The joys of College Football signing day

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It’s time for the most eventful day of the college football offseason. Happy National Signing Day!

Florida vs. Auburn, or the Revenge of Will Muschamp

Will Muschamp’s departure from Florida and new position at Auburn will make the recruiting battle interesting between the Gators and Tigers, especially considering the talent at stake. Muschamp is gone from Gainesville, but he’ll try to steal away some of the players he recruited during the season to join him at Auburn.

It starts with ESPN’s No. 1 ranked recruit, defensive end Byron Cowart of Seffner, Florida, who is still deciding between the two schools (though Florida State remains a slim possibility). In the mold of former No. 1 overall recruits Jadeveon Clowney and Robert Nkemdiche, Cowart is a 6-foot-4, 250-pound lineman who has coaches salivating over his potential. He’s fast and strong with lots of room to bulk up.  

Cowart seemed to be leaning toward Florida before the coaching change and I think he will follow Muschamp to Auburn, where he’ll have the opportunity to be a pivotal piece of Muschamp’s defensive scheme.

ESPN No. 5 Martez Ivey, also from Florida, is the nation’s top offensive tackle and his decision appears to be between Florida and Auburn as well. Experts predict he’s leaning toward Florida because there’s more opportunity for early playing time. Florida could really use a five-star recruit to boost its class. Right now, ESPN doesn’t even rank the Gators in the top 40 classes.

Another Florida native Cece Jefferson is ranked No. 9 by ESPN and is also deciding between Auburn, Florida, Alabama and Ole Miss. The defensive end seems like he could really go anywhere at this point, but if I had to pick, I’d see him becoming a Gator — he was raised a Florida fan and would get to stay in his home state.  

Who’s behind Bama?

While Alabama suffered some late-season heartbreak the last few years, Nick Saban owns National Signing Day. The Crimson Tide have held the nation’s top recruiting class the past three years and looks to have already secured this year’s top class as well. On the 2015 Crimson Tide, every single class will have been the best in the country.

There’s still time for another school to usurp them with a big Signing Day, but it’s unlikely.

There’s much more of a dogfight behind Bama for spots in the top-five. USC is poised to bring in its best recruiting class in years. The Trojans finally have their full number of scholarships back and can make a splash.

Tennessee should look to build on last year’s top-five class with another one, even after finishing 7-6. While his team isn’t producing on-field yet, Butch Jones has shown he can hang with the big dogs in recruiting.

ACC rivals Florida State and Clemson also should have top classes. And if Auburn can land some of their highest-ranked targets, they’ll be right up at the top as well.

Big Day for Big Ten?

Things are looking up for the Big Ten after a national championship. With stellar recruiter James Franklin also in the mix at Penn State, Wednesday could be an eventful day for the Big Ten.

Right now, the conference only looks to have two top-25 classes in Ohio State and Penn State, but we’ll see how things change after signing day.

Things are never certain for newly-hired coaches working on an abbreviated recruiting schedule, but Jim Harbaugh could still improve Michigan’s class. When Harbaugh took the job, Michigan was down to only six recruits. Last week, four-star quarterback Zach Gentry decommitted from Texas to come to Ann Arbor. Two other three-star recruits have also changed commitments to Michigan. It’ll be interesting to see if any more recruits flip to join Harbaugh’s rebuilding project. A few four- and five-star recruits will decide on Michigan on Wednesday and could really help elevate the Wolverines’ class from the doldrums.

Ohio State verbal commit Torrance Gibson, No. 16 in the ESPN rankings will most likely be signing elsewhere to avoid dealing with the Buckeye’s star-studded logjam at quarterback. He’s technically an “athlete” who could play a different position for the Buckeyes, but with visits to Auburn, LSU and Miami after committing to Ohio State, Gibson will probably be headed elsewhere.

Chris can be reached at [email protected] and on Twitter @ChrisKennedy_4.