The early signing period in college football begins on Wednesday, Dec. 21, and there is a large contingent of programs that are in a good position to close well as they look to stack their recruiting classes for the 2023 cycle. Whether it was a result of coaching changes, expected NFL departures or early enrollment, more and more players have committed to their respective schools well in advance of next week. Still, the pool of prospects remains loaded with potential top-tier talent that could come in and eventually make an impact.
There are a few big-name schools on the list of teams that could close strong next Wednesday. These programs might not have a shot at landing the No. 1 recruiting class, but they still have the chance at making a strong statement to the rest of the nation by securing notable commitments from some top prospects still available.
Who are these teams poised to make noise as the early signing period in the 2023 cycle kicks off? Let's have a look
Join us on Wednesday, Dec. 21 at 9 a.m. ET for Signing Day Live on the 247Sports YouTube Channel (starting at 11 a.m. on CBS Sports HQ) as our 247Sports experts cover all the ins and outs of the early signing period. From live commitments to updated class rankings and everything in between, Signing Day Live will be your one-stop shop for live coverage as the top programs in the nation sign the Class of 2023.
Early signing period: Which teams can close strong?
During his first full recruiting cycle as Trojans coach, Lincoln Riley hasn't had to focus on the portal as much as he has in years past thanks to three five-stars that committed almost a year ago: quarterback Malachi Nelson as well as wide receivers Makai Lemon and Zachariah Branch. But USC is not done swinging for the fences, remaining as serious landing spots for two more five-star prospects: No. 1 tight end Duce Robinson and five-star EDGE Matayo Uiagalelei. Georgia native Tyler Scott visited last weekend, plus the Trojans will wait as long as necessary for tight end Walker Lyons, who decommitted from Stanford last month and pushed back his decision until February. He could squeeze in one more visit to Los Angeles.
2. Ohio State
After flipping four-star QB Lincoln Keinholz from Washington on Wednesday, the Buckeyes may not be done; they still have sticks in the fire for several key prospects. All eyes are on Alabama commit Caleb Downs -- the No. 1 safety in the country -- and Uiagalelei, as well as composite five-star EDGE Damon Wilson (the Buckeyes are considered his likely destination). Downs may be tough to flip from the Crimson Tide, but they got him on campus for their season finale while Ryan Day was in Los Angeles this week to visit Uiagalelei. Ohio State also remains on the extremely short list for four-star EDGE Joshua Mickens, the top prospect from the state of Indiana.
Chip Kelly won't end up with a big class, nor will it be highly rated. Still, UCLA is legitimately in play for Dante Moore, the No. 3-ranked overall prospect in the country in the 2023 class who's a long-time commit to Oregon. With Bo Nix potentially returning to Oregon for another season, offensive coordinator Kenny Dillingham departing to become head coach Arizona State and UCLA losing star QB Dorian Thompson-Robinson, Moore was on campus for an official visit last weekend as the Bruins make as big of a push as possible. While they won't close with a flurry like the teams mentioned above, Kelly flipping Moore would be the biggest story of the early signing period.
And a little reminder for those who think it's a long shot: When Kelly was at Oregon, not many people thought he would flip De'Anthony Thomas from USC in 2011 and Arik Armstead a year later. Well, he did.
The Longhorns are patiently waiting for in-state superstar Anthony Hill, the No. 1-ranked linebacker in the country, to make a final decision. The 247Sports Crystal Ball pointed to Texas once the former Texas A&M commit reopened his recruitment, so the 'Horns would love to have him wear burnt orange and spurn their in-state rivals. Then there's four-star EDGE Tausili Akana, the No. 1 prospect in Utah, who is childhood friends and neighbors with Texas commit Liona Leafu. Need more ties in Texas' favor with Akana? His sister transferred to play volleyball in Austin after starting her career at Nebraska, and she's helped lead the team to the NCAA Final Four. The Longhorns are still involved with Robinson and Scott, while all signs are pointing to in-state athlete Jelani McDonald joining the class.
The biggest focus for the Ducks right now is holding on to Moore; keep the five-star prospect, and everything is good. Same with the No. 1 prospect from their neighbors to the north, cornerback Caleb Presley, whom the Ducks also don't want to lose. They're also still in the mix for the No. 1 tackle in the country, Iowa pledge Kadyn Proctor, who took an official visit to Eugene last month. Then there's David Hicks, the No. 1-ranked defensive lineman in the country who has visited campus four times while Oregon is also in the top three for Uiagalelei.