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February 2, 2011

Five predictions for signing day

MORE WHISPERS: Complete NSD coverage | Predictions | Announcement watch

Rivals.com national recruiting analyst Mike Farrell, as has become a National Signing Day tradition, makes his five predictions for the day, boldly facing the taunts and criticism of fan bases across the country.

So here he goes. This year we'll see…

1. The five-star linebackers won't surprise

Look for the three five-star linebackers that everyone is asking about, Virginia's Curtis Grant, Florida's Tony Steward and North Carolina's Stephone Anthony, to commit and sign with the programs we've been predicting all along. Grant, despite a late push from North Carolina, will sign with Ohio State, Steward will choose Florida State over Clemson and the Tigers will be comforted a bit by beating Virginia Tech for Anthony.

2. Alabama battles FSU

It's always hard to predict who will win the recruiting title as evidenced by USC coming out of nowhere and taking it from Florida, based on the verbal commitments of Seantrel Henderson and Marquis Jackson. Now we have safeguards in place against verbal commitments pushing teams to the title, but it's still hard to tell how the actual signings will affect the points system. That being said, if Alabama gets Cyrus Kouandjio as most expect, and it can flip Brent Calloway, and Florida State can get Tony Steward and Timmy Jernigan, this will be tight for the title. If one slips and whiffs or adds a surprise commitment (Jeoffrey Pagan for Alabama or Jermauria Rasco for Florida State are good examples), that could determine the winner. Alabama has the edge going in, but this will be close.

3. The ACC finishes strong

Everyone talks about the SEC and the team rankings with good reason. The league placed four teams in the top 10 last year and an amazing seven out of 10 in 2007. But the ACC will close strong on Wednesday. FSU is expected to get Steward and have a good shot at Jernigan. Clemson should land Anthony and Spencer Region and, if the 'Noles miss on Steward, he will fall to the Tigers. North Carolina is expected to get a big surprise commitment on Wednesday if everything works out (not Grant, see above) and could finish in the top 15. Virginia could finish with Darius Jennings and Dominique Terrell, Miami could get Jacoby Brissett and there's an outside chance (very outside) that Georgia Tech steals Stephon Tuitt. The SEC will once again have more teams than any conference in the top 10, but the ACC will have a good day as well.

4. Georgia redeems itself

Last year Mark Richt and Georgia limped to the finish line and landed outside the top 10 for the first time in ages. The Bulldogs also did a poor job of keeping top talent in state. This year all of that has changed. If Georgia finishes the way most expect it will, with commitments from Isaiah Crowell, Jeoffrey Pagan and a couple others, then it will push for a top five national finish and will be fighting LSU and Auburn for No. 2 in the SEC. And with Crowell, Georgia will have signed four of the top five players in the state and seven of the top 10. Not bad at all for a coach on the hot seat.

5. One will stun

If I knew who it was, I'd have told you. And if I could predict the future for real, I'd have played the lottery long ago and be retired on my own island. But someone will stun the recruiting world on Wednesday. Whether it's De'Anthony Thomas leaving L.A. for Oregon or Washington or Aundrey Walker breaking the Glenville tradition and heading to USC, something big will happen. Delvon Simmons, Gabe Wright or even one of the huge names such as Cyrus Kouandjio, Marqise Lee or Timmy Jernigan are also candidates to pull some kind of surprise. We all know somebody will choose a school that no one expects and that will be the talk of the day. Our Rivals.com analyst picks are too pretty and perfect, lined up across the board for too many prospects, for there to be no stunners out there.



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