If you’re a regular reader of 247Sports, then you love the excitement and the build that is the preamble to National Signing Day. However recruiting junkies know the experts’ takes, the insider scoop and have been consuming everything that 247Sports brings them. All of that research takes a lot of the suspense out of most signing day announcements – but not all of them.
All eyes in Mississippi will be on Chris Jones.
Inevitably the first Wednesday in February brings us surprises, commitments and signings that no one sees coming but there are always a few prospects that are good candidates to bring that drama.
If you’re working on National Signing Day, here are five prospects that you should schedule your coffee break around.
1. Chris Jones, Houston, Miss.
Scheduled to sign: 10 a.m. ET
Why you should care: Jones’ recruitment has turned into maybe the most intriguing of the 2013 cycle. As a no-name prospect that committed over the summer to Mississippi State, Jones has emerged late as the No. 2 overall recruit in the entire class and Ole Miss has made serious gains in trying to steal him away from its in-state rival.
Jones hails from Houston, Miss., a town practically equidistant from Oxford and Starkville and over the past two weeks, he’s made the hour-long drive to each campus regularly. Can Mississippi State hang on to maybe its best recruiting find in recent memory, or were some recent midnight rides to Oxford enough to sway Jones to the white-hot Rebels?
2. Reuben Foster, Auburn, Ala.
Scheduled to sign: 9 a.m.
Will MacKensie Alexander pull a stunner?
Why you should care: Foster was once committed to Alabama only to decommit and commit to its in-state rival Auburn. That commitment was accompanied by a big Auburn forearm tattoo. But Foster wasn’t done. With Auburn’s coaching change, he decommitted once again though he looked all but set to fall back into the fold following an official visit to Auburn last weekend. But he left Auburn’s campus early on Saturday to finish off his weekend in Tuscaloosa with varying reports as to the reason. Still admittedly confused on Monday night, Foster once again committed to Alabama.
Still with me?
While there is no planned announcement to sign with anyone but Alabama, this recruitment has never gone according to plan. Don’t count this one over until the ink is dry.
3. MacKensie Alexander, Immokalee, Fla.
Scheduled to sign: 11:15 a.m.
Why you should care: Alexander committed to Tennessee back in January of 2012 and that was probably the last time anyone felt any sort of confidence on where he would ultimately sign. Since that commitment and subsequent decommitment, Alexander’s recruitment has been an enigma with no discernable pattern as to what he’s looking for in a program.
The expected combatants in this one are Clemson, Mississippi State and Auburn, but Alexander has been as tough as any prospect in the country to read and he’s got a brother, Mackenro Alexander, that is a good prospect in his own right that could always factor into the decision as well. If anyone is to pull a signing day stunner, Alexander is a great candidate.
4. Tony Conner, Batesville (Miss.) South Panola
Scheduled to sign: 10:45 a.m.
Why you should care: Conner is the No. 2 safety prospect in the country on 247Sports and he hails from one of the most successful high school football programs in the country. That program in South Panola also just happens to be a major Ole Miss pipeline. However, Alabama has suddenly become a major factor in Conner’s decision.
On Wednesday morning, Conner will either select his hometown program and be a part of one of the biggest recruiting stories of the year or he will shun local pressures and join the machine at Alabama.
As a bonus, there will be some suspense from Conner’s teammate as well, Deon Mix. The former Mississippi State commit will decide between the Bulldogs and Auburn.
5. Eddie Vanderdoes, Auburn (Calif.) Placer
Scheduled to sign: 8 p.m.
Why you should care: Vanderdoes is the No. 1 defensive tackle in the country on 247Sports and he is a class-maker. Once a USC commitment, Vanderdoes has since backed off of that pledge but the Trojans have not backed off of his recruitment. They’re joined in the fight alongside Alabama, Notre Dame and UCLA.
One of the last announcements of the day, Vanderdoes is also one of the most unpredictable decisions. As of yet, there have been no clear indications as to where he signs. We expect the front-runners are UCLA, Alabama and Notre Dame right now but USC is trying to work some late magic.
When Vanderdoes’ announcement comes in, feel free to finally exhale.