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With the vast majority of college football’s remaining unsigned players putting pen to paper Wednesday—the first day of the late signing period—the rosters are beginning to take shape.
The transfer portal picture is materializing, too. High-profile signal-callers like D’Eriq King (Miami), Jamie Newman (Georgia) and K.J. Costello (Mississippi State) are already heading to their new destinations, and recruiting classes are filling out the teams.
In other words, we have all the information we need to make informed decisions about how the preseason top 25 should shake out.
Guess what? Clemson isn’t going to fall off the map anytime soon. Ohio State looks like a favorite to be back in the College Football Playoff hunt, too. Alabama and Georgia should be contending, and national defending champion LSU has enough talent to reload in a hurry.
So, how are things going to fall? Let’s take a look. Please note: This ranking is based on personal opinion. B/R released its super-early preseason Top 25 after LSU beat Clemson for the title.
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2. Ohio State
5. Penn State
6. Notre Dame
15. Texas A&M
16. Oklahoma State
17. Arizona State
19. Boise State
22. North Carolina
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It’s been a slow, steady climb up the recruiting rankings for the Georgia Bulldogs, who have been the hottest team on the trail since late in the early signing period.
That’s when 5-star tight end Darnell Washington and 5-star safety Kelee Ringo made it official quietly and then announced their decisions after the early session was over. The Bulldogs stayed hot by solidifying the signing of 5-star offensive lineman Broderick Jones and getting a huge pledge from 4-star running back Daijun Edwards.
It’s hard not to love the Bulldogs now when looking at next year’s College Football Playoff chase.
Though yours truly had them ranked sixth in B/R’s early Top 25, the late additions have boosted them to fourth in my preseason rankings for next year. Washington, Ringo and Edwards can play right away.
Getting Wake Forest transfer quarterback Jamie Newman is like adding another 5-star.
The phenomenal job coach Kirby Smart did keeping Jones and 4-star interior lineman Sedrick Van Pran in the fold despite them taking visits in the January window is what ultimately helped UGA lock up the top spot.
That’s even more impressive when you factor in elite offensive line coach Sam Pittman left to be Arkansas’ head coach.
Georgia’s class is deep and strong, and its top signees are as good as anybody’s in the nation. This is a quality class that will continue UGA’s powerhouse run. Can it get the Bulldogs that first title since 1980?
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Until a late rankings reshuffle by 247Sports and Rivals, the Clemson Tigers held the overall lead in the 247Sports composite rankings before being overtaken by the Georgia Bulldogs and Alabama Crimson Tide.
Regardless of where coach Dabo Swinney’s team falls in the rankings, it deserves all the hype it is getting.
Even with defensive tackle Demonte Capehart falling out of the group of 5-star prospects, the defending national runners-up added five players who are in that prestigious group of the nation’s best.
Led by the nation’s No. 1 overall prospect in Maryland defensive tackle Bryan Bresee, Swinney signed a loaded class with flavor from all over the country. Strong-side defensive end Myles Murphy is the seventh-ranked player in the rankings and hails from Georgia.
Elite quarterback DJ Uiagalelei is coming all the way from California, where he showcased his sensational arm in high school and will be the favorite to replace Trevor Lawrence when he leaves. Florida running back Demarkcus Bowman and North Carolina outside linebacker Trenton Simpson rounds out the 5-star class.
This group is deep and loaded and should provide Clemson with plenty of reinforcements to join Lawrence, running back Travis Etienne and a slew of other star talents next year.
The Tigers are full of quality playmakers, and they’re going to be hard to handle for years to come. Swinney has built a powerhouse in South Carolina, and the train is already rolling for the 2021 class, too.
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You already know about Georgia’s haul, but the shelf behind the Dawgs is stacked, too.
In the SEC arms race, recruiting is always a hotly contested battle, and the 2020 recruiting window may be the best the conference has ever done. It’s getting tougher and tougher to win in the SEC, and it’s no wonder the elite keep on winning.
After the Dawgs, Alabama’s class is just as strong and full of elite playmakers, such as the nation’s top signal-caller Bryce Young, athletic OLB/DEs Will Anderson and Chris Braswell as well as stud linebackers Drew Sanders and Demouy Kennedy.
Running back Jase McClellan, receiver Thaiu Bell-Jones and athletes Quandarrius Robinson and Kristian Story are big pulls, too. It’s obvious Nick Saban‘s highly ranked class is just as good as always.
It’s not just Georgia and Alabama, though.
Behind the top-ranked Dawgs and the second-ranked Tide, defending champs LSU (No. 4), Texas A&M (No. 6), Auburn (No. 7), Florida (No. 8), Tennessee (No. 10) and South Carolina (No. 18) are all in the top 20.
The Gamecocks had a particularly big day by getting the signature of 5-star Jordan Burch.
He’s just one of many big-name prospects heading to the league.
The Aggies pulled another one of the biggest headline-makers of the day when 4-star defensive tackle McKinnley Jackson chose A&M over Alabama, LSU and others, giving Jimbo Fisher another jewel that helped his class surge.
The nation’s top conference is loading up for the future once again.
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This year’s spring practice session is going to be tons of fun all over the country.
LSU quarterback Joe Burrow’s farewell tour included a Heisman Trophy and a national championship, so how do the Bayou Bengals replace him, not to mention the stable of studs who bolted early for the NFL? Myles Brennan will get the first shot at snaps, but the battle will be open.
Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa, Oklahoma’s Jalen Hurts, Oregon’s Justin Herbert and Georgia’s Jake Fromm, among others, are gone, too. They leave Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence, Ohio State’s Justin Fields and not a whole lot of other proven quarterbacks across the country.
The Tide will start with Mac Jones at the helm this spring, but with elite freshman Bryce Young coming in, how long can he hang onto the job? The Sooners gig appears to be Spencer Rattler’s, but that will be open, too.
Georgia has its heir in Wake Forest transfer Jamie Newman, and it’s anybody’s guess who the Ducks will waddle out there under center. Can freshman Jay Butterfield push Tyler Shough?
As those programs bid adieu, other programs are welcoming new faces.
It’s going to be exciting to watch Houston transfer D’Eriq King at The U, and coach Manny Diaz is hoping this year’s transfer works out better than the last one (Tate Martell). Newman could make the Dawgs a title contender, too.
Then there are the coaches. Everybody’s watching Lane Kiffin at Ole Miss and Mike Leach at Mississippi State. Washington followed in Ohio State’s footsteps and replaced a high-profile coach with a top assistant in Jimmy Lake.
Dave Aranda goes from LSU defensive coordinator to take over Matt Rhule’s old job at Baylor, Mike Norvell will try to establish his high-octane offense from Memphis at Florida State, and Nick Rolovich will fill the Pirate’s shoes at Washington State.
Arkansas’ Sam Pittman, Missouri’s Eli Drinkwitz, South Florida’s Jeff Scott, Florida Atlantic’s Willie Taggart and others are worth watching, too.