The Early Signing Period is behind us, but there is still a lot to discuss and now the focus turns to February and the Late Signing Period. Here are three questions we asked the Rivals team of analysts as they turn their focus to closing out the 2021 class.
RELATED: Top QBs still available in 2021 class | RBs | WRs | TEs | OL
MORE NSD: Grading the Early Signing Period in the Big Ten | SEC | ACC | Pac-12 | Big 12
CLASS OF 2021 RANKINGS: Rivals250 | Position | Team | State
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WHICH TEAM IN YOUR REGION HAS THE MOST WORK TO DO BEFORE THE LATE SIGNING PERIOD?
National/West analyst Adam Gorney: There are some talented players already in Oregon State’s class but there are only nine total commitments so coach Jonathan Smith and his staff have a lot to do heading into February, whether that means getting commitments, working the JUCO market or saving spots for transfers. The Beavers were competitive in games against good competition this season, so there have to be some talented players looking to join the program for a big opportunity, but it needs to get done fast.
Midwest analyst Josh Helmholdt: Any time a new coach arrives at a school there is roster maintenance to be done to ensure the personnel is there to run their specific schemes. Illinois signed 14 prospects in the early period, which is a perfect number to give Bret Bielema a foundation, but it still leaves plenty of room for the new Illini head man to address specific needs.
Southeast analyst Chad Simmons: Auburn is one that comes to mind quickly for me. Auburn is at No. 13 in the SEC and No. 52 in the country. That is not where the Tigers usually sit. They went through the Early Signing Period without a head coach, but now Bryan Harsin is in place and they have up to 14 more signees they could add in February. It will be a very active January and early February for those on the Plains.
South-Central analyst Sam Spiegelman: Texas signed 18 during the Early Signing Period and made some late splashes with the additions of defensive linemen Barryn Sorrell and Byron Murphy, and holding on to elite athlete Ja’Tavion Sanders was crucial. However, there have been so many misses and subtractions from the Longhorns’ 2021 class that still need to be addressed, including along the offensive line and in the secondary. Hayden Conner was the Horns’ top-rated lineman signee, but Texas needs more depth at the position. The team signed four-star defensive backs JD Coffey and Jamier Johnson, but there’s some uncertainty surrounding Ishmael Ibraheem, their top-rated cornerback pledge. More reinforcements in the secondary could be necessary, with up to seven spots left to fill.
WHICH RECRUITMENT WILL BE THE CRAZIEST OVER THE NEXT SIX WEEKS?
Gorney: I hate to join the crowd here, but Qua Davis is going to be interesting to watch over the next few weeks. His final three of Florida, Oklahoma State and Kansas was somewhat surprising, and if he ends up with the Cowboys he could have a huge career. The Late Signing Period is still far off, so I wouldn’t be shocked if there are more twists and turns ahead.
Helmholdt: I saw former USC commit Qua Davis named a top three the other day, and still feel there is a reasonable chance he ends up at a school not on that list.
Simmons: I have to go with Terrion Arnold. The top 100 defensive back has been linked to Florida, but Alabama and Georgia are in this, and in heavy pursuit. He is likely to take visits to at least those three schools between now and Feb. 3. He is a well-spoken young man who knows how to keep most guessing. He will not tip his hand and he will be fun to track in the coming weeks.
Spiegelman: Qua Davis is looking at Kansas, Florida and Oklahoma State and is set to sign in February. Wherever the Rivals100 wide receiver picks, it’ll be his fourth commitment. Davis has been pledged to SMU, Texas and most recently, USC, at various stages in his recruitment. Now, it’ll boil down to two teams that Davis was considering before committing to the Trojans. Davis is a big Dez Bryant fan and Oklahoma State traditionally recruits the Dallas metroplex very well. Florida’s offense could be intriguing for Davis and he has strong connections to Kansas assistant Emmett Jones. Expect the unexpected.
WHO WAS THE BIGGEST SURPRISE NON-SIGNING IN YOUR REGION?
Gorney: I was given no real indication that four-star defensive back Isaiah Johnson was going to hold off, but that’s the case and so his recruitment remains in flux. This is not an indictment on Arizona State since Johnson has to get some things in order and the Sun Devils are still very much involved in his recruitment. Position coach Chris Hawkins has made Johnson a priority, but teams looking to fill out their class could come calling as well.
Helmholdt: There was a lot of pre-signing day buzz in favor of Arizona State for Minneapolis defensive end Davon Townley, but on that first day of the signing period the four-star announced he would be holding off until February. That was good news for schools such as Minnesota, Michigan State and Penn State, who were given more time to sway the tall, athletic end in their direction.
Simmons: Trevonte Rucker is one, for sure. The four-star wide receiver is a longtime Florida commit, but he did not sign with the Gators. There has been chatter behind the scenes that he will not end up in Gainesville. LSU landed a late commitment from his teammate Bryce Langston, and there is a lot of talk about the Tigers and Ole Miss around Rucker’s name as we head into January. I think as we closed in on the Early Signing Period, most expected him to sign with Florida, but he didn’t and now it is likely he ends up elsewhere.
Spiegelman: LJ Johnson seemed like he could have signed, but Cy-Fair High was still in the midst of a state championship run when the Early Signing Period came and went. That gives the nation’s No. 2 running back a few added weeks to assess his fit at Texas, Oklahoma, Texas A&M or LSU. The Aggies signed Rivals250 back Amari Daniels and Texas inked uber-productive in-state product Jonathon Brooks. The Sooners have yet to lock in a running back after coming up short for five-star Camar Wheaton, so could Lincoln Riley and running backs coach DeMarco Murray circle back to the Houston-area product?