The early signing period is here. Six of the nine remaining uncommitted five-star players will commit this week. With that, top classes will solidify and we'll know a lot more about the top recruiters before national signing day arrives in February.
Here are some storylines to watch for the early signing period, which runs from 7 a.m. local time on Wednesday through Friday at 11:59 p.m.
College football playoff teams all have top-10 classes
If you are a fan that believes recruiting rankings don't matter, this is not the paragraph to read. Georgia, Clemson, Oklahoma and Alabama all have top-10 classes entering the early signing period, with all four expected to add to the hauls this week -- or in February. All four schools also will sign back-to-back top-10 classes, barring the unforeseen. Stacking quality recruiting classes continues to be paramount; the four teams have combined for 12 top-10 classes in the past four years (2014-17), with the average class ranking for the teams over that time period being 6.75.
A new No. 1 class will be crowned recruiting champion in 2018
There will be a new No. 1 class in 2018. In the 12 years that ESPN has ranked prospects and recruiting classes, the only schools to finish with the No. 1 ranked class are Alabama (five of past six years), Florida State (2011 and 2016), Florida (2006 and 2010), Miami (2008) and USC (2007).
In 2018, Ohio State or Georgia looks like the best bet to finish No. 1, with Penn State, Texas and Miami also having an outside shot at the crown. The Buckeyes picked up top-100 prospects Tommy Togiai and Kamryn Babb last week to extend their lead, but coach Urban Meyer and his staff are in a fight to keep ESPN 300 quarterback Emory Jones and safety Jaiden Woodbey. Should Ohio State suffer a loss or two, Georgia will be there to take the top spot with five-star Brenton Cox, No. 2-ranked guard Jamaree Salyer and a handful of ESPN 300 prospects leaning the Bulldogs' way. Georgia signings of Cox, Salyer, Cade Mays, Channing Tindall and Otis Reese remain a possibility.
Justin Fields, signing Wednesday, will provide added boost for Georgia
Quarterback and top-ranked player Justin Fields' announcement Sunday night that he would be signing Wednesday with Georgia gives coach Kirby Smart and staff the added boost they need this week. Jamaree Salyer also was on the fence, but he announced Sunday night he plans to sign Wednesday, as well. Both were in Athens for official visits over the weekend. And having the pied piper of the 2018 class in Fields sign Wednesday would be huge in regard to maximizing momentum with remaining uncommitted targets.
Tennessee looking to add impactful junior college players
Volunteers coach Jeremy Pruitt is attacking the junior college ranks in hope of immediately filling needs at various positions. Over the weekend, Pruitt and his staff hosted seven members of the ESPN Junior College 50: pass-rusher Jordan Allen (No. 9); Nebraska receiver commit Jaron Woodyard (No. 11); tight end Dominick Wood-Anderson (No. 15); offensive tackle and LSU verbal commit Badara Traore (No. 17); running back Greg Bell (No. 20); offensive guard Johncarlo Valentin (No. 21); and offensive tackle Jahmir Johnson (No. 49).
Mississippi State signed seven ESPN JC 50 prospects a year ago, including impact all-conference-level players Montez Sweat and Johnathan Abram. The Vols will try to find similar success with some quick fixes.
Chip Kelly at UCLA will impact the West Coast
The Bruins have not signed a top-10 class since 2010, but coach Chip Kelly has become an immediate threat in Westwood. The Bruins enter the week with the No. 29 class, one spot behind arch-rival USC, with a number of top targets remaining. Athlete Bryan Addison and receiver Chase Cota, who chose the Bruins over home-state Oregon, were both big ESPN 300 commitments. Add to that the flip of four-star linebacker/ed Bo Calvert from USC Monday, and the Bruins are off and running. With five-star Devon Williams not signing this week, Kelly and his staff have extra time to try to beat out Oregon, Utah and most of the West Coast schools for Williams. Kelly will impact Oregon and Washington the most on the trail, and that impact already has begun. If Kelly were to upset USC and Notre Dame for ESPN 300 receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown, that would send a very loud message throughout the state and region.
Florida, Florida State have quarterback slots to fill
Dan Mullen and Willie Taggart are in need of quarterbacks in the 2018 class. Both Florida and Florida State hosted ESPN 300 signal-caller and Ohio State verbal Emory Jones over the weekend with hopes of flipping the near perfect scheme fit. If Jones opts to stick with the Buckeyes -- or flips to Alabama -- the Gators and Seminoles will have other targets. Florida was in West Palm Beach last week to see Louisville verbal Jordan Travis, who could opt to wait until February to sign. For Florida State, former Tennessee verbal commit Michael Penix Jr. was on campus over the weekend, and he looks like a sound bet to sign with the Seminoles this week.
Virginia Tech in play for first top-10 class
In the dozen years that ESPN has ranked prospects and recruiting classes, the Hokies have never finished with such a highly ranked class. With coach Justin Fuente having led Virginia Tech to 19 wins in two years, the Hokies are ascending on the recruiting trail. After signing a No. 25 class in 2017 that featured two ESPN 300s and five four-star prospects, Fuente and staff have taken the success to another level in 2018. The Hokies enter Wednesday with the No. 16 class, which includes three ESPN 300 players, one ESPN JC 50 cornerback and 11 four-star prospects. Five-star player K.J. Henry's Wednesday decision looms large for the Hokies. Henry's choice, as well as that of ESPN 300 linebacker Dax Hollifield in February, could place the Hokies inside the top-10 classes.
Can Michigan win out for Eyabi Anoma?
Five-star pass-rusher Eyabi Anoma appeared for months to be headed to Alabama. As decision day closes in this week, Michigan has closed the gap with the relation between St. Frances Academy head coach and former Michigan staff member Biff Poggi and Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh working in the Wolverines' favor. Maryland also is in the picture as the third school, but the Terrapins always have faced a tough time in keeping the bluest of blue-chip prospects home. There aren't many recruiting battles better than Nick Saban vs. Jim Harbaugh, and if Michigan signs Anoma on Wednesday, a humorous tweet from Harbaugh could be expected. With that said, the Crimson Tide have been in a good spot for so long, it's tough to believe Michigan will win this one until a Wolverines hat is pulled from a bag.
Can Texas get the majority of commits signed?
Coach Tom Herman's first season in Austin produced more losses and questions about the future than answers. Throughout the 6-6 season, the Longhorns No. 2-ranked class has remained intact, with only ESPN 300 linebacker Ayodele Adeoye and receiver Rondale Moore truly wavering headed into Wednesday. The Longhorns are after their first top-three class since 2012, and 13 of the 17 ESPN 300 commitments are expected to sign this week -- even if Ayodele and Moore flip -- with defensive tackle Keondre Coburn and running back Keaontay Ingram still deciding whether to sign early. In order for the Longhorns to secure a top-three class, they need to hold onto three of the four mentioned above, add ESPN 300 cornerback Anthony Cook on Wednesday and sign four-star defensive lineman Moro Ojomo in February.
Fleck has Minnesota on verge of a record class
Minnesota has never signed a top-25 class since ESPN began ranking prospects and classes. In fact, the Golden Gophers haven't even come close. In the past four years, their average class rank was 58. That makes the work of coach P.J. Fleck and staff otherworldly, with Minnesota sitting at No. 23 entering Wednesday. Even if the Golden Gophers finish just outside the top 25, a tip of the hat is well-deserved. Minnesota is now much more of a factor on the recruiting trail than in years past.