What you need to know before national signing day

From ESPN - January 12, 2018

The dust has settled from the early signing period and the dead period is over, so let's get you caught up on what happened and what is next leading up to the signing day on Feb. 7.

What happened in the early signing period

The early signing period saw 1,976 FBS prospects sign their national letter of intent, which is the majority of the available prospects. The recruits were able to sign from Dec. 20 to Dec. 22, and 70 percent of the prospects signed on the first day of the signing period.

Within the ESPN 300, 219 of the top 300 recruits are signed with their respective schools and off limits to any opposing coaches. Among the top-tier recruits, 11 of the 14 five-star prospects signed, including all of the top five recruits. All but three of the top players in each position group are signed, with the top recruit in the athlete, cornerback and outside linebacker groups still unsigned.

For many schools it was a success; most schools were able to lock up their class and now do not have to worry about recruits flipping between now and signing day.

Of the top 10 ranked recruiting classes, Auburn is the only team with more than four commitments unsigned, which means that January will mainly be focused on a smaller pool of prospects and a lot of coaches will focus on the 2019 class.

Georgia came out blazing, eventually moving up to the No. 1 spot for class rankings after landing five-star Brenton Cox and ESPN 300 prospects Cade Mays, Luke Ford, Nadab Joseph, Divaad Wilson and Jamaree Salyer in the signing period. The Dawgs, Clemson, Alabama, LSU and Florida were some of the bigger movers in the class rankings after the signing period closed.

Who's still unsigned

Cornerback Patrick Surtain Jr., at No. 6 overall, is the highest-ranked prospect yet to commit. Fellow five-stars -- athlete Devon Williams and defensive back Tyson Campbell -- are also unsigned. Those three are among the 54 uncommitted ESPN 300 recruits who will most likely have a busy January with schools coming after them now that the dead period is over.

OL Nick Petit-Frere, athlete Justin Watkins, wide receiver Jalen Hall, athlete Joshua Moore, receiver Jacob Copeland and quarterback Tanner McKee are all top-50 recruits who are still uncommitted.

With the new signing period, those uncommitted recruits are not the only ones still technically on the board, though. There are also 27 recruits who are currently committed but unsigned. Some of them went through the early signing period committed to their school, but decided not to sign.

Defensive tackle Keondre Coburn, the No. 49 prospect, is one of two ESPN 300 prospects committed to Texas who did not sign, along with running back Keaontay Ingram. Coburn said he knew all along he would not sign, and after the fact, he feels he made the right choice.

"I respect 100 percent why [the Texas coaches] are worried, but if I was in last year's class, I would have just signed in February, so what's the difference," Coburn said. "Whatever Nick Saban said about the early signing period, I would have retweeted it. He's taking time out of his practice to focus on recruiting and I feel like this process, you should take your time and see what you want."

Some prospects, including Amon-Ra St. Brown, Anthony Schwartz, Tyreke Smith, Kelvin Joseph, Brendan Radley-Hiles and Rondale Moore, are committed but unsigned because they wanted to commit at various all-star games, which took place in early January.

Either way, many coaches are looking at the recruits who are unsigned as fair game and will recruit them to the wire until they have their national letter of intent faxed in to their respective school.

Which quarterbacks are left

Quarterbacks typically commit earlier and the majority of the ESPN 300 signal-callers also decided to sign early. There are only four ESPN 300 quarterbacks who are currently unsigned in this class.

Of those four recruits, two are committed but decided not to sign in December. Dorian Thompson-Robinson is committed to UCLA and Brevin White to Princeton. While he did not sign, Thompson-Robinson said that new coach Chip Kelly does not have anything to worry about, that he is planning to sign with the Bruins in February.

James Foster and Tanner McKee remain uncommitted. McKee is unique. As a member of the Mormon church, he is planning to take a two-year religious mission, so he will essentially be a 2020 prospect. Stanford has been heavily involved with McKee, as have USC, Alabama, Texas A&M, Texas and BYU, among others.

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