With the true finish line for the class of 2020 only one week away, it’s time to check in on what programs have a chance to capture the National Signing Day narrative. But there’s a problem. Closing strong in the national spotlight requires some national names to be available and there just aren’t many of those left. The early signing period scooped up almost all of the big fish in the 2020 class, so the February version of signing day hinges on a few central figures.
Not all of these teams are going to close strong, but if you’re trying to sniff out where next Wednesday’s big splash will come from, here are a few of the best candidates.
Already ranked as the No. 1 team in the country, the Tide may not be done yet. The most likely big target left on the board is McKinnley Jackson, a native of Mississippi that hit January as one of the most high-profile uncommitted prospects in the country. Alabama holds most of the 247Sports Crystal Ball predictions for the nation’s No. 9 DT and the recent hire of former Ole Miss assistant Freddie Roach as its DL coach is another boost for the Tide. Texas A&M hosts Jackson this weekend and Auburn and LSU are also serious threats. The Tide are also battling Texas and Oklahoma for Alfred Collins, the No. 62 player in the nation. That one feels like a tougher get. If Alabama lands one, that could be enough to lock up the No. 1 class. If it gets both, Nick Saban is just running up the score.
Whoever lands Zach Evans
Zach Evans has already signed a letter of intent. He has since been released from it and reopened his recruitment. So technically his recruitment may just continue until he enrolls somewhere. But assuming we can finally conclude the winding journey of one of the nation’s top running backs, Evans’ decision will be one of the biggest news items of signing day. He could land back at Georgia and propel the Bulldogs to the No. 1 recruiting class. He could send Tennessee back into the top 10 if he picks the Vols. Florida and Florida State have lingered, and Evans could punctuate what could be furious finishes for both. Texas A&M continues to chip away at this one and if you want a darkhorse, keep an eye on USC. The bottom line is that no one knows what Evans will do and whoever lands him would get a huge signing day boost.
Plug Auburn into the McKinnley Jackson fight. It has been recruiting really well in Mississippi in recent years and even though the assistant leading that charge, Marcus Woodson, has departed for Florida State, the Tigers are still battling. Five-star Georgia offensive tackle commit Broderick Jones may be the more attainable big name for the Tigers. He takes his official visit this weekend in what would be a huge flip and perhaps some payback for Georgia after George Pickens flipped on Auburn for the Bulldogs last year. Four-star tight end Brandon Frazier is the other big target and it’s trying to beat Arkansas and Texas Tech for the Texas native.
The reigning national champs created a stir last weekend when five-star defensive lineman and South Carolina commit Jordan Burch showed up on campus for an official visit. The Tigers were considered a strong contender to land Burch in December, but he chose the local Gamecocks. While he has never publicly indicated that he’s wavering on his pledge, the visit speaks volumes. Throw LSU into the McKinnley Jackson race as well. If somehow LSU were to pull a shocker and land both Jackson and Burch, that could be enough to bump the Tigers into the No. 1 spot in the team recruiting rankings. Don’t rule it out for Coach O.
Credit Dan Mullen. Late in the game for both the early signing period and National Signing Day, the Gators have been battling for some big names. They came up short in December but have a chance to make some noise once again in February. The biggest name, and probably the biggest long shot, is Georgia Tech commit Jahmyr Gibbs. A senior season riser, Gibbs is taking an official visit to Tech this weekend but Mullen continues to push hard and for good reason as Gibbs is special. Florida could also land a big in-state target in Top100 safety Avantae Williams as well as Alabama four-star athlete Damarcus Beckwith. If it really wants to get greedy, perhaps Florida can flip Top100 offensive lineman Sedrick Van Pran from Georgia, but now we’re talking dream scenarios.