National Signing Day 2021: News and Predictions for Top Available Recruits
It may only be mid-January, but many of the top high school football players around the country have not only committed to a college, but they've also already signed with their future school.
In recent years, most recruits have capitalized on doing this during the early signing period, which occurs in mid-December.
The traditional National Signing Day still takes place, with this year's event set for Feb. 3, but it's become a less important date with so many players having already signed by then.
That's not to say there aren't still some talented unsigned high school players available, including some who have yet to commit to a school. So, many of the top college programs are still pushing to land these remaining recruits and put the finishing touches on their 2021 classes.
Here's some of the latest buzz surrounding several available recruits, along with predictions for where each will end up when National Signing Day arrives next month.
Can Ohio State Secure 5-Star DE Tuimoloau?
There's only one 5-star recruit in the 2021 class who has yet to commit. That's defensive end J.T. Tuimoloau, who attends Eastside Catholic School in Sammamish, Wash., and is the No. 3 overall player in the class, per the 247Sports composite rankings.
There are five schools still in the running for Tuimoloau: Alabama, Ohio State, Oregon, USC and Washington. The Huskies were the first program to give him an offer, and they're the only school on his list that would keep him in-state.
However, it's been predicted that Tuimoloau is most likely to head to Ohio State, as the 247Sports Crystal Ball gives the Buckeyes a 92 percent chance to land the talented pass-rusher, with Washington second at 8 percent.
Some of the other schools in his top five may still be in the picture, though, according to Adam Gorney of Rivals.com.
"There have been some whispers that the Ducks and the Crimson Tide could be battling it out for his services and that the Buckeyes could be slipping, but others believe Ohio State is still very much in the picture," he wrote.
Ohio State currently has the No. 2-ranked 2021 class in the country, per the 247Sports composite team rankings, and Tuimoloau could immediately become a top pass-rusher for the Buckeyes, who are poised to be the top team in the Big Ten and a College Football Playoff contender again next season.
And in the end, that will end up swaying him to Ohio State, giving it another top player in its 2021 class.
Prediction: Tuimoloau signs with Ohio State
Texas, Texas A&M Battling for 4-Star RB Johnson
It appears to be a two-school race to land LJ Johnson, a 4-star running back out of Cy-Fair High School in Cypress, Texas. And either way, he'd be staying in-state, as Texas and Texas A&M are the programs most likely to earn his commitment and add him to its team.
The 247Sports Crystal Ball gives the Longhorns the advantage to land Johnson at 53 percent, but it's a close race with the Aggies at 47 percent.
And according to Gorney, it may be Texas A&M that is in a solid position to acquire Johnson.
"The feeling is that Texas A&M is the team to beat for the Cypress (Texas) Fairbanks star running back," he wrote. "The program is in great shape, the scheme fits Johnson's style and there is stability in the coaching staff."
Although Texas recently underwent a coaching change, that could end up working in the Longhorns' favor. They hired Steve Sarkisian, who is coming off two successful seasons as Alabama's offensive coordinator.
And after the Crimson Tide won the CFP National Championship on Monday, it's possible top offensive recruits such as Johnson would want to go play for the 46-year-old at Texas.
So, while Texas A&M is a strong option, the prediction here is that Sarkisian will give Texas the boost it needs to add another talented offensive player to its 2021 class.
Prediction: Johnson signs with Texas
Will USC Land 4-Star LB Davis and Keep Him In-State?
There's a strong chance USC will soon get a defensive boost to its 2021 recruiting class. 4-star linebacker Raesjon Davis, who is coming out of Mater Dei High School in Santa Ana, Calif., could be staying in-state to play for the Trojans, who the 247Sports Crystal Ball gives a 100 percent chance of landing him.
Things can change quickly on the recruiting trail, though, and Davis is still also considering LSU, Ohio State and Oregon. He was once committed to LSU, making that decision on Jan. 1, 2020 but decommitted on Dec. 21. And since then, the buzz has been that he is likely joining the Trojans.
"I like USC a lot right now," Davis recently said, according to Greg Biggins of 247Sports.com. "I know everyone is saying I’m a lock to go there right now but honestly, I haven't made a final decision yet."
Davis isn't going to commit before National Signing Day, and he said he's likely to use the time leading up to then to make his decision (per Biggins). As of Jan. 6, he had visited three of the schools in his top four, but he still wanted to take a trip to Ohio State, the only one he hadn't visited.
However, it seems unlikely to make a difference. It will be too enticing to stay close to home and play for USC, one of the top programs in the Pac-12.
Prediction: Davis signs with USC