National Signing Day 2017: A Rundown of Where Every 5-Star Recruit Will Sign

Kerry Miller@@kerrancejamesCollege Basketball National AnalystJanuary 30, 2017

National Signing Day 2017: A Rundown of Where Every 5-Star Recruit Will Sign

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    Where will star defensive tackle Marvin Wilson sign?
    Where will star defensive tackle Marvin Wilson sign?Photo courtesy of

    Much of the drama of college football's national signing day has been sapped by commitment announcements and early enrollment, but there are still a handful of 5-star studs who will select from a number of hats Wednesday.

    In preparation for the big day, we've got predictions for where each 5-star recruit will sign. For the ones that have already committed, we recap the factors and the series of known events that led to the decision. For those that haven't committed, we're reading and presenting the tea leaves in hopes of predicting the near future.

    For Alabama, Florida State, Ohio State and Stanford, we know it's going to be a big day for officially signing their committed guys. But other schools like LSU, Michigan and USC are hoping to make a big splash with some of the high school seniors who are still on the fence.

    Read on to find out where next year's top freshmen will suit up this fall. 

36. Jay Tufele, DT

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    Jay Tufele
    Jay TufelePhoto courtesy of

    High School: Bingham (South Jordan, Utah)

    Size: 6'3", 297 lbs

    Of the 36 5-star recruits in this year's class, 27 have already committed to a school, with many of those guys already on campus at their new homes as early enrollees. As such, 75 percent of this list requires no guesswork.

    But defensive tackle Jay Tufele is one of the nine guys still up in the air. Tufele tweeted his top five on December 26, informing the masses that he's deciding between BYU, Michigan, Ohio State, USC and Utah.

    In May 2016 at The Opening, Justin Hopkins of 247Sports reported, "Jay Tufele told me Ohio State was at the top." That's about the most "concrete" news out there about how he views his five options, and it was a throwaway statement from eight months ago.

    Given where Tufele played high school ball, Utah has long been considered the favorite. However, USC has come on strong in recent weeks. Tufele took an official visit to USC on Jan. 22, during which his friend Marlon Tuipulotu flipped from Washington to USC. There has been nothing to suggest the two are a package deal, but it's one extra thing the Trojans can offer him.

    Utah will have the last word, though, as he scheduled his official visit with the Utes for the final weekend before national signing day. Even if he was leaning USC after his trip to Los Angeles, Utah might be able to keep him close to home.

    Prediction: USC

35. VanDarius Cowan, OLB

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    VanDarius Cowan
    VanDarius CowanPhoto courtesy of

    High School: Palm Beach Gardens (Palm Beach Gardens, Florida)

    Size: 6'4", 235 lbs

    There's always a chance a player will flip his commitment in the final weeks before NSD, and stud outside linebacker VanDarius Cowan seemed like a guy who might fit that bill.

    Cowan committed to Alabama in April 201610 months after originally committing to Florida State and six months before being removed from his high school team, which Adam Lichtenstein and Jodie Wagner of the Palm Beach Post reported to be related to his behavior during an October game.

    Despite his tweet Jan. 9 that he was "completely shutting down" his recruitment, there were still concerns another change of heart could be in store. After all, he scheduled an official visit to LSU after committing to Alabama and tweeted as recently as Jan. 7 about visiting Georgia's campus.

    But before putting ink to paper Feb. 1, Cowan put ink to his skin, tweeting a video on Jan. 13 of the tattoo he got on his calf with the Alabama logo. Tattoos can be removed, but it seems safe to assume he will sign with the Crimson Tide.

    Prediction: Alabama

34. Calvin Ashley, OT

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    Calvin Ashley
    Calvin AshleyPhoto courtesy of

    High School: St. Johns College (Washington, D.C.)

    Size: 6'6", 310 lbs

    Najee Harris is the only 5-star recruit who has been committed to a school for longer than offensive tackle Calvin Ashley, and only by a margin of a few weeks.

    Ashley committed to Auburn back in May 2015, telling Wesley Sinor of "It's family. There's no other school like Auburn. Everybody treats you like family. You go around and all you hear is 'War Eagle.'" At the time, Ashley was the No. 4 overall recruit on 247Sports, according to B/R's Scott Polacek.

    Despite his long engagement with the Tigers, rumors circulated earlier this month that the big man might flip to Maryland. Playing his senior year of high school just a few miles from the Terrapins campus, he visited there multiple times over the fall while never visiting Auburn, according to Keith Niebuhr of 247Sports.

    But Ashley remains committed to Auburn, tweeting Jan. 10 (h/t "No more visits. No more entertaining other schools. Time to get ready for Auburn!"

    Prediction: Auburn

33. K'Lavon Chaisson, DE

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    K'Lavon Chaisson
    K'Lavon ChaissonPhoto courtesy of

    High School: North Shore Senior (Galena Park, Texas)

    Size: 6'4", 220 lbs

    Twitter can be both the best and worst source for recruiting news, particularly when basing assumptions on what the recruits themselves are tweeting.

    Defensive end K'Lavon Chaisson tweeted on New Year's Eve that LSU and Texas were his top two. Wescott Eberts of Burnt Orange Nation posted a link to that tweet, which has since been deleted—in part because he had not yet taken any of his official visits.

    According to Scout, Chaisson went to LSU on Jan. 13, Texas on Jan. 20, Colorado on Jan. 23 and Florida on Jan. 27. While visiting the Buffaloes, Chaisson again offered a bit of an update on Twitter, saying: "#CU17 might be the move no trolling." (However, that tweet has since been deleted, so maybe it wasn't the move after all.)

    But Texas remains the team to beat. Galena Park is only about an hour closer to Austin than it is to LSU's main campus, so the Longhorns aren't getting much of a "hometown discount." However, they've won the battle of making Chaisson and his family feel welcome.

    "[Texas head coach Tom] Herman has not only done a terrific job winning over Chaisson but also those around him, including his mother, who is the most important factor in the race for the 5-star prospect," wrote EJ Holland of 247Sports less than 10 days before NSD.

    After cramming four official visits into a span of two weeks, the "mom factor" may well be the deciding one for Chaisson.

    Prediction: Texas

32. Tedarrell Slaton, OG

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    Tedarrell Slaton
    Tedarrell SlatonPhoto courtesy of

    High School: American Heritage (Plantation, Florida)

    Size: 6'4 ½", 341 lbs

    Though listed as one of the best offensive linemen in this year's class, Tedarrell Slaton has expressed an interest in switching to the defensive side of the ball. Florida's willingness and desire to accommodate that move is one of the main things that puts the Gators atop Slaton's list of potential destinations.

    "Florida is recruiting me for defense," Slaton told Zach Abolverdi of SEC Country in mid-January. "That's kind of what I want to play in college, and that's why Florida is my leader."

    Of the schools still in the hunt for the remaining uncommitted defensive tackles (Marvin Wilson, Aubrey Solomon and Jay Tufele), only Florida and Michigan match up with the schools Slaton is considering. That isn't to say Baylor, Kentucky, Miami and Ole Miss wouldn't consider playing him on defense, but those schools haven't made the defensive line as much of a focus as the Gators and Wolverines.

    As far as the Wolverines are concerned, they were considered the favorites to sign Slaton for most of his senior year. He made an official visit to Ann Arbor this past June, saying, "It felt like home." Part of the reason people were buying Michigan as the top candidate was because Slaton's high school teammate Kai-Leon Herbert committed to the Wolverines. But Herbert decommitted recently and now seems likely to choose either Miami or Florida.

    Proximity to home, the potential to continue playing with a teammate and the fact that he called Florida his leader make the Gators the most likely pick for Slaton.

    Prediction: Florida

31. JaCoby Stevens, S

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    Jacoby Stevens
    Jacoby StevensPhoto courtesy of

    High School: Oakland (Murfreesboro, Tennessee)

    Size: 6'2", 190 lbs

    No guesswork needed here, as standout safety JaCoby Stevens signed his national letter of intent with LSU on Jan. 11, according to Scout. It wasn't a given that he would "geaux" to Baton Rouge, though.

    Stevens committed to LSU in September 2015, according to Tom Kreager of the Tennessean, only to decommit two months later. Stevens told Kreager: "Going into my commitment and why I chose LSU, I envisioned playing under Les Miles and his coach staff. Now that I'm not sure if they are going to be there when I get there, I want to reopen my recruitment."

    In yet another story from Kreager in May 2016, Georgia looked like the clear favorite to land Stevens. "Georgia is my No. 1," Stevens told Kreager. He added: "I just love Kirby Smart coming over. ... I love what they are doing in Athens. Everything people say about Athens and the University of Georgia are positive things. I haven't heard any negative things."

    But just a few months later, he recommitted to LSU and remains committed to the Tigers, despite the in-season coaching change from Miles to Ed Orgeron.

    Prediction: LSU

30. Austin Jackson, OT

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    Austin Jackson
    Austin JacksonPhoto courtesy of

    High School: North Canyon (Phoenix, Arizona)

    Size: 6'5", 290 lbs

    Until about four months ago, news regarding the recruitment of offensive tackle Austin Jackson was all but nonexistent. While some recruits soak up as much spotlight as they can get out of their high ratings, Jackson avoided drawing any attention to himself.

    He made a few unofficial visits to in-state Arizona State and had a familial connection with USC since his grandfather played there in the 1970s...and that was all anyone had to go on. As a result, by the time he started taking official visits this past October, the Sun Devils and Trojansknown to be heavily recruiting himwere considered the favorites in a two-horse race.

    Not much has changed in the past few months.

    According to Richard Obert of, Jackson is set to make his decision on national signing day with Arizona State, USC and Washington the three candidates to acquire his talents.

    The Crystal Ball predictions at 247Sports seem certain he'll end up with USC, but Arizona State has been courting Jackson for a long time, has the home-state edge and was the last stop of his four official visits. As such, we're going against the grain and projecting he signs with the Sun Devils, becoming the school's first 5-star recruit since 2009.

    Prediction: Arizona State

29. Trey Smith, OT

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    Trey Smith
    Trey SmithPhoto courtesy of

    High School: University School of Jackson (Jackson, Tennessee)

    Size: 6'6", 300 lbs

    Offensive tackle Trey Smith was one of several 5-star recruits to remove all doubt in early January, signing his national letter of intent with Tennessee on the 11th.

    While some recruits seem to commit to schools with no rhyme or reason, Smith and his businessman father took a calculated approach to deciding among the dozens of schools trying to sign him.

    "He had a spreadsheet for me to narrow it down," Smith told's Tom VanHaaren in July. "We put in boxes with a scale of 1 to 10 with things like a good offensive line coach, a good relationship with the coaches, opportunity to prepare me for the NFL and opportunity to play. ... Whoever was the top six on the list was my top six."

    It's a great way to choose between multiple options when buying a car or a house, and evidently the formula spit out the Volunteers for Smith.

    Tennessee turned 4-star OT Ja'Wuan James into a first-round draft pick (19th overall) in 2014. Smith is likely hoping the university can do the same (or better) with him in a few years.

    Prediction: Tennessee

28. Jake Fromm, QB

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    Jake Fromm
    Jake FrommPhoto courtesy of

    High School: Houston County (Warner Robins, Georgia)

    Size: 6'2", 203 lbs

    It would be quicker to list the SEC schools that weren't trying to sign pro-style QB Jake Fromm over the past several years. According to Scout, he attended camps at Alabama, Georgia, Ole Miss and South Carolina and also received offers from Auburn, Florida, Kentucky and Tennessee.

    Steve Spurrier even vowed to stay with the Gamecocks for six more years if Fromm came to play for him, according to 247Sports.

    Despite that opportunity to eventually play for a 75-year-old Head Ball Coach, Fromm committed to Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide in October 2015.

    But less than five months laterthree months after Kirby Smart switched jobs from Alabama's defensive coordinator to Georgia's head coachFromm flipped to the Bulldogs, announcing his decision on Twitter. He has already enrolled at UGA in advance of a spring battle with incumbent Jacob Eason that Bob Miller of thinks will be fun to watch and could go either way.

    Prediction: Georgia

27. Tate Martell, QB

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    Tate Martell
    Tate MartellPhoto courtesy of

    High School: Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas, Nevada)

    Size: 5'10 ½", 203 lbs

    Dating back to Chris Leak in the class of 2003, has only given a 5-star rating to two quarterbacks shorter than 6'1": Kyler Murray in 2015 and soon-to-be Buckeye Tate Martell.

    If it feels like you heard that name a long time ago, Martell originally committed to the University of Washington in July 2012the summer before entering eighth grade. That decision lasted longer than most middle school relationships, but he eventually decommitted in January 2015. In August of that year, he committed to Texas A&M, only to have yet another change of heart the following May.

    It was a long-and-winding road to Columbus, but Martell committed to Ohio State in June 2016 and became an early enrollee at the university earlier this month.

    Don't expect to see much of the dual-threat QB in 2017, as J.T. Barrett is sticking around for one final season. However, Ohio State is hopeful the undersized Martell will be able to channel his inner Doug Flutie in 2018 and beyond.

    Prediction: Ohio State

26. Devonta Smith, WR

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    Devonta Smith
    Devonta SmithPhoto courtesy of

    High School: Amite (Amite, Louisiana)

    Size: 6'1", 167 lbs

    Wide receiver Devonta Smith originally committed to Georgia before his junior year of high school. However, about a month after the Bulldogs gave head coach Mark Richt the ax, Smith decommitted and has remained a "free agent" ever since.

    He's down to four schools: LSU, Alabama, Florida State and Miami, taking official visits to each one in the span of two weeks in January. But according to Billy Embody of, Smith is doing little more than hanging out in various hotels around the Gulf of Mexico.

    "It was good. Really didn't do nothing. That was just for my family," Smith said of his Alabama visit. "My family did everything they had planned for them. I didn't really do anything. That was just for them to see what they wanted to see. I think it went well."

    At the time, he had not yet made his visit to Miami, but he had similar sentiments about his trips to LSU and FSU: "To be honest, all the schools are the same. Great coaching staffs, great men, great programs. I really don't know what separated from everyone else."

    Grasping at literal straws would be better than trying to gauge interest from those comments. As such, we're going to venture a guess that he recommits to the coach he originally wanted to play for. It's a change of scenery from what Smith signed up for 18 months ago, but now that Richt is at Miami, the Hurricanes might have something to separate themselves from the other three schools in contention.

    Prediction: Miami

25. Deangelo Gibbs, ATH

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    Deangelo Gibbs
    Deangelo GibbsPhoto courtesy of

    High School: Grayson (Loganville, Georgia)

    Size: 6'2", 204 lbs

    As recently as New Year's Eve, it was anyone's guess which school would land elite athlete Deangelo Gibbs.

    According to Scout, Gibbs received offers from 32 major-conference schools (and Notre Dame), but there were only two he was truly considering. In late December, Gibbs told Chris Kirschner of SEC Country that he had applied to two schools, doing so months ago.

    Though he declined to identify those two programs, the assumption among the recruiting gurus was that Alabama and Georgia were his finalistsbut there was no indication which would win that two-horse race.

    In the end, Kirby Smart convinced his man to stay close to home. During the Under Armour All-America Game on Jan. 1, Gibbs announced his commitment to Georgia. Fans of the Dawgs hope they get the type of two-way Swiss army knife that Jabrill Peppers was for Michigan.

    Prediction: Georgia

24. Joseph Lewis, WR

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    Joseph Lewis
    Joseph LewisPhoto courtesy of

    High School: Augustus Hawkins (Los Angeles, California)

    Size: 6'2 ½", 200 lbs

    Once upon a time, Nebraska was the heavy favorite to sign wide receiver Joseph Lewis. After Lewis' official visit to the Cornhuskers campus in Octoberhis third time there overallNate Clouse of said, "It's big to be able to see how he fits in Lincoln if he were to be a student-athlete here. I think this is maybe the last step toward securing a commitment."

    A little over a month later, Lewis wrote a blog post for USA Today that was still promising for Cornhuskers fans: "Right now my top four schools are Oregon, Arizona, Nebraska and Oklahoma. There's a possibility of USC getting in there too."

    Now that we're into late January, though, that possibility is beginning to look like a near certainty.

    Lewis' high school coach Mil'Von James told Sam McKewon of the Omaha World-Herald (h/t Steven Petrella of "It's a lot closer than people think [between Nebraska and USC]. It's going to go down to the wire."

    The problem for Nebraska fans is that he made both an unofficial and an official visit to USC in the days leading up to national signing day, but he hasn't been to Nebraska in months.

    Moreover, since USC's JuJu Smith-Schuster has declared for the NFL draft, there's a reasonable chance Lewis could immediately start for the Trojans, catching passes from Sam Darnold. That's a tough in-state offer to turn down.

    Prediction: USC

23. Baron Browning, OLB

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    Baron Browning
    Baron BrowningPhoto courtesy of

    High School: Kennedale (Kennedale, Texas)

    Size: 6'4", 230 lbs

    Is there a team out there that didn't at one time think it had a shot at outside linebacker Baron Browning?

    He originally committed to Baylor in July 2015, telling Amy Pagitt of 247Sports: "I'm 100 percent committed to Baylor. I'm not going to decommit. I'm going to stand strong on my word as a man. Baylor is the place that I want to be at to take my game to the next level."

    Or not. Browning decommitted from Baylor less than seven months later, reopening his recruitment in February.

    TCU thought it might convince him to stay close to home. Michigan thought it had a good shot because Browning's older brother played for Jim Harbaugh during his time at Stanford. Texas had high hopes until he snubbed the Longhorns from his top six, which gave Alabama, Florida State and UCLA a theoretical 16.7 percent chance of acquiring his services.

    But Browning became a Buckeye on December 1 and is one of the nine incoming guys who have enrolled at Ohio State.

    Prediction: Ohio State

22. Donovan Peoples-Jones, WR

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    Donovan Peoples-Jones
    Donovan Peoples-JonesPhoto courtesy of

    High School: Cass Technical (Detroit, Michigan)

    Size: 6'2 ½", 190 lbs

    According to's latest rankings, there are only two Top 100 recruits from the state of Michigan this year: No. 22 Donovan Peoples-Jones and No. 56 Ambry Thomas. Jim Harbaugh wasn't about to let either of them leave the Wolverine State.

    Ohio State has pilfered several players from Detroit's Cass Technical in recent years. Last year's leading rusher for the Buckeyes (Mike Weber) came from there, as did starting cornerback Damon Webb. And Urban Meyer was the first to offer Peoples-Jones back in June 2014.

    But home-field advantage proved to be too much for Ohio State to overcome this time, as Peoples-Jones was able to go to Ann Arbor as often as he wanted.

    In January 2016, he told Scout's Josh Henschke: "Because Michigan is so close it's very convenient to get there. ... I've got a couple of teammates up at Michigan, so [I] just use that as a time to bond with them and see the vibe."

    Peoples-Jones waited until December to make his verbal commitment to Michigan, but the maize and blue always seemed likely in his future.

    Prediction: Michigan

21. A.J. Epenesa, DE

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    A.J. Epenesa
    A.J. EpenesaPhoto courtesy of

    High School: Edwardsville (Edwardsville, Illinois)

    Size: 6'5", 260 lbs

    On this list, we've already encountered a bunch of 5-star recruits who either wavered in their commitment or had a difficult time making a decision. There are plenty more that fit that description in the Top 20. But defensive end A.J. Epenesa knew what he wanted long before any schools knew they wanted him.

    "I dreamt about going to Iowa as a kid," Epenesa told Chris Cuellar of in September. "I never thought about Michigan, Mizzou or Florida State growing up, because I was just hoping I'd get the chance to go to Iowa."

    That's not usually a dream destination for great players. Iowa hadn't signed a Top 100 recruit since 2011 and hadn't signed a 5-star recruit since 2005. But Epenesa's father played for the Hawkeyes, and he was looking for a place that would feel like home.

    "A coach [from Alabama] had a fat national title ring on, and I was like, 'Yeah, that's a nice ring,'" he told Cuellar. "But I wasn't looking for that. I wanted a place that said, 'We're a family and we're going to take care of you.'"

    Iowa typically has one of the stingier defenses in the country, holding opponents to fewer than 21 points per game in 12 of the past 15 seasons. With Epenesa's rushing off the end, the Hawkeyes should be even tougher than usual to move the ball against.

    Prediction: Iowa

20. Joshua Kaindoh, DE

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    Joshua Kaindoh
    Joshua KaindohPhoto courtesy of

    High School: IMG Academy (Bradenton, Florida)

    Size: 6'6", 252 lbs

    Trying to make sense of any news on the recruiting trail can be a fool's errand, but the journey of defensive end Joshua Kaindoh was stranger than most.

    Though he most recently played at IMG Academy in Florida, Kaindoh is originally from Maryland, playing his first two seasons of high school at Our Lady of Mount Carmelabout 40 miles from College Park. Thus, it was a surprise when he didn't have the Terrapins in his top four (Ohio State, Penn State, Notre Dame and Michigan) on April 21 and an even bigger surprise when he ended up committing to Maryland on April 30 anyway.

    According to Alex Kirshner of Testudo Times, it was a big joke that several of Maryland's other commits knew about. Kaindoh was planning on committing to Maryland despite what he was saying on Twitter.

    What wasn't a joke, though, was his decision to decommit from Maryland in late November, just days after an official visit to Penn State. This led most to assume he would sign with the Nittany Lions.

    Instead, Jimbo Fisher came out of nowhere and snatched him up. Kaindoh tweeted his commitment to Florida State in late December, stating he would be enrolling early for the spring semester.

    Prediction: Florida State

19. Anthony Hines III, ILB

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    Anthony Hines
    Anthony HinesPhoto courtesy of

    High School: Plano East Senior (Plano, Texas)

    Size: 6'3", 225 lbs

    A lifetime ago, inside linebacker Anthony Hines III committed to Mississippi State. It was October 2013. He was a freshman in high school. While commitments almost never last that long, this one might have were it not for the way Mississippi State handled Chason Virgil the following November.

    The Bulldogs pulled the QB's scholarship offer barely two weeks before he was set to graduate and become an early enrollee for the spring semester. Less than 24 hours laterperhaps worried Georgia would do the same thing to him that it did to his fellow man from TexasHines opted to bail on the Bulldogs.

    Over the next two years, Hines reportedly received offers from at least 90 different schools, and the Crystal Ball experts at 247Sports assumed all along he would choose Oklahoma.

    After all those offers, though, it was a gut-wrenching, 11th-hour decision between three schools: UCLA, TCU and Texas A&M. Hines said that less than two hours before announcing his commitment, he was still weighing the options.

    "It ultimately came down to my relationship with Coach [John] Chavis, the defensive coordinator," Hines wrote in a blog post for USA Today. "That's my guy! Plus they have a top business school there, and it was really a no-brainer in the end."

    Prediction: Texas A&M

18. Stanford Samuels III, CB

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    Stanford Samuels III
    Stanford Samuels IIIPhoto courtesy of

    High School: Charles W. Flanagan (Pembroke Pines, Florida)

    Size: 6'2", 170 lbs

    Shortly after cornerback Stanford Samuels III announced his commitment to Florida State this past June, Safid Deen of the Tallahassee Democrat summed up the lack of national surprise in that decision:

    "It was never a matter of 'if' for [Samuels]. It was only a matter of when. On Thursday, he made the inevitable official."

    That's because his father played at FSU from 1999 to 2003.

    Though he had Alabama, Georgia and Michigan alongside Florida State in his top four tweeted in April, the only program that might have been able to steal Samuels away from the Seminoles was Michigan, and that's because the Wolverines hired his former head coach as a "defensive analyst" in February.

    The ability to stay relatively close to home and follow in his dad's footsteps was more enticing than what any other school could offer, though.

    Prediction: Florida State

17. Lamont Wade, CB

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    Lamont Wade
    Lamont WadePhoto courtesy of

    High School: Clairton (Clairton, Pennsylvania)

    Size: 5'10 ½", 180 lbs

    For the first few years after the Jerry Sandusky scandal, Penn State understandably struggled to keep top guys in-state. Delvin Simmons and Ben Koyack went to Texas Tech and Notre Dame, respectively, in 2011. The following year, Noah Spence crossed enemy lines by signing with Ohio State while Rushel Shell remained closer to home in Pittsburgh. And in 2013, the Nittany Lions lost Robert Foster to Alabama and Patrick Kugler to Michigan.

    All told, the Keystone State produced six Top 30 guys in those three classes, and Penn State didn't get any of them.

    But the Nittany Lions have been back in business recently, signing the top recruit from PA in what is now three consecutive years after getting a commitment from one of the nation's top cornerbacks, Lamont Wade.

    Despite Penn State's improved in-state recruiting, Wade likely would have signed with Michigan had the Wolverines shown more of a desire to get him. He said on Twitter in August that Michigan was his dream school "until they told me I was a second-level player."

    That perceived slight kicked open the door for State College to get its man. Wade briefly scared the you-know-what out of Penn State fans in his December commitment press conference with the ol' bait-and-switch move, picking up the UCLA hat before tossing it aside in favor of the one James Franklin had worked for years to get on Wade's head.

    Prediction: Penn State

16. Wyatt Davis, OG

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    Wyatt Davis
    Wyatt DavisPhoto courtesy of

    High School: St. John Bosco (Bellflower, California)

    Size: 6'4", 310 lbs

    Ohio State usually does its recruiting in the Midwest and on the East Coast. Not one of last year's 25 signees came from a high school west of Illinois. The year before that, the Buckeyes got a couple of guys from west of the Mississippi, but each of their top 10 guys came from their recruiting wheelhouse closer to home. Over the past decade, 65 of their 66 Top 100 commits came from east of the Rockies.

    This year, though, Urban Meyer dipped his toe out west and came back with three Top 50 guys. Both Tate Martell (No. 27) and Haskell Garrett (No. 47) went to Bishop Gorman in Las Vegas, while the nation's top offensive guard, Wyatt Davis, will be moving to Columbus from just outside Los Angeles.

    In an interview with Sports Illustrated shortly after his commitment, Davis credited Garrett for relaying his interest to the Buckeyes coaching staff. Without that assist, they never would have come looking for him.

    "I was talking to Haskell and he immediately texted coach [Tim] Hinton and told me to give him a call," Davis said. "That's when I got the offer. ... A lot of the highly ranked dudes offensive line-wise are from [the Midwest], so they said they don't really need to do too much out-of-state recruiting. But they said when they heard I was interested, they were definitely excited."

    Prediction: Ohio State

15. Jeffrey Okudah, CB

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    Jeffrey Okudah
    Jeffrey OkudahPhoto courtesy of

    High School: South Grand Prairie (Grand Prairie, Texas)

    Size: 6'1", 190 lbs

    In April 2015, Baylor seemed like a clear front-runner to land cornerback Jeffrey Okudah.

    "I feel like every time I go down there I like it more and more," Okudah told Scout's Gabe Brooks after his fifth in-state visit to Waco. "That's what makes me keep coming back. When you go to Baylor, how they have it, they try to make you a better player but also a better man."

    By July 2016, though, the Bears weren't even among his top six. Instead, on the list were Clemson, Florida State, Georgia, Ohio State, Oklahoma and USC.

    After committing to the Buckeyes at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl in early January, he published a letter to his mother in the Players' Tribune, detailing the recruiting process he had been through and what led to his final decision:

    "Last June, Coach [Greg] Schiano at Ohio State said something that really stuck with me. In fact, I think it ultimately played a big part in my decision to go there. He told me, 'Jeff, you've had a tough life up to this point. It's time for some good things to happen to you.'"

    If he's anything like the other studs Ohio State has had in the secondary in recent years, good things are almost inevitable.

    Prediction: Ohio State

14. Dylan Moses, ILB

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    Dylan Moses
    Dylan MosesPhoto courtesy of

    High School: IMG Academy (Bradenton, Florida)

    Size: 6'2 ½", 235 lbs

    Had inside linebacker Dylan Moses started taking college courses when big-name schools first extended him offers, he'd be working on his doctorate by now.

    A native of Baton Rouge who regularly attended LSU football camps and would eventually play high school football with Les Miles' son, Moses received an offer from LSU in July 2012before his eighth-grade year. The following February, Nick Saban extended the eighth-grader a scholarship offer at Alabama. He eventually accepted LSU's offer in September 2013.

    But he decommitted from the Tigers in August 2015 and transferred to IMG Academy in Florida the following January, opening the door to any number of possibilities.

    Even though Moses had left the state of Louisiana and turned his back on the school once, LSU was still considered the favorite to acquire his services...right up until the Tigers fired Les Miles. Less than one week after that move, Moses opted to cash in the offer he had received from Saban more than three years prior.

    Moses is already on campus in Tuscaloosa, training for what could be a few awkward games against LSU over the next several years.

    Prediction: Alabama

13. Darnay Holmes, CB

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    Darnay Holmes
    Darnay HolmesPhoto courtesy of

    High School: Calabasas (Calabasas, California)

    Size: 5'10", 185 lbs

    Ohio State landed a bunch of 5-star guys this year, but the Buckeyes were unable to sign cornerback Darnay Holmesmuch to the adorable chagrin of his nephew.

    Coaches in Columbus probably felt like Holmes' nephew, as Max Olson of tweeted that Holmes was a "silent commit" to both Ohio State and USC before choosing UCLA.

    The levels of commitment on the recruiting scale can be a bit confusing, but silent commit falls somewhere between "soft verbal" and telling a reporter you had a good time on your official visit. Basically, Holmes told Ohio State and USC that he enjoyed dating them, and that if he had to decide to "go steady" at that moment, he would probably choose them.

    As he said during his commitment announcement, though, "At the end of the day, you have to always go where family is at and go where you're going to be taken care of." The Buckeyes and Trojans had plenty to offer, but they couldn't give the Pasadena native the family connection that UCLA could.

    He cemented his decision to sign with the Bruins in a commitment video for B/R.

    Prediction: UCLA

12. Chase Young, DE

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    Chase Young
    Chase YoungPhoto courtesy of

    High School: Dematha Catholic (Hyattsville, Maryland)

    Size: 6'5", 240 lbs

    For college football fans who live and die with recruiting news, life can come at you fast.

    In May 2016, 5-star defensive end Joshua Kaindoh was committed to Maryland and trying to convince fellow 5-star defensive end Chase Young to join him. Kaindoh began high school just outside Baltimore, and Young went to Dematha Catholic in Hyattsville, Maryland, so the Terps had a reasonable shot at landing both stud linemen.

    Defense has been a struggle for Maryland lately. You have to go back to 2010 to find the last time it limited opponents to fewer than 25 points per gamewhich is also the last time it won more than seven games in a season. But this was hope for the future for the Terrapins: a pair of defensive ends that could wreck opposing quarterbacks for the next four years.

    They ended up with neither, as Kaindoh decommitted in November before signing with Florida State. That news came a few months after Young committed to Ohio State.

    "I felt special," Young told Ari Wasserman of "I talked to coach [Larry] Johnson almost every day. I had the best relationship with him out of all the coaches in the recruiting process. It just felt right. Ohio State is my home."

    Young was not one of the nine early enrollees at Ohio State, but all signs point to his officially making Columbus his new home on national signing day.

    Prediction: Ohio State

11. Aubrey Solomon, DT

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    Aubrey Solomon
    Aubrey SolomonPhoto courtesy of

    High School: Lee County (Leesburg, Georgia)

    Size: 6'3", 304 lbs

    The relationship between the University of Michigan and defensive tackle Aubrey Solomon has been like something out of a reality dating show.

    Michigan wasn't even in Solomon's top five this past June when he canceled a visit to Alabama, hitched a ride to Ann Arbor with teammate Otis Reese and committed to Jim Harbaugh, breaking the news to his mother over the phone, according to's Tom VanHaaren.

    Two months later, Solomon decommitted because of a mailing snafu that you just know someone at Michigan got fired over.

    "A day or two ago, they sent my mom a card thanking us for going to the Michigan BBQ, but we never went," Solomon told Kipp Adams of 247Sports. "I do not know which recruit they were talking to, but it was not me. It was just a little heartbreaking, for me to supposedly be so high on their list, for them to confuse me with someone else. Plus they spelled both of my names wrong...I guess they do not have tabs on me."

    In November, he said Michigan was once again in the lead to get his commitment. In early January, he was caught on a Periscope video slamming Michigan. And then in mid-January, Solomon was seen riding in go-karts with Harbaugh.

    Through all the on-again, off-again drama with Michigan, Alabama has remained committed to getting him and now appears to be the favorite to do so. Michigan was the school he had some fun with, but Alabama is the one he's most likely to marry.

    Prediction: Alabama

10. Marvin Wilson, DT

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    Marvin Wilson
    Marvin WilsonPhoto courtesy of

    High School: Episcopal (Bellaire, Texas)

    Size: 6'4", 329 lbs

    When Charlie Strong was fired from Texas, he didn't stop recruiting the Lone Star State. If he could land defensive tackle Marvin Wilson, it would be one heck of a recruiting coup for South Florida, which has signed just one Top 100 recruit (No. 82 Quinton Flowers in 2014) in the 2010s.

    South Florida is arguably the least likely landing spot in Wilson's top fivewhich also includes Florida State, LSU, Ohio State and Oklahomabut just listing the Bulls as a finalist could do wonders for their recruiting in the next cycle or two.

    Wilson teased a possible commitment to Ohio State in mid-January, tweeting a picture of himself in a Buckeyes uniform with the Horseshoe as the backdrop, but he has yet to announce a decision. There are also photos out there of him in an LSU jersey and surrounded by people in Oklahoma jerseys with his No. 99 on them, so who's to say what any of those pictures mean?

    The Crystal Ball predictions at 247Sports lean in favor of LSU, but this looks like one that will go down to the wire without anyone feeling confident which hat Wilson will don.

    Ohio State has been doing work in Texas this year. The Buckeyes already have 5-star commitments from Jeffrey Okudah and Baron Browning, and Wilson might become the third.

    Prediction: Ohio State

9. Alex Leatherwood, OT

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    Alex Leatherwood
    Alex LeatherwoodPhoto courtesy of

    High School: Booker T. Washington (Pensacola, Florida)

    Size: 6'6", 315 lbs

    Any and all suspense surrounding offensive tackle Alex Leatherwood was put to rest when Alabama announced Jan. 20 he was among the early enrollees at the university, according to's Matt Zenitz.

    Until he got to Tuscaloosa, though, teams were beating down the door hoping to get him to flip.

    Leatherwood originally committed to Alabama in June 2015, but he kept things interesting by continuing to entertain other options. Scout's Chad Simmons reported that Leatherwood took unofficial visits to Auburn, Florida, Miami and USC over the summer. He followed those up with official visits to Michigan, Georgia, Auburn and Florida.

    According to Campus Insiders, in a tweet that has since been deleted, Leatherwood said after his visit to Michigan: "To be honest, my Michigan visit was, by far, the best visit I've ever been onbest fans and an amazing city. I'll definitely be back."

    Unless Alabama schedules a road game in the Big House, though, that "definite" return to Ann Arbor won't be anytime soon. We'll never know whether he truly considered those other schools or was just looking to use up all of his official visits for the fun of it. Either way, he stuck with his commitment to Saban.

    Prediction: Alabama

8. Stephen Carr, RB

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    Stephen Carr
    Stephen CarrPhoto courtesy of

    High School: Summit (Fontana, California)

    Size: 6'0", 200 lbs

    For what Scout calls a "soft commit," running back Stephen Carr sure has been tied to USC for a long time. He committed to the Trojans in March 2015, and while he has remained open to other recruiting pitches, that designation hasn't changed in 22 months.

    "It's been one of my favorite schools since I was younger," Carr told Lindsey Thiry of the Los Angeles Times. "Seeing Reggie Bush play as a running back and me wanting to be a running back, there was a lot of influence for me wanting to go there."

    The only other schools in the mix for Carr are Oregon and UCLAand the latter can't be that strong of a candidate if he never took an official visit there.

    Maybe Oregon can flip him the way USC flipped Oregon commit Vavae Malepeai on NSD last year, but all signs point to Carr's signing with the Trojans.

    Prediction: USC

7. Devon Hunter, S

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    Devon Hunter
    Devon HunterPhoto courtesy of

    High School: Indian River (Chesapeake, Virginia)

    Size: 6'1", 206 lbs

    Though safety Devon Hunter played high school ball more than 300 miles away from Blacksburg, it had long been assumed he would eventually sign with in-state Virginia Tech.

    In June 2016, Hunter trimmed his list to 11 schools with VT as one of those candidates. By October, he was down to his final fiveAlabama, Auburn, Florida, North Carolina and Virginia Tech. So when he said in November that he would be announcing his commitment on Christmas Eve, Hokie Nation started looking forward to what they hoped would be an awesome gift for the holidays.

    When he later decided to push back his announcement to "sometime in January," though, Virginia Tech fans started getting nervous. Worse yet, it turned out the delay was so he could take an official visit to Florida in mid-January, telling Scout's Michael Clark on Jan. 16: "The visit really helped Florida. They're a huge contender against the rest of my top schools."

    Despite that late push from the Gators, Hunter committed to Justin Fuente and Virginia Tech on Jan. 20. Assuming he stands by that commitment on national signing day, he'll become the first Top 99 signing for the Hokies since 2013.

    Prediction: Virginia Tech

6. Davis Mills, QB

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    Davis Mills
    Davis MillsPhoto courtesy of

    High School: Greater Atlanta Christian (Norcross, Georgia)

    Size: 6'2 ½", 188 lbs

    It wasn't until this past summer that Davis Mills ascended to the top of the 2017 QB rankings. As his high school coach Tim Hardy acutely summed up, though, Mills has the type of game that grows on you over time.

    "In a highlight generation, people are looking for something to pop off the film," Hardy told Will Hammock of the Gwinnett Daily Post. "But he's the kind of guy if you watch him five minutes, you'll like him. If you watch him two hours, you'll love him."

    A lot of schools liked him early in his high school career, but a ton of schools fell in love with him by the time he was a senior.

    Jim Harbaugh and Michigan came calling before Mills' junior year. In-state favorite Georgia finally got around to offering him last February. When he made his decision, Mills held at least 30 offers. But it was only a school on the opposite coast that was able to offer an important one-two punch to him.

    "It was a combination of both academics and football," Mills told Hammock. "[Stanford was] top-five in the nation in both last year. It's a place to set me up for [the] rest of my life if football doesn't work out. It's more a 40-year decision than just a four-year plan."

    An elite pro-style QB committed to the Cardinal, Mills will draw comparisons to Andrew Luck.

    Prediction: Stanford

5. Jaelan Phillips, DE

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    Jaelan Phillips
    Jaelan PhillipsPhoto courtesy of

    High School: Redlands East Valley (Redlands, California)

    Size: 6'6", 250 lbs

    Most of these guys have been getting offers since before they even started using deodorant, but defensive end Jaelan Phillips was a late bloomer who didn't know much about the whole recruiting process.

    "Friends started to have recruiting pages appear on Rivals," Chris Hummer wrote for 247Sports. "All the while, Phillips wondered how they got them. 'I would always look for my name hoping it'd pop up,' Phillips said."

    It wasn't until after a growth spurt, a change of position and a trip to a satellite camp that colleges finally saw his potential and began to drool over it. The anonymous 6'1" freshman wide receiver didn't strike anyone's fancy, but the 6'5" (eventually 6'6") sophomore linebacker and edge-rusher turned a lot of heads on the West Coast.

    The summer before his junior year, Washington was the first school to offer Phillips. By the time he committed to UCLA the following spring, just about every school in the country wanted him.

    "I've been around UCLA my whole life," Phillips told Hummer. "I just feel comfortable with the team, and being around the team. For what I want to do, be a sports broadcaster, the L.A. media market is one of the best in the country. I also want to be able to be a part of something new, go in and make an immediate impact and turn things around."

    Prediction: UCLA

4. Walker Little, OT

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    Walker Little
    Walker LittlePhoto courtesy of

    High School: Episcopal (Bellaire, Texas)

    Size: 6'8", 305 lbs

    For most of 2015 and 2016, Texas seemed like the heavy favorite to sign offensive tackle Walker Little. The Longhorns were the first school to offer the in-state stud the spring before his junior year and made him their top target for the next two years.

    "I felt good about [Texas] from the beginning," Little told Scout's Greg Powers this past September. "Coach [Charlie] Strong is one of the head coaches that I have one of the best relationships with. I think he is a great coach, and I really think he is a great guy and he really cares for his players. I think they respond to that, and they have been playing really hard for him."

    Once it became clear Strong's tenure in Austin was coming to an end, though, Stanford moved to the head of the class. Try as he might to convince Little to stay a little closer to home, new Texas head coach Tom Herman was unsuccessful in his recruiting pitch.

    Between Little and Foster Sarell, Stanford should have outstanding protection from its tackles over the next several years.

    Prediction: Stanford

3. Cam Akers, RB

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    Cam Akers
    Cam AkersPhoto courtesy of

    High School: Clinton (Clinton, Mississippi)

    Size: 5'11", 212 lbs

    When running back Cam Akers committed to Alabama in August 2015, the Crimson Tide had already signed Najee Harris. Nick Saban is no stranger to having multiple gifted rushers on the roster at the same time, but it was a bit of a strange decision. Thus, as Akers continued to climb in the recruiting rankings and it became clear he might be good enough to start as a true freshman, it wasn't surprising he decommitted from Alabama in March 2016.

    From there, the race to acquire his services was on.

    Akers remained open to Alabama as an option, listing the Crimson Tide in his top 10 in May 2016. Over the next seven months, it was anyone's guess where he would land. In early December, Akers told Will Sammon of the Clarion-Ledger that he finally had a top three in mind, but he wasn't telling. (Most assumed the three were Florida State, LSU and Ole Miss, but Ohio State and Tennessee were heavily in the mix as well.)

    After hearing all the recruiting pitches, it might have been a draft declaration that ultimately led to his selection of Florida State.

    "I know with Dalvin [Cook] leaving, the starting spot will be up for my grabs in my eyes," Akers told Hugh Kellenberger and Tyler Cleveland of the Clarion-Ledger. "I'm going to work and go get it."

    Prediction: Florida State

2. Foster Sarell, OT

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    Foster Sarell
    Foster SarellPhoto courtesy of

    High School: Graham Kapowsin (Graham, Washington)

    Size: 6'6", 300 lbs

    If proximity to hometown and recent success of a college program mean anything in the recruiting process, one would think Washington would've been the runaway favorite to sign offensive tackle Foster Sarell.

    The Crystal Ball at 247Sports concurs with that assessment. For the entirety of his high school career, Sarell was expected to sign with the Huskies.

    When the Huskies first offered Sarell in October 2013, they were still working their way back to relevance following the Tyrone Willingham era. But by the time Sarell made his decision this January, the in-state Huskies were College Football Playoff semifinalists.

    Colin Becht of Sports Illustrated noted in May 2016 that academics are important to Sarell and his family, so that may have played a huge role in his decision to commit to Stanford during the U.S. Army All-American Bowl. Another potential factor in his decision: Stanford has had an offensive tackle selected in four of the past five NFL drafts, including 2015 No. 13 overall pick Andrus Peat.

    Prediction: Stanford

1. Najee Harris, RB

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    Najee Harris
    Najee HarrisPhoto courtesy of

    High School: Antioch (Antioch, California)

    Size: 6'3", 225 lbs

    If there's anything you ever wanted to know about stud running back Najee Harris, Ron Kroichick of the San Francisco Chronicle has you covered. "The Najee Chronicles" published in August 2016 might be the most detailed biography ever written about a high schooler.

    The only thing it didn't have was a firm projection of where Harris would sign since no one knew.

    He verbally committed to Alabama as a sophomore in April 2015, but that was far from the end of his recruitment. Jim Harbaugh and Urban Meyer did everything they could to convince the California kid to come to the Midwest. In-state USC, UCLA and California prayed their proximity would keep him from going all the way to Tuscaloosa.

    Throughout the whole process, Harris remained focused on today instead of tomorrow. He told Kroichick: "I tell coaches not to bother me that much. Let me enjoy the process. ... I'm going to Antioch [High School]."

    According to a Steven Lorenz report for the Detroit Free Press, even days before arriving at Alabama for good, Harris said before the U.S. Army All-American Bowl: "I haven't been worrying about [the decision]. I'm here to compete. My focus is on the [Army] game."

    But tomorrow has become today, and Harris is currently at Alabama as an early enrollee, sticking with the commitment he made nearly two years ago.

    Prediction: Alabama

    All rankings and recruiting information courtesy of unless otherwise noted.

    Kerry Miller covers college basketball and college football for Bleacher Report. You can follow him on Twitter: @kerrancejames.


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