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Countdown to Signing Day: Decommitment Season Wild As Carousel Spins

Developing story lines one week out from National Signing Day

One week remains between story line and action as far as college football recruiting is concerned. Most of the nation's top recruits are seven days away from signing a national letter of intent at their school of choice. 

With the coaching carousel still spinning—Miami introduced Mario Cristobal on Tuesday while Oregon is looking to make a swift hire to replace him—plenty of recruiting fallout and roster attrition continues to show itself. 

LSU quarterback Max Johnson hit the transfer portal and his younger brother, SI99 tight end Jake Johnson, followed it up with a decommitment from LSU in the wake of Brian Kelly's hiring. Longtime in-state wide receiver recruit Decoldest Crawford did the same, just hours after picking up an offer from one of the coaches who recruited him to LSU, Mickey Joseph, at his new post with the Nebraska Cornhuskers. 

The Tiger transition is a small sample of what dozens of FBS programs are navigating. 

Evers back on the market

One of the more surprising resets in the recruiting class went down late Tuesday evening, as Nick Evers announced his intention of opening the process back up. The longtime Florida commit, who was seemingly thrilled with the program's hire of Billy Napier, will now explore additional options in the final week of the process. Quarterbacks like him, with plans to graduate in December and enroll at a program in January, are on quite the time crunch. 

There won't be a lack of interest for Evers, who had dozens of offers before picking Florida in March. Sports Illustrated had recently heard buzz on Notre Dame and TCU inquiring on the solidity of his commitment dating back to October but now it appears another program in transition could be the program to beat. Oklahoma, which didn't secure a quarterback commitment for the class under Lincoln Riley, has its own attrition in the quarterback room, and the Flower Mound (Texas) star could be on campus for the final weekend of the cycle. Arkansas, Ole Miss and Texas are also among those still on the hunt for a quarterback late in the game.

Other notable decommitments 

Florida had another commitment open things up in wide receiver Chandler Smith, as Napier and his new staff will have to theoretically build for the long play through January and into the traditional signing day window in February. Oregon was hit hard by the decommitment bug Monday, as the Cristobal news became certain, losing quarterback Tanner Bailey, linebacker TJ Dudley and the nation's No. 2 offensive tackle Kelvin Banks. Each former Duck pledge has heard from a bevy of programs since. 

Another transition staff lost its quarterback Tuesday as Jackson Stratton backed off of a verbal to Washington, really the only program the California native was tied to in the recruiting process. Two other passers who recently decommitted, AJ Swann (Maryland) and Josh Hoover (Indiana), have already made commitments to new programs as Swann is a Vanderbilt pledge and Hoover is the first QB Sonny Dykes got committed to TCU. 

The other major domino to fall early in the week on the decommitment front came from Keon Sabb, an SI99 safety recruit out of IMG Academy. The New Jersey native had been committed to Clemson since July but moved on after one of his main recruiters, Brent Venables, took the Oklahoma job. Many programs are courting him at the 11th hour, including Michigan, Texas A&M and Georgia. Sabb has been to each suitor, taking official visits to each in the summer months. 

Brown 'at ease' with Cristobal hire at The U

A quarterback who was set to potentially be on the move will now likely stay put and follow through on a commitment despite a coaching change. Jacurri Brown, the south Georgia star quarterback long committed to Miami, was uncertain on his path as Manny Diaz rumors swirled at the end of the season while Ole Miss became very interested and began pushing for a visit. 

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On Monday, the Elite 11 finalist heard from Cristobal just as the news of his imminent hire in Coral Gables was confirmed. 

"I just talked to Mario, mind is at ease," Brown said. "He just let me know I'm still wanted and wanted to let me know I'm family, stuff like that."

Brown said he may try to make another trip to Miami before signing with the program next Wednesday. 

Elite safety set to commit Wednesday

Xavier Nwankpa is the top recruit in the state of Iowa and arguably the top safety recruit nationally. Three programs, Iowa, Ohio State and Notre Dame, have long been the favorites to contend for his commitment decision, and before day's end on Dec. 8 the rest of the country will know the pick, too. 

Nwankpa, who wrapped up his senior season with a state championship, has been busy on the recruiting trail among the three programs since. Each got a visit from the versatile safety, who may be the most physical among the elites, and of course coaches returned the favor in traveling to the Nwankpa home for their final in-person pitch. Iowa appears to have earned the final in-home visit, spending time in the home this week. Head coach Kirk Ferentz and two assistants are fresh off of the last effort to keep Iowa's top prospect in some time within state lines. 

Maryland hunting for QB pledge in Alabama

Maryland lost the aforementioned Swann to Vanderbilt, so Mike Locksley and company are searching for a replacement in the state of Alabama. Hoover (Ala.) High School quarterback Bennett Meredith was offered on Tuesday and he will make it out to College Park for an official visit on Saturday after participating in the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Game. Arizona State is heavily involved with the senior, too. 

The aforementioned Bailey, longtime Oregon commitment before the coaching change, has heard from multiple Big Ten schools since opening the process back up, is also hearing from the Terps, who were in Alabama recruiting on Tuesday and stopped by Gordo High School to see him. Indiana offered on Tuesday, too, so he is navigating the end of the process with options. 

Webb coming off the board Thursday

One of the senior risers whose on-field performance created more recruiting attention is Kaleb Webb of Powder Springs (Ga.) McEachern High School. After hauling in 83 passes for 1,601 yards and 18 touchdowns, Webb picked up droves of offers during the season, including Michigan, Louisville and Tennessee. 

On Tuesday, Webb confirmed to SI he will be making a pick among the three programs on Thursday having taken official visits to each in the fall. The Volunteers got the final trip so there is some momentum on Josh Heupel's staff as the program closes well on the recruiting trail. UT has added three new commitments since Thanksgiving week and has several Peach State prospects still left on the board. 

Accent or not, LSU is picking up the pace

It's not all doom and gloom for LSU's recruiting future. While the 2022 class is treading water, or swimming in the wrong direction at the moment, the long play of keeping elite talent within state lines has a chance to become normal again with the rehire of Frank Wilson, made official Tuesday. Few assistant coaches nationally have the reputation in the Bayou that Wilson does, as many former Tigers expressed after hearing the news. 

Like Riley at USC and Cristobal at Miami, the emphasis in recruiting for Kelly's staff at LSU begins with keeping elite talent home, and despite a rocky Tuesday on the decommitment front, Wilson will aid in that effort about as well as any Tigers fan could hope for. Many of Louisiana's top recruits are still undecided, like SI99 secondary prospects Kendrick Law and Jacoby Matthews, as well as wide receiver Shazz Preston.