Signing Day Primer: Storylines to Watch

Rashaan Evans

A look at some of the key story lines across the country as Signing Day approaches...

Who's Number One?

Alabama is number one and it's not close.  The Tide have the No. 2 player in the country in Cameron Robinson, the No. 1 JC prospect in the country in Dominick Jackson and four and five stars all over.

It's mainly a battle for No. 2, with Tennessee and Texas A&M behind the Tide and Ohio State and Florida State rounding out the top five.

LSU is poised for a big day on Wednesday, and could crack the top five if they can hold on to some in-state targets.

But the Tide should be all smiles at the top when Wednesday ends.

Escape From the East

Most of the top players in the East Region decided staying home wasn't for them as the No. 1 player in Virginia, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Washington, D.C., and Delaware are all going out of state.

In fact, many of the region's top players opted for schools away from home rather than playing close by.

Another sidelight to the2014 class was the decimation of Rutgers' class, which at one time was in the Top 30 but suffered through 12 decommitments.

The Scarlet Knights' top in-state player is No. 10 Kevin Wilkins, an they only have two of the top 20players in the state staying home. In fact, Notre Dame, Penn State, Michigan State, Virginia Tech and Miami each have as many commitments from New Jersey's Top 20 as the Scarlet Knights.

Maryland didn't have much in-state success either as only one of the top 25 players in the state opted to remain home, although the state's No. 1 player, four-star offensive tackle Damian Prince of Forestville (Md.) Bishop McNamara, has the Terps among his finalists heading into signing day.

-Brian Dohn (@BrianDohnScout)

Another Southern In-State War

Last year, it was Reuben Foster, this year, it is Rashaan Evans.

Foster is a former five-star inside linebacker and Evans is a five-star outside linebacker, both played at Auburn High School in Auburn, Ala. Foster signed with Alabama over Auburn in 2013 and Evan will sign with either Alabama or Auburn on signing day 2014.

UCLA has stayed in this race, but the Bruins have slowly faded back to third over the past couple of weeks. It will be an in-state school for the top prospect in Alabama and the No. 9 prospect in the country according to Scout. Alabama received the first official visit in January, then Auburn did a week later. Gus Malzahn saw the Evans family on Saturday February 1 in the afternoon before Kirby Smart stopped in for one final visit that evening.

This time a year ago Evans was leaving the state, but he has come full circle and he is all but guaranteed he will stay in his home state to go to college. Both his parents attended Auburn University with his father Alan signing as a running back in the same class as Bo Jackson. He does have family in Tuscaloosa now with more than one cousin attending the University of Alabama. This is a tight race, he likes a lot about each school, and he will announce his decision on Wednesday February 5. This one has gone back and forth and will likely change a couple more times between now and when the ink hits the paper.

Evans will announce his decision at 11 a.m. ET on ESPNU.

-Chad Simmons (@ChadSimmons_)

Sunshine State Switches?

All of a sudden four-star J.C. Jackson has emerged as a very important recruit for the Gators, Seminoles and Hurricanes. This Immokalee star originally committed to Florida State before changing his mind to Florida. The big question is will he stick with Will Muschamp and the Gators?

At this time it's difficult to say. As of this past Friday I would have favored Miami. Why? He has made seven trips to Coral Gables since his Florida pledge including an official visit. In addition, family is pushing him to the Hurricanes. Jackson had set up an official visit with FSU this weekend only to cancel at the last second. Instead, Jackson made his way to Gainesville for an unofficial visit. So it appears Jackson will sign with the Gators or Hurricanes on Wednesday.

Quarterback Treon Harris (Miami Booker T. Washington) has been a long time commitment to Florida State but has made official visits to Florida and Auburn in mid-January and he was at Miami this past weekend.

The Tigers and Gators are an interesting twist to the Harris recruitment. Why? Because his style and skill set are well suited for Gus Malzahn's offense, as well as the new spread attack that the Gators will run in Gainesville.  Meanwhile, he has strong ties to the Miami program. His brother played there and his father coached there. There's a lot of a chatter that he will end up signing with Florida on Wednesday. Stay tuned, as many in the Sunshine State are keeping a close eye on Harris and his pending final decision.

-Jamie Newberg (@JamieNewberg)

Where Lands McDowell?

There are not many Signing Day announcements in the Midwest, but Malik McDowell's has enough intrigue to keep the region on pins and needles.

The five-star Southfield (Mich.) defensive end is down to Michigan, Michigan State, Florida State and Ohio State with each school making late stops to his school and home in hopes to sway him.

Unlike some Signing Day announcements where the final result seems already decided, McDowell and his family appear to need all the time they can get to have things figured out.

This one could change a few times between now and Signing Day.

-Allen Trieu (@AllenTrieu)

West Coast or Family?

Solomon Thomas, a 6-foot-5, 260-pound defensive end from Coppell (Texas) High will have a tough choice come national signing day.

He is down to three schools: Arkansas, Stanford and UCLA.

The Cardinal are thought to be by many the front-runner heading in to his announcement, especially after he learned of his admittance to the school during his official visit.

This news would seem to trump UCLA, which provided an excellent option for him on the West Coast if he did not get admitted to play in Palo Alto.

But do not go to sleep on the Arkansas Razorbacks. This is the school he has spent the most time on campus at, has the most familiarity with and his sister attends the school currently.

Thomas is big on education, but family could play the ultimate trump card.

-Greg Powers (@ChadSimmons_)

Wild Wednesday Out West

There are three un-commtted five star prospects out West and USC is in a position to land all three of them. Gardena (Calif.) Serra ATH Adoree Jackson, Long Beach Poly (Calif.) ATH Juju Smith and Bellflower (Calif) St. John Bosco OL Damien Mama will all make their decisions on Signing Day and the Trojans are no worse than in the top two for each player.

Mama is probably the biggest USC lean in the group and it would be a major surprise if he doesn't pick the Trojans. Alabama, where Mama visited earlier in the year and BYU are the other two schools involved. Mama is LDS and took a weekend visit to BYU but that was after originally canceling the trip to visit UCLA. When the UCLA visit fell through, Mama hopped on a plane to Provo but it's hard to see him picking anyone over USC right now.

Smith grew up a big Trojan fan and has said in the past it will be very hard for him to turn them down. Oregon, Notre Dame and UCLA make up the rest of his top four with the Ducks looking like a legitimate dark horse candidate right now. Some close to Smith including a few Poly coaches think Oregon actually is even with USC right now so there could be a little Signing Day suspense.

Jackson has been one of the biggest wildcards in this year's class.

He's down to LSU, Florida, UCLA and USC and most feel it's a Trojan- Gator battle. Jackson has only lived in SoCal for three years so he doesn't have strong ties to the area but has said he loves the lifestyle and has several friends currently playing at USC. Florida's big edge is their track program and Jackson said that will play an equal role in his decision as football.

-Greg Biggins (@GregBiggins)

Any Signing Day Drama?

In years past, you've had Cyrus Kouandjio announce for Auburn on Signing Day, only to not fax in his letter-of-intent and choose Alabama a couple days later.  

You've had DeAnthony Thomas be a USC commit for a long, long time, only to take an 11th hour trip to Oregon that was almost completely off the radar, then emerge late on Signing Day night in all Oregon gear to announce he would be signing with the Ducks. 

You've had longtime Notre Dame commit Deontay Greenberry out of the blue send his letter-of-intent to Houston (Houston!?), one of the biggest five-star surprises ever.

Or Jordan Payton signing with UCLA the day after he committed to Washington on television, three weeks after he committed to Cal during the U.S. Army Bowl.  Which was a year and a half after he committed to USC.

Then there has been Isaiah using a live bulldog to announce his decision to attend Georgia. 

Last year it was Alex Collins' mom taking his NLI before he could fax it to Arkansas, mom wanting him at Miami, Collins wanting to be a Razorback.

There was Floyd Raven's mom, who forged his signature on his NLI to Ole Miss even though he wanted to go to Texas A&M(where he ultimately ended up).

Suffice to say, if there is one thing that you CAN expect on Signing Day, its drama.

-Brandon Huffman (@BrandonHuffman)

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