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First and 10: Top early 2017 commits

Signing Day 2016 is still four months away, but that hasn't stopped several
programs from getting a jump on the 2017 class already. Some schools are off to
a better early start than others, with several members of the 2017 Rivals100
already off the board. In this week's First and 10, we break down the biggest names to already come off the board.
Tennessee made an early impression on Johnson and that interest never
waned. They were the favorites to land the class of 2017's No. 1 ranked signal
caller going into the summer, and even though there were suggestions that he
would commit earlier, Johnson made sure the interest was lasting before he
finally made his commitment at the end of August. This is the type of commitment
that not only can bolster a recruiting class, but can also change the direction
of a program. Johnson is a rare talent who lacks for nothing in physical tools
and mental approach to the position.
-- Helmholdt
Najee Harris
Antioch (Calif.) Senior
When Harris visited Alabama this off-season, he absolutely fell in love
with the place and the vision they have for utilizing him in the backfield. Why
wouldn't he? The Crimson Tide churn out NFL-caliber running backs and there's no
question Harris has the potential to be something special. Imagine someone
slightly smaller than Derrick Henry but with terrific size and an
ability to catch the ball out of the backfield. He's putting up huge numbers in
his junior season and everybody knows he's getting the ball. Nobody can stop
him. It's always tough to say how firmly committed a junior in high school is,
but I'm pretty confident he's going to stick. Every team in the country will
keep recruiting him, but Alabama offers a whole lot.
-- Adam Gorney, National analyst
Calvin Ashley
Orlando (Fla.) Dr. Phillips
When he walks into a room, the 6-foot-8, 311-pound Ashley looks like a player
beyond his years, so it shouldn't come as that much of a surprise that he made a
decision earlier than most. Unlike some early commits, Ashley and his family
have already been to campus and Auburn seem to have a firm grip on his
commitment. However, last year at this time Nate
Craig-Myers, a 2016 five-star, was on the Tigers commitment list and has
since re-opened his recruitment. All signs point to Ashley sticking by his
commitment, but you never know in recruiting.
-- Woody Wommack, Southeast analyst
D.J. Matthews
Jacksonville (Fla.) Trinity
Matthews surprised several people by committing to Florida State during
the summer heading into his sophomore year, but more than a year has gone by and
electric wide receiver's commitment is still holding strong. Matthews, who put
on a show during the 7-on-7 circuit over the summer, has always said it's his
dream to be a Seminole and as of now it looks like that dream will become a
-- Wommack
Tate Martell
Las Vegas (Nev.) Bishop Gorman
Martell burst onto the scene by committing to Steve Sarkisian, then at
Washington, as a seventh grader. He was always going to come off the
board fairly early and, after taking a visit to College Station early in the
summer, decided he had seen enough. Martell told a major reason for
committing was so he could start recruiting for Texas A&M, and that's
certainly going to make him an interesting recruit the next two years. He has
already identified teammate Tyjon Lindsey, the No. 20 overall prospect
in the 2017 class, as a primary target. On the field, Martell brings
electrifying skills that made Johnny Manziel a star at A&M, but he also
figures to be a factor by surrounding himself with talent.
-- Blair Angulo, West analyst
Shaun Wade
Jacksonville (Fla.) Trinity
A high school teammate of Matthews, Wade fits the perfect mold of the new breed
of cornerback, tall and long with fluid hips. So when Ohio State pushed
for and received his commitment in January of this year, it was considered a
major recruiting win for the Buckeyes. But as most coaches will tell you,
securing and early commitment is only half the battle. LSU and
Florida remain the Buckeyes threats to hold on to one of the nation's
top defensive backs.
-- Wommack
Shawn Robinson
Denton (Texas) Guyer
The recruiting calendar has sped up for every prospect, but quarterbacks feel
the pressure more than any other position when it comes to leaving the market
early. Robinson elected to go with his guy -- and the offense that best fits his
versatile skillset -- when he committed to the Horned Frogs in June. Most
quarterbacks tend to stick by their early commitment and while Texas
continues to work on Robinson, he appears to be solid to TCU.
-- Wommack
Netori Johnson
Ellenwood (Ga.) Cedar Grove
The 6-foot-4, 325-pound offensive guard spent the summer dominating on-campus
camps around the country, including at Alabama and USC.
Ultimately the Tide nabbed his commitment when he was on campus and he has stuck
by the school ever since. Johnson continues to take visits and look at other
programs, with the Trojans and Auburn as the two biggest threats to the Tide.
-- Wommack
Brock Wright
Cypress (Texas) Cy-Fair
The Irish have done an excellent job developing tight ends over the past few
years and Wright is in line to be the next big prospect at the position to
arrive in South Bend. He chose Notre Dame over Texas,
Texas A&M and Alabama, and all three programs continue to recruit him. Assuming
Notre Dame continues to have success on the field, it would be tough to see
Wright waver from his early commitment.
-- Wommack
Blair Angulo
West Recruiting Analyst
Adam Gorney
National Recruiting Analyst
Josh Helmholdt
Midwest Recruiting Analyst
Woody Wommack
Southeast Recruiting Analyst