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Texas A&M Overtakes Alabama for Top Class Following Early Signing Period

Aggies Added No. 1 cornerback Denver Harris over the weekend

The race between Alabama and Texas A&M on the college football recruiting trail over the last week was about as good -- and close -- as the program's game in October. 

At the conclusion of the first day of the Early Signing Period on Wednesday, a.k.a. National Signing Day, Nick Saban had a narrow edge over Jimbo Fisher's class despite a red-hot close. But since that day, with the signing period open through Friday evening, it was Fisher who would duplicate the win over Saban on the trail much like that memorable night in College Station. 

As such, Sports Illustrated updated the Top 25 team recruiting rankings, as the fluctuation on late signees was felt throughout the country considering classes coming together through the weekend. The picture moving forward is clear now that the silent signatures and program's agreeing to keep decisions under wraps in favor of player announcements is behind us (until January, at least). 

Since the mad dash Wednesday, plenty of elite recruits have come off the board. No. 1 cornerback Denver Harris announced for Texas A&M after helping North Shore High School win a state championship on Saturday night. After the chaos of the coaching carousel, it was the stability under Fisher at A&M that helped to win the contested recruitment. 

"My family loved it over there. I loved it over there," Harris told Rivals. "It's close to home, and even though that part wasn't really important to me for a while, it all worked out."

No. 3 corner Domani Jackson picked USC while fellow SI99 defensive back Kendrick Law opted for Alabama over LSU. The nation's top tight end, Jaleel Skinner, waited until Friday to fax in his National Letter of Intent, flipping his choice from Alabama to Mario Cristobal and Miami. Speaking of flips, how about Arizona signing longtime Oregon wide receiver pledge and California Gatorade state Player of the Year Tetairoa McMillan?

Moves beyond the SI99, which now features just nine undecided prospects, were also notable in making subtle change in how the recruiting top 25 will play into the New Year. Of course there are still elite names out there to help shuffle these rankings between the first week of the New Year and the traditional signing period, set to open February 2. 

Note: SI's rankings are subjective and based on elite talent acquisition, filling team needs and premium position prospects.

1. Texas A&M

27 Verbal Commitments, 12 SI99 Members

Harris, the No. 1 cornerback recruit, caps an ESP haul headed to College Station with as much top-end talent as any program has brought in during modern recruiting era. A&M signed the top interior defensive lineman (Walter Nolen), No. 1 corner (Harris) and fellow top 20 overall recruits Gabriel Brownlow-Dindy (No. 10), Evan Stewart (No. 12) and Anthony Lucas (No. 19). Georgia signed three top 20 recruits while Alabama signed two.

2. Alabama

24 Verbal Commitments, 13 SI99 Members

The Skinner flip to Miami was surprising, but it replaced one SI99 loss with a premium position add in defensive back (and/or do-it-all athlete) Kendrick Law

3. Georgia

26 Verbal Commitments, 9 SI99 Members

4. Texas

27 Verbal Commitments, 6 SI99 Members

5. Ohio State

18 Verbal Commitments, 5 SI99 Members

6. Penn State

24 Verbal Commitments, 4 SI99 Members

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7. Notre Dame

21 Verbal Commitments, 4 SI99 Members

8. Michigan

23 Verbal Commitments, 2 SI99 Members

9. Kentucky

20 Verbal Commitments, 2 SI99 Members

10. Auburn

19 Verbal Commitments, 3 SI99 Members

The Tigers conquered junior college recruiting like no other program in the cycle, adding elite prospects on defense in the secondary and of course up front with the No. 1 junior college recruit announcing for AU on Sunday. The Tigers had a strong close, adding the JUCO defenders to late adds Camden Brown (former Pitt commit) and Louisiana defensive lineman Enyce Sledge

On the JUCO front, it turns out the additions of Jeffrey M'Ba and Keionte Scott were aided by one another. Both were coveted from coast to coast, but built a connection while in town on the Plains at the same time. It coincided with the near upset of current No. 1 playoff seed Alabama. 

"We all talked after the Iron Bowl," Scott said. 

11. Missouri

16 Verbal Commitments, 2 SI99 Members

12. North Carolina

17 Verbal Commitments, 1 SI99 Member

13. Tennessee

20 Verbal Commitments

14. Stanford

22 Verbal Commitments, 1 SI99 Member

15. Clemson

13 Verbal Commitments, 5 SI99 Members

16. Oklahoma

15 Verbal Commitments, 1 SI99 Member

17. Mississippi State

22 Verbal Commitments

18 South Carolina

22 Verbal Commitments

The Gamecocks added former Oregon quarterback commitment Tanner Bailey, of Gordo (Ala.) High school, over the weekend. The top 10 passer on SI completes an interesting two-quarterback haul with Braden Davis among those headed to Columbia. 

19. Arkansas

21 Verbal Commitments

20. Florida State

16 Verbal Commits, 1 SI99 Member

FSU was a National Signing Day loser, but it did add three new prospects by late Wednesday night. None was bigger for team needs and perception, simultaneously, than in-state legacy offensive line prospect Julian Armella. 

21. Michigan State

22 Verbal Commitments

22. Ole Miss

17 Verbal Commitments, 1 SI99 Member

23. Indiana

20 Verbal Commitments

24. Cincinnati 

20 Verbal Commitments, 1 SI99 Member

25. Arizona

21 Verbal Commitments, 2 SI99 Members

The Wildcats storm into the top 25 for the first time on the heels of Anaheim (Calif.) Servite High School in California, supplying the quarterback of the future in Noah Fifita and SI99 pass catchers Keyan Burnett and weekend flip Tetairoa McMillan.

Dropped Out: Boston College