National Signing Day: Ryan Williams Leads the Top 5 Potential Game-Changing Recruits Set To Sign

    The first Wednesday in February isn't what it once was, but these top five recruits who waited until National Signing Day are potential game-changers.

    The invention of both the transfer portal and the early signing period for high school prospects has rendered the traditional National Signing Day almost irrelevant. However, there still may be a few fireworks on the first Wednesday of February. Here are the top five potential game-changing recruits set to sign.

    Top 5 Recruits Set To Sign on National Signing Day

    It’s becoming increasingly rare for top prospects to wait until February to sign with their school of choice, especially with the December transfer portal window and the increasingly common practice of early enrollment.

    Still, these five players decided to wait things out, preferring to wait until February to sign their National Letter of Intent.

    5) Noah Carter, EDGE, Centennial High School: Alabama Commit

    Hometown: Peoria, AZ
    Consensus Rank: 84
    Position Rank: 13
    State Rank: 3

    Noah Carter actually signed with Washington during the early signing period but was granted release from his National Letter of Intent when Kalen DeBoer accepted the Alabama job.

    Carter didn’t immediately follow DeBoer, opting instead to assess his options. However, two weeks after his initial decommitment, Carter pledged to Alabama and looks poised to sign with the Crimson Tide on Wednesday.

    Carter is a bit lean for an edge rusher, but has the talent to see the field early in his career. He has the upside of a dangerous, consistent pass rusher with superb athleticism. A two-way high school star, Carter is one of the top recruits in the country.

    4) Gatlin Bair, WR, Burley Senior High School: Uncommitted

    Hometown: Burley, ID
    Consensus Rank: 30
    Position Rank: 7
    State Rank: 1

    Gaitlin Bair is taking his recruitment down to the wire and appears to have narrowed down his options to two. Michigan has seemed at times to be on the cusp of a commitment, while Oregon has lurked in the shadows.

    It will be interesting to see if Jim Harbuagh’s NFL departure has any bearing on Bair’s decision, as it seems that Oregon has the momentum as we countdown the hours until National Signing Day.

    All four major services have Bair as a top-75 prospect in the country and he’s the top uncommitted recruit left on the board. He’s a burner, running nationally competitive times in the 100-meter (10.15 seconds) and 200-meter (20.56 seconds), meaning he could see the field early on, especially in a pass-first system.

    3) Dominick McKinley, DL, Acadiana High School: LSU Commit

    Hometown: Lafayette, LA
    Consensus Rank: 13
    Position Rank: 3
    State Rank: 1

    Not only did Dominick McKinley hold off on signing in December, but he actually flipped his commitment from the Texas A&M Aggies — where he’d been committed since September — to the LSU Tigers. Still, that didn’t shut down his recruitment.

    MORE: Former LSU WR Kayshon Boutte Arrested 

    McKinley took visits to LSU (Jan. 12) and Tennessee (Jan. 19) last month but barring some sort of unforeseen circumstances, he seems to be locked in with the home-state Tigers.

    McKinley is physically dominant and equally explosive, jumping 30 inches as a rising junior and running a sub-five-second 40-yard dash at LSU’s camp last summer. He has the size and athleticism to step in and immediately help an LSU front that struggled last season.

    2) Terry Bussey, ATH., Timpson High School: Texas A&M Commit

    Hometown: Timpson, TX
    Consensus Rank: 11
    Position Rank: 1
    State Rank: 3

    Terry Bussey is listed as an athlete, but the majority of the schools vying for his services are recruiting him as a defensive back. The Texas native has experience as both corner and a safety and excels in man coverage, where he’s able to use his superior athleticism to lock down receivers.

    He hasn’t completely shut down his recruitment, as he took plenty of visits after committing to the Aggies in mid-September. Bussey has visited Georgia, LSU, and Texas A&M in the last week, with the Aggies getting the last visit over the weekend. At all three stops, he’ll meet new coaching staffs in person for the first time so this recruitment is still wide open.

    The Aggies getting the last visit before National Signing Day should ensure they’re considered the favorites, but never count Georgia or LSU out on a high-profile defensive recruit.

    1) Ryan Williams, WR, Saraland High School: Alabama Commit

    Hometown: Saraland, AL
    Consensus Rank: 5
    Position Rank: 3
    State Rank: 2

    Ryan Williams is a game-breaking receiver, and securing his commitment is probably the highlight of Kalen DeBoer’s early tenure in Tuscaloosa. Williams put up over 3,200 receiving yards at Saraland High School in Alabama, setting records in the process.

    MORE: SEC Recruiting Class Power Rankings 

    He’s a fairly polished receiver, and in Ryan Grubbs‘ offensive system, he’s a guy who can immediately come in and contribute, first as a big-play option, and then as an every-down receiver.

    Williams waffled between Alabama, Auburn, and LSU throughout the process. Interestingly, it’s Hugh Freeze’s team that gets the final shot with a weekend visit just before National Signing Day.

    Miss any action from the top college QB Rankings during the 2023 football season? Want to track all the movement with the college football transfer portal? College Football Network has you covered with that and more!

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