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The Next: 10 predictions after a crazy start to the Early Signing Period

CLASS OF 2019 RANKINGS: Rivals250 | State | Position | Team

CLASS OF 2020 RANKINGS: Rivals250 | State | Position


MORE EARLY SIGNING PERIOD: Blog | Bama at No. 1 in rankings | James Franklin talks NSD

The early signing period is underway and there were a lot of storylines coming out of Wednesday. Here is a look at 10 predictions on where some of the signees could make an impact in the college game and beyond:

The next… Wisconsin lineman to be a first-rounder

Wisconsin has developed a reputation for developing undervalued offensive linemen and then putting them in the NFL. That Ryan Ramczyk was a first-round draft pick after following his college route to the NFL is amazing. Most of the Badgers who have excelled along the offensive line in recent years have been three-star prospects who have thrived in coach Paul Chryst’s system in Madison.

Now Wisconsin has landed high four-star offensive tackle Logan Brown, the top-ranked prospect in the state of Michigan and the fifth-best player at his position nationally. He has star written all over him and he should be a great addition to a position group that knows how to work to get better.

The next… Best LB corps in the SEC

Georgia did something special at linebacker on Wednesday and if five-star hybrid defensive end Nolan Smith is included on this list we’re talking about an incredibly special group that could have a huge impact on the SEC in the coming years.

The Bulldogs locked up five-star linebacker Nakobe Dean after a wild final few days where it wasn’t clear if Alabama, LSU, Ole Miss or Georgia would secure his pledge. Kirby Smart’s club won out and it’s nearly impossible not to compare Dean to Roquan Smith since both are so highly productive and active. Throw in four-star Rian “Trouble” Davis and Georgia has a lot to work with on defense.

The next… Alabama RB to be mentioned among the greats

We can go down the list of phenomenal Alabama running backs over the years and five-star Trey Sanders has everything one needs to be included on that list. The Bradenton (Fla.) IMG Academy star gave the Crimson Tide faithful a little scare in the closing days as Georgia and Florida became serious contenders but Sanders, who had previously been committed to Alabama, re-pledged to the national champs.

Is it possible to lose leading rusher Damien Harris and still upgrade at the position? Sanders is an incredibly tough and skilled running back and should join former No. 1 overall prospect Najee Harris and Josh Jacobs, who has 11 scores so far this season, in Alabama’s backfield next year. The IMG recruit is good enough to earn full-time work and he sounds destined to prove it when he gets to Tuscaloosa.

The next… Alabama OL to be looked at by the pros immediately

Another position where Alabama continues to churn out NFL-level prospect is along the offensive line and Evan Neal should pique the interest of pro teams pretty quickly. The five-star offensive tackle is all of 6-foot-7 and 360 pounds and that’s him trimmed up and in fighting shape.

Neal is a big boy who has reshaped his body and refocused his mind on being great - and he said that during an ESPN interview on Wednesday as the reason why he chose the Crimson Tide. Jonah Williams was an excellent high school player who became exceptional at Alabama. He should be a first-round NFL Draft pick. Neal’s size alone will intrigue pro teams and his mean, tough attitude will make them even more interested.

The next… Oklahoma WR corps that might be best ever

This is pretty heady company but signing five-star receivers Theo Wease and Trejan Bridges could be huge for Oklahoma’s offense that already averages nearly 50 points per game and they could be the foundation for arguably the best wide receiver corps in school history.

Wease is the top-ranked receiver in the class and Bridges is fourth. The Sooners had a pledge from four-star Arjei Henderson but he backed off that decision, which in the long run could actually benefit Oklahoma in a few weeks when five-star Jadon Haselwood makes up his mind. He has called Oklahoma a dream school and he’s as good as any receiver in this class. If all three end up in Norman, 49.5 points might be what the Sooners have at halftime.

The next… Clemson WR to be a first-rounder

Clemson pumps out receivers every year with the looks of it being Tee Higgins and Justyn Ross being the next two big-timers. If there are carbon copies of those players it would be Frank Ladson and Joe Ngata, two long, athletic studs who should be next in line to dominate defensive backs in the ACC - and on the national level.

Ngata was phenomenal in his senior season and was basically unstoppable all over the field. Ladson had a great offseason and has special qualities as well. Higgins and Ross are doing big things for the Tigers now in their run to another national title. Ngata and Ladson are next and both have NFL potential for sure.

The next… Penn State RBs to put up massive numbers

Penn State has a running back problem: They have two exceptional ones in this class and there will be heavy competition to see which one becomes the main ball carrier in the future. It’s a good problem for James Franklin to figure out.

Devyn Ford is the long-time commit and five-star prospect. But Noah Cain is an exceptional talent as well and picked the Nittany Lions over Texas, Tennessee and others knowing Ford was already in the class. He is fearless on the field and runs as hard as anybody in this class. From Saquon Barkley, to Miles Sanders, to these two, Penn State’s backfield is stocked.

The next… Rondale Moore 2.0

Rondale Moore surprised a lot of people with just how dynamic and exciting he is in his freshman season at Purdue, leading the team by far with 103 catches for 1,164 yards and 12 touchdowns - and there could be another player just like him heading to the Big Ten West next year in Wandale Robinson.

The diminutive receiver from Frankfort (Ky.) Western Hills (about an hour away from where Moore played high school ball at Louisville Trinity) is as dynamic as they come and Nebraska coach Scott Frost is going to find ways to get the ball in his hands maybe as early as next season. Robinson had been committed to Kentucky and the Wildcats desperately needed a playmaker like him. Instead, the four-star is off to Lincoln. When Nebraska and Purdue meet up on Nov. 2 it should be exciting to watch Moore and Robinson on the same field.

The next… South Carolina DE to be a superstar

South Carolina signed four defensive ends on Wednesday but nobody is more exciting than five-star Zacch Pickens, who might just be the next superstar at that position for the Gamecocks. Jadeveon Clowney was one of a kind and Pickens has a different body frame but the Anderson (S.C.) T.L. Hanna standout will bring incredibly gifts to Columbia and coach Will Muschamp has something special on his hands.

To showcase all of his skills, Pickens even ran some Wildcat quarterback during the Shrine Bowl in recent weeks and looked pretty good with the ball in his hands. Across the state at Clemson, the Tigers run the Fridge Package with Dexter Lawrence and Christian Wilkins. There’s no doubt Pickens has the ability to do that on offense - and a whole lot more on defense for the Gamecocks.

The next… Oregon DE to emerge as a pro

Even though DeForest Buckner and Arik Armstead had another coaching staff, Oregon has had tremendous success developing and pumping out highly-skilled defensive ends to the NFL in recent years along with Jalen Jelks this season and Kayvon Thibodeaux could be next in line.

First, Thibodeaux is ranked higher than any of the previous three and his upside is through the roof but he does need to keep developing as a player to reach the pros. The clay is there. The five-star defensive end is nearly unstoppable off the edge and he seems motivated to go to Eugene and dominate. The Ducks beat out Alabama, Florida State and Florida for his services so Thibodeaux is pretty confident in the coaching staff at Oregon and that his future will be right there. Ducks coaches have produced some really good defensive ends in recent years. The next one could be on the way.