Tide, Tigers tussle for blue-chips on signing day

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Alabama and Auburn were at it again on national signing day.

The Iron Bowl rivals tussled for blue-chip recruits on the first day high school football players could make their college choices official.

The Crimson Tide and Tigers, who have won the last two national championships, each landed recruiting classes the experts adore and went head-to-head for several top prospects _ none bigger than offensive tackle Cyrus Kouandjio from DeMatha High School in Maryland.

Rated one of the top-10 recruits in the country by Rivals.com, Scout.com and ESPNU, Kouandjio on Wednesday said he was picking Auburn over Alabama, where his brother, Arie, plays.

But just because a recruit makes an announcement on national television, doesn’t mean he’s made up his mind. Cyrus Kouandjio did not sign a binding letter of intent with Auburn or Alabama _ or for that matter with New Mexico, his odd other finalist _ and there is no indication when he will make his decision official.

Seantrel Henderson, the top-rated offensive lineman coming out of high school last year, pulled a similar move, committing to Southern California on television but not signing on the first day of the signing period. He ultimately ended up at Miami.

But what Kouandjio did was different. Henderson wanted to go to USC, but changed his mind when NCAA sanctions hit the Trojans.

“I think Cyrus picked a school that he didn’t know he wanted to go to,” Rivals.com national recruiting analyst Mike Farrell said.

Another top recruit, linebacker Brent Calloway from Russellville, Ala., first committed to Alabama then switched to Auburn, but ended up signing with Alabama.

“Probably the most interesting story in this year’s recruiting derby is Auburn vs. Alabama,” Allen Wallace, national recruiting editor for Scout.com and publisher of SuperPrep magazine.

Kouandjio isn’t the only five-star recruit who is going to take a few more days to cement his decision.

Maybe the most heralded prospect in the nation, defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, from Rock Hill, S.C., said in an interview with ESPNU he probably won’t sign until his birthday, Feb. 14 _ Valentine’s Day. He said his choices are South Carolina, Clemson and Alabama.

Generally, signing day is about the rich getting richer. The top-rated players tend to flock to the traditional powers. So it was no surprise to see Texas, Florida State, Southern California, LSU, Ohio State and Notre Dame come away with classes highly ranked by the recruiting gurus.

Oregon, fresh off its first appearance in the national title game, also got high marks.

A couple of teams that had mediocre 2010 seasons, Georgia and Clemson, gave their fans reason to believe better days are ahead with classes packed with top prospects.

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