iman Marshall on signing day.
The Trojans are hoping to lure another talented product from Poly High School in Long Beach, California, in 5-star corner Jack Jones.
To do so, the Trojans will have to fend off schools such as Alabama, Texas A&M and UCLA.
The Bruins held the momentum with Jones last summer, but expect the Trojans to win out for him in the end.
21. CB Kristian Fulton
A big part of LSU's star-studded class is the group of defensive backs headed to Baton Rouge.
However, Tigers head coach Les Miles and his staff may not be done at that position.
The Tigers are battling fellow SEC members Arkansas and Florida for 5-star corner Kristian Fulton.
While the Gators got Fulton's last official visit, the Tigers are still in a great spot to keep the Pelican State's top prospect close to home for college.
20. RB Miles Sanders
The anchor of Penn State’s recruiting class is 5-star running back Miles Sanders, who committed to the Nittany Lions back in July 2014.
However, schools such as Michigan State were pursuing Sanders heavily until he announced his intentions to shut down the recruiting process last month.
The Under Armour All-American rushed for 2,837 yards and 44 touchdowns over the last three seasons.
PREDICTION: Penn State
19. SDE Jeffery Simmons
A three-team race between SEC West members Alabama, Mississippi State and Ole Miss is brewing for 5-star defensive end Jeffery Simmons.
The U.S. Army All-American, who racked up 19.5 sacks over the course of his sophomore and junior seasons, has steadily climbed the rankings throughout his recruitment.
According to BamaOnline’s Tim Watts, the Magnolia State’s top prospect looks to have the Bulldogs and the Tide running neck and neck for his signature.
The in-state Bulldogs may be too tough for Simmons to turn down in the end.
PREDICTION: Mississippi State
18. SDE McTelvin Agim
The Arkansas Razorbacks landed a huge pledge in September when 5-star defensive end McTelvin Agim announced his intention to stay in-state for college.
The 6’2½”, 268-pounder, who tallied a total of 38 sacks over the course of his sophomore and junior campaigns, is one of the most feared pass-rushers available in the 2016 cycle.
Agim, who picked the Razorbacks over offers from Alabama, Auburn, LSU and Oklahoma among others, has been solid in his commitment since his initial pledge.
17. OT Jonah Williams
Among the highlights of Alabama’s 2016 class is an offensive line that features a wealth of talented bodies headed to Tuscaloosa.
Included in that group is 5-star offensive lineman Jonah Williams.
The 6’5”, 296-pounder committed to the Tide back in April, and he’s already on campus as an early enrollee.
16. WDE Oluwole Betiku
Despite playing just two full seasons after arriving in the United States from his native Nigeria, Betiku emerged as one of the elite defensive linemen in the 2016 cycle.
Following an early pledge to UCLA, Betiku ended his process in December by committing to fellow Pac-12 rival USC.
The 6’3½”, 245-pounder is already on campus as an early enrollee for the Trojans.
15. OLB Lyndell Wilson
Alabama is fighting fellow SEC powers Georgia and Florida for the services of 5-star in-state linebacker Lyndell “Mack” Wilson.
However, as detailed by BamaOnline’s Hank South, Wilson maintained that the Florida was in the driver’s seat for his services before abruptly cancelling his visit to Gainesville that was scheduled last weekend.
Georgia is also a threat due to their hiring former Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart.
Still, it’s hard to imagine the Tide losing out on a prized in-state defender such as Wilson in the end.
14. WR Demetris Robertson
After backing off an early pledge to Alabama, Georgia figured to be the main threat to land 5-star wideout Demetris Robertson.
Both the Tide and the Bulldogs join Notre Dame and Stanford as the primary options for Robertson down the stretch.
As Kipp Adams of 247Sports noted, Robertson could push his decision past national signing day.
The Irish are the team that has surged with the nation’s top receiver late in the process, and they are in a good spot to pull one of the top prospects from the Peach State.
PREDICTION: Notre Dame
13. ATH Mecole Hardman Jr.
Alabama, Georgia, Michigan, Ohio State and Tennessee are among the favorites to land 5-star athlete Mecole Hardman Jr.
The Bulldogs have been the longtime favorites to land the in-state star, who could play either receiver or corner at the next level.
However, Hardman named the Tide his leader last month, per Drew Champlin of AL.com.
Smart has made Hardman a priority recruit, per Dawg Nation's Michael Carvell, and it’s hard to imagine him landing anywhere other than Athens on signing day.
12. TE Isaac Nauta
Florida State was the initial school that landed a commitment from 5-star tight end Isaac Nauta.
But after he reopened his process last summer, he whittled his list of suitors to Alabama, Georgia and Michigan.
Nauta selected the Bulldogs during the U.S. Army All-American Bowl and has already arrived on campus in Athens as an early enrollee.
11. OLB Mique Juarez
The top prospect from California in the 2016 cycle is 5-star linebacker Mique Juarez.
The 6’1½”, 231-pounder was committed to USC early in the process before reopening his recruitment in October.
His three finalists heading into national signing day are Alabama, Ole Miss and UCLA.
While both SEC schools are serious threats to land Juarez, it appears the Bruins have the best shot to keep the talented Golden State defender close to home in college.
10. ILB Ben Davis
Given that his father Wayne was a standout defender for Alabama, most observers in the recruiting community assumed 5-star linebacker Ben Davis was destined to end up in Tuscaloosa.
However, the 6’3”, 240-pounder has kept an open mind throughout the process.
Auburn, Georgia, LSU and Notre Dame join Alabama as the schools that make up Davis’ finalists.
After his official visit to Alabama, Davis named the Tide his leader, as reported by BamaOnline’s Hank South.
It’s highly unlikely they'll relinquish that lead in the final stretch before signing day.
9. DT Derrick Brown
Alabama, Auburn, Georgia, Mississippi State and Tennessee are the five finalists for 5-star defensive tackle Derrick Brown.
While both of Brown’s parents attended Mississippi State, the in-state Georgia Bulldogs have been the perceived favorite for the 6’3¾”, 317-pounder, according to 247Sports' Crystal Ball predictions.
However, as Keith Niebuhr of AuburnUndercover noted, the Bulldogs could be on the outside looking in at Brown's top three schools. Niebuhr noted sources indicated to him that Alabama, Auburn and Tennessee are the three schools trending for the 6’3¾”, 317-pounder.
Still, don't expect new Bulldogs head coach Kirby Smart to go down without a fight for the Peach State's top prospect.
As a junior, Brown racked up 101 tackles—including 26 for loss and 17.5 sacks.
Tennessee was his last official visit, though Auburn seems to have the most momentum with Brown heading into signing day—which should make for an interesting final few days before Brown ends all speculation with his announcement.
8. SDE Nick Bosa
Last July, both Florida and Florida State were able to get 5-star defensive end Nick Bosa on campus for visits.
However, shortly after his trip to Tallahassee, the 6’4”, 265-pounder announced his commitment to Ohio State—where his older brother Joey just wrapped up a standout three-year career in Columbus.
The younger Bosa is expected to be one of the players who will compete to replace Joey on the defensive line this fall.
PREDICTION: Ohio State
7. CB Levonta Taylor
After piling up more than 30 offers, 5-star corner Levonta Taylor announced his commitment to Florida State in April.
The nation’s top corner has been one of the more ardent recruiters in the Seminoles No. 3-ranked recruiting class.
Taylor is a solid pledge who could have a major impact in Tallahassee this fall.
PREDICTION: Florida State
6. DT Ed Oliver
It’s been a banner year for Houston and head coach Tom Herman.
The Cougars’ momentum has carried over onto the recruiting trail as Herman was able to land 5-star defensive tackle Ed Oliver over powers such as Alabama, LSU and Texas.
Oliver, whose older brother Marcus is an offensive lineman who signed with the Cougars in the 2014 cycle, has remained firm in his commitment.
5. QB Jacob Eason
Smart succeeded in that mission, and in the process, he kept the bell cow of the Bulldogs' 2016 recruiting class and a player who is likely the quarterback of the future in Athens.
Eason is already on campus as an early enrollee.
4. QB Shea Patterson
Arizona was the school that originally landed a pledge from 5-star quarterback Shea Patterson when he was a freshman in high school.
However, he reopened his process and eventually committed to Ole Miss last February.
Patterson, who earned MVP honors at the Elite 11 and at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl, is already on campus in Oxford as an early enrollee.
PREDICTION: Ole Miss
3. OT Gregory Little
The early favorite to land 5-star offensive lineman Gregory Little was Texas A&M—which eventually landed his initial commitment in July 2014.
However, he backed off that pledge a year later and took visits to Alabama, Auburn, Georgia, LSU and Ole Miss.
In December, Little announced his commitment to Ole Miss—which appears to be his final destination in the recruiting process.
PREDICTION: Ole Miss
2. DT Dexter Lawrence
The 6’4”, 327-pounder committed to Clemson in December and officially ended his process by enrolling early in the Tigers program a month later.
As Barton Simmons of 247Sports detailed, Lawrence is expected to step in and become a contributor for the Tigers this fall.
1. DT Rashan Gary
Perhaps the main attraction on national signing day will be Rashan Gary' announcement—the consensus top overall prospect in the 2016 cycle.
Alabama, Auburn, Michigan, Ole Miss and USC are among the schools in the running for the 6’5”, 293-pound New Jersey native.
Michigan has been the presumed leader in Gary’s recruitment, according to 247Sports' Crystal Ball predictions, and should he select the Wolverines, he’d become the sixth Garden State product in their 2016 class.
The Rebels and the Tigers could be sleeper picks for Gary. However, it would be a major upset if anyone other than Michigan lands his pledge on signing day.
Sanjay Kirpalani is a National Recruiting Analyst for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes obtained firsthand and all recruiting information courtesy of 247Sports.