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.
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