Sports Illustrated Unveils 1,000-Plus Candidates for 2020 SI All-American High School Football Team
College football’s 2021 recruiting class will be the most unique in the modern history of the talent chase because on both sides of the equation -- the players’ and the coaches’ -- there’s a leap of faith like never before as a result of the social restrictions triggered by COVID-19, Sports Illustrated’s director of recruiting John Garcia Jr. said today as Sports Illustrated unveiled its watch list of 1,000 high school senior football players for the 2020 SI All-American team.
“The in-person evaluation opportunities that usually take place in the spring and summer went away, as did the official and unofficial campus visits that go so far in shaping a prospect’s decision on college,” he said.
But rather than slow the recruiting process, the inverse has happened.
“More than 700 of the 1,000-plus high school seniors on our SIAA watch list have already committed verbally to a college -- in many cases without having set foot on the campus. What we’re seeing is unprecedented,” Garcia said.
He cautioned that the avalanche of early verbals could trigger an equally unprecedented number of de-commits as the first signing period in December draws closer.
“If the nation turns the corner on the pandemic and these student-athletes can start taking visits then we’re going to see preferences changing,” Garcia said. “And even absent a turnaround with COVID-19, the simple fact is it’s five months before the first signing period -- five months for competing coaches to continue making a pitch.”
As for the SI All-American watch list, Garcia believes it represents the widest, most in-depth public analysis of any recruiting class ever.
“We have scouting analysis and video highlights for all 1,000 candidates, broken down by state,” he said. The list also is broken down by verbal commitments and top targets for each of the 65 Power 5 schools (as well as Notre Dame and BYU).
The 10 states with the most candidates for the SI All-American team are Florida (142), Texas (129), Georgia (84), California (79), North Carolina (55), Alabama (44), Ohio (37), Virginia (32), Michigan (30) and Maryland (28).
Thursday, July 16, Sports Illustrated will reveal its No. 1-ranked overall player, and on Friday, July 17, will unveil the first of its positional top 10 lists (quarterbacks) that it will roll out over the summer. SI will announce its Preseason Top 99 (the SI99) on August 24.
The evaluation process will continue throughout the season “until the list of 1,000 contenders coalesces around just 25 young men who can say proudly they are the best of the best -- they are Sports Illustrated All-Americans,” Garcia said.
The candidates will be narrowed to 250 finalists in October and 99 finalists in November, and will culminate with 25 first-team Sports Illustrated All-Americans saluted at SI’s annual Sportsperson of the Year banquet in New York in December.
Follow SI All-American at si.com/college/recruiting/ and on social media: @SIAllAmerican and #SIAAtop1000