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Programs Trending Down Ahead of Early Signing Period

It's crunch time in college football recruiting and several Power 5 programs aren't exactly headed in the right direction

Decommitment season, flip season, whatever you want to call it -- is here. Six Power 5 prospects opened up the process on Monday while the news didn't slow into Tuesday on the verbal commitment front. 

College football and its schedule doesn't allow for any lag time into the final month on the calendar as all of a sudden the Early Signing Period stands two weeks out. 

While some programs who lost out on a recruit of late, like LSU and Oregon, are likely to rebound and finish strong through the New Year, it may not be the case elsewhere in the P5. 

SI All-American digs into a half-dozen programs seemingly slipping on the recruiting trail. 

Arizona State 

At one point in this cycle, ASU had more than 20 commitments and was threatening to crack the top-15 recruiting class rankings. However, that is no longer the case. Herman Edwards and his staff have not gotten a commitment from a prospect since September. While the Sun Devils boast commitments from the likes of SI99 CB Isaiah Johnson, IOL Ezra Dotson-Oyetade and DB Tommi Hill, they only currently have 15 commitments. Whether they have chosen to drop several commitments vs. those players decommitting, it has not been a smooth arrival at the home stretch of this early signing period in Tempe. Another interesting element to ASU’s current recruiting efforts is its staff has seemingly bypassed the tried and true approach of locking down its backyard, as only one prospect in the Sun Devils’ recruiting class is from the state of Arizona. 

What’s Next: Landing No. 1 interior defensive line prospect Korey Foreman, who has ASU in his top group, would go a long way towards changing the perception here. Red-hot QB Jaxson Dart would be a sharp consolation, too. Each is expected to come off the board in the coming weeks.

South Carolina 

The Gamecocks have a few issues at the moment, with the lack of a head coach being the most notable problem. With the firing of Will Muschamp last month, a subsequent exodus has taken place from South Carolina’s recruiting class. A total of five players decommitted from their pledges last week, leaving the current recruiting class with just 10 commitments. Whomever is hired as the next head coach in Columbia will have their cut out for them not only on the field with the current roster, but immediately on the recruiting trail. With SEC East foes Georgia, Florida and Tennessee all set to bring in high-end classes, the gap to catch up to them on the field on a consistent basis will only widen with the results of this 2021 recruiting cycle. 

What’s Next: Clarity. Regardless of who is next up in Columbia, it’s clear that person needs to be in place in order to right the ship on the recruiting trail. We saw similar last year with programs like Florida State, Ole Miss and Mississippi State, among others.

Baylor 

Halloween to Thanksgiving was a bit of a rough stretch on the recruiting trail for the Bears. Head coach Dave Aranda and his staff lost three commitments, and to make things worse, all three were in-state prospects. WR Hal Presley changed his mind on October 30th, committing to Auburn a short time later. IDL Byron Murphy II flipped to Texas on November 18th, and SMU stole WR Roderick Daniels a few days later. The Bears currently have a 17-player class and do not appear to be in the big-game hunts for many uncommitted high-end prospects at the moment. With a 2-5 record, it also hasn’t exactly been a banner year on the field for Baylor, either. 

What’s Next: Oklahoma on Saturday, in Norman. Usually one game doesn’t sway a recruit one way or another but Aranda and company showing the ability to muster up a strong game plan with less talent could prove critical for remaining targets. An upset altogether would almost certainly help land an in-stater or two.

TCU 

Staying in the Big 12, TCU has it worse than Baylor right now. The Horned Frogs have just eight (yes, eight) commitments at this time. TCU could be on track to bringing in the worst and/or smallest class in the Big 12, something it can not afford to let happen since the program already has to deal with heavyweights such as Texas, Texas A&M, Oklahoma, Ohio State, LSU, Alabama and other schools constantly in its backyard. WR TJ Steele’s commitment on November 30th was TCU’s first pledge since September. While the Horned Frogs have traditionally won on the field with grit instead of winning the headlines on signing day, this 2021 recruiting cycle has not been fruitful in Waco. 

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What’s Next: An upset of Oklahoma State this weekend could reinforce the Frogs’ standing in the conference but on the trail that ‘big fish’ isn’t quite out there like SI All-American running back Zach Evans was for them this time last year. Camar Wheaton, Bryce Foster, Tunmise Adeleye are big-time Texans still available and landing any one of them would be a head-turning surprise to the industry.

Auburn 

Auburn lost the Iron Bowl last weekend, but that was not the only loss the Tigers suffered. In-state SI99 RB Armoni Goodwin decommitted from Auburn this week, giving the Tigers their second decommitment over the last two weeks, as OT Caleb Johnson backed off his pledge to play on The Plains in mid-November. In fact, Auburn has seen four decommitments since the commencement of 2021 recruiting. Aside from flipping WR Hal Presley from Baylor in November, head coach Gus Malzahn has not acquired a commitment since August. SI99 Edge Jeremiah “Scooby” Williams appeared set to commit to Malzahn and the Tigers earlier this fall, only to change his mind and declare for SEC rival Florida.

What’s Next: Closing out strong on the field. AU didn’t look great over the weekend and the same question around Malzahn’s future aren’t quite put to bed. A win over Texas A&M would all but assure he stays on the Plains, always good for class stability.

Penn State

Penn State head coach James Franklin has had a tough 2021 season on the field, as the Nittany Lions are surprisingly only 1-5. The recruiting trail has not been kind as well. Penn State has just 14 commitments ahead of the early signing period and has been affected heavily by the COVID-19 pandemic. Franklin has passionately maintained that he and his staff pride themselves on giving recruits an exceptional experience upon visiting Happy Valley, which they can not do due to the NCAA dead period that has been upheld for nearly this entire cycle. Penn State hasn’t received a commitment since October. Seeing priority in-state S Derrick Davis Jr. pick LSU in early November was another stinging blow to Franklin. Big Ten programs such as Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Maryland and Nebraska are faring better than Penn State in 2021 recruiting. 

What’s Next: Patience. PSU has targeted another wave of prospects down the stretch and could be in position to pick up ‘flips’ on coveted prospects once committed elsewhere like defensive lineman Victory Vaka (TAMU) and running back Deshun Murell (UCLA) who are back on the market.

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