- The final day of the early signing period should be quiet—but it wouldn't be recruiting season without a few twists and turns.
Two years into the new recruiting schedule’s three-day early signing period format, it’s clear everyone has the system down: If you’re going to sign at all before the traditional National Signing Day in early February, sign on Wednesday. After a frenzy of activity on the first day recruits could send in their national letters of intent, Day 2’s action featured just two top-200 players in the 247Sports composite rankings making announcements. Now, just 20 of the top 200 remain unsigned, and even within that group, there appear to be some recruits with heavy favorites. Everyone else seems to have elected to take another month to make their decision—but it wouldn’t be signing day without a few twists and turns.
What’s in store on the final day of the early period? We’ll be tracking commitments large and small and wrapping up the week all day long on our signing day live blog. Check our recaps of Day 1 and Day 2 to catch up on what you missed, and read Ross Dellenger’s examination of Ohio State’s roller-coaster Wednesday.
8:00 P.M. ET: Illinois Lands Transfer Jeff Thomas
Wide receiver Jeff Thomas, a former highly-touted recruit who was dismissed by Miami in November, announced Friday night that he is transferring to Illinois. Thomas is from East Saint Louis, Ill., and will seek a waiver to become immediately eligible next fall. The speedy WR, who was the No. 40 recruit in the 2017 class in the 247 Sports composite, had 35 catches for 563 yards and three touchdowns in 11 games as a sophomore for the Hurricanes in 2018 and also served as a punt and kick returner.
I would like to thank The University of Miami, my teammates, coaches for their amazing support the past 2 years. With that being said, I would like to thank Coach Lovie smith for this opportunity to further my education and football career at the University of Illinois. pic.twitter.com/mnJHUMiQ8b— Jeff Thomas (@theregoes4) December 22, 2018
6:30 p.m. ET: Crouch to Tennnessee
Tennessee struck again late Friday with the commitment of four-star athlete Quavaris Crouch. Crouch is ranked as the No. 39 prospect on the 247 Sports composite and chose the Vols over Michigan and Clemson.
1:45 p.m. ET: Tennessee gets a big transfer
• Jeremy Pruitt’s second signing class as Tennessee head coach is safely in the top 20, and the Vols are doing work on the transfer market too. Michigan defensive tackle Aubrey Solomon, who was a five-star in the class of 2017, announced his transfer to Tennessee on Friday afternoon.
Noon ET: Buckle Up for a Big Early Period Finale
• Well, now we have something to look forward to today: Adam Friedman of Rivals reports that four-star athlete Quavaris Crouch will announce his college decision tonight at 6:30 p.m. ET. Crouch, a bruising running back eyeing a position switch to linebacker, is down to Michigan, Clemson and Tennessee and was expected to wait to announce his decision during the Army All-American Bowl on Jan. 5, but circumstances have changed. His last-minute unofficial visit to Tennessee last weekend ratcheted up the intrigue on his destination.
11 a.m. ET: The Group of Five's top five
• As the dust settles for most Power 5 programs, let’s take a brief scroll down to the bottom half of the top 100 for a look at the Group of Five’s top classes. As might be expected, there’s a distinctly AAC flavor to the top five.
Boise State (No. 56): 15 commits—three 4-stars, 12 3-stars
UCF (No. 57): 22 commits—all 3-stars
Memphis (No. 58): 20 commits—19 3-stars
SMU (No. 62): 19 commits—17 3-stars
USF (No. 63): 20 commits—all 3-stars
Last year's top Group of Five class belonged to Cincinnati, which turned around and surpassed most external expectations with a 10-win 2018 campaign in Luke Fickell’s second year in charge.
• The Arizona high school teammate of Oklahoma-bound Spencer Rattler, this year's top QB prospect, announced his college decision a year early: 2020 three-star QB JD Johnson has committed to Michigan.
• Scott Frost continues to add to his roster on top of a top-25 class, as Oklahoma State defensive lineman Darrion Daniels has made his transfer to Nebraska official. The 6'3", 320-pound Daniels redshirted this fall after an injury limited him to four games.
9:30 a.m. ET: S-E-C! S-E-C!
• ICYMI: Andy Staples’s mailbag this week starts with a discussion of Oklahoma’s recruiting challenge in rebuilding its suspect defense. Elsewhere in the Big 12, Texas is still working on Day 3, landing four-star lineman Isaiah Hookfin, whom 247Sports considered a strong Baylor lean earlier this week.
• Stats like this never get old.
• Don’t blame us if this evolves from a signing day blog to a transfer rumors blog by the end of the day. With few (if any) big names set to seal up their college decisions, the most interesting storyline of Friday might be whether any players do the roster math and realize their path to playing time or maximum exposure may lie at another school.
Miami earned a mini-victory on Thursday when head coach Mark Richt was able to change the mind of freshman quarterback Jarren Williams, who 247Sports reported on Wednesday was exploring a transfer after seeing the field in only one game this year. Meanwhile, Justin Fields’s 2019 plans threatened to overshadow the busiest part of Wednesday’s recruiting action, with the former five-star dual-threat QB officially in the transfer portal and mulling his options.
Sources: Momentum for a Justin Fields-to-Ohio State transfer is increasing. Ryan Day’s impact cannot be overstated. Fields and those close to him are enamored by a potential pairing with Day.— Kyle Rowland (@KyleRowland) December 21, 2018
• Before you get your jokes off about the Power 5’s weakest conference, take a closer look at the positives within the Pac-12. If you scroll down the 247Sports composite class rankings, you reach the fourth Pac-12 team (USC, No. 21) before you reach the fourth class representing the Big Ten (Nebraska, No. 24), Big 12 (Baylor, No. 37) or ACC (Virginia Tech, No. 29). And the Trojans have a reputation for closing strong that could serve them well among the in-state commitments who are traditionally slow to sign on the dotted line, so Clay Helton could get them back into the top 20 with little problem. Meanwhile, in holding off Alabama for five-star end Kayvon Thibodeaux, Oregon cemented its top-10 class, and Stanford looks set to join the Ducks and conference champ Washington in the top 20 after landing four-star wideout Elijah Higgins.
• Your lowest-ranked Power 5 class so far: Louisville, currently sitting at No. 132 in the 247Sports rankings. Scott Satterfield is feeling the tightest squeeze of the hectic onboarding schedule for new head coaches, and as a result of that transition and the smoldering crater of goodwill left by Bobby Petrino, the Cardinals enter Friday with only five commitments, all three-stars. There’s plenty of time to flesh that class out before February, but looking up at Connecticut, UMass and North Dakota State is never a good feeling.