College football recruiting: 14 recruits you need to know for National Signing Day
These are the top guys every school is still chasing
Due to an Early Signing Period that saw 65 percent of the Class of 2018 remove themselves from the market for college recruiters, the big-name available talent for the Feb. 7 National Signing Day has been trimmed significantly. However, there are still plenty of prospects that move the needle heading toward National Signing Day and if anything, the pressure has been turned up on those elite few.
With National Signing Day three weeks away, these are the 10 uncommitted prospects you need to know about, plus four more committed prospects that didn't sign in December who will continue to be at the center of recruiting drama.
Five-star Patrick Surtain Jr.
Ranking: No. 5 overall, No. 1 CB
Primary contenders: LSU, Alabama
The buzz: He's a likely Day 1 starter at cornerback in the fall and both LSU and Alabama could use that kind of impact in the secondary. LSU has long been the favorite for the NFL legacy, but Alabama is surging. After an LSU official visit last weekend, he'll be in Tuscaloosa this weekend.
Five-star Nicholas Petit-Frere
Ranking: No. 17 overall, No. 3 OT
Primary contenders: Ohio State, Notre Dame, Florida, Alabama
The buzz: With upcoming official visits set to Alabama, Florida and Ohio State before National Signing Day, Petit-Frere has emerged as the clear top offensive lineman available and the clear mystery of the 2018 class. This one is anybody's guess, particularly with three big visits left on the docket.
Five-star Devon Williams
Ranking: No. 22 overall, No. 4 WR
Primary contenders: Oregon, Southern California
The buzz: Oregon has long been a favorite here as it looks to add an immediate impact at wide receiver, but after an official visit to USC over the weekend, the Trojans are making a serious push. Oregon still has an official visit left to try to regain the momentum for a guy that would push for early playing time in Eugene given Oregon's limited wide receiver depth.
Five-star Isaac Taylor-Stuart
Ranking: No. 26 overall, No. 2 CB
Primary contenders: Alabama, USC, Texas A&M, Georgia, Tennessee
The buzz: A tall cornerback with 4.3 speed in the 40, Taylor-Stuart is trending heavily toward USC, and yet the SEC is still very much in the picture. Georgia, Alabama and Tennessee are all expected to get official visits over the next three weeks and Texas A&M has already hosted him. Taylor-Stuart has the size and athleticism to be a Day 1 starter at corner or safety.
Five-star Tyson Campbell
Ranking: No. 27 overall, No. 3 CB
Primary contenders: Alabama, Georgia, Miami (Fla.)
The buzz: Similar to Surtain and Taylor-Stuart, Campbell, at 6-feet-2 with a 10.4-second time in the 100 meters to his credit, is the rare athlete that has the physical tools to start right away at corner. He visited Georgia last weekend and will be at Alabama next weekend, but Miami -- where his former high school coach Mike Rumph is on the staff -- continues to hang around as well.
Four-star Olaijah Griffin
Ranking: No. 31 overall, No. 4 CB
Primary contenders: USC, Tennessee
The buzz: With Tennessee once considered the leader, USC has now drawn even after an official visit. Considering Griffin is a Southern California native, it could even mean leaving the Vols in the dust. Auburn plans to host the son of rapper Warren G and Alabama is trying to get involved as well, but the Trojans appear to be the favorite.
Four-star Penei Sewell
Ranking: No. 45 overall, No. 3 G
Primary contenders: Alabama, Oregon, USC
The buzz: At one point, the recruitment for this massive offensive lineman looked like a battle between Oregon and Alabama. In fact, he almost signed during the Early Signing Period, but since holding off, USC has made a strong push and this now looks like a three-team race with all five of his allotted official visits already behind him.
Four-star William Barnes
Ranking: No. 46 overall, No. 5 OT
Primary contenders: Florida, North Carolina, Ole Miss, Auburn
The buzz: One of the most versatile offensive linemen in the 2018 class, Barnes has a busy January ahead. Coming off a visit to North Carolina, the Apopka (Florida) High School product will now visit Ole Miss, Florida and Auburn. Florida has long been considered the favorite, but North Carolina has made up considerable ground and might have the lead heading into the meat of January.
Four-star Jaylen Waddle
Ranking: No. 51 overall, No. 7 WR
Primary contenders: Alabama, Texas A&M
The buzz: One of the main priorities of Jimbo Fisher's staff since he took over at Texas A&M, Waddle is a dynamic, explosive space player who has been tracking toward the Aggies of late. While he would be Fisher's biggest get to date, Nick Saban has made Waddle a priority since the summer, and the Tide remain a strong factor. Oregon is also staying in the fight in this one.
Four-star Justyn Ross
Ranking: No. 59 overall, No. 10 WR
Primary contenders: Clemson, Alabama, Auburn
The buzz: Even though he's from Alabama, Clemson might swoop in and steal the 6-5 matchup problem on the outside from the two in-state powers. That's the program sitting in the driver's seat in the middle of January, and yet Alabama and Auburn still have their official visits remaining, so there's plenty of game left in this one.
Tennessee commit JJ Peterson
Ranking: No. 44 overall, No. 2 OLB
Threat to steal: Alabama
The buzz: Peterson was a near lock for Alabama before Jeremy Pruitt landed the Tennessee gig. He brought with him Brian Niedermeyer from Alabama and Kevin Sherrer from Georgia -- both guys that Peterson had a strong relationship with. The athletic linebacker committed without even visiting the Vols at the Army Bowl. He has since gotten on campus, but now an Alabama trip looms as Tennessee tries to hold off the Tide.
Alabama commit Quay Walker
Ranking: No. 65 overall, No. 3 OLB
Threat to steal: Georgia
The buzz: Walker has been committed to Alabama since June, but the athletic south Georgia outside linebacker has gotten swept up in some of the momentum Georgia has built, and suddenly his pledge to the Tide is flimsy at best. He has plans to visit Georgia, Tennessee, Alabama, Auburn and maybe even Florida this month on a schedule that is changing daily.
Michigan commit Otis Reese
Ranking: No. 93 overall, No. 5 OLB
Threat to steal: Georgia
The buzz: A huge safety on the high school level, Reese will be a linebacker in college and his striking ability should make him a fan favorite. The in-state Bulldogs are working to keep him home, but Michigan, where former teammate Aubrey Solomon is on the roster, has some momentum to keep him committed -- particularly after linebackers coach Chris Patridge turned down an Alabama job to stay in Ann Arbor.
Florida commit Richard Gouraige
Ranking: No. 87 overall, No. 7 OT
Threat to steal: Clemson
The buzz: Jim McElwain wasn't necessarily an ace recruiter, but he did land a commitment out of Gouraige a week before he was fired. Now it's up to Dan Mullen and new offensive line coach John Hevesy to keep the 6-5, 275-pounder in the fold. Clemson has the most momentum to steal him after an official visit last weekend and Auburn is taking a swing too despite losing offensive line coach Herb Hand to Texas on Monday.
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