CFT Previews: National Signing Day

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Many in college football refer to National Signing Day simply as Christmas, as there’s some truth to that. There’s zero doubt the biggest day on the sport’s calendar between the closing of one season and the beginning of another is the first Wednesday in February. That day happens to be tomorrow.

With Signing Day upon us, here’s a quick rundown of the biggest storyline heading into tomorrow’s festivities:

– Where does Rashan Gary land? Gary is the Class of 2016’s answer to Robert Nkemdiche, a defensive tackle standing 6-foot-5, weighing in at 290 pounds and running like a gazelle with his hooves on fire. The Paramus, N.J., holds offers from just about everybody, but has whittled his list down to just Michigan and Clemson. Rivals’ No. 1 overall player will make his announcement from the SportsCenter studio during the 1 p.m. ET hour on ESPN2.

– How do the Tide and Trojans close? Since 2008, the only programs to claim Rivals’ No. 1 classes are USC (2010 and 2015) and Alabama (every other year). As of this writing, Alabama ranks ninth, while USC is 33rd. However, the Tide claims only 17 commitments at this time, while USC sits with just 13 in Clay Helton‘s first class as head coach. It’s safe to say Alabama will make its name known among the top five by the time the final fax rolls in Wednesday evening. USC is much more of a wild card.

– And what about Texas? Since Rivals started ranking recruiting classes in 2002, Texas has finished in the top 25 14 times in 14 chances. What’s more, the ‘Horns have ranked among the top 20 13 times and in the top 5 seven times. Which is why, to the uninformed, Charlie Strong could already be on his way out of town with a class ranked 39th, one spot above noted football power Oregon State. But Texas is set to close on a number of prospects — even landing an unexpected commitment in four-star running back Kyle Porter — earlier today and could rocket up the rankings throughout the day on Wednesday.

– Who signs the No. 1 class? As we established earlier, no team has claimed Rivals’ recruiting national championship since Nick Saban‘s first class way back in 2007, when Urban Meyer and Florida, fresh off their first national championship together, edged out USC. Fast forward nearly a decade… and Meyer again has a chance to win another recruiting title, this time for Ohio State. The Buckeyes lead the pack heading into Signing Day, but LSU, Florida State, Ole Miss, Michigan, Notre Dame, Clemson and, yes, Alabama are hot on their scarlet-and-gray heels.