January 31, 2006

Signing day surprises?

Signing Day begins in a few short hours and college coaches everywhere will be watching the office fax machines intently. The one thing you can expect on Signing Day is the unexpected, so will there be any huge surprises?

The biggest name yet to commit is Birmingham (Ala.) Huffman offensive lineman Andre Smith, who has been linked to Alabama for months. However, there have been rumblings that LSU or Southern Cal could sneak in here and the Trojans have many folks in Alabama scared. The guess here is still that the home school wins out, but this will be one to watch.

Oklahoma City (Okla.) Southeast defensive tackle Gerald McCoy shouldn't surprise anyone on Signing Day when he chooses Oklahoma, but both wide receiver Vidal Hazelton and running back C.J. Spiller have tough decisions to make. Hazelton, originally from Brooklyn, N.Y., is torn between Penn State and Southern Cal (the team he committed to in December) and could come down to the last minute before he signs with either. Spiller, from Lake Butler (Fla.) Union County, has long been considered a Florida State lean but Florida has elbowed their way into this race and have quickly become the team to beat. Clemson is also in the mix. In the end I think Hazelton sticks with Southern Cal and Spiller heads to Florida in tough decisions, but both could go either way.

Defensive back Reshad Jones from Atlanta is expected to choose between Georgia and LSU with the Dawgs taking the lead this past weekend. Look for Jones to stay home in a close race.

A couple other five-star studs might make a few people anxious as they await their Letter of Intent. Defensive end Ricky Sapp has been linked with Florida State and lately South Carolina and those rumors won't stop until he signs with Clemson, the team he's been committed to for awhile. Both are expected to stick with their original choices, but if there's to be a change of commitment from a big-time player beyond Hazelton, it could be Sapp.

Others in the top 100 that are expected to wait until Signing Day include offensive lineman Daron Rose from Florida, tight end Jermaine Gresham from Oklahoma, defensive back Jonas Mouton from California and running back Knowshon Moreno of New Jersey. Expect Rose to pick Florida State despite a strong push by South Carolina, Gresham to stay home and play for Oklahoma, Mouton to pick Southern Cal after the Trojans got back in with a huge push and Moreno to become a Georgia Bulldog.

The prep school ranks boast three top players that will have a huge effect on rankings as well. Running back LeSean McCoy from Milford Academy in New York is expected to sign with either Penn State or Miami and Hargave Military running back Keiland Williams will sign with LSU or Southern Cal. Williams is currently committed to the Tigers. Defensive end Melvin Alaeze has said he'll sign with Maryland but he's not sure when and said if he waits he might consider Penn State or Southern Cal.

And, as always, the Percy Harvin rumors abound. The nation's No. 1 player is committed to Florida but there are rumors that Southern Cal could steal him away. USC couldn't get into Harvin's house for an in-home visit, but they did get to speak to him at school a couple of weeks ago and make their final pitch. Harvin is expected to stick with Florida, but Signing Day can always bring huge surprises.

Plenty of other recruits will wait until Signing Day to announce their decisions, but the big question is how will these affect the team rankings?

The Gators will try to hang onto the top spot and hope Spiller and offensive lineman Orlando Franklin as well as running back Mon Williams can keep them on top. Southern Cal is hoping to pull a huge upset with Smith and land Mouton, something that could push them to their third straight recruiting title. But right now things look good for the Gators.

If Georgia gets Moreno and Jones, they can jump back into the top 5 while Florida State hopes to close strong as usual with Marcus Sims, Rose, McDaniel, Spiller and others to remain in the top 5 as well. Texas might need Mouton to remain inside the top 5 as well while LSU could stay there with an upset in the battle for either Jones or Smith.

As we head into what is truly Christmas day for recruitniks, the only thing we can be sure of is that we'll be surprised more than once. Coaches won't be sleeping tonight.

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