National Signing Day 2020: Alabama, Clemson, Georgia lead the race for the No. 1 recruiting class

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The National Signing Day landscape has changed dramatically over the last few years. The first Wednesday in February used to be a day when the fortunes and futures of college football programs were shaped in a dramatic way. But now that program-altering day is reserved for the early signing period in December while February is a time for tying up loose ends, finishing touches and a few five-star announcements.

There is still some drama remaining for February, though. In particular, we are experiencing a rare photo finish for the recruiting national champions of the 2020 cycle. It has long been a five-team race for No. 1 with Georgia currently leading Alabama, Clemson, LSU and Ohio State. But the margins between all five are so slim that even with limited prospects available, the top spot remains up for grabs. Here's the way it could shake out.

Georgia

Current rank: No. 1

Kirby Smart's primary task for Wednesday is to keep his current class intact and hold on for dear life. Georgia got big news this weekend when five-star offensive tackle commit Broderick Jones canceled a trip to Auburn. If the Bulldogs can hang on to him and fellow OL pledge Sedrick Van Pran, they've done just about all they can do to hang on to that top class. There are other possibilities out there for late additions but nothing that would make a material difference in the No. 1 race. Smart and company will be paying close attention to what's going on elsewhere in the SEC, particularly at Alabama. McKinnley Jackson's decision -- one that Georgia won't factor into -- is likely what determines Georgia's final ranking.

Alabama

Current rank: No. 2

Alabama is the only program that controls its own destiny in the final recruiting rankings and that destiny is really simple: land four-star defensive tackle McKinnley Jackson and finish with the No. 1 recruiting class. Jackson took an official visit to Texas A&M over the weekend and the Aggies have momentum following the trip. If Alabama fails to land Jackson, there are technically other ways to finish No. 1. Massive Texas defensive lineman Alfred Collins has been a target. So too has Georgia commit Van Pran. Both of those guys look like longshots, though. Even if Alabama lands one or two of its targets that aren't as high profile, it would likely need Georgia to lose somebody to jump the Bulldogs for No. 1 without Jackson.

LSU

Current rank: No. 4

It would take some magic for LSU to finish No. 1, but considering some of the other rabbits Ed Orgeron has pulled out of his hat, we shouldn't totally rule it out. First, the Tigers would need to land both Jackson and Jordan Burch. Jackson, as mentioned above, is likely heading to Alabama or Texas A&M. Burch is committed to South Carolina but did visit LSU two weeks ago. Even if LSU were to land both of the talented defensive linemen, the Tigers would still be at the mercy of Georgia losing someone else to open up that No. 1 spot. That is looking increasingly unlikely. So even if No. 4 is the most likely closing ranking for the Tigers, there's at least a Hail Mary in the playbook for Wednesday.

Clemson

Current rank: No. 3

Clemson has a No. 1 worthy class but don't expect the Tigers to threaten for the No. 1 spot on Wednesday. The problem is there is no more room to maneuver and that lack of drama is just fine by Dabo Swinney. The class is full so it would take about three decommitments from Alabama's class and one big one from Georgia's class in addition to both of those schools missing out on its remaining targets for Clemson to jump both of them for the top class. Clemson seems to be on an inevitable march towards a No. 1 class. It just won't come this year. 

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

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