College football recruiting: 2019 National Signing Day key announcement times, predictions, picks

Ready or not, signing day is here. College football's decisive day has arrived and the new normal of identifying talent trajectories before the holiday season kicks into full gear. At 7 a.m. ET on Wednesday, the gates open for college football prospects to sign their national letters of intent.

Those gates stay open through Friday Dec. 20 as part of the early signing period. There is, of course, the traditional National Signing Day that follows in February to scoop all the stragglers and undecided prospects that weren't ready to put pen to paper in December. But for all intents and purposes, the Class of 2020 is decided this week.

Watch the LIVE Signing Day Special on CBS Sports HQ in the video player above.

The Stats

We are two years into this early signing period era, and in terms of total participation, we don't yet know where the numbers are going to settle. All we know now is that things are trending up. According to 247Sports, the first year of the early signing period resulted in roughly 65 percent of the total population of FBS prospects signing their letters of intent in December. Last year, that total ticked all the way up to 77 percent.

Will we see the total participation crest 80 percent this week? It's looking likely, leaving less than 20 percent of the expected FBS signees remaining for January recruitments. It's hard to overstate the importance of this week.

The Announcements

All times Eastern

  • 11:45 a.m. -- Four-star RB EJ Smith: The son of NFL legend Emmitt Smith, EJ's recruitment has been understated and hard to read. Stanford, Texas A&M and Florida are the finalists with the two SEC schools perceived to be in the best position for a commitment.
  • Noon -- Four-star QB CJ Stroud: Ohio State is the consensus favorite here as the Buckeyes try to hold off Georgia and Michigan for the biggest senior riser at the quarterback position in the Class of 2020.
  • 1 p.m. -- Four-star DB Kendall Dennis: While Florida State was successful getting him on campus for an official visit over the weekend, it still looks like an uphill climb to steal the Lakeland product from his leader of Oklahoma. Nebraska is also in play.
  • 1:05 p.m. – Four-star WR Arian Smith: One of the fastest receivers in the nation, Smith has been trending to Georgia with the Bulldogs seemingly in the driver's seat for some time. Alabama has made a strong late run. 
  • 2 p.m. -- Five-star LB Justin Flowe: A long-time lean to Clemson, it's now looking like Flowe's decision is coming down to a Pac-12 referendum on Clay Helton vs. Mario Cristobal as the California native seems to be trending towards staying out West.
  • 2:30 p.m. -- Five-star DE Jordan Burch: Perhaps the most highly anticipated decision of the early signing day, Burch has just about everyone in the dark on what he plans to do. A last-minute visit to Georgia is telling, but Clemson, LSU, Alabama and South Carolina are all very much in play as well.
  • Check out the full list of announcements this week from 247Sports.

The Predictions

While some of the top uncommitted prospects in the country will remain unsigned until All-American Bowl announcements in January, there are still a lot of big names that will be going public with decisions on Wednesday. Six prospects inside the top 100 make commitments on Wednesday. Among them, there are varying levels of intrigue and uncertainty. Here's how they should play out on Wednesday.

  • Five-star LB Justin Flowe: It has turned into an Oregon-USC battle for the best inside linebacker since Reuben Foster and I'm picking Clay Helton to show signs of life with the upset bid. Pick: USC
  • Five-star DE Jordan Burch: The confidence level is low on this one. While Clemson, LSU and Georgia are all very tempting as picks, I'm riding with the hometown team with a coach in Will Muschamp whose son is a teammate and friend. Pick: South Carolina
  • Four-star LB Phillip Webb: He's taken some other visits and remained a priority for some major programs, but LSU has been the constant here. The Tigers wrap things up with the Georgia edge rusher. Pick: LSU
  • Four-star WR Arian Smith: He's one of the fastest players in the country, and he's been a long-time Georgia lean. I think the Bulldogs finish the deal. Pick: Georgia
  • Four-star QB CJ Stroud: He's one of the biggest senior risers in the country, and coach Ryan Day has zeroed in on him as a key part of this class even as a second quarterback taken. The Buckeyes win this one over Georgia, Michigan, Oregon and others. Pick: Ohio State
  • Four-star OT Marcus Dumervil: LSU continues to find success in South Florida and finishes the job on Dumervil, an offensive tackle that has been trending to the Tigers on the Crystal Ball for months. Pick: LSU
  • Check out the latest Crystal Ball predictions for every Class of 2020 prospect from 247Sports.

What big-time recruits are headed to your favorite school? Visit 247Sports.com to see how your team's future will be changed forever. Their recruiting analysts are on the ground right now for the Early Signing Period. Join today and get your first month for only $1!     

CBS Sports Writer

Barton Simmons has been involved in college football and recruiting since 2000, first as a player and then as a reporter and analyst. As a player, he was a two-time All-Ivy League safety at Yale before... Full Bio

Our Latest Stories