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National Signing Day 2019: College football recruiting news, rumors

The big day has finally arrived. After years of preparation and countless phone calls, letters, DMs and visits from coaches across the country, the class of 2019’s top recruits will get the chance to sign a national letter of intent on Wednesday. The early signing period runs from Dec. 19 to Dec. 21, by which point well over three-quarters of the class of 2019’s best players will have made their college destinations official, and for all three days we will be tracking all the action right here on our 2019 National Signing Day live blog.

Check back all day for the latest updates on which schools are closing strong, which players are making headlines and what kind of wacky props or stunts have been deployed to make a few commitments especially memorable. For now, read Andy Staples’s exploration of how the early period has scaled back the circus of signing day to everyone’s benefit and Laken Litman’s piece on how Alabama restored order after finishing outside of the top spot in the recruiting rankings for the first time since 2010.

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10 a.m. ET: Another Ohio State-to-SEC flip

• Four-star QB Dwan Mathis, who committed to the Buckeyes in June, is heading to Georgia after all. With Ohio State one of the early rumored frontrunners for the services of outgoing Bulldogs QB Justin Fields, there are some key open seats in the quarterback room in Athens.

9:30 a.m. ET: The Ink Dries for Oklahoma and the Nation’s No. 1 QB

• Oklahoma made things official with Phoenix Pinnacle (Ariz.) High School QB Spencer Rattler, the only five-star at his position according to 247Sports composite ratings. Rattler’s story is a somewhat complicated one: He was ruled ineligible for the remainder of his senior season in mid-October for violating a district code-of-conduct policy that nobody has publicly elaborated on, though his father told the Arizona Republic that nothing will be on Rattler’s permanent record.

Rattler had been committed to the Oklahoma program since his junior season and was MVP of the Elite 11 at The Opening in Texas this past summer. He threw for 1,863 yards with 23 touchdowns and three interceptions this season for Pinnacle and has passed for over 11,000 yards in his high school career, setting the state record.

• LSU is currently working on the fourth-best class in the SEC … which also happens to be the fourth-best class in the country. The Tigers landed massive four-star defensive tackle Siaki Ika, the No. 1 player in the state of Utah. Ika, who checks in at 6’3″, 351 pounds, took his final official visit to Florida but ultimately chose to ride with Ed Orgeron over the Gators, Oregon and Utah.

• Maryland’s search for a strength coach continues…

• No one’s going to catch Syracuse signee Cooper Dawson for the honor of Best Moment of Signing Day:

Meanwhile on Dino Babers’s timeline, congratulations to the Orange staffer who came up with these one-liners for every signee.

9 a.m. ET: Oh, hey, Clemson signed a defensive lineman

• Clemson gets one of the top uncommitted defensive tackles on the board with the signing of Tyler Davis, a four-star tackle out of Apopka, Fla., who sits as 247Sports’s No. 30 defensive lineman. Ohio State and Florida State were in the mix late for Davis.

• Auburn has made it official with four-star Bo Nix, the No. 2 quarterback in what is considered by experts to be a thin class at the position. Nix won two Alabama state championships at Pinson Valley High School.

• Slap a permanent “Your mileage may vary” sticker on all discussions of recruiting rankings at this point, but ESPN recruiting guru Tom Luginbill is monitoring these early movers.

• Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin’s son Dino, a three-star wide receiver, is heading to Maryland.

Geoff Collins may be off to Georgia Tech, but Temple still knows how to turn the recruiting game into a great show. The caricatures the Owls have drawn up for every signee are awesome (h/t The Athletic’s Bruce Feldman):

8:15 a.m. ET: Off and Running

• Michigan opens the day with a bang, flipping five-star safety Daxton Hill back from Alabama. Hill, the nation’s top safety and the 247Sports composite rankings’ No. 8 overall prospect, had been a Wolverines pledge before the SEC title game but then flipped to the Crimson Tide. Jim Harbaugh and his staff did enough in the ensuing weeks to reel him back in.

• Oklahoma is the early leader for the coveted title of coolest official signing day promotional material, which customized vinyl album sleeves for each signee. The Sooners’ recruiting staff will be on the 1s and 2s ushering in a top-10 class all day.

• We have an Ohio State flip, the first 2019 defector since Urban Meyer’s retirement: Four-star cornerback Jordan Battle, 247’s No. 77 overall player in the class, is heading to Alabama insteadIt’s not all bad news in Columbus, as the Buckeyes secured the NLI from four-star RB commit and elite name-haver Steele Chambers.

• Nolan Smith, the nation’s No. 1 overall recruit, is locked in. The longtime Georgia commit made it official early on Wednesday morning as the first signee of the Bulldogs’ 2019 class.

• Quarterbacks rarely dominate the signing day drama, with so few spots to fill nationwide, but there are some important juco transfers worth tracking. Bailey Hockman, the former Florida State QB who left for Hutchinson Community College this fall, will step in and compete to be Ryan Finley’s replacement at NC State. And Les Miles has his first quarterback in the fold at Kansas in the form of Thomas MacVittie, who comes to Lawrence from Pitt visa Mesa C.C.

Storylines to Watch on Day 1

Second-year head coaches’ first full classes: Willie Taggart (Florida State), Mario Cristobal (Oregon), Jeremy Pruitt (Tennessee), Joe Moorhead (Mississippi State), Chad Morris (Arkansas), Dan Mullen (Florida) and Scott Frost (Nebraska) all were scrambling this time last year to pull together a recruiting class mere days after they had been hired as head coaches. Now, with the benefit of a full 12 months of recruiting, all six could finish with top-20 2019 classes (entering Wednesday, the Gators and Cornhuskers sit 21st and 23rd, respectively).

Georgia’s QB shuffle: Justin Fields’s reported intention to transfer would leave Jake Fromm as the Bulldogs’ only scholarship quarterback entering 2019, which has increased the importance of adding a second quarterback to the roster this offseason in addition to Oak Grove (Miss.) four-star John Rhys Plumlee. Georgia has an offer out to Mililani (Hawaii) three-star Dillon Gabriel. Meanwhile, other top teams have begun to position themselves for the Fields sweepstakes.

Alabama’s finishing flourish: The Crimson Tide have the No. 1 class all but locked up, but they almost always close incredibly strong with the final handful of uncommitted blue-chippers. After losing out on end Kayvon Thibodeaux, the No. 2 overall recruit who picked Oregon and former Bama assistant Mario Cristobal on Saturday, Alabama has turned its attention to other big fish.

Trey Sanders: Multiple five-star skill players will wait to make their college choice public until the Army All-America Bowl on Jan. 5, including top receivers Jadon Haselwood, Bru McCoy and Kyle Ford, but the commitment of No. 1 running back Trey Sanders figures to be one of Wednesday’s big highlights. Sanders is reportedly down to Alabama, Georgia, Florida, Florida State and Texas.

The SEC’s dominance: If you weren’t already sure college football’s preeminent conference takes this whole recruiting thing pretty seriously, the SEC could land 11 schools in the top 20 of 247Sports’s team rankings if everything breaks right for Florida and South Carolina.

The Big Ten’s big three: Michigan (247Sports’s No. 9 class), Ohio State (No. 10) and Penn State (No. 13) sit within arm’s length of each other as the early period opens, and the Big Ten East titan who lands five-star Olentangy Orange (Ohio) end Zach Harrison will have a very pleasant lunchtime.

Schedule of Notable Commitments

There will be a nearly constant stream of signings all day long, but if you can only pick a few, set an alarm to be near a computer when these guys make the call. All times are approximate and according to data gathered by 247Sports and ESPN.

11 a.m. hour: No. 4 RB Noah Cain (finalists: Auburn, Georgia, Penn State, Texas); No. 2 G Deyavie Hammond (Florida, Florida State); No. 13 DE Lloyd Summeral (Florida, Miami, Nebraska); No. 1 TE Keon Zipperer (Alabama, Florida, LSU, Miami)

11:30 a.m.: No. 1 strongside DE Zach Harrison (Michigan, Ohio State, Penn State)

12:20 p.m.: No. 1 RB Trey Sanders (Alabama, Georgia, Florida, Florida State, Texas)

1 p.m.: No. 5 OT Evan Neal (Alabama, Georgia, Miami, Florida); No. 1 ILB Nakobe Dean (Alabama, Georgia, LSU, Ole Miss).

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