National Signing Day 2021: Predictions for Top Recruits After CFP Championship

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistJanuary 12, 2021

National Signing Day 2021: Predictions for Top Recruits After CFP Championship

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    Wilfredo Lee/Associated Press

    The Alabama Crimson Tide and Ohio State Buckeyes are set to send their best players to the 2021 NFL draft. 

    Losing DeVonta Smith, Justin Fields and others may hurt other programs, but the two CFP National Championship participants will just fill their positions with top-rated recruits. 

    Alabama and Ohio State have signed five of the top 10 recruits in the class of 2021, and the Buckeyes are the favorite to land the signature of the top unsigned high school football player. 

    The majority of the class of 2021 locked into their futures during the December signing day or in early January during the Army All-American Bowl. 

    Defensive end J.T. Tuimoloau and running back LJ Johnson are the only top-40 players who have not committed yet. Some of the biggest programs in the FBS are favored to win their recruitment. 

J.T. Tuimoloau, DE, Eastside Catholic (Sammamish, WA)

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    Chris O'Meara/Associated Press

    Tuimoloau's recruitment is the classic case of a west-coast prospect deciding between one of the traditional powers or staying home in the Pac-12. 

    Ohio State and Washington are the two top candidates to sign the defensive end, who is the No. 3 overall prospect and No. 2 defensive end, per 247 Sports

    The top-rated defensive end, Korey Foreman, ended up staying on the west coast with the USC Trojans. He was courted by Alabama, the Clemson Tigers and most of the other top FBS programs. 

    The intrigue of Ohio State for a defensive end is the amount of pro prospects it has turned out at the position in the last five years. 

    Chase Young, Nick Bosa and Joey Bosa were all high first-round picks and seven other interior linemen were drafted out of the Big Ten program in the last five years. 

    If he lands in Columbus, the Buckeyes would have two of the top-four prospects in their recruiting class, which is something Alabama and Clemson can't boast. 

    Ohio State would come up one five-star player short of matching Alabama's total, but it would put it in great shape on the defensive side of the ball.

    Washington still has a chance to sign Tuimoloau until he puts pen to paper, but the Huskies are currently given a small chance to sign their home-state prospect. 

    If Jimmy Lake's staff landed Tuimoloau, it may put Washington into the top 30 of the team rankings. The Huskies are currently 33rd with one five-star recruit. 

    Prediction: Ohio State lands Tuimoloau

LJ Johnson, RB, Cy-Fair (Cypress, TX)

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    Lynne Sladky/Associated Press

    Johnson's recruitment took a twist when the Texas Longhorns fired Tom Herman and hired Alabama offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian as head coach. 

    Alabama's use of Najee Harris in the CFP National Championship should intrigue any of Texas' running back prospects. 

    However, Johnson would not be guaranteed to start anytime soon, with Bijan Robinson expected to carry most of the backfield load as a sophomore. 

    The Texas A&M Aggies also have a loaded running back depth chart, led by Isaiah Spiller and Devon Achane, who broke out in the Orange Bowl win over the North Carolina Tar Heels. 

    Although Johnson will face a difficult path to playing right away, he could feel confident about the willingness of both programs to call on their young talent. 

    If winning a national championship is one of Johnson's primary goals, Texas A&M presents the better situation, even though Alabama resides in the same division.

    Jimbo Fisher put together another top-10 recruiting class, and the Aggies should be a top-five or top-10 team entering the 2021 season. 

    Texas could be in a position to win the Big 12 during the Sarkisian era, but it may take the Longhorns a year or two to acclimate to his system and challenge the Oklahoma Sooners. 

    No matter which school he chooses, Johnson will be able to stay in state, which is also an important factor for the top two programs in Texas. He would be the seventh top-20 player in Texas to sign with either the Aggies or Longhorns.

    Prediction: Johnson signs with Texas A&M.

            

    Recruiting information obtained from 247Sports.