- Associated Press - Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Less than a month after winning its fourth national championship in seven seasons, Alabama has a chance to extend its string of unofficial recruiting titles.

Alabama has landed the nation’s top signing class each of the last five years according to composite rankings of recruiting websites compiled by 247Sports. Whether that streak continues depends on how much of a signing day surge the Crimson Tide can stage Wednesday.

Although Alabama was ranked fifth in the 247Sports Composite team standings Tuesday morning, it remains in play for so many uncommitted four- and five-star recruits that it has a legitimate chance to move to the top of the rankings.

“I think Alabama is probably going to make the biggest signing day close among those top 10 teams,” said Barton Simmons, the director of scouting for 247Sports. “They have a very real shot at landing the nation’s No. 1 class. They don’t even have to have everything fall into place.

LSU led the composite team rankings early Tuesday and was followed by Ohio State, Florida State, Mississippi and Alabama. Michigan, Florida, Georgia, Clemson and Notre Dame rounded out the top 10.

“You can never bet against (Alabama),” said Mike Farrell, the national recruiting director for Rivals. “I think their finish will be good for any team, but it might not be as spectacular as Alabama is used to. We’ll see.”

Ole Miss faces the challenge of making sure it doesn’t lose any key recruits from that class after being notified Friday by the NCAAA of rules violations.

“The timing is interesting because I’m really not sure why they needed to be served right before signing day,” Farrell said. “But the timing also is not as bad as people think because it’s so late for anybody to come up with a second plan if they were planning on going to Ole Miss.”

Here’s a look at other recruiting stories to watch Wednesday:

WHO’S LEFT: Seven of the top 15 prospects according to the 247Sports Composite remain uncommitted. That includes No. 1 overall recruit Rashan Gary, a defensive tackle from Paramus, New Jersey. Other uncommitted top-15 recruits include defensive tackle Derrick Brown, linebacker Ben Davis, outside linebacker Mique Juarez, athlete Mecole Hardman Jr., wide receiver Demetris Robertson and outside linebacker Lyndell Wilson.

ALL EYES ON MICHIGAN: Plenty of current stars will be on hand as Michigan hopes to collect letters of intent from future stars. The list of expected guests for Michigan’s signing day event includes New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and former New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter. It’s a fitting conclusion to a recruiting cycle in which Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh has emerged as the dominant personality. “He’s made news in every way, positive or negative, whether it’s his outrageous recruiting tactics, pushing kids out of the nest late or landing kids that Michigan fans never expected, (prospects) from Florida and California,” Farrell said. “I think Harbaugh is just constant fodder for news.”

STRENGTHS AND WEAKNESSES: This is a good year to be seeking an elite defensive tackle. Four of the top nine players in the 247Sports Composite are defensive tackles. Gary and Brown are still waiting to announce their college picks. Dexter Lawrence, the No. 2 overall prospect, has already enrolled at Clemson. Ed Oliver, ranked sixth, is committed to Houston. Simmons called it a “phenomenal year” for defensive tackles. Simmons also said this is an “outstanding year” for tight ends and a weak year for running backs.

QB INFUSION IN SEC: Even as it remained the nation’s top conference this past season, the SEC dealt with a lack of production at quarterback. This recruiting cycle may help the SEC improve its quarterback performance, at least in the long run. The top two pro-style QBs in this class appear to be Shea Patterson and Jacob Eason. Patterson has already enrolled at Ole Miss and Eason has enrolled at Georgia. Feleipe Franks, the No. 5 pro-style quarterback, has enrolled at Florida. SEC schools also have commitments from the top three dual-threat QBs in Jarrett Guarantano (Tennessee), Brandon McIlwain (South Carolina) and Jalen Hurts (Alabama).

CHANGING TIMES IN BIG 12: In a sign that Baylor’s success on the field is carrying over to the recruiting trail, the Bears head into signing day with the top class of any Big 12 program. Texas is a prime contender for plenty of quality uncommitted recruits and could still pass Baylor. “That’s going to be something to watch,” Simmons said. “Can Baylor hold off Texas to pull that No. 1 class in the Big 12?”

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AP college website: collegefootball.ap.org

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