February National Signing Day Has Lost Its Charm but Still Offers 5-Star Drama

David KenyonFeatured ColumnistJanuary 28, 2020

Jordan Burch
Jordan BurchCredit: Andrew Ivins, 247Sports

If your favorite college football team is still trying to work on the core of the 2020 recruiting class, it's a problem. That's the new reality of February's traditional national signing day.

The three-day early signing period, which debuted in December 2017, has transitioned into the time a strong majority of prospects send in their national letters of intent. And, as a result, only a small percentage now remain unsigned.

Gone are the sunrise-to-sunset coverage marathons on television. Commitment videos are a much smaller piece of the recruiting world. The first Wednesday of February has a much different feel.

We're not trying to pretend a day of nonstop action is about to happen. But there are plenty of exciting twists, turns, surprises and flips to come.

This year, it starts with Jordan Burch.

The 5-star defensive linemanwho is considered the seventh-best prospect in the classis currently committed to South Carolina. Burch announced that decision in December, choosing the local program over Clemson, LSU, Georgia and Alabama. 

However, he chose not to submit a letter of intent. Burch said he wanted to sign in February with his teammates, according to Josh Bean of AL.com.

"I don't really think it will change," Burch said, per Bean. "I'm in Columbia. It's right down the street."

But if you've followed recruiting, you know a simple rule: It's not over until the paperwork says so.

Burch recently took an unofficial visit to LSU, per Tony Morrell of 247Sports, and is slated for his official trip to South Carolina on this final weekend before NSD. Perhaps his school of choice won't change, but it's undoubtedly a possibility.

LSU, after all, recently won the national championship. It's not shocking to say a national title is rather appealing.

Remember when we mentioned a recruitment ends with signed paperwork? Well, there are rare exceptions. The 2020 cycle includes one of those outliers in Zachary Evans.

The nation's No. 11 prospect quietly signed with Georgia and was expected to publicly reveal that during the Under Armour All-America Game. Instead, he apologized for an unreported incident, and Georgia released him from the letter of intent.

Evans has since visited Ole Miss and Tennessee, adding to previous official trips to LSU and Texas A&M. Georgia remains in the running.

His next announcement isn't so simple, though.

According to NLI, only one letter of intent may be signed annually. Evans could ink a financial aid agreement, but there's no limit on those. Although he may reveal a commitment on NSDand he's eligible to play in 2020 despite the NLI releasethat decision might not be official until he enrolls.

Broderick Jones' recruitment isn't nearly as dramatic, but the 5-star offensive tackle has several fanbases waiting anxiously.

Though verbally pledged to Georgia since April 2018, he decided not to sign during the early period. In January alone, Jones has officially visited Arkansas, Illinois and Georgia with a trip to Auburn scheduled. That's where it could get interesting.

"Last one sets the tone, that's all I can say," Jones, the cycle's No. 14 prospect, told Keith Niebuhr of 247Sports about that final official visit.

Losing a 5-star player is never a positive. Failing to sign one who'd been committed for 21 months would be crushing.

Beyond the highest-rated prospects, there's plenty of intrigue.

Four-star safety Avantae Williams unofficially tied himself to Oregon in December 2018, stuck with the Ducks through the season and visited the school in November. Yet he backed off the pledge shortly before the early signing period. Florida and Miami are the apparent finalists after Williams canceled a trip to Georgia, per Andrew Ivins of 247Sports.

Defensive tackles Alfred Collins (No. 64 overall) and McKinnley Jackson (No. 94) remain uncommitted.

Three top-125 prospectsrunning back Jahmyr Gibbs (Georgia Tech), center Sedrick Van Pran (Georgia) and wideout Malachi Wideman (Florida State)have been committed since at least August 2019. While they may ultimately sign with the schools they are committed to, they're all entertaining other options.

Twenty-some other 4-stars are uncommitted or unsigned. Last-minute flips can, and likely will, happen.

It's a simple fact that December has surpassed February in importance on college football's recruiting calendar. No reasonable person would argue it. But even the reduced amount of drama makes an unmistakable impact on the future of the sport.

            

All recruiting information via 247Sports. Stats from NCAA.com, cfbstats.com or B/R research. Follow Bleacher Report CFB Writer David Kenyon on Twitter @Kenyon19_BR.

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