Early signing period: Recruiting names and storylines in Florida to watch on Wednesday
IMG Academy five-star linebacker Xavian Sorey has thoroughly enjoyed the recruiting process, which started when he was a freshman.
On Wednesday, Sorey will cross over from recruit to signee.
Sorey has narrowed his finalists to, in alphabetical order, Alabama, Florida and Georgia. He plans to announce his decision during a ceremony at 1:45 p.m. at Graceville High School.
“It’s been crazy,” Sorey said. “I’ve enjoyed it. I’ve seen myself grow as a person and a player over the past few years. I can’t wait to play college ball, but I’m going to miss it. The recruiting journey is fun.”
The Class of 2021 has had several challenges in recruiting, not the least of which is being unable to take official visits or have coaches recruit them in-person. Some see those things as a big negative, others believe these seniors will be able to make more informed decisions.
“In making these decisions this year, you haven’t had all the resources at your disposal — meet and greets with coaches, school visits, family visits and coaches couldn’t come to campus to see you,” said George Hegamin, IMG’s football director. “So, what we tried to do is use our experiences dealing with different schools and different coaches over this year to give our kids as much information as we could to help them make an educated decision. And I think because there was more time not traveling, we were seeing our kids not just jump into decisions like they may have in the past. We did our best to give them sound advice from other men who have walked the walk they are doing now. I really think they gained an advantage not having to deal with so much back and forth.”
Sorey is one of several top-ranked players expected to announce their decisions on Wednesday.
Top names to remember
Terrence Lewis (Miami Central ILB)
Position rank: No. 2 (247Sports), No. 2 (Rivals)
Lewis was a longtime Tennessee commit, but decommitted recently. He Tweeted earlier this week that he will decide between Tennessee and Maryland. Lewis will sign Wednesday, but he won’t announce his decision until January.
Damarius McGhee (Pensacola Catholic CB)
Position rank: No. 14 (247Sports), No. 31 (Rivals)
The 6-foot-1 defensive back decommitted from Tennessee in late November. He has several suitors, including Alabama, LSU, Ole Miss, Miami and Mississippi State. He is expected to sign at 12:45 p.m. on ESPN.
Pensacola Catholic coach Matt Adams: "This one is going to be a little bit unique. This is the first time since I’ve been around we’ve had a guy wait until signing day. Everybody else that we’ve had sign, there’s been a plan in place and a commitment made prior. It’s exciting and it keeps everybody busy. There’s a lot of schools in the mix for Damarius.”
Markevious Brown (IMG CB)
Position rank: No. 48 (247Sports), No. 44 (Rivals)
Miami and Ole Miss have been considered the front runners for the 6-foot, 170-pounder. Brown is returning to Pahokee High School to make his announcement at 3 p.m.
Malik McClain (IMG WR)
Position rank: No. 43 (247Sports), No. 42 (Rivals)
The 6-foot-5, 195-pound McClain is a matchup nightmare because of his size, length and speed. He decommitted from Florida State earlier this month. Ole Miss is considered the team to beat, but the Seminoles remain in the mix.
Storylines to watch
How will the coaching carousel impact the early signing period?
Gus Malzahn (Auburn) and Lovie Smith (Illinois) both were fired on Sunday. South Carolina hired former Oklahoma assistant Shane Beamer less than two weeks ago. Will prep players from Florida — who were unable to take official visits to these campuses — feel comfortable signing with these programs on Wednesday? A handful of in-state Auburn commits already have delayed their signings until February.
Who will finish No. 1?
Alabama and Ohio State are the consensus No. 1 and 2 recruiting classes. If they get the signatures they’re expecting, it would be tough to see that changing. Alabama’s signing class currently has five Florida commits, including five-star offensive lineman JC Latham (IMG) and defensive end/outside linebacker Dallas Turner (St. Thomas Aquinas). The Buckeyes do not have any verbal commitments from Florida players.
What about the Big Three?
Florida has the No. 7 class according to 247Sports, ESPN and Rivals. Miami’s class is ranked No. 10 by ESPN and Rivals and No. 11 by 247Sports. Florida State will need to have a big day to get into the Top 25. The Seminoles currently are ranked No. 28 by ESPN, No. 34 by 247Sports and No. 44 by Rivals.
Pensacola News Journal sports reporter Brian Achatz contributed to this report.