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Storylines to Track on National Signing Day

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Some interesting momentum shifts to look at.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: JAN 02 Taxslayer Gator Bowl - Indiana v Tennessee Photo by David Rosenblum/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The lesser of the two college football recruiting holidays is finally here. The 2020 cycle will close out on February 5th, when the remaining college football prospects decide where they will sign. A vast majority already did so in December—meaning the number of recruits currently unsigned is minimal, and it’s typically ones whose recruitments took strange twists.

Tennessee football has already signed 21 players in the 2020 cycle and accepted three transfers in the offseason. That means the Volunteers only have one or two spots left in their class. Not surprisingly, they are only going after a specific group of players who they feel are valuable enough to use those last scholarship spots on.

We list the small number of prospects Tennessee is currently after, and where we think each will sign.

4-star WR Malachi Wideman

Prediction: Ole Miss

This recruitment is a bit like Zach Evans’, though much less dramatic. It has the same amount of uncertainty however. Technically, Wideman is still committed to Florida State...and the Seminoles still have a fighting chance to keep him. But the FSU staff doesn’t seem to think he’ll head their way, which opens up the door for Wideman to pick from any of three schools he’s looked into this past month. Those three would be Tennessee, Oregon, and Ole Miss.

For a while it looked like Tennessee had gained momentum in this recruitment. The sentiment was that proximity to home clearly favored Tennessee over Oregon. Ole Miss was a bit of an afterthought. That changed when Ole Miss convinced Wideman and his high school quarterback to take a visit to Oxford on the final weekend before signing day. In these cases, it’s better to just follow the visits and make your prediction on who got the final one.

It should also be noted that Ole Miss has taken commitments from a fair amount of players in the 2020 cycle with grade risks. Wideman’s academic standing is well known at this point—while I think he’s going to qualify, it’s still not 100% secure at the moment. I’ll choose the Rebels but I’m not overly confident here.

3-star ATH Damarcus Beckwith

Prediction: Tennessee

The battle against the Florida Gators for Beckwith will reach its conclusion on Wednesday. This recruitment remains a true 50-50 and making a pick for either team isn’t a confident one. Early on Florida looked like the one true contender for his services, with Tennessee simply lurking in the background. It began to change when news broke that Beckwith indeed followed through on a visit to Knoxville. Since then, both sides have regarded it as a coin flip. Class spot availability isn’t an issue for either team since Florida is expecting to lose a couple of their current commits.

We’ll go with the surging Volunteers and predict that Beckwith ends up in the class.

5-star RB Zach Evans

Prediction: N/A

We should clear up something before NSD happens. Since Evans already signed a LOI with Georgia, he cannot sign another. Essentially, the only way we’ll know where he’s going is when he shows up on campus for practice. He could also announce on social media beforehand, but he doesn’t seem to be the type of recruit to do that. We have zero clue where he’s going.