<
>

100 days to signing day

National signing day, Feb. 4, is just 100 days away. Here's a look at 100 things to watch for leading up to the big day.

Questions that will shape signing day

100. Who will coach the Florida Gators next year? The Gators entered the season hoping to rebound on the field with a shot at the No. 1 class. Amid another season of turmoil, Florida is in a fight just to keep committed prospects on board.

99. Will Michigan make a move? With that seeming likely, a number of Wolverines commits are making official visits. Assuming there will be a change, the new coach will have the difficult task of keeping the class together.

98. Can Virginia Tech or Virginia keep the best at home? While a pair of in-state five-stars from the 2014 class chose Virginia, the top four in 2015 remain uncommitted. Only one prospect in the top 10 is committed to an in-state program after eight of the top 15 signed with the Hokies or Cavaliers in 2014.

97. Can UCLA win any big battles late? The Bruins were ranked No. 7 in the preseason Associated Press poll and were a playoff contender. UCLA is 6-2, but the season hasn't lived up to those lofty expectations. That has provided rival USC the opportunity to have more success selling Steve Sarkisian's vision without the Bruins taking the headlines and winning the perception battle.

96. How many prospects will flip? To date, over 35 prospects in the ESPN 300 have decommitted or flipped their commitments. With more than 30 committed prospects still making official visits or planning to make visits, that number could reach as high as 70, considering both the Florida and Michigan jobs may open, which could start a chain reaction depending on future hires. There is no doubt that 2015 is the class of flips, and it has only just begun.

95. Can Texas A&M keep the momentum? The Aggies were riding high after pounding highly ranked South Carolina to begin the 2014 season. Sitting with a top-five recruiting class again, the Aggies were set up to dominate the state of Texas. After they were blown out in three straight SEC West games, including 59-0 at Alabama two weeks ago, commits are looking around. Should Texas A&M limp or crawl to the finish line this season, closing out the 2015 class will prove to be a difficult challenge. The Aggies, however, are getting help from Charlie Strong struggling in his first season at Texas.

94. Will the Big Ten finish with any top-10 recruiting classes? Not since 2010 has the conference not had a class ranked that high, according to ESPN. With Ohio State sitting at No. 8 and Penn State at No. 10, the conference is in jeopardy of taking yet another perception hit in recruiting if the Buckeyes don't close well.

Most important games

93. Auburn at Ole Miss, Nov. 1: The Rebels are coming off a loss to LSU and trying to keep their playoff hopes alive. More importantly, Hugh Freeze and staff are in position to be closers in January. Beating the Tigers would bolster that effort.

92. Ohio State at Michigan State, Nov. 8: The Spartans have already beat rival Michigan this season, and a win over the Buckeyes would be a huge victory to take on the recruiting trail in December and January.

91. Auburn at Georgia, Nov. 15: The Bulldogs will have a number of key visitors in town, including No. 5 Josh Sweat. Georgia is one of two programs that has the ability to challenge Alabama for the nation's top recruiting class, and a win would help set up a sprint to the February finish line.

90. Arizona at Utah, Nov. 22: Before the season, not a single person would have picked this game. To both coaches' credit, this is now a key game in the Pac-12 race as well as another huge game for Utes recruiting.

89. USC at UCLA, Nov. 22: This game is always important in recruiting, but this year in particular is huge for both teams. USC wants to flex the in-state muscles against the Bruins, who are a legitimate challenge for the Trojans' and national recruits. For the Bruins, this is the chance to win a third straight over their rival and slow the excitement of the Sarkisian era.

88. Mississippi State at Ole Miss, Nov. 29: The biggest Egg Bowl in history took a little hit with LSU's win over Ole Miss over the weekend, but this game could set up not only 2015 recruiting but set the tone for the 2016 and 2017 classes as well.

87. Auburn at Alabama, Nov. 29: This game is always big in recruiting. With Gus Malzahn and the Tigers recruiting well and working with a desirable amount of momentum, Nick Saban would like nothing more than to beat the hated rival and continue to prove to recruits that Tuscaloosa is indeed the best place to play in the state.

86. Notre Dame at USC, Nov. 29: With a number of prospects from California having the Fighting Irish high on their lists in 2015 and 2016, Notre Dame would like nothing better than to win in California before hitting the recruiting trail in December.

Good Twitter follows

These five players are active, funny and, most importantly, informative on Twitter, providing regular updates on their recruitment.

85. Iman Marshall: @iman_marshall8

84. CeCe Jefferson: @cecejefferson7

83. Keisean Lucier-South: @KLSouth16

82. Cordell Broadus: @C_Broadus21

81. Matt Burrell Jr.: @HeaftyLefty

Under-the-radar recruits

80. Texas Tech commit D'Vonta Hinton: The undersized linebacker has terrific instincts, so expect the 5-foot-10, 215-pounder from the Houston area to make an impact in Lubbock. Hinton has over 200 tackles and 38 tackles for loss in the past two seasons.

79. Wisconsin commit Nick Thomas: The least talked-about prospect on a loaded IMG Academy team, the 6-2, 222-pound inside linebacker is going to be a perfect fit at Wisconsin.

78. Iowa State commit Seth Nerness: The 6-3, 230-pound defensive end prospect moved to North Carolina over the summer from Iowa. He is an upside prospect who can open up and run. West Virginia offered in late September, and more are expected.

77. Colorado commit Donald Gordon: If it's possible for a four-star recruit to be an under-the-radar recruit, it's Gordon. The 6-0, 205-pound running back possesses good vision, balance, the ability to break tackles and good feet in the hole.

76. Wake Forest commit Kendall Hinton: He is one of the most productive signal-callers in the 2015 class with nearly 6,000 career passing yards and 55 touchdowns against just six interceptions. Add in 1,775 career rushing yards and 23 scores and the undersized three-star quarterback is a dual-threat prospect who could be big for Wake Forest's future.

75. Jessie Liptrot: This versatile playmaker has burst onto the scene as a senior. While he plays both sides of the ball in high school, most programs are offering Liptrot as a cornerback or safety. Wisconsin, Louisville and North Carolina have offered since the season began.

74. Louisville commit James Allen: This three-star running back with 4.4 speed went over 1,000 yards in the sixth game of the season. He has received offers from Wisconsin, Oklahoma State and West Virginia. Allen could be a factor as a runner and in the return game at the next level.

73. TCU commit Darrion Flowers: The Texas Class 5A state 100-meter champion is a perfect fit for TCU's revamped offense. Expect fireworks from Flowers in the return game.

Top uncommitted recruits

72. No. 1 Terry Beckner Jr.: He plans to make all his official visits after the season is over. While Florida State and others have tried to get the versatile defensive lineman on campus this season, a number of Saturday high school games have not allowed for any visits. Missouri, LSU, Auburn and Florida State are likely offseason visits.

71. No. 2 Byron Cowart: The onetime Florida lock officially visited Maryland on Sept. 12 and Alabama on Oct. 18, and both have closed the gap on the Gators in a major way. Visits to Florida, Oregon and Florida State and possibly a return trip to Alabama will finish shaping Cowart's recruitment.

70. No. 3 Martez Ivey: This was another onetime near lock for Florida. With the questions surrounding the future of the Gators coaching staff and best friend Chandler Cox headed to Auburn, Florida's lead is minimal. While LSU and Alabama could receive visits, this is a battle between the Gators and Tigers, whom Ivey will officially visit Nov. 8.

69. No. 5 Josh Sweat: He will officially visit Georgia on Nov. 15, Florida State on Nov. 22 and Virginia Tech on Nov. 28 with a decision expected in mid-December or at the Under Armour All-America Game. Ohio State also remains in contention, but the Hokies continue to be the team to beat.

68. No. 7 Iman Marshall: He will take official visits to Notre Dame, Florida State and LSU, with Oklahoma and Michigan also possible. With that being said, hometown USC is the team to beat, with UCLA also in contention. This recruitment is expected to go until national signing day.

67. No. 8 Kendall Sheffield: The speedy cornerback has officially visited Ohio State, USC and Florida State with trips to Oregon and Alabama still to come. Unofficial visits to Texas A&M and LSU are also on the docket. Texas and Oklahoma continue to hang around, with the Crimson Tide and Seminoles having considerably closed the Aggies' lead.

66. No. 9 CeCe Jefferson: He has already officially visited Ole Miss and Alabama and has trips to UCLA on Nov. 22 and Cincinnati on Dec. 5 scheduled with an official visit to Florida yet to be determined. The Gators and Rebels are the favorites, with Alabama in the conversation. Florida State has yet to give up either.

65. No. 13 Torrance Gibson: He visited heavy favorite Ohio State on Sept. 27 and is expected to sign with the Buckeyes. With that said, he hasn't committed and has Miami, Auburn and others in hot pursuit.

Key conference battles

64. Rasheem Green: While it's the year of the quarterback in California and both USC and UCLA have top prospects committed, it's defensive tackle Green who is on top of the boards for the L.A. rivals. This is a recruitment that both programs need to win. Oregon is trying to upset both.

63. Daron Payne: This has seemed like an Alabama win for over a year, but all that does is provide extra incentive for Auburn to try to pull the upset.

62. Jeffery Holland: Florida and Auburn are battling for Holland with UCLA and others on the periphery. This would be a big win for Auburn with Holland one of many in 2015 that was a heavy lean to the Gators when his recruiting process began.

61. Javon Patterson: Ole Miss has been considered the favorite over Auburn and Mississippi State for months. The talented Magnolia State guard will be playing against two of his top three at the next level, and both in-state schools want to win this one for perception purposes.

60. Chris Warren III: Both Texas and Texas Tech would love to sign Warren. The Longhorns simply can't afford to lose this battle to the Red Raiders, let alone Stanford or Washington.

59. Jalen Dalton: He will visit Virginia Tech on Nov. 1 after officially visiting North Carolina on Oct. 4. Both programs need the ESPN 300 defensive end, but this is a must-get prospect for the Tar Heels, who were once a near lock before struggling this season.

58. Donte Jackson: Georgia and home-state LSU are locked in a battle for the versatile speedster. A Frank Wilson vs. Jeremy Pruitt recruiting battle is worth following.

57. John Houston Jr.: USC is fighting off Oregon and UCLA to keep its domination of Junipero Serra recruiting intact, which includes former Serra stars Robert Woods and Marqise Lee. Oregon has already taken its chance Oct. 17 with the Trojans' and Bruins' official visits yet to be scheduled.

56. Osa Masina: UCLA and Utah are trying to hold off USC and Arizona State in a true battle between a quartet of Pac-12 schools. Make no mistake, this is a huge chance for the Utes to beat USC and UCLA on a highly coveted in-state prospect.

55. DaMarkus Lodge: Ole Miss and LSU are battling for this smooth pass-catcher. USC received an official visit in late September, but this recruitment continues to trend to the SEC. Lodge has plenty of family in Mississippi, which never hurts.

54. Darius Slayton: He is in a three-horse SEC race between Georgia, Auburn and South Carolina. The Bulldogs are considered the favorite, but not by much. The chance to play wide receiver could prove pivotal.

53. DeChaun Holiday: He is considered a lean to UCLA, but don't tell that to USC, Arizona and Washington. The Bruins have to close this one out after leading for months.

Eleven who could flip

52. Texas A&M commit Kyler Murray: The No. 11-ranked Murray took in the Texas-Oklahoma game Oct. 11 and took an official visit to Norman on Oct. 18. Oregon and Auburn are also keeping in contact.

51. Florida State commit Johnny Frasier: The speedy running back officially visited Tennessee on Oct. 4 and Florida unofficially the following weekend. Duke and NC State have also hosted Frasier on unofficials this season and remain in the mix. Alabama, South Carolina and LSU are also official visit possibilities in addition to the Seminoles.

50. Texas A&M commit Daylon Mack: He flirted with Florida before the lingering questions about Muschamp's future became too much. The Under Armour All-American defensive tackle made an official visit to TCU on Oct. 25, with others expected to follow suit.

49. LSU commit Nick Brossette: The No. 108 prospect officially visited Notre Dame in October and plans to make a visit to Texas. This one has been shaky for a while.

48. Michigan commit Chris Clark: No. 111 Clark is scheduled to visit North Carolina on Nov. 15, USC on Nov. 28 and Texas on Dec. 5.

47. Miami commit Jordan Scarlett: He has officially visited Ohio State and Wisconsin in September and Florida State in October.

46. Michigan commit Garrett Taylor: No. 130 Taylor will make official visits to Ohio State, Penn State and Virginia Tech.

45. Michigan commit Brian Cole: Wisconsin was the first to get the versatile athlete on campus when he visited in October. Michigan State and Tennessee are among the others that could do the same.

44. LSU commit Derrius Guice: No. 118 Guice is another LSU running back pledge who has talked about making official visits. None have been scheduled, however.

43. West Virginia commit Kendrell McFadden: No. 205 McFadden has been a "soft commitment" for months, although it's without another landing spot.

42. Texas commit John Burt: He was close to flipping to Auburn following an official visit Oct. 4. While he unofficially visited Texas two weeks later, the Tigers are still in contention for the Under Armour All-American.

Recruiters to watch

41. Jeremy Pruitt, Georgia: The Bulldogs defensive coordinator has the task of helping close on No. 27 Roquan Smith, No. 49 Tarvarus McFadden, No. 78 Rashad Roundtree, No. 171 Donte Jackson and others.

40. Tim Brewster, Florida State: The Seminoles recruiting coordinator has a laundry list of big names he is after, including No. 1 Terry Beckner Jr., No. 7 Iman Marshall, No. 8 Kendall Sheffield and No. 49 Tarvarus McFadden, and is Jimbo Fisher's lead recruiter in South Florida.

39. David Beaty, Texas A&M: The Aggies have been recruiting with a wave of momentum since Texas A&M beat Alabama in 2012 and Johnny Manziel won the Heisman Trophy. With the run of blowout losses in 2014, Beaty is now recruiting No. 28 Soso Jamabo and No. 35 Malik Jefferson with less momentum and more questions. Holding on to Kyler Murray is probably most important.

38. Tee Martin, USC: Martin is the primary recruiter for must-get targets No. 7 Iman Marshall, No. 21 Rasheem Green and No. 80 John Houston Jr. These are three huge recruiting and perception battles in the Los Angeles area, and three prospects the Trojans do not want to lose to UCLA or Oregon.

37. Adrian Klemm, UCLA: Klemm's top targets include Green, Jamabo, Houston and No. 174 Josh Wariboko. The pressure is on for Klemm.

Instant-impact recruits

36. Tennessee commit Kahlil McKenzie: The Volunteers need size and difference-makers on the interior of the defensive line. McKenzie has the chance to fill a major hole.

35. Texas A&M commit Daylon Mack: Texas A&M, like Tennessee, needs depth and impact players on the D-line. Mack is physically capable of hitting the field running in College Station.

34. Florida State commit Derwin James: While the Seminoles will have key safeties returning next season, this is one of those prospects that will be impossible to keep off the field. Size, speed, physicality and football IQ make James the nation's No. 1-ranked safety.

33. Texas commit DeShon Elliott: The Longhorns desperately need safety help. While Elliott could end up playing safety or outside linebacker in time at the next level, there is ample opportunity to play right away in Austin.

32. Pittsburgh commit Jordan Whitehead: While Pittsburgh is set to return both starting cornerbacks, No. 135 Whitehead is simply too good to not find a role in the Panthers' secondary next year.

31. NC State commit Darian Roseboro: Whether it's at end or tackle, the athletic and physical Roseboro should be playing early for the Wolfpack.

30. Georgia commit Van Jefferson: No. 160 Jefferson is advanced technically, and the Bulldogs have a need at the position.

29. Byron Cowart: The No. 2 overall prospect is physically, as well as technically, advanced. No matter the school or scheme he chooses, expect to see the Under Armour All-American on the field in some capacity in 2015.

Give them a year

28. Clemson commit Noah Green: This offensive tackle could see the field as a freshman due to necessity, but come Years 2 and 3, look out.

27. Oklahoma commit John Humphrey Jr.: He is one of the most explosive players in the Lone Star State in the 2015 class. Once he adds strength and mass to his frame and finds a home at either cornerback or wide receiver, he will be a playmaker.

26. Texas commit Louis Brown: He needs time to fill out his 6-5, 210-pound frame. Brown can play linebacker or defensive end at the next level, with end being the destination if he bulks up.

25. Arkansas commit C.J. O'Grady: He doesn't have the pressure of coming in and being the go-to tight end with All-SEC caliber Hunter Henry having at least one more year at Arkansas. After getting his feet wet, however, O'Grady has the chance to be a threat in the downfield passing game for the Razorbacks.

Poised to close strong

24. USC: While the Trojans aren't having a great season on the field, it's still Year 1 under a new head coach and there is excitement about the future. That vision and the chance to rebuild USC, paired with UCLA not living up to its preseason hype, is a message that will ring true with several ESPN 300 players.

23. Ole Miss: Beating Alabama and reaching No. 3 in the polls certainly helps on the trail, but following through on the rising expectations matters more.

22. Ohio State: The Buckeyes are in the hunt for No. 5 Josh Sweat, No. 13 Torrance Gibson, No. 31 Damien Harris, No. 72 Matt Burrell Jr., No. 78 Rashad Roundtree and others. The continued success on the field plus Urban Meyer's ability to close place the Buckeyes high on this list.

21. Georgia: The Bulldogs are marching toward the SEC title game, are in the top 10 of the polls and are in on a number of top prospects. Not only is Georgia set up to close well, but it could also challenge for the top class.

20. Florida State: The Seminoles could face a numbers crunch in this class but are in on more ESPN 300 prospects than any other school, including the Nos. 1, 2, 5 and 8 prospects.

Replacing college stars

19. Calvin Ridley: Alabama will likely lose Amari Cooper to the NFL after this season. Enter Ridley. The talented pass-catcher will enroll in January with a chance to play immediately in Tuscaloosa.

18. Josh Rosen: With Bruins quarterback Brett Hundley likely to enter the NFL draft following the season, there is ample opportunity for Rosen to compete for the starting job.

17. Deondre Francois: With Jameis Winston almost assured to head to the NFL, the competition is on to be the next quarterback for the Seminoles. While Sean Maguire has some experience and a start under his belt, expect newcomers Francois and De'Andre Johnson to enter into the competition. Francois will be the most physically gifted signal-caller on campus in Tallahassee and could force his way onto the field.

16. Brandon Wimbush: Everett Golson still has a year left, but once the job opens up, Wimbush could be the guy.

Must keep them at home

15. Florida and CeCe Jefferson: This recruitment was Florida's to lose, and Ole Miss is in position for the steal, with Alabama and Florida State in contention. The Gators can't afford to lose this one despite all the program turmoil.

14. Texas, Texas A&M and Kendall Sheffield: Both in-state powers badly need cornerbacks. The chief competition being Florida State, Alabama and LSU doesn't make this easy for the Aggies or Longhorns, but it's a must.

13. Florida and Martez Ivey: Florida has issues on the offensive line, especially at tackle. Not only did Ivey grow up a huge Gators fan, but he has continued to be positive about Florida throughout its struggles. That would make losing him to Auburn even more of a crushing blow.

12. Texas, Texas A&M and Malik Jefferson: Like Sheffield, Jefferson is a premium prospect at a position of need for both schools. Pass-rushing linebackers who are mentally and physically ready to play are hard to find, and neither school can afford to let Jefferson out of the state.

11. Kentucky and Damien Harris: The Wildcats have shown improvement in 2014, and an in-state difference-maker like Harris could help them take the next step. It would also be a second straight year of reeling in the top player in the Bluegrass State.

10. Missouri and Terry Beckner Jr.: Beckner means so much to Missouri. While he's not from in-state, he is a huge perception recruit for Gary Pinkel. Should Missouri not get him, he will likely play in the SEC if he doesn't pick Florida State, which adds to the Tigers' pressure.

9. Virginia Tech and Josh Sweat: For a program perceived to be heading in the wrong direction, losing such a high-rated in-state recruit to Florida State, Georgia, Oregon or Ohio State would be a crushing blow to the Hokies.

You remind me of ...

8. Kyler Murray and Joe Hamilton: While it would be easy to compare Murray to contemporary sub-6-foot star quarterback Russell Wilson, it's really the former Georgia Tech star whom Murray plays like. Even more exciting is that Murray might be more athletic than Hamilton.

7. Terry Beckner Jr. and Marcell Dareus: The similarities begin with frames, including arm length, and end with scheme versatility and athleticism. Beckner is 20 pounds heavier than Dareus at the same age, however.

6. Roquan Smith and Sean Weatherspoon: When Weatherspoon came out of high school, he was an athletic linebacker prospect who doubled as a part-time wide receiver making plays all over the field. Smith is that same guy with similar height but a slightly different frame.

Final class rankings predictions

Close but no cigar ...

5. Clemson: The Tigers have been sitting in the top three of the class rankings for a few months, but a drop is coming since Clemson is almost finished with the class. This is Clemson's best class since finishing No. 2 in 2008.

4. Tennessee: This will be a second consecutive top-five class for the Volunteers due in large part to having a lot of numbers. If the Volunteers don't take the next step on the field next season, however, the hot recruiting will start to decline.

3. Georgia: The Bulldogs are working on a fifth straight top-10 class, and this one is closer to No. 1 than the previous four. The Bulldogs will never keep all of the Peach State's best at home, and they don't have to in order to compete for the national championship.

2. Florida State: The Seminoles finished third a year ago and will get one spot closer to finishing with the top-ranked class in 2015. The toughest part for the Florida State staff is managing the numbers.

The winner is ...

1. Alabama: The Tide will once again have the top class after inking the No. 1 class the past three years despite very strong classes by Florida State and Georgia. In addition to those No. 1 classes, the Crimson Tide finished second in 2011 and 2009 and third in 2010 and 2008.