National Signing Day’s Top 25 Recruits

Rashan Gary AP

National Signing Day is finally here!

Will college football’s version of Christmas leave coaches feeling jubilant or like they got stuck with a lump of coal? Who will emerge with the #1 overall class? What surprises are in store? All these questions will be answered today.

Here are the top 25, as well as who just missed the cut, in our rankings for this year. As you will see, it’s a strong class in the defensive front seven. It’s not a stellar class overall.

Just Missed the Cut: QB Malik Henry (Committed to FSU), WR Sam Bruce (Committed to Miami), WR N’Keal Harry (Committed to Arizona State), OG Landon Dickerson (Uncommitted—FSU, Auburn, and Alabama contending), DT Michail Carter (UGA and Alabama contending), DE Marlon Davidson (Committed to Auburn), DE Justin Madubuike (Committed to Texas A&M), DE Terrell Hall (Uncommitted—Alabama, Ole Miss, Maryland, and FSU contending), LB Lyndell Wilson (Uncommitted—Alabama and UGA contending).

25. DE Shane Simmons (6’4”, 255 lbs.) DeMatha Catholic: Hyattsville, MD; COMMITTED TO PENN STATE—Not quite as lean as Antonneus Clayton (#16), Simmons is still a raw prospect that will need to add weight. Still, he’s a very athletic edge rusher who stood out at the Under Armour game. He gets up the field quickly, and could become one of the Big Ten’s elite once he adds some needed bulk.

24. QB K.J. Costello (6’4”, 213 lbs.) Santa Margarita Catholic: Rancho Santa Margarita, CA; COMMITTED TO STANFORD—A couple of years ago, I was very high on Keller Chryst—who will get a chance to shine this year —and K.J. Costello follows in that mold. He’s a big-armed kid with a good frame, leads his receivers, and knows how to move around within the pocket. He’s been a three-year starter playing good competition in high school, so he could be ready to play early even if not called upon to do so.

23. DE Jonathon Cooper (6’4”, 238 lbs.) Gahanna Lincoln: Columbus, OH; COMMITTED TO OHIO STATE—The Buckeyes’ commit is lean and undersized for a true defensive end, and he could end up playing more of an outside linebacker role. Still, he is too natural of a pass rusher not to be utilized to get to the quarterback. Instinctual, explosive and relentless, Cooper is bound to be among the Big Ten’s elite in no time.

22. LB Mique Juarez (6’2”, 222 lbs.) North: Torrance, CA; UNCOMMITTED—A fast, physical thumper, Juarez is a prospect that enjoys hitting people. Moreover, he has the speed to arrive on the scene quickly and with authority. A true outside linebacker, the California prospect should be more than capable of excelling at rushing the passer and dropping back into coverage at the next level. UCLA probably holds a slight lead over Alabama.

21. RB B.J. Emmons (5’10”, 232 lbs.) Freedom: Morganton, NC; COMMITTED TO ALABAMA—This is not a good class for running backs. However, Alabama will always pull in a stellar ball carrier, and Emmons fits the bill. Though the similarly-built Damien Harris was more hyped last cycle, Emmons may be just as good if not better.

20. WR Kyle Davis (6’2”, 218 lbs.) Archer: Lawrenceville, GA; SIGNED WITH AUBURN—The high schooler in an NFL body will quickly make Auburn fans forget the plague that was Duke Williams. Davis has good, but not great speed, yet he is extremely determined to get the ball and then make the most of the opportunity. He has an exceptional catch radius and great hands. The elite pass catcher should also make for a standout blocker on the edge.

19. DE Oluwole Betiku (6’4”, 240 lbs.) Junipero Serra: Gardena, CA; SIGNED WITH USC—Oluwole Betiku is somewhat of a developmental prospect as he has only been playing football for two years, but he is an athletic freak. He has the ability to spend a lot of time in the opponent’s backfield and emerge as one of the best players in college football two-to-three years down the line.

18. LB Caleb Kelly (6’3”, 215 lbs.) Clovis West: Fresno, CA; UNCOMMITTED—An extremely athletic linebacker who has the talent to play safety or even wide receiver, Kelly has incredible speed on the edge and excels in coverage. He’s not the thickest linebacker out there and, while he can deliver a blow, he doesn’t thrive shedding blocks or being in the midst of the action. Still, more development could allow Kelly to become one of the top defenders in the country. Oklahoma leads.

17. LB Tre Lamar (6’3”, 240 lbs.) Roswell: Roswell, GA; SIGNED WITH CLEMSON—Running up the middle on Clemson in the coming years will be exceedingly difficult with Dexter Lawrence (#4), Rahshaun Smith (#14), and Lamar. The big, physical linebacker is a downhill player who brings the wood. He should be able to play very early at a very high level and projects as that rare first-round selection as a MLB.

16. DE Antonneus Clayton (6’4”, 218 lbs.) Dooly County: Vienna, GA; COMMITTED TO FLORIDA—Clayton is very lean so it may take some time, but I expect he will remind Florida fans of Dante Fowler Jr. in no time. He is a tremendous athlete, and he will no doubt be a name that SEC QBs come to know quickly. In what may become the subject of conspiracy theories, Clayton chose the Gators over Auburn—where cousin Montravius Adams plays—when Will Muschamp, then the AU DC, supposedly cooled on the Georgia prospect.

15. DT Kendell Jones (6’5”, 375 lbs.) Shoemaker: Killeen, TX; COMMITTED TO ALABAMA—In a gifted class of tackles, it is hard to stand out but Jones does so on incredible size. This hulkish tackle holds a lot of weight very, very well and moves impressively for a specimen of his size. There is no doubt a tackle of this size and strength will thrive in Nick Saban’s defense.

14. LB Rahshaun Smith (6’3”, 239 lbs.) IMG Academy: Bradenton, FL; SIGNED WITH CLEMSON—From a physical standpoint, few prospects are more capable of being an early contributor. A big linebacker, Smith doesn’t hold bad weight and possesses plenty of speed. He plays downhill and even can rush the passer well. Though he may struggle early in pass coverage, expect Smith to play early for the Tigers.

13. QB Jacob Eason (6’5”, 205 lbs.) Lake Stevens: Lake Stevens, WA; SIGNED WITH GEORGIA—Georgia has struggled bringing in a number of highly-ranked quarterbacks they hoped could take the mantle. Eason hopes to put an end to the Bulldogs’ struggles and bring the Kirby Smart-era to a stellar start. Though not a dual-threat guy, Eason reminds me of Kyle Allen with a bigger arm. He still has some development that needs to occur, but his arm may put him in line to contribute early.

12. McTelvin Agim (6’3”, 268 lbs.) Hope: Hope, AR; COMMITTED TO ARKANSAS—Agim’s problem may be that he is a tweener, and that makes me cautious, but he performs on the field. He is explosive, and simply makes plays. Quite simply, this is the best player the Hogs have landed in recent memory.

11. WR Nate Craig-Myers (6’2”, 205 lbs.) Tampa Catholic: Tampa, FL; UNCOMMITTED—At one time, Craig-Myers was rated the top prospect in the country. A knee injury as a junior slowed him down but he could prove worthy of that initial lofty ranking. He’s fast, incredibly smooth, possesses great hands, and is a physically imposing receiver that can go get the ball wherever it is. The elite pass catcher will choose between Auburn—where he was once committed—and North Carolina on Signing Day.

10. DT Derrick Brown (6’4”, 318 lbs.) Lanier: Buford, GA; UNCOMMITTED—Brown is a huge human being and is certainly stout in the middle, but he is also an athletic pass rusher from the interior. He needs to show more consistency, but he is a prospect that could catapult up this list over the years—or, he could tumble. The prospect is everything you want in a DT, and Auburn may have a slight, slight edge over Tennessee, Georgia, and Alabama in the waning days. This one will be close.

9. DE Nick Bosa (6’4”, 265 lbs.) St. Thomas Aquinas: Ft. Lauderdale, FL; COMMITTED TO OHIO STATE—Joey Bosa’s little brother appears set to make a big name for himself at the next level. The same thing that makes the older Bosa so desired by NFL franchises—relentlessness and a high motor—are certainly present in the younger. In a field of explosive edge rushers, Bosa does not stand out in that regard, but he may just outperform them all at the next level.

8. OT Greg Little (6’5”, 305 lbs.) Allen: Allen, TX; COMMITTED TO OLE MISS—A tackle who excels in the run and in the passing game and is ready take over for the NFL-bound Laremy Tunsil from day one. Gets to second level with ease, and his feet are extremely impressive for a prospect his size. He will draw natural comparisons to his predecessor at Ole Miss, but I think Little might be tougher at this stage while Tunsil might have been a hair more athletically gifted.

7. LB Ben Davis (6’3”, 240 lbs.) Gordo: Gordo, AL; UNCOMMITTED—Davis is everything you want in a linebacker. He’s rangy, fast, a thumper, strong on the interior, a natural pass rusher, and a high IQ prospect. There is little doubt that he will be ready to play right away as an impact player in the SEC. He will likely choose Alabama—where his father is the all-time leading tackler—over a late push by Auburn.

6. OT Jonah Williams (6’5”, 296 lbs.) Folsom, Folsom, CA; COMMITTED TO ALABAMA—The Alabama enrollee has a great frame and excels both in the run and in the pass. He’s also a highly physical and determined prospect who likes to punish the man in front of him. While Greg Little (#8) gets more publicity, Williams is the better player in my opinion.

5. DT Ed Oliver (6’2”, 285 lbs.) Westfield: Houston, TX; COMMITTED TO HOUSTON—The most high-profile football recruit for Houston in a long time – if not ever – Oliver is a beast on the interior. He is a high-motor player with a great frame and the ability to make a host of plays in the opponent’s backfield. The AAC will not be glad to see this elite prospect join the Cougars.

4. DT Dexter Lawrence (6’5” 330 lbs.) Wake Forest: Wake Forest, NC; COMMITTED TO CLEMSON—A massive presence in the middle, Lawrence is a bull on the interior of the defensive line. He is not as explosive as Gary and likely won’t fill the headlines, but this prospect is a game-changer on defense and projects very highly in the NFL Draft in 3-4 years.

3. CB Levonta Taylor (5’11”, 182 lbs.) Ocean Lakes: Virginia Beach, VA; COMMITTED TO FSU—Easily one of the fastest players I have ever seen, Taylor is a superb athlete who is not going to let any receiver by him for long. He’s not the biggest prospect by any stretch, but there is no doubt that he is poised to excel at the next level and will almost certainly be used as a returner in addition to his DB duties.

2. QB Shea Patterson (6’2”, 195 lbs.) IMG Academy: Bradenton, FL; COMMITTED TO OLE MISS—Patterson won’t start for Ole Miss next year, but he will be hard to keep off the field. He has a big, accurate arm and can make all the throws you need. Moreover, he extends plays with his feet, throws well on the run, and can pick up big yards on the ground if called upon to do so. Hugh Freeze has likely landed a future Heisman contender with this standout signal caller.

1. DT Rashan Gary (6’5”, 293 lbs.) Paramus Catholic: Paramus, NJ; UNCOMMITTED—Definitely the nation’s best player, Gary has tremendous size, carries his weight well, and moves with exceptional grace and power. He not only has the physical dominance to compete right away, but the skill to regularly set up camp in the opponent’s backfield. In the fourth year of compiling these rankings, Gary is far and away the best DT I have evaluated. He solidified the top spot with standout performance during UnderArmour All-Star Week. He will decide between Clemson and Michigan on Signing Day, with Michigan as the heavy favorite.


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