HOUSTON – College football's annual restocking of the shelves is here.
National Signing Day is just the start of the period in which high school prospects can sign a letter of intent that binds them to their chosen school. But for most top recruits and FBS teams, signing day is the end of the process, when all those verbal commitments become official.
This signing day begins with the nation's No. 1 recruit uncommitted, LSU in position to be the recruiting champs and Texas trying to finish strong. And of course, Alabama is expected to clean up.
All over the city, state and the country, universities will sign on future players. Here in Houston, for the past seven years, HISD has recognized students' commitments for every sport, from baseball to water polo.
Stay tuned for updates as the day's happenings unfold.
The Houston Cougars will look to build on the success they had in a 13-1 season in the first year under coach Tom Herman with a recruiting class highlighted by five-star defensive tackle Ed Oliver.
The 6-foot-2, 290-pound Oliver, who went to Houston Westfield, was rated the sixth-best prospect in the country by 247Sports.com and will add the physicality that Herman loves.
Houston also added former Texas A&M quarterback Kyle Allen this winter, but he won't be able to help until 2017 because he must sit out this season due to transfer rules. Allen appeared in 20 games with 14 starts for the Aggies in two seasons, throwing for 2,210 yards with 17 touchdowns last year.
The Cougars also added another local star in Bellaire, Texas, wide receiver Courtney Lark. The consensus four-star recruit had 68 receptions for 1,222 yards and 18 touchdowns last season to cap a career in which he received first-team, all-district recognition in three straight seasons.
Offensive tackle Na'Ty Rodgers, a junior college transfer from Iowa Western, is headed to Houston. Rodgers, who went to junior college after redshirting at South Carolina in 2013, was rated as the No. 7 overall junior college player by ESPN after helping Iowa Western to back to back conference titles.
Other things to know:
Top 25 Class: No.
Best in class: Ed Oliver, DT, Houston.
Best of the rest: Courtney Lark, WR, Bellaire, Texas.
Late addition: D'Eriq King, athlete, Manvel, Texas.
One that got away: Tyrie Cleveland, WR, Houston. Chose Florida.
How they'll fit in: Oliver should start immediately for a defense that will undoubtedly benefit from his size. Rodgers should make the transition to Division I football easily after playing two seasons in junior college and Lark could also see playing time early after the Cougars lost several receivers to graduation.
Uzoma Akunebu LB Austin St. Stephen's
Joseph Dill OL Baytown Lee
D'Angelo Ellis DB Cy Ridge
Sam Glaesmann QB Hewitt Midway
Jack Greene OL Fort Bend Ridge Point
Javante Hubbard DL Alief Elsik
Jordan Myers WR Dickinson
Dasharm Newsome DB Cy Ridge
Will Phillips LB Franklin
Uzoma Osuji OL Coppell
Collin Whitaker DB Plano Prestonwood
TCU coach Gary Patterson usually breaks out the term "paper tigers" when discussing his recruiting classes.
That was the case again Wednesday, less than 30 seconds into discussing what may be the best signing day for Patterson and the Horned Frogs. This group could have the coach describing the players much differently in the future.
After four seasons in the Big 12, including a 23-3 record the past two years with a conference title and two bowl victories, TCU is pulling in more top-rated recruits. Among the 22 signees in this year's class, the school is touting a record 10 four-star recruits, including junior college receivers Ryan Parker and Taj Williams.
Parker, a prep recruit for the Frogs two years ago, and Williams are among six junior college transfers to bolster what overall is still a young team. TCU's roster for that impressive Alamo Bowl comeback victory over Oregon listed 45 freshmen and only 16 juniors.
Other things to know:
Top 25 Class: Yes
Best in class: Isaiah Graham, WR, Bastrop, Louisiana.
Best of the rest: Isaiah Chambers, DE, MacArthur High, Houston; Ross Blacklock, DT, Missouri City, Texas; Austin Myers, OT, Manvel, Texas; Sewo Olonilua, RB, Kingwood, Texas.
Late addition: Camron Williams, WR, Skyline High, Dallas.
One that got away: Four-star RB Kyle Porter, who ran for 1,938 yards and 36 TDs as a senior at Katy, Texas, chose Texas after considering TCU.
How they'll fit in: With record-setting receiver Josh Doctson gone after an injury-shortened senior season, the Frogs added four receivers -- the most players at any position in the class. Along with Graham and the transfers was Dylan Thomas, from Paschal High just down the street from the TCU campus. Former Texas A&M quarterback Kenny Hill is the front-runner to replace departed Trevone Boykin after sitting out last season because of NCAA transfer rules. But dual-threat Brennen Wooten from San Angelo, Texas, is the only quarterback signee this spring, and is already on campus as an early enrollee to go through spring practice.
Say this about Texas coach Charlie Strong: He is a closer. The Longhorns may end up with the highest-rated class in the Big 12. The Longhorns scooped up defensive linemen Chris Daniel and Marcel Southall early Wednesday and D'Andre Christmas-Giles late Tuesday night.
The bad news: That surge might not be good enough for Texas to crack the top-10 nationally.
It's not just Texas feeling the squeeze with more competition (i.e. the SEC) in-state for top talent. The entire Big 12 is fighting to keep the Lone Star state from being poached.Ring up another one for Charlie Strong and Texas: S/LB Brandon Jones, the Lone Star state's defensive player of the year, picked the Longhorns over Texas A&M and Baylor.
Linebacker Dontavious Jackson from Texas is heading to Florida State. Charlie Strong and the Texas made a later push to get Jackson, but the Seminoles closed the deal on him.
It's the third big signing day commitment for the `Noles who also landed defensive end Brian Burns and cornerback Carlos Becker, who was considering Ohio State.
Peyton Aucoin TE Brother Martin (LA)
DeMarco Boyd LB Gilmer
Shane Buechele QB Arlington Lamar
D. Christmas-Giles DT St. Augustine (LA)
Eric Cuffee DB Waco
Davion Curtis WR Temple
Chris Daniels DT Euless Trinity
Jean Delance OL North Mesquite
Andrew Fitzgerald DE Flower Mound Marcus
Erick Fowler LB Manor
R. Hemphill-Mapps WR Manvel
Lil'Jordan Humphrey ATH Southlake Carroll
Tope Imade OL Arlington Bowie
Collin Johnson WR Valley Christian (CA)
Brandon Jones DB Nacogdoches
Denzel Okafor OL Lewisville
Kyle Porter RB Katy
Malcolm Roach DE Madison Prep (LA)
Zach Shackelford OL Belton
Marcel Southall DT Duncanville
Gerald Wilbon DT Destrehan (LA)
With quarterbacks Kyle Allen and Kyler Murray both transferring from Texas A&M before the bowl game, the Aggies were in need of depth at the position.
They got it Wednesday by signing Trevor Knight, a graduate transfer from Oklahoma who will be eligible to play immediately. Knight started 15 games and threw for more than 3,000 yards in three seasons with the Sooners. Ten of his starts came as a sophomore in 2014 when he threw for 2,300 yards and 15 touchdowns.
Texas A&M also added Nick Starkel, who threw for more than 3,000 yards with 29 touchdowns at Argyle, Texas, last season. Another quarterback prospect is Moses Reynolds, a versatile player who ran for almost 1,000 yards with 12 touchdowns and threw for more than 800 with seven scores in 2015 for San Antonio Jay. The younger brother of A&M star receiver Josh Reynolds also had 304 yards receiving with two touchdowns and grabbed three interceptions on defense last year.
The Aggies also continued a three-year trend of replacing top offensive linemen with promising recruits by adding Kellen Diesch, a 6-foot-5, 275-pounder.
On defense, the star of the class is McKinney, Texas, defensive end Justin Madubuike. The Aggies also snagged a pair of top cornerbacks in Travon Fuller of Athens, Texas, and Charles Oliver of Fairfield, Texas.
Other things to know:
Top 25 Class: Yes.
Best in class: Kellen Diesch, OL, Trophy Club, Texas.
Best of the rest: Clyde Leflore-Chriss, WR, New Orleans.
Late addition: Clifford Chattman, S, New Orleans.
One that got away: Brandon Jones, S, Nacogdoches, Texas, who chose Texas.
How they'll fit in: Coach Kevin Sumlin has long said that he doesn't recruit players to sit on the sidelines, so expect to see many of these players fill big roles this season like freshmen WR Christian Kirk and DL Daylon Mack did in 2015.
Baylor has become a consistent winner on the field, with 50 victories the past five seasons along with the Bears' first two Big 12 championships.
That is translating into more and more wins in recruiting.
Coach Art Briles signed 22 players Wednesday to national letters of intent, including exceptional wide receivers Tren'Davian Dickson and Devin Duvernay for a big-play offense that gets back quarterback Seth Russell. The top-rated FBS passer when he suffered a season-ending neck injury Oct. 24, Russell was cleared this week to resume football activity.
Four of Baylor's starting offensive linemen were seniors last season. On the defensive line, there were two senior ends and junior nose tackle Andrew Billings, who is bypassing his senior season for the NFL draft.
The Bears signed three highly touted offensive linemen, along with five defensive linemen, in a class Briles called the best Baylor has ever signed.
"If you look back to the classes we've signed in the past, they were not this high and we won Big 12 championships," Briles said. "This is a high class. We're going to win Big 12 championships, but we're looking for the national title too."
Other things to know:
Top 25 Class: Yes
Best in class: Tren'Davian Dickson, WR, Navasota, Texas.
Best of the rest: Devin Duvernay, WR, Sachse, Texas; Patrick Hudson, OL, Silsbee, Texas; Kameron Martin, RB, Port Arthur, Texas; Zach Smith, QB, Grandview, Texas.
Late addition: Cornerback Parrish Cobb had committed to Oklahoma before his senior season at Waco's La Vega High, but decided to stay at home. He had 56 tackles and four interceptions as La Vega went 16-0 and won a Texas Class 4A state championship.
One that got away: Brandon Jones, considered by many to be the nation's top safety, signed with Texas after having Baylor as one of his finalists.
How they'll fit in: Dickson, who set a Texas prep record with 76 career TDs receiving, and Duvernay, who Briles called the fastest player he has ever signed, should be able to contribute right away to a receiving corps still loaded even with All-American Corey Coleman bypassing his senior season. Hudson (6-foot-4, 325 pounds) is considered one of the top offensive linemen in the country, filling an immediate need with junior college transfer B.J. Autry (6-3, 320) and local standout J.P Urquidez (6-6, 300) from Copperas Cove.
Texas Tech signed 24 players on Wednesday, including 14 on the defensive side of the ball as the Red Raiders hope to slow down the high-octane offenses in the Big 12 Conference.
But this is Texas Tech, after all. Third-year coach Kliff Kingsbury also signed dual-threat quarterback Jett Duffey of Mansfield, Texas, a 6-foot, 171-pounder who could be Patrick Mahomes' backup since Davis Webb is transferring. Duffey threw for 2,756 yards and 29 touchdowns last season. He also ran for 1,688 yards and 19 touchdowns.
"Jett is faster just in a race. Pat is very mobile, can move around," Kingsbury said. "Jett does about the same stuff, but as far as arm strength, both very talented, both in high school kind of put their teams on their back, took them deeper in the playoffs than probably they should have gone."
Defensive coordinator David Gibbs has improved the Red Raiders, who were tied for 52nd nationally in turnover margin after a ranking two years ago of 116th.
Now Gibbs has brought in different assistants and taken charge of bringing in 14 defensive players he liked.
"I think as he stacks his classes together, I think you'll continue to see our defense improve," Kingsbury said.
Other things to know:
Top 25 Class: No
Best in class: T.J. Vasher, WR, Wichita Falls, Texas
Best of the rest: Derrick Willies, WR, San Bernardino, California/Trinity Valley CC/Iowa
Late addition: Douglas Coleman, WR, Zachary, Louisiana. "We found his tape late, tremendous offensive player," Kingsbury said. "When you look at what he did as a wide receiver, state champion, great length, can really fly. Shocked he wasn't recruited more highly, honestly."
One that got away: Yasir Durant, OL, San Diego State.
How they'll fit in: Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury, whose team ranked near the bottom in major defensive categories last season, said most of the defensive linemen signed Wednesday will get a chance to earn playing time. The Red Raiders lost seven to graduation.