Early National Signing Day 2021: CFB Recruit Announcement Schedule, Predictions

Kristopher Knox@@kris_knoxFeatured ColumnistDecember 15, 2021

Early National Signing Day 2021: CFB Recruit Announcement Schedule, Predictions

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    Ashley Landis/Associated Press

    The college football recruiting process has changed significantly in recent years. While official announcements have long made for prime sports-television programming, the attention has moved from the national signing day in February to the early signing period in December.

    This year's early signing period for Division 1 will open on Wednesday and runs through Friday.

    Expect many, if not the vast majority, of the top high school recruits in the country to make their official announcements in the coming days.

    Of the top 20 recruits, according to 247Sports, 15 have already committed. Some may wait until February, but we should have a good idea of how the top recruiting classes shape up by the end of the week.

    Here's everything you need to know about the 2021 early signing period.


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    This year's recruiting process has been even more unusual than those in past years for a couple of reasons.

    Teams and recruits had to work around a dead period because of the COVID-19 pandemic. This meant the student-athletes had to wait until June to visit campuses and view facilities. The large surge of commitments we've seen in past summers didn't happen.

    Recruits did get opportunities to make visits during the season, though, taking in rivalry games and getting a feel for the college gameday process.

    "Storming the field was crazy and seeing the celebration in the locker room were the highlights of the game for me," three-star defensive end Ethan Burke said while visiting with the Wolverines for Ohio State-Michigan, per Steve Wiltfong of 247Sports.

    Of course, we've also seen several players decommit in recent weeks, with coaching changes occurring around the country. Brian Kelly, for example, jumped ship from Notre Dame to LSU, while Lincoln Riley left Oklahoma for USC.

    2023 quarterback recruit Malachi Nelson decommited from Oklahoma following Riley's departure and explained that the coaching change had a lot to do with his decision.

    "One of the things that attracted me most to OU, other than the rich history and amazing fans, was the stability in the coaching staff and their ability to develop the QB position," he wrote in a Twitter post (h/t ESPN's Tom VanHaaren).

    All of this means there are still some top-ranked undecided players, and that drama will unfold this week.

Announcement Schedule Highlights and Predictions

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    4-star DL Quency Wiggins (No. 92)

    Decision: Wednesday at 10 a.m. ET

    Considering: Alabama, Florida, LSU

    Prediction: LSU


    4-star WR Samuel Mbake (No. 298)

    Decision: Wednesday at 12 p.m. ET

    Considering: Arkansas, Mississippi State, Mississippi

    Prediction: Mississippi


    4-star DL Nyjalik Kelly (No. 84)

    Decision: Wednesday at 2 p.m. ET

    Considering: Florida State, Miami, Oregon

    Prediction: Miami


    4-star WR Shazz Preston (No. 43)

    Decision: Wednesday at 3 p.m. ET

    Considering: Alabama, Georgia, LSU, Texas

    Prediction: Alabama


    5-star S Kamari Wilson (No. 28)

    Decision: Wednesday at 4 p.m. ET

    Considering: Florida State, Georgia, LSU, Texas A&M

    Prediction: Georgia


    4-star OL Kam Dewberry (No. 91)

    Decision: Wednesday at 4 p.m. ET

    Considering: Oklahoma, Texas, Texas A&M

    Prediction: Texas A&M


    4-star DE DJ Wesolak (No. 194)

    Decision: Wednesday at 4:30 p.m. ET

    Considering: Alabama, Georgia, Missouri, North Carolina, Oregon, Penn State, USC

    Prediction: Georgia


    4-star DL Anthony Lucas (No. 50)

    Decision: Wednesday at 4:30 p.m. ET

    Considering: Alabama, LSU, Notre Dame, Texas A&M, UCLA

    Prediction: Texas A&M


    4-star Edge Enai White (No. 37)

    Decision: Wednesday at 5 p.m. ET

    Considering: Texas A&M, Ohio State, Alabama, Georgia

    Prediction: Texas A&M


    5-star CB Domani Jackson (No. 7)

    Decision: Friday at 12:30 p.m. ET

    Considering: Alabama, USC

    Prediction: USC


    *Schedule and rankings from 247Sports.


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    One interesting aspect of the early signing period is the fact that it occurs before the College Football Playoff. There's a certain allure to playing for the defending national champions—or at least the runner-up—and recruits committing before the national signing day in February won't know who that will be.

    They will know Alabama quarterback Bryce Young just won the Heisman Trophy and the Crimson Tide has had back-to-back Heisman-winners. Considering that the last five Heisman winners have all been drafted in the first round—three of them at No. 1 overall—that should carry a lot of weight for recruits with one eye on a pro playing career.

    It doesn't hurt that Alabama head coach Nick Saban has seven national championships on his resume. Unsurprisingly, his team is expected to have one of the top recruiting classes in the 2022 cycle, as ranked by 247Sports.

    Only Georgia's class is ranked higher, while Texas A&M, Ohio State and Penn State round out the top five.

    LSU currently falls outside of the top 25, but it will be interesting to see that improves now that Kelly is leading the program. His Notre Dame team just missed out on the College Football Playoff, and he has helped send several players to the NFL, including 2022 second-round pick Liam Eichenberg.

    Riley could have a similar impact on the USC recruiting class. Southern California has struggled to land top recruits in recent years, but the 38-year-old is a well-respected coach who seems to have a knack for sending players to the pros.

    Three of Riley's recent quarterbacks—Baker Mayfield, Kyler Murray and Jalen Hurts—are currently holding down jobs as NFL quarterbacks.

    The picture won't become fully clear until February, of course, but we're going to learn a lot in the next few days.