Decision Day is here. After the majority of the class of 2018’s top prospects sealed their college choices in late December during college football’s new early signing period, top teams were left to vie for the services of the final few blue-chip talents available across the country in rounding out their recruiting classes. Now as the traditional National Signing Day arrives, those holdout high school stars will write the first chapter of their college careers.
Which schools will land signing day’s biggest fish? Is Ohio State's place atop the class rankings safe? And are there any big surprises in store? We’re tracking all the high-profile commitments, news and rumors of Wednesday’s action below. Unless otherwise specified, all star counts and position rankings are via the 247Sports Composite.
5:15 p.m. ET: West Coast headliners
• The “fight” for four-star DB Isaac Taylor-Stuart is over. He announced his commitment to USC from his father’s taekwondo studio in suburban L.A.
• USC isn’t the only Pac-12 team getting blue-chippers: Four-star East (Utah) O-lineman Penei Sewell has chosen Oregon over the Trojans.
• Four-star Long Beach Poly safety Aashari Crosswell signs on with Herm Edwards’s first recruiting class just after his teammate three-star defensive end Jermayne Lole picks the Sun Devils.
4:30 p.m. ET: A late win for Nick Saban
• Alabama may have lost its top in-state receiver to Clemson, but the Tide dipped into the Lone Star State for another four-star. Episcopal (Texas) WR Jaylen Waddle has picked Alabama over Oregon, Texas A&M, TCU and Florida State.
• Texas A&M has moved to the fringe of the top 15 without any help today from a former quarterback you may have heard of.
• Chip Kelly making moves out in Westwood:
4 p.m. ET: Baker Mayfield is still 100% Sooner
• When key Texas signing day prize Keondre Coburn promised that the Longhorns would beat Oklahoma after confirming his commitment, the reigning Heisman Trophy winner weighed in. Baker Mayfield wrote this in a now-deleted tweet to Coburn:
“This is what we call being naive. Kid has no idea what it's like stepping into the Cotton Bowl. So here's how it works... The team north of the Red River doesn't flinch. But it's okay, you'll see for yourself, wish you the best.”
Here’s what Coburn, the No. 13 player in the state of Texas, said to irk Mayfield:
• Excellent work here by the Seminoles sticking with a theme.
• More good news in Gainesville, as four-star DE Malik Langham spurns Alabama and Auburn for a spot on Dan Mullen’s first Florida class.
3:30 p.m. ET: Gators gaining momentum
• Florida has come on strong after a relatively quiet morning, keeping four-star offensive tackle Richard Gouriage in the fold after Clemson made a late push for the Gators commit.
• On the other side of the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party, some clarity on the future of Georgia signee Otis Reese, the Lee County (Ga.) defender whom the Bulldogs flipped from Michigan.
• Despite landing the No. 1 uncommitted prospect in the country, Alabama is down to No. 9 in the national class rankings. This will be the first time the Tide finish outside the top three since 2007, but in fairness, Nick Saban brings plenty of young talent back, including Tua Tagovailoa and the other true freshmen who starred in the national championship game.
2:30 p.m. ET: Here's your weirdest commitment of the day
• Escambia (Fla.) High School WR Jacob Copeland, the top-ranked receiver in the Sunshine State, picked Florida over Alabama and Tennessee in a fascinating signing day scene, surrounded by family members and supporters wearing Volunteers and Crimson Tide gear. But his mom walked off the set as soon as the announcement was made.
Happily, Mom returned to the scene to give Copeland a hug and sign his National Letter of Intent.
• Let’s check in on Herm Edwards’s first class at Arizona State:
• Cedar Hill (Texas) RB Maurice Washington signs on with Nebraska and new head coach Scott Frost on ESPN2. “Maybe I could be the face of the program, and we go take this and go get a natty.”
2 p.m.: Devon Williams picks USC
• The Trojans are heating up, landing one of the top downfield threats in the class of 2018 in Antelope Valley (Calif.) WR Devon Williams. They have roared past Washington as the Pac-12’s top-ranked class.
• Ole Miss adds a former USC DT via the junior college route.
• Alabama seems to be sliding back after threatening the top three earlier this morning. The Crimson Tide are down to No. 8 in the 247Sports Composite rankings.
1:30 p.m.: USC lands the five-star son of a rap star
• Yes, Olaijah Griffin is the son of West Coast rapper Warren G. But the Mission Viejo (Calif.) cornerback is making a name for himself in his own right. Griffin, today’s final five-star available according to the 247Sports Composite rankings, committed to USC with a balloon popped by his father, revealing gold confetti.
• Willie Taggart isn’t going the doom-and-gloom route with Florida State’s quarterback situation. The Seminoles missed out on Emory Jones (who picked Florida) in December and James Wilson (who picked Texas A&M) on Wednesday.
• Is help on the way for the Sooners’ much-maligned defense? Four-star DT Michael Thompson, a St. Louis product who was the No. 4 player at his position, has chosen Oklahoma.
1 p.m. ET: Welcome to the top 10, FSU
• Clemson adds a potential big-time receiver in Phenix City, Ala., product Justyn Ross, a 6'4", 201-pound target who was the top prospect in the state of Alabama this year (No. 45 overall). Ross also had Alabama and Auburn hats on the table. The Tigers don’t have the sheer numbers to compete for the nation’s top recruiting class, but this is an insane fact:
• Alabama’s top receiver is leaving the state, but Louisiana’s top receiver is staying home.
• USC lands four-star linebacker Solomon Tuliaupupu, one of the Trojans’ top signing day targets. As SI’s Chris Johnson pointed out in his preview of what’s on the line in L.A. today, USC’s modest place in the recruiting rankings was an issue of quantity, not quality, and newly extended coach Clay Helton has several more targets set to decide in the late afternoon.
• Florida State has entered the top 10 of the class rankings with a big push today. The Seminoles just added Heritage (Ga.) wide receiver Jordan Young, a former Tennessee commit whose rapid rise was recently chronicled by SB Nation’s FSU blog Tomahawk Nation.
Noon ET: Georgia is (still) not messing around
• Kirby Smart will never stop going in. The Bulldogs have flipped Alabama commit Quay Walker, a four-star out of Crisp County (Ga.) High School ranked No. 2 among the nation’s outside linebacker prospects and No. 31 overall.
• Another D.C.-area cornerback being fought over by Notre Dame and Virginia heads to South Bend: four-star Noah Boykin, the No. 34 corner in the country, has chosen the Irish after D.J. Brown made the same decision earlier this morning.
• The 10th-highest-ranked uncommitted recruit in the country is off to Chapel Hill. Apopka (Fla.) offensive lineman William Barnes (No. 53 overall) has chosen North Carolina.
• A few minutes after Walker picks the Dawgs, Tommy Bush, a four-star wide receiver from Schertz, Texas, donned the red and black as well (as did his niece, who had her jacket unzipped to reveal the Georgia gear that signaled his decision). With leading receiver Javon Wims headed to the NFL draft, UGA can’t have too many weapons around Jake Fromm—or Justin Fields, or whoever’s running the offense in Athens.
11:30 a.m. ET: Quarterbacks make their calls
• Lanier (Ala.) four-star QB James Foster just picked Texas A&M over Alabama, LSU and Florida State, giving Jimbo Fisher another recruiting win over his new SEC West foes (and his former employer,
• Four-star QB Tanner McKee is heading to Palo Alto ... after completing his two-year Mormon mission. Read more about one of this class’s most interesting passers here.
11:15 a.m. ET: Georgia back at No. 1 ... for now
• Thanks in part to the signing of No. 12 overall prospect Tyson Campbell, the Bulldogs are back on top of the 247Sports Composite leaderboard, with a whopping seven five stars in the fold this recruiting cycle. Other big movers in Wednesday’s early going include some of the usual suspects: Alabama has climbed all the way up to No. 4, while Florida State is lurking outside the top 10 at No. 12. There should be plenty more movement ahead.
• Virginia Tech had a pretty good idea it was losing star linebacker Tremaine Edmunds to the NFL, but reinforcements are on the way for Bud Foster’s perennially punishing unit. Shelby (N.C.) linebacker Dax Hollifield, No. 7 at his position in the nation and No. 151 overall according to 247, picked the Hokies over Stanford, North Carolina and Clemson on Wednesday morning. Virginia Tech currently holds the ACC’s fourth highest-ranked class.
10:30 a.m. ET: Ohio State gets the top OL available
• Five-star Nick Petit-Frere has signed with the Buckeyes after a recruitment shrouded in mystery that was also headlined by Alabama, Florida, Michigan and Notre Dame. That means that all three schools with an inside track on the No. 1 class (Alabama, Georgia and Ohio State) have landed five-stars this hour.
• More good news for the Buckeyes: Defensive coordinator Greg Schiano isn’t going to the Patriots after all.
10 a.m. ET: The American Heritage Four make their calls
• First up from the Florida state champions in Plantation, which have gone 27–0 the past two years with help from the nation’s top two DBs: DE Andrew Chatfield picks the Gators (with the hat fake to jab Miami fans in the heart). Then five-star CB Tyson Campbell picks Georgia. Then top prospect Patrick Surtain Jr. pulls off a relative stunner, picking Alabama after many projections pegged him for LSU in the lead-up to Signing Day.
• High praise for five-star Xavier Thomas, who signed with Clemson in December:
• Four-star edge defender Caleb Tannor turned some heads by selecting Nebraska over Florida and Auburn earlier this morning. The Miller Grove (Ga.) High School product told Rivals that Scott Frost’s Huskers staff wants to use him the way they used Shaquem Griffin at UCF.
9:30 a.m. ET: Here come the big fish
• Three five-star recruits are set to announce in a flurry in the 10 a.m. hour, once ESPN begins its day-long coverage: Patrick Surtain Jr., Tyson Campbell and Nicholas Petit-Frere. Surtain and Campbell are two of four teammates at American Heritage High School set to announce at the top of the show. Surtain, the top uncommitted prospect, was “torn” as recently as last night, according to ESPN’s Tom VanHaaren.
The latest update from American Heritage, with four-star DT Nesta Silvera (set to choose between Miami and Florida) making things interesting:
• Last night’s Josh McDaniels saga could mess with Baylor’s signing day—the Bears are/were closing in on a top-25 class.
• Four-star Stockbridge (Ga.) athlete Marquez Ezzard, a top-40 prospect in one of the country’s most talent-rich states, is headed to Miami. Ezzard decommitted from Florida State in the fall.
• Another Swinney son joins Clemson, joining Will Swinney, the Tigers’ holder last fall. Probably not Dabo’s most difficult recruiting pitch.
• Meanwhile in Tallahassee:
9 a.m. ET: SEC West intrigue!
• Jimbo Fisher is making use of today to polish up his first Texas A&M class, and things are off to a rollicking start in College Station, as four-star Lamar (Texas) DT Bobby Brown has flipped from Alabama to the Aggies. Brown is No. 17 tackle in the country, according to the 247Sports Composite.
8:45 a.m. ET: Goodrich picks Clemson, Texas secures Coburn
• Clemson nabs Lee's Summitt West (Mo.) athlete Mario Goodrich, a four-star receiver-DB-return man who could be asked to replace some of the explosiveness lost when Deon Cain and Ray-Ray McCloud left for the NFL draft. LSU and Georgia were also in on Goodrich.
• Four-star defensive tackle Keondre Coburn, the No. 13 recruit in the state of Texas, had committed to the Longhorns last year but didn’t shut things down during the early signing period. Now Tom Herman and company can rest easy, as the Cypress Ranch product has sent in his National Letter of Intent.
Texas has 11 of the state’s top 15 prospects in the fold.
8 a.m. ET: Here Come the Irish
• Notre Dame secured the commitment of defensive back D.J. Brown, a three-star out of D.C. who had been committed to Virginia. As of right now, Brian Kelly’s 2018 haul (the largest in Notre Dame history) sits near the bottom of the national top 10—if the Irish are somehow able to snag highly-touted tackle Nicholas Petit-Frere later this morning, they could start climbing.
• Javontae Jean-Baptiste will choose from Virginia Tech, Nebraska, Texas A&M and Ohio State ... eventually. A source told Rivals.com’s Adam Friedman that Jean-Baptiste “has legitimately changed his mind four times.”
7:15 a.m. ET: Off and running
• Buford (Ga.) High three-star running back Anthony Grant has flipped from Tennessee to Florida State, an early-morning win for few coach Willie Taggart in his effort to salvage a Seminoles class that lost a lot of bodies when Jimbo Fisher took his time heading out the door. Grant had committed to the Volunteers last June but kept his options open in December. Virginia Tech was the last team in his revisited final three.
• Notre Dame lands three-star RB C'Bo Flemister, another Georgia back (Pike County) notable in that he was honored on our 2018 National Signing Day All-Name Team. Flemister had been committed to Georgia Tech prior to Wednesday.
• Interesting story from ESPN’s Tom VanHaaren: Utah was actually able to get a head-start on signing day by making things official with tight end Thomas Yassmin at 4:54 p.m. ET on Tuesday. Yassmin faxed his NLI in to Salt Lake City from Sydney, where it was already Wednesday morning.
“I’ve never played football in my life,” Yassmin told Fox Sports Australia. “I’ve watched it. I’ve played Madden, but I’ve never played it.” Good start.
Who's Still Available?
Need to set some alarms for the day’s biggest decisions? These are the top 11 uncommitted recruits remaining (all with a 247 Composite rating of over .9700) and when they’re scheduled to commit (all times Eastern):
1. CB Patrick Surtain Jr., American Heritage (Fla.) — 6th overall (10 a.m., ESPNU)
2. OT Nicholas Petit-Frere, Berkeley Prep (Fla.) — 7th overall (10 a.m., ESPNU)
3. CB Tyson Campbell, American Heritage (Fla.) — 12th overall (10 a.m., ESPNU
4. CB Olaijah Griffin, Mission Viejo (Calif.) — 28th overall (1 p.m., ESPN2)
5. CB Isaac Taylor-Stuart, Helix (Calif.) — 32nd overall (5:15 p.m.)
6. WR Jaylen Waddle, Episcopal (Texas) — 39th overall (4:30 p.m.)
7. WR Devon Williams, Antelope Valley (Calif.) — 40th overall (2 p.m. ESPN2)
8. WR Justyn Ross, Central (Ala.) — 45th overall (1 p.m., ESPN2)
9. QB Tanner McKee, Centennial (Calif.) — 46th overall (11 a.m., ESPNU)
10. OT William Barnes, Apopka (Fla.) — 53rd overall
11. G Penei Sewell, Desert Hills (Utah) — 57th overall (5 p.m., Twitter)
What's Going to Happen?
A lot less than normally transpires on the first Wednesday of February. With more than 70% of the class of 2018 already locked up, the past six weeks have been a little lighter on the craziness typically associated with peak recruiting season, as all sides can take stock of their options a little more deliberately. While most contenders’ classes are nearly complete, the final one or two additions could provide an extra boost of program momentum heading into spring practice (and the early stages of the 2019 recruiting cycle)—or at least swing the national class rankings for a feather in the school’s cap.
Georgia was dubbed the big winner of the early signing period, but January’s recalculation of top prospects’ star ratings helped Ohio State regain a slight edge heading into signing day. There’s a slight gap to the next group of teams in the rankings, making it unlikely that someone other than the Bulldogs or Buckeyes will hold bragging rights by the end of the day.
For a more in-depth look at what’s on the line today, check out Chris Johnson’s preview of seven key signing day storylines.
TV Guide to National Signing Day 2018
ESPN’s live coverage begins on ESPNU at 10 a.m. ET and moves over at noon to ESPN2, where it will run until 3 p.m. The SEC Network, Pac-12 Networks and Longhorn Network will all hold wrap-up coverage later in the afternoon.