There is no need to explain the importance of this week, as the accumulation of talent is the most important in this sport. After all, the stars are important.
Here are 10 interesting stories to keep track of as we approach the most exciting few days in the college football calendar – the start of the early signing period.
1. How will Colorado finish this season?
For the average coach hired in December – just weeks before the early signing period – it’s unrealistic to see a massive amount of improvement in the current year’s recruiting class. But Deion Sanders is not normal. It’s prime time. Because of that, there is an expectation that he will quickly be able to attract talent and turn the Colorado roster around.
Many assume that most of the work for Sanders’ squad will come through the ongoing transfer portal (Travis Hunter, the top player in the class of 2022, entered late Sunday night). But what about the class of 2023? Colorado has already flipped on four-star quarterback Dylan Edwards from Derby (Kansas) from Notre Dame. This past weekend, Colorado hosted top-tier players like 4-star athlete Malachi Coleman of Lincoln (Neb.) East (a Top 100 player at 247Sports Composite who was originally scheduled to visit Michigan), 4-star athlete Malachi Coleman and South Carolina commits three-star quarterback Vicary Swain of Carrollton (Georgia), Kansas commits, Cassen Wiseman of Douglasville (Ga.) South Paulding, and Jacob Page of Murfreesboro (Ten.) Blackman.
Colorado has already seen 13 commitments move in this year’s season, assuming Sanders clears people to make room on his roster. The Buffalo class has only 11 commitments and is ranked No. 61 nationally. What will this class look like on Friday? What will you look like in February? We’re about to see how immediate an impact Sanders can make in an otherwise impossible situation for most of the newly hired coaches.
#Coming @employee @employee @employee @employee @kasenweisman12 pic.twitter.com/KorPFcl4qB
– Malachi Coleman (@ChiColeman23) December 18, 2022
2. Will 5-star Peyton Bowen stick to the ND?
Marcus Freeman’s first full row at Notre Dame is one of the best the Irish have put together in the modern era of drafting. Notre Dame’s class has 26 commitments, ranks No. 6 nationally and includes 12 prospects who are ranked No. 175 nationally. But will you have the power of five stars?
Notre Dame had already lost a commitment from a five-star earlier this cycle to edge rusher Keon Keeley of Tampa (Fla.) Berkeley Prep, who recently opted to go with Alabama. Now there is concern whether he will cling to Bowen. Brent Venables and Oklahoma provide a real boost.
There is a lot of speculation that – as with all large recruitment operations – NIL plays a major factor here. Bowen took to his Twitter account to shoot down the speculation. But when all is said and done, nothing or nothing, can Freeman get the gem of a Notre Dame class to sign the National Letter of Intent on Wednesday?
Miss information about me and my employment has been leaked. Totally incorrect, I pick a school based on what program is best for me and where I want to go to school, as simple as that.
– Peyton Bowen (@PeytonBowen10) December 15, 2022
3. Can Iowa hold on to the five-star OT Kadyn Proctor?
Iowa State has signed Xavier Nwankpa of Pleasant Hill (Iowa) Southeast Polk to the 2022 class of four-star senior safety. For this year’s tournament, Iowa State has a commitment from Proctor, a potential five-star scholar from the same school. It looked as if Kirk Ferentz would strike gold at state from the same high school in back-to-back seasons.
Proctor, the highest-rated player in state history, came into the weekend still leaning heavily toward signing with Iowa. But he paid a state visit to Alabama for the weekend and the Iowa City coaching staff was sitting on pins and needles. At the moment, you could say Alabama is the favorite to land Proctor, which should come as no surprise to anyone familiar with Nick Saban’s biography.
Proctor’s commitment didn’t get enough attention because he announced it in June roughly 20 minutes after the news broke that USC and UCLA would be joining the Big Ten. But make no mistake about it: That kind of commitment could change everything for Iowa, a team that suffered one of the worst offenses in recent memory last season. Is it Alabama binding? Could.
There is still hope for Iowa given that Proctor is a lifelong Iowa fan who wears the same number as former Hawkeyes offensive lineman and NFL starting quarterback Tristan Wirfs. Maybe home will win. But Alabama is one hell of an opponent two days before the ink meets the paper.
– Ty Simpson (@ty_simpson06) December 17, 2022
4. Can UCLA flip five-star QB Dante Moore?
There is some quarterback fireworks going on at UCLA right now, both now and in the future.
On Saturday, UCLA got a goal-gate commitment from former Kent State quarterback Colin Schley, which could end the Bruins’ courtship with Clemson transfer DJ Uiagalelei. But there’s more quarterback action to watch at UCLA this week.
It’s all about Moore, a five-star prospect from Detroit (Michigan) Martin Luther King and the No. 11 player in the country.
Moore has been committed to Oregon since July, but he made an official visit to UCLA on Dec. 9, and the Bruins are showing strong here. If Moore chooses UCLA, he could be the most influential face this cycle, and he’ll be the highest-rated player to sign with UCLA’s Chip Kelly.
5. Can Ohio lock down?
Maybe it’s because 2024 five-star Chandler (Arizona) quarterback Dylan Raiola was dropped from Ohio State on Saturday, but the Buckeyes appear to be lacking some juice in their recruiting path right now. Yes, Raiola is still a year away from being able to sign, but decommitting him was the latest domino to fall into a recruiting environment that has Buckeyes fans worried if their school is effectively deploying its resources in the NIL.
However, the 2023 Ohio State is currently ranked 7th nationally. She has 20 commitments, and her average player rating of 93.46 ranks third behind Alabama and Georgia. He also recently turned quarterback Lincoln Kinnholz from Pierre (SD) T.F. Riggs from Washington. However, it looks as if the Buckeyes could really use a splashdown before the 2023 season is completed. Will they get it?
Ohio State partnered five-star rusher Damon Wilson from Venice (FL), though that recruiting is now seen as a lost cause as Georgia dominated (a reference to the NIL debate). But can the Buckeyes reach Bellflower (California)’s Matteo Uiagalelei five-star St. John Bosco? It’s a tight race between Ohio State, Oregon, and USC, but if the Buckeyes can pull it off, there’s a very different feel about this class.
6. What’s going on with Louisville?
Louisville’s class of 2023 is currently ranked No. 28 nationally despite only having 14 commitments. Of those 14 commitments, five are from California, four are from Florida, two are from Georgia, two are from Kentucky, and one is from Indiana. This is a national class.
Coach Scott Satterfield recently left for Cincinnati, and the Louisville class took a hit when it flipped back Robin Owens from El Campo (Texas) High to Texas A&M.
Good news for Louisville: Jeff Brohm is back at his alma mater in what appears to be a home rental. But can he hold this class together? More importantly, can he keep four-star receiver DeAndre Moore Jr. From Bellflower (California) St. John Bosco Committed?
Moore, ranked No. 95 nationally, made state visits to Georgia and Texas in November. Both programs haven’t given up on this hire, especially since they smell blood with a coaching change — even if that coaching change looks great for Louisville in the long run.
7. Is Brian Kelly on target for another home goal?
When Kelly left Notre Dame for LSU after last season, the thought was that he made the move because he realized his new school would give him a legitimate chance at winning a national championship. Honestly, it’s easier to get top talent at LSU.
Ironically, Notre Dame had a higher-ranked class than LSU throughout this entire cycle. But on Thursday, LSU secured the commitment of four-star Javien Toviano from Arlington (Texas) Martin, the No. 58 player overall and No. 6 player in the class of 2023. That gave the Tigers their fifth-best 100 player in a class that now ranks fifth overall. National – one place ahead of Notre Dame.
Fireworks may not be made. LSU is the favorite to land five-star cornerback Desmond Ricks from IMG’s Bradenton (Florida) team, who is set to announce his decision Thursday. Ricks, who was reclassified from the Class of 2024, is also considering Florida and Alabama.
Four-star safety Isaac Smith of Fulton (Miss) Itwamba Agriculture, the 174th player of the 2023 tournament, also paid a visit to LSU.
8. What would a Texas A&M season look like?
Texas A&M is the source of all the jokes right now. After signing to the best class in recent recruiting history in the 2022 tournament, the Aggies had a disastrous season on the field and more than 20 players entered the transfer portal. The wheels seem to be falling for Jimbo Fisher in Aggieland, right?
But despite the class of 2023 being 18th overall, five of the Aggies’ 13 commitments are ranked in the top 100. The class has an average player rating of 92.44, which is fourth behind Georgia, Alabama and Ohio State. .
Texas A&M recently poached Owens away from Louisville and is currently trying to turn over four-star safety Tony Mitchell of Alabaster (Ala.) Thompson, an Alabama commitment who officially visited College Station over the weekend. However, there are some concerns about whether the Aggies will be able to hold on to the commitment of five-star defensive lineman David Hicks of Katie (Texas) Paetow, who made a recent trip to Oregon.
This appears to be a critical place for Texas A&M as it tries to keep its roster together while finishing strong in 2023. How will Fisher do?
9. Who will win the recruiting crown?
Alabama currently has the #1 overall ranking with 24 commitments. The class includes three five-star prospects and 11 top-100 recruits. Although Alabama still has to hold on to Mitchell and survive late Ohio State on five-star safety Caleb Downs of Hoschton (Ga.) Mill Creek, the Crimson Tide is very well positioned.
Saban is still in the lineup with two potential five-star prospects – teammates James Smith and Koa Rossao of Montgomery (Ala.) Carver. Both made recent visits to Auburn (another story to track now that Hugh Freeze is in charge of The Plains), but it’s hard to bet Alabama is here. If the Crimson Tide lands them both, the recruitment crown is theirs.
But don’t sleep on Georgia.
The Bulldogs have less commitment overall and two fewer five-star players than Alabama, but they have nine top-100 players and are still in the mix for some top-level talent. Wilson, who has a five-star rating, appears to be restricted to Georgia. Kirby Smart is also alive with Top 100 defensive lineman Jordan Hall of Jacksonville (FL) Westside and four-star linebacker Daniel Harris of Miami (FL) Gulliver Prep.
This is an Alabama recruiting title to lose, but there is still a lot of signings to come before we can put the crown on Saban’s head.
10. Off-the-radar surprises?
About a year ago around this time, Hunter flipped from Florida State to Jackson State to play for Sanders. The earth shook, as it was arguably the most shocking signing day development in history.
But this is why this has become a national holiday in the world of college football. It’s not about the nine things that topped this list. It’s about developments that come completely out of nowhere. What will happen this year?
(Photo by Chip Kelly: Tom Hauck/Getty Images)