National Signing Day 2020: Every Top 10 Team's Most Important Recruit
Coaches and fans alike hope a recruiting class is stacked with future contributors, but one prospect always claims the most attention on national signing day.
Of the Top 10 teams from 2019, each has a specific incoming player with an opportunity to fill a position of need quickly or become a key long-term piece.
While we considered top-rated prospects and potential immediate-impact guys in the lead-up to Wednesday's signing day, quarterbacks often take precedence. Even if they're not expected to start for a season or two, they play the sport's most important position.
The ranking is based on the postseason AP Top 25.
10. Minnesota Golden Gophers: WR Daniel Jackson
Player ranking: No. 305 overall (No. 51 WR)
Tyler Johnson posted back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons but used up his eligibility. The Gophers return Rashod Bateman, but he's a candidate to head to the NFL after 2020. Chris Autman-Bell and Demetrius Douglas are only the other contributors at receiver.
Upon his arrival in the summer, Jackson has a clear opportunity to earn a place in the rotation.
9. Penn State Nittany Lions: WR KeAndre Lambert
Player ranking: No. 204 overall (No. 35 WR)
Minnesota lost offensive coordinator Kirk Ciarrocca to Penn State, which faces an even tougher outlook at receiver.
Leading target K.J. Hamler declared for the NFL draft, and former 5-star prospect Justin Shorter transferred to Florida. Jahan Dotson is the only returning wideout who caught at least 10 passes last season; the others are running backs or a tight end.
KeAndre Lambert, meanwhile, enrolled early. While his path to a starting job is crowded, the near-absence of established production will put Lambert and fellow 4-star Jaden Dottin (No. 295 overall, No. 47 WR) in the competition for a reserve spot immediately.
8. Alabama Crimson Tide: QB Bryce Young
Player ranking: No. 2 overall (No. 1 dual-threat QB)
Mac Jones might be Alabama's starter in 2020, replacing a record-setting quarterback and likely top-five NFL draft pick in Tua Tagovailoa.
But if anyone upends Jones in the competition, it'll probably be 5-star early enrollee Bryce Young.
As a senior at California powerhouse Mater Dei, he amassed 4,528 passing yards, 58 touchdowns and six interceptions with 357 rushing yards and 10 scores. Young had two other seasons with at least 3,700 offensive yards and 43 touchdowns too.
Expectations should be tempered, especially since Jones performed well in his late-season starts. Young, nevertheless, is the expected long-term answer for the Crimson Tide.
7. Oklahoma Sooners: S Bryson Washington
Player ranking: No. 213 overall (No. 20 S)
Oklahoma is losing three senior interior linemen in Neville Gallimore, Marquise Overton and Dillon Faamatau, so 4-star defensive tackle Perrion Winfrey (No. 1 JUCO recruit) deserves a nod. However, the Sooners' lack of usable depth in the secondary crushed them against LSU in the Peach Bowl.
Defensive coordinator Alex Grinch is hoping Bryson Washington, an early enrollee, can provide assistance at safety.
"Bryson's one of those guys that we really think possess both [speed and length]," Grinch said, per Ryan Aber of The Oklahoman. "Certainly moves and plays the way we'd like him to."
6. Florida Gators: DT Gervon Dexter
Player ranking: No. 12 overall (No. 3 DT)
Despite the temptation to pick Jeremy Crawshaw—respect your punters!—we're not passing up a 5-star talent at defensive tackle.
Gervon Dexter is a top-20 player nationally and helps address a position of need for the Gators. Florida has a reasonable outlook in 2020 but will graduate three seniors on the D-line. Other than Elijah Conliffe, who'll be a junior, every other defensive tackle is a freshman.
Dexter can soon become a pivotal piece of a Florida defense trying to reclaim a place among the top units annually.
5. Oregon Ducks: LB Justin Flowe
Player ranking: No. 5 overall (No. 1 ILB)
For the second straight year, Mario Cristobal and Co. went into Los Angeles and swiped California's top prospect. In 2019, the Ducks grabbed Kayvon Thibodeaux. He proceeded to collect a team-high 14 tackles for loss and nine sacks as a freshman.
Taking advantage of recruiting-rich California while USC and UCLA struggle is key to Oregon staying atop the Pac-12.
4. Georgia Bulldogs: CB Kelee Ringo
Player ranking: No. 6 overall (No. 1 CB)
Although pass-rushers are valued highly, elite defenses can be built from the secondary. Georgia is a perfect example of this growing trend, ranking second in yards allowed per play last season despite finishing 89th in tackles for loss per game.
Kelee Ringo has tremendous upside, but his opportunity should come relatively early too. The Dawgs will lose D.J. Daniel and Mark Webb—plus star safety Richard LeCounte—after 2020 to graduation, and both Eric Stokes and Tyson Campbell will likely entertain a leap to the NFL draft.
By 2021, Georgia may be relying on rising sophomore Tyrique Stevenson and Ringo to be cornerstones of a top-level defense.
3. Ohio State Buckeyes: QB CJ Stroud
Player ranking: No. 66 overall (No. 2 pro-style QB)
Justin Fields is a tremendous quarterback. However, he's likely to declare for the 2021 NFL draft, and Gunnar Hoak will exhaust his eligibility.
So, then what?
Last season, Stroud passed for 3,878 yards and 47 touchdowns with nine interceptions. He chipped in 130 yards and four scores as a runner for Rancho Cucamonga in California.
2. Clemson Tigers: QB D.J. Uiagalelei
Player ranking: No. 10 overall (No. 1 pro-style QB)
Replace "Justin Fields" with "Trevor Lawrence" and the outlook is the same at Clemson. The five-time reigning ACC champions have an NFL-bound talent and a looming competition in 2021.
DJ Uiagalelei will attempt to secure the backup job immediately. Though his competition is a returning player, Taisun Phommachanh redshirted last season behind backup Chase Brice. Phommachanh has a year in the system, but his experience edge is minimal.
Clemson's trio of 5-star defenders merit a nod, but Uiagalelei could take the proverbial torch from Lawrence.
That's an enormous responsibility.
1. LSU Tigers: WR Kayshon Boutte
Player ranking: No. 24 overall (No. 2 WR)
During the early signing period, 5-star Rakim Jarrett and 4-star Jermaine Burton decommitted from LSU. Those decisions preceded Justin Jefferson's declaration for the 2020 NFL draft. LSU suddenly needs depth at receiver, especially with Ja'Marr Chase and Terrace Marshall Jr. being potential NFL departures next offseason.
The arrival of Kayshon Boutte eases some of the concerns.
As a senior, the 5-star caught 47 passes for 1,005 yards and 15 touchdowns while running for 874 yards and 12 scores.
Boutte, the top-rated talent from the state of Louisiana, has a path to playing time in 2020 as Jefferson's replacement. Within two years, though, LSU may be leaning on Boutte as the No. 1 option.