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Rivals Roundtable: NSD potential flips, predictions

The traditional National Signing Day is less than two weeks away and the Rivals national analyst team discusses some topics to watch heading toward Feb. 7.

CLASS OF 2018 RANKINGS: Rivals250 | Position | Team | State | JUCO

1. Who is the top flip candidate from your region and what's your prediction on him?

Brevin White
Brevin White (Nick Lucero/

Rob Cassidy (Florida/Southeast): Most of the committed guys around here are also signed, though, I am waiting for the first time a signed player attempts to flip. You think it’s insane because you don’t cover Florida. I’m telling you, this will eventually happen and I can’t wait. I guess Miami commit Nesta Silvera is one you’d name if you had to name one, but I don’t think he’s going anywhere. The drama factor is relatively low around here, which kinda stinks.

Mike Farrell (National):I’d say Quay Walker is probably the guy or Otis Reese. Walker is committed to Alabama but could end up at Tennessee or Georgia and Reese is committed to Michigan but could end up at Georgia. Neither signed during the early signing period, which is a clear indication that they aren’t truly committed.

Adam Friedman (Mid-Atlantic): Virginia commit DJ Brown is playing the field. He took an official visit to Cal last weekend and this weekend he is at Northwestern. Immediately following that trip he will start an official visit to Notre Dame. It appeared Notre Dame's momentum had slowed with Brown but his impending official visit is a sign of the opposite. Northwestern was in the best position to flip Brown but the Fighting Irish could supplant the Wildcats as the favorite depending on how the official visit goes.

Adam Gorney (West Coast/National): Four-star quarterback Brevin White has taken a late visit to Alabama after being offered on Thursday night and he's definitely one to watch. The Lancaster (Calif.) Paraclete QB has been happily committed to Princeton for months, choosing academics as a key part of his decision, but turning down the Crimson Tide could be difficult. Once White landed the offer, he booked a red-eye flight and is in Tuscaloosa. It could be a tough decision leading up to signing day.

Josh Helmholdt (Midwest): Current Kentucky commit Xavier Peters. He committed to the Wildcats in July, but did not sign in the early period. Trips to Florida State and Miami take place over the next two weekends, and could lead the newly-minted Rivals100 prospect to decide his college future is in the Sunshine State.

Nick Krueger (Texas): Jalen Preston is all of a sudden the name to watch. With Texas seemingly looking to add one more receiver from this class, and its first choice in Jaylen Waddle being far from a sure thing, Preston is now on Flip Watch after being committed to Texas A&M since the summer. He will be in College Station this weekend for his official visit to A&M, then follow that up with a visit to Texas the weekend ahead of National Signing Day. Panic flags shouldn't necessarily be waving as Texas chose not to offer him earlier in the process and that may have left a sour taste in his mouth, but Aggies fans can't be pleased with this news.

Chad Simmons (Southeast): Quay Walker has been committed to Alabama since June, but the Tide have their work cut out for them to keep this Rivals100 linebacker. Since Jeremy Pruitt took over at Tennessee, the Vols have been a much bigger player here. Walker visited Knoxville a couple of weeks ago and the Vols have been trending since. Georgia is another school to keep an eye on. The in-state Dawgs get the last visit before National Signing Day. He has stayed committed to Alabama, and he likely won’t open his recruitment up, but the odds of him signing with Nick Saban’s program are not high right now.

Woody Wommack (Southeast): It's tough in my region because so many of the unsigned guys have already de-committed but one guy to watch is three-star Vanderbilt commit Rayshad Williams. He elected not to sign early despite being committed to the Commodores for months while Mississippi State and Tennessee have both shown interest. His visit schedule is still in flux and Vanderbilt fans are waiting anxiously.

2. What's going to be the top storyline at the end of the day on Feb. 7?

Nick Saban and Kirby Smart
Nick Saban and Kirby Smart (AP Images)

Rob Cassidy (Southeast): I think we’ll be talking about Georgia again. And this time, we’ll be speaking of it in terms of Smart spending the next few years challenging Nick Saban for title of SEC Emperor. Will he actually topple Saban? Who knows, but I can see this being the narrative. The aging teacher pitted against time and his promising former pupil.

Mike Farrell (National): It will probably be that Alabama didn’t win the recruiting title because it’s such a rarity when that happens. Whomever takes the title home will be the talk of the day but you can bet Alabama will be mentioned a million times even though it will likely end up with a top five class.

Adam Friedman (Mid-Atlantic): There will be two national storylines following National Signing Day. The first will be about Texas and how the Longhorns are stacking up quality recruiting classes and should be surging in the next couple years. The second will be about how the SEC dominated the top of the team rankings with more than one-third of the top 15 coming from that conference.

Adam Gorney (West Coast/National): How the Early Signing Period has taken over. I was shocked and surprised to see just how smoothly everything went in the early period and I think a lot of 2019 prospects saw it, too, and will decide to sign early next recruiting cycle. There are plenty of elite-level recruits still on the board leading to National Signing Day but my prediction is that Early Signing Period will take over starting soon.

Josh Helmholdt (Midwest): Alabama has won six of the last seven team recruiting rankings title. The Crimson Tide are not going to get there this year, and that should be the biggest storyline. While there are likely to be surprise decisions, prospects who don't sign and last-minute flips, the whole recruiting game is about building winning teams down the road. Alabama's dominance on the field over the last decade has mirrored its dominance in recruiting, but other programs are stepping up to meet the Crimson Tide.

Nick Krueger (Texas): While Patrick Surtain is the highest-ranked player in the Rivals rankings that has yet to make a commitment, the more interesting prospect to keep an eye on is Nicholas Petit-Frere. Opinion varies on who is the presumptive favorite with him - most commonly led by Florida or Alabama, but he is taking his final official visit to Ohio State on the weekend ahead of National Signing Day, and that could very well shake up everything that was thought about his recruitment up to this point. He was one of the stars during Under Armour week, and after seeing his stock soar, many teams are hoping to snag him at the last minute.

Chad Simmons (Southeast): The top storyline will be that Alabama not only didn’t sign the No. 1 recruiting class, but that they possibly finish outside the top five. Look for Alabama to close well, but not well enough to be at the top where it customarily finishes every year under Nick Saban.

Woody Wommack (Southeast): It's going to be where Alabama finishes. This has been an odd year for the Tide as they've been hanging back in the team rankings for most of the process. They currenlty sit at No. 9 and could go higher, but with so many changes on the coaching staff it remains to be seen how things will shake out over the next two weeks.

3. Which coaching staff has done the best job so far between the Early Signing Period and tradition NSD?

Scott Frost
Scott Frost (Nate Clouse)

Rob Cassidy (Southeast): I’m really impressed with the work Nebraska is doing in Florida. Scott Frost has hit the ground running in Lincoln and has wasted no time making an impact down here. He’s flipped four-star Miles Jones from Vanderbilt and landed four-star Dominick Watt, who had plenty of options closer to home. It’s not easy to lure players from South Florida to flyover country, yet here we are.

Mike Farrell (National): Nebraska comes to mind with quite a few big commitments, including two four-stars from Florida, since the Early Signing Period. Scott Frost has used his ties to the state quite well and the Huskers moved into the national top 25 as a result.

Adam Friedman (Mid-Atlantic): So far it has been Nebraska and their new head coach, Scott Frost. The Huskers moved from outside the top 60 in the team rankings into the top 25 by adding commitments from five players, including four-stars Miles Jones and Dominick Watt.

Adam Gorney (West Coast/National): USC is up there because it landed five-star WR Amon-Ra St. Brown and four-star ATH Talanoa Hufanga but I'm going with Oklahoma. To get five-star CB Brendan Radley-Hiles was huge and then the Sooners also landed four-star LBs Dashaun White and Nikolas Bonitto. There has been so much talk about Texas cleaning up with in-state prospects but Oklahoma is definitely keeping pace and has done a great job in the last few weeks.

Josh Helmholdt (Midwest): Coincidentally, or maybe not, the two teams that immediately sprung to mind when this question was posed are Florida State and Oregon. Willie Taggart's old team and Willie Taggart's new team have both felt like they are making a stronger presence on the national recruiting scene. The Seminoles have further to go with a class that ranked outside the top 35 heading into the weekend, but Mario Cristobal is not standing pat in Eugene and the Ducks just hosted a big official visit group last weekend.

Nick Krueger (Texas): The easy choice for me in my region - and nationally - has been Texas. Tom Herman did exactly what many expected him to do and capitalize on the momentum he brought with him to Austin after a successful run at Houston. In addition to that, he managed to hold on to all the big names that committed to the Longhorns in the summer despite a somewhat uninspiring six-win season in Year One. Even after all of that, he was able to land one more blockbuster commitment in Anthony Cook in December. If he can hold on to defensive tackle Keondre Coburn, who has been taking official visits to other schools in recent weeks, and land one of the trio of Preston, Waddle, or four-star WR Tommy Bush, he will have done a masterful job recruiting throughout the 2018 cycle.

Chad Simmons (Southeast): Jeremy Pruitt and his staff at Tennessee have done an excellent job. They went after big names, they are relentless on the recruiting trail and there is no doubt that the staff there is going to get talent to Knoxville. They already shocked many with a commitment from JJ Peterson and there will likely be more surprises between now and signing day for the Vol fans.

Woody Wommack (Southeast): I personally think USC is poised for a big finish. It has several highly-ranked, unsigned players leaning its way and all the work over the past month will pay off in a big way on National Signing Day.