On Wednesday, the college ranks will be replenished, as the nation's top recruits will finally announce their intentions. This year's national signing day could be more surprising than most, as several of the highest-ranked prospects are not only still undecided, but are torn between a couple of schools.
These players have already visited their desired campuses, met with coaching staffs and talked with family members about their impending decisions; however, it's a difficult process. Take coveted defensive end Byron Cowart for example. Here's what the prospect's mentor, Woodrow Grady, had to say about the recruiting process, via Derek Tyson of ESPN.com:
Byron has committed to eight schools in his mind since this process begun. There was Auburn, Florida, FSU, Alabama, Oregon and so on. Byron finds the best in every school. That's what he looks for. He's not looking for the speed traps. That's why he's been all over the place in where he may go.
While we anxiously await the decisions of Cowart and several other sought-after recruits, let's take a look at the recent buzz surrounding the nation's top players and predict where they will ultimately play college football.
Byron Cowart, DE
That aforementioned list of schools Cowart was considering has been significantly narrowed. After cutting Florida State from his list of possible destinations, Cowart is now left with a decision between two schools—Florida and Auburn.
A highly athletic player, Cowart would provide a big boost to the school of his choice. He was named the Under Armour All-America Game MVP, as he displayed a great combination of size (6'4", 250 pounds), speed (4.60 second 40-yard dash) and strength. Not only is he quick enough to circumvent blockers, but he's powerful enough to run right through them.
So, which school has the upper hand to land this 5-star recruit?
According to Martin Rickman of Sports Illustrated, Cowart's relationship with Will Muschamp gives Auburn the advantage. However, according to a tweet from Mike Farrell of Rivals.com, the Gators are making a late push to acquire the Florida native:
Based on Grady's comment that Cowart sees the best in every school, the team to visit him last could ultimately win his services. As of now, that school appears to be Florida.
Iman Marshall, CB
There's plenty of chatter surrounding where this 5-star cornerback will wind up, as he still has six schools currently in the running—Florida State, LSU, Michigan, Notre Dame, UCLA and USC. How do we know this? Marshall released this teaser making his top schools known to the public:
NFL Network's Daniel Jeremiah is one of the many who can't wait to hear the recruit's decision:
The hype surrounding Marshall is real. At 6'1" and 190 pounds, he has the size and length every team covets. His quickness allows him to stay on the hip of faster receivers, and he reacts very well when the ball is in the air, gaining leverage and making a play at its highest point. He should have no problem playing in man or zone coverage going forward.
According to 247Sports, USC appeared to be the early destination of choice for the cornerback. Although, there have been some recent intriguing developments. Former San Francisco 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh was hired at Michigan, and following Marshall's visit to the school, he's seriously considering being a Wolverine, according to a tweet from Rivals.com:
USC has a great program, but it's tough to compete with an up-and-coming team that landed a fantastic coach over the offseason.
Martez Ivey, OT
There are plenty of reasons why many schools view Ivey as their most coveted recruit. At 6'5" and 275 pounds, he is a mauler in the trenches, and once he adds some weight, he'll continue that trend at the collegiate level. Even more impressive than his size-strength combination is his quickness. He covers a wide area in pass protection and can get to the second level in a hurry when blocking for the run.
According to Andrew Spivey of GatorCountry.com, Ivey is split between Florida and Auburn. Said the tackle, "Right now I would say I'm 50/50 between Florida and Auburn. I'm done with visits because I'm going on a cruise next weekend to the Bahamas. It kind of worked out so that I can take a break from everything but it wasn't planned like that."
Apparently, Ivey has now made up his mind, as he contemplated announcing his decision early, according to a report from ESPN's Tyson. Unfortunately, he decided against it, so we're left to speculate.
While both schools would be great fits for Ivey, the difference-maker here comes down to the head coach position. Auburn boasts Guz Malzahn, a proven winner and offensive guru. Florida's Jim McElwain is an offensive mind as well, but his inexperience could lead to missing out on this 5-star prospect.
All recruit information courtesy of 247Sports and current as of February 2.
Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com
It's almost here. National signing day 2015 is within reach, and the Miami Hurricanes coaches are awaiting final, binding decisions from prospects.
Miami is looking to hold on to 13 unsigned verbal commitments and bring in a handful of targets who are either uncommitted or currently pledged elsewhere.
The NCAA has reached a dead period, however, so Al Golden and Co. are restricted to electronic and written communications, since coaches are not permitted to contact recruits in person at this time.
Wednesday, Feb. 4, at 7 a.m. ET is the first moment a player can send his National Letter of Intent, but which signatures will be rolling into the 'Canes' NSD headquarters?
Notes: Though 3-star Evan Shirreffs is a name to keep an eye on, Miami isn't expected to ink a quarterback—or a specialist—on signing day. Consequently, neither positional unit is given a slide.
Additionally, surprise commitments are possible. Each player listed has expressed interest in the 'Canes on multiple occasions. Any recruit featuring italics in the "Predictions" section denotes he has already enrolled.
Jim Harbaugh has dazzled fans during his first month as head coach and is now poised to deliver a quality recruiting class on national signing day.
Harbaugh is still hoping to add one or more of the following highly coveted players to his first recruiting class: 5-star cornerback Iman Marshall, 4-star linebacker Roquan Smith, 4-star running back Mike Weber or 4-star receiver Van Jefferson.
Michigan football had languished in the month between Hoke’s dismissal and Harbaugh’s hire but has become a force to be reckoned with under Harbaugh’s leadership. Already he has made good on his promise to hire top assistants while wreaking havoc on the recruiting classes of opposing schools.
After the media crush at his opening press conference, followed by the adulation of fans at a Michigan basketball game, Harbaugh found himself in a deserted Schembechler Hall working the phones to assemble a staff and prepare for recruiting visits.
“A three-point stance waiting to get out,” is how he described his first few weeks on the job, according to the Detroit Free Press.
He began his tenure during a recruiting “dead” period, when no meetings are allowed between coaches and recruits. He could text, email or call recruits and their families, but that was it.
He faced two distinct recruiting efforts during his first month—hiring his coaching staff and completing his first recruiting class.
One effort focused on convincing seasoned coaches, many of whom had known Harbaugh for years, to join him in Ann Arbor. As a former player who grew up in Ann Arbor, the job had a special attraction for him, but he needed to convince other coaches that the opportunity was too good to pass up.
Harbaugh reached out to former colleagues and even his own son to join his staff. He assembled a group of coaches with experience at the collegiate and professional levels with national connections in areas that are hotbeds for producing professional football talent.
His other task depended on quickly planning and executing a recruiting strategy. Opposing coaches had been talking to many of these players for over a year. Harbaugh and his staff needed to evaluate players and build a rapport with recruits and their families in only three weeks. Every recruit may have known of Jim Harbaugh as a professional coach, but visits are crucial to build relationships and trust.
With most top players committed to other programs and only a handful of commitments, Harbaugh targeted players to flip from other programs. Former Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez had been criticized for poaching a recruit from a fellow Big Ten program, but Harbaugh declared open season on any recruit, Big Ten or not. He flipped a player from Nebraska (Reuben Jones) and is working to grab one from Ohio State (Mike Weber).
This week, he will find out how successful his pitch has been to a few remaining high-profile recruiting targets. No matter how many recruits he flips, the small size of Michigan’s recruiting class will keep it from being highly rated. But former coach Brady Hoke had stocked the roster with talented, if underdeveloped, players. Harbaugh only needs to fill out a few positions, most notably at quarterback, to field a competitive team.
With his coaching staff in place and first recruiting class almost complete, Harbaugh can start preparing for spring practice.
If his first month is any indication, the Big Ten is in for a shock when games begin.
Phil Callihan is a featured writer for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all quotations obtained firsthand.
Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com
The dream finish won't happen, but Texas should still expect some great news on national signing day from four of its top targets.
Kyler Murray's decision to shut down his recruitment prevents Texas from hitting the home run and hauling in as many as seven of the state's top 15 players.
It's a tough loss for the quarterback-needy Horns, but they've have moved on just fine so far. Top cornerbacks Kris Boyd and Holton Hill each committed to the program on Friday, giving Charlie Strong one of the best defensive classes in the country.
Now it's mostly a waiting game for the targets left on the board. DaMarkus Lodge is off the board with Murray gone, while Deandre Baker and new offer PJ Locke are expected to stay committed to their current programs.
That leaves Chris Warren, Daylon Mack, Kai Locksley and Soso Jamabo as the predictive favorites to commit on signing day.