6:26 PM ET
Tom VanHaarenESPN Staff Writer
- ESPN staff writer
- Joined ESPN in 2011
- Graduated from Central Michigan
Alabama, Georgia and Texas A&M were all jockeying for the No. 1 recruiting class on Wednesday, but it was the Aggies who were able to pull ahead to claim the top spot after the first day of the early signing period.
Texas A&M has steadily risen in the class rankings over the last few weeks and finally pulled ahead of Alabama for the No. 1 class by landing four ESPN 300 commitments.
The Aggies were able to sign the No. 1 prospect overall, defensive tackle Walter Nolen, after reports surfaced that Nolen might be entertaining Tennessee. Jimbo Fisher and his staff were also able to get commitments from ESPN 300 offensive lineman Kam Dewberry and ESPN 300 defensive linemen Anthony Lucas and Enai White.
Tight end Jake Johnson, the No. 110 prospect overall, also announced his commitment to the Aggies, and it could foreshadow what’s to come with his brother, former LSU quarterback Max Johnson, who is transferring.
Nick Saban and his staff added five-star wide receiver Shazz Preston, ESPN 300 defensive back Earl Little Jr., ESPN 300 defensive tackle Khurtiss Perry and ESPN 300 outside linebacker Jihaad Campbell. Coming out of Wednesday, Alabama has 19 ESPN 300 commitments, three five-stars and 11 commitments ranked inside the top-100.
Georgia is right behind Texas A&M and Alabama at No. 3 in the rankings. The Bulldogs were able to get a commitment from ESPN 300 linebacker Marvin Jones Jr., but missed out on five-star safety Kamari Wilson, who committed to Florida.
A few other SEC schools got in on the action as well with Auburn and Tennessee both securing some big commitments. Auburn landed ESPN 300 linebacker Robert Woodyard, who had been committed to Alabama and ESPN JC 50 cornerback Keionte Scott, while Tennessee was able to flip ESPN 300 defensive lineman Tyre West from Georgia and three-star defensive end James Pearce.
Outside of the shifting at the top of the rankings, the other big news came when Deion Sanders flipped five-star defensive back Travis Hunter from his alma mater, Florida State. Jackson State became the first FCS school to ever sign a five-star prospect since ESPN started its rankings in 2006. Hunter had taken visits to Georgia and reaffirmed his commitment to Florida State in October. However, he then took a visit to Jackson State in November and is now part of a historic class that ranks in the top 50.
One of the biggest movers on the day, and in the past few weeks, has been Texas, which moved up to No. 4 overall in the rankings.
Prior to the early signing period, the Longhorns got a commitment from transfer quarterback Quinn Ewers, who originally signed with Ohio State as the No. 1 prospect overall in the 2022 class. He reclassified into the 2021 class, enrolled at Ohio State in August, but has now transferred to Texas. The Longhorns were able to get commitments from ESPN 300 offensive linemen Kelvin Banks and Cameron Williams, both of whom had been committed to Oregon.
Michigan also had a big day. The Wolverines have been capitalizing on the momentum from beating Ohio State and winning the Big Ten championship. The staff flipped ESPN 300 quarterback Alex Orji from Virginia Tech, got a commitment from defensive end Derrick Moore, the No. 23 recruit overall, as well as ESPN 300 safety Keon Sabb, ESPN 300 wide receiver Darrius Clemons and four-star receiver Amorion Walker.
It was day filled with drama and a race to the top for a handful of classes, but that race is not yet over with some highly-ranked recruits still on the board. Five-star corners Domani Jackson and Denver Harris are both planning to announce their commitments separately on Friday. Jackson is down to Alabama and USC and Harris is considering Alabama, Texas A&M, Texas and LSU.
Five-star linebacker Harold Perkins will announce his commitment on Jan. 2, at the Under Armour All-America game, ESPN 300 defensive end Omari Abor will announce on Jan. 8 at the All-America game and five-star defensive end Shemar Stewart will wait until February to announce his decision.
As close as this race is for the best class, it won’t be over until the rest of the top recruits commit and sign on the dotted line.