With less than two weeks left until National Signing Day arrives on Feb. 1, a handful of big-time SEC recruiting targets are still weighing their college decisions.
They include 5-star defensive linemen Marvin Wilson, LaBryan Ray and Aubrey Solomon; touted Starkville linebacker recruit Willie Gay and 4-star Sunshine State guard Tedarrell Slaton. While recruiting analysts usually have a solid read on where top prospects will end up, you can pretty much count on a few signing day surprises to surface every year; 2017 should be no different.
So which elite SEC target could throw fans a curveball and sign somewhere unexpected?
Several SEC Country recruiting experts chimed in with their thoughts during this week’s roundtable.
Sam Spiegelman (@samspiegs) — DeVonta Smith
Smith, a 4-star wide receiver from Amite (La.) High School, named LSU, Alabama and Miami (Fla.) as his three finalists, and that’s been the case since August.
However, coming off his official visit to LSU, Smith made a surprising official stop at Florida State, just a few days before he heads to Tuscaloosa, Ala.
The Crystal Ball favors the CrimsonTide to land this elite wide receiver, but LSU has put the full-court press on Smith and Miami gets a chance to host him just a few days before National Signing Day. Then, factor in Florida State, a team that was among Smith’s leading schools at this time a year ago.
More fuel to the fire: It’s difficult to get a good read on Smith, who keeps his recruitment awfully close to the vest.
LSU is recruiting several wide receivers in addition to Smith, but as the top prospect in Louisiana, he’s considered a priority. Alabama is recruiting Smith in addition to Henry Ruggs. Like LSU, both Florida State and Miami hold commitments from two wide receivers and could use another prospect at the position come Feb. 1.
Benjamin Wolk (@benjaminwolk) — Devon Hunter
The 4-star safety from Chesapeake (Va.) has long been considered a Virginia Tech lean. If you believe in 247Sports Crystal Ball forecasts, all 24 of Hunter’s predictions go to the in-state Hokies. But Hunter hasn’t always publicly called Virginia Tech his leader.
In fact, he said at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl that Auburn likely had the best shot at him until Wesley McGriff departed for the Ole Miss defensive coordinator job. Hunter already took an official visit to Virginia Tech. He had an official visit plan to Auburn and Alabama, but it isn’t likely those happen with Hunter’s announcement pending on Friday.
Hunter did, however, squeeze an official visit into Gainesville, Fla., before a decision. He has long-standing relationships with Florida assistants Mark Debastiani and Torrian Gray. One thing that stands out: Hunter wants to play SEC football. Will it be enough to outlast the in-state team? Florida might have the late momentum to pull of the major surprise.
Jesse Simonton (@JesseReSimonton) — Aubrey Solomon
Has to be 5-star defensive tackle, right? Solomon is the chameleon of the 2017 class. Based on everything you hear, the Lee County (Ga.) star changes his mind depending on which way the wind blows each morning. He was a Georgia lean and then he wasn’t. He was going to trip to Florida and now he’s not.
Is Alabama really his leader or will he end up at Michigan, Southern Cal, or perhaps even circle all the way back around to UGA? No one knows except Solomon’s mom.
Trent Shadid (@Shadid13) — Chevin Calloway
Calloway, a 4-star cornerback, is set to announce his decision on National Signing Day with Arkansas, Ole Miss and Texas in contention. While it’s rare to say a highly touted recruit heading to Texas is unexpected, in Calloway’s case it would be. The Longhorns were on the outside looking in for the Bishop Dunne High School (Dallas) prospect until new coach Tom Herman’s staff took over and began recruiting Calloway heavily in December. Now, they’re a serious contender after his official visit to Austin last week.
Calloway, the No. 115 overall recruit in the class, is a huge priority for Arkansas and Ole Miss as those programs look to finish off their 2017 classes. And it’s been a common belief over the past couple months he would ultimately end up at one of those two schools. However, don’t sleep on Texas here.
Chris Kirschner (@ChrisKirschner) — Devon Hunter
Hunter, a 4-star safety from Virginia, commits this Friday. Out of the 28 Crystal Ball picks on his 247Sports profile, all of them are in on Virginia Tech. But could a late official visit to Florida last week and a late in-home visit with Auburn change things for Hunter? It’s possible. At one point, the Tigers and Gators looked more likely to land his commitment. With a day to go until he announces, the mountain to climb to pass Virginia Tech definitely looks smaller than what it was over a week ago.
Zach Abolverdi (@ZachAbolverdi) — James Robinson
The Florida Gators are considered the team to beat for Robinson, but the 4-star wide receiver from Lakeland, Fla., has official visits remaining and new schools making a late run at him.
Ohio State bumped his scheduled trip to Alabama this weekend, and now he’ll visit the Buckeyes. Oklahoma recruited him harder than any program during his recruitment, and the Sooners became his leader following his trip to Norman in early December. Also, if Clemson ends up having room to take Robinson, the Tigers could be a threat to land him. The smart money is still on Florida, but he’s not a lock to UF.