Between the Early Signing Period and the new era of the transfer portal, National Signing Day isn’t just on the back burner. It’s in another room altogether. That’s reality in 2022, wherein 92 of the top 100 players in the 247sports composite rankings already signed with their respective schools and the portal continues to spit out major news by the day.

Barring a change to the portal or the Early Signing Period, it’ll continue to be this way. College football purists, look away.

But at the same time, there are still some SEC storylines worth following Wednesday when the remainder of the 2022 class locks in their respective destinations.

Let’s dig into those:

1. Where does Harold Perkins end up?

The highest-rated unsigned player in the 2022 class is Perkins, who will choose between LSU, Florida and Texas A&M. Perkins dropped his A&M verbal just 3 weeks after making his pledge to Jimbo Fisher’s program at the Under Armour All-America Game, but he’s still expected to consider the Aggies. Perkins is built like a modern linebacker, and obviously adding the No. 8 player in the class would put an exclamation point on this cycle for 1 of those 3 SEC schools. That’s especially true for a pair of first-year coaches.

The Cypress, Texas recruit is from New Orleans, and he took a late visit to meet with Brian Kelly’s staff. He also raved about a late visit to Florida. Really, Perkins is deciding between 3 programs that have new defensive coordinators. He’ll announce his decision at 2:15 p.m. ET on Wednesday.

2. Shemar Stewart’s decision

The good news for A&M is if Perkins chooses Florida or LSU, Stewart seems like a more likely possibility. A&M is trying to close out what would be a historic class, especially on the defensive line, where the Aggies already signed 5-stars Walter Nolen and Gabriel Brownlow-Dindy. Adding Stewart would continue the notion that A&M is reloading in a hurry up front after losing most of its defensive front production to the NFL Draft.

But that’s by no means a given with Georgia and Miami in the picture. The Florida native visited both campuses in the past couple weeks. Could Mario Cristobal land his biggest fish yet after taking multiple visits to see the new coaching staff in Coral Gables? Or will Kirby Smart and Will Muschamp pull off a late heist to land the No. 10 overall player in the 2022 class? Stewart will make his announcement at 1:30 p.m. ET on Wednesday roughly 45 minutes before Perkins. It could be a monumental hour for Fisher and Co.

3. The all-SEC battle for Jacoby Mathews

I know we’ve been a touch A&M-heavy to start, but hey, welcome to the 2022 cycle. Mathews is yet another top-50 recruit who has the Aggies among his finalists. The No. 2 safety in the class is down to A&M, Florida and LSU. Like with Perkins, Mathews took a pair of late visits to see the new staffs at Florida and LSU, both of whom would love to land Mathews after he was initially projected to A&M.

The versatile defensive back got an LSU offer when he was a freshman, and he was committed to the Tigers for 2 months over the summer. Could Billy Napier’s hire of longtime LSU coach Corey Raymond potentially sway him? Or will the relationship with longtime elite Louisiana recruiter Frank Wilson pay dividends for Kelly? This could truly come down the wire for the coveted Louisiana native, who will announce his decision at 7 p.m. ET on Wednesday.

4. TreVonte’ Citizen’s announcement

The top-rated unsigned running back in the class will decide between LSU, Auburn, Florida and Miami. Like Mathews, Citizen is a Louisiana native who could weigh his options between new staffs. And Auburn, of course, has an offensive coordinator to replace for the second time this offseason, but Bryan Harsin does still have running backs coach Cadillac Williams on board. That could be pivotal.

LSU has been considered the fit in part because of Citizen’s Louisiana roots, and also because the Tigers have yet to add a 2022 running back (Kelly did land Penn State transfer Noah Cain). Then again, the same is true of Miami, which just poached Ole Miss running backs coach Kevin Smith. That’s where Citizen took his last pre-Signing Day visit. Citizen will make his announcement at noon ET on Wednesday.

5. Does Christen Miller stay in Georgia?

What could prevent the 4-star Georgia native from staying in the Peach State? Miller took a visit to Oregon after Dan Lanning took over as the Ducks’ new head coach. He had developed a relationship with the former Georgia defensive coordinator in the recruiting process. Miller isn’t your typical 4-star recruit. He took a late official visit to Florida A&M just to check out an HBCU in person.

Barring a late surprise, though, it’ll come down to Georgia against Ohio State, who clearly needs help on the defensive line.

You could make the case that both programs, along with Alabama, have had more successful NFL defensive linemen than anyone in the Playoff era. Miller told DawgNation that his decision will come down to “who I can go to war with.” That could very well be a nod to Miller’s close friend, 5-star UGA early enrollee Mykel Williams, who is the No. 4 overall recruit in the 2022 class. Adding Miller would be a nice way to move on from the post-Jordan Davis/Devonte Wyatt era.

6. A&M’s push for history

It’s very much in play. Stewart, Perkins and Mathews are all still very much on the table. All of them are top-50 recruits … which A&M already signed 7. There’s potential for 10 of the top 50 players (and 4 of the top 10) in the country ending up in College Station. Will that happen? The odds suggest it won’t, but A&M can still finish with a historic class by the 247sports standards.

Fisher is essentially 1 major commitment from passing 2021 Alabama for that title. As it stands heading into Wednesday, the Aggies have 325.07 points. Alabama finished with 327.76 in 2021. That would suggest landing one of those 5-star recruits would push A&M over the top. The Aggies already have:

  • 6 5-star recruits signed (2021 Alabama had 7)
  • 15 top-100 recruits (2021 Alabama had 16)
  • 24 recruits rated 4- or 5-stars signed (2021 Alabama had 23)

By day’s end, Fisher could very likely have the crown for top 247sports composite class ever.

7. Billy Napier’s finish

Napier has been about quality above quantity in this recruiting class. Does he have a few surprises in store? The aforementioned Perkins, Mathews and Citizen are the big 3 targets for Napier. Landing 1 of those would be a nice way for the first-year coach to close after his late push at the end of the Early Signing Period. It’s also a good sign that Napier’s staff is even in the running to the end to land those elite talents from Texas and Louisiana.

What’s crazy is that despite Napier’s late start, he actually needs to sign just 1 more top-50 recruit from the state of Florida to match Dan Mullen’s total (5) in 2021. Regardless of how well Napier finishes on the recruiting trail, his efforts in the transfer portal should be applauded. He beefed up the offensive line with some studs from his former team, and he landed guys from Georgia, Auburn and Ohio State. Napier has a borderline top-10 class in the 247sports transfer portal team rankings.

8. I’d expect 1 more Brian Kelly viral moment

I’m gonna go out on a not-so-bold limb and say that Kelly has at least 1 more viral moment in him. Nothing would be more fitting than for Kelly to close his 2022 class by dancing on that 360 platform with a Louisiana native like Mathews or Citizen. Who knows? Maybe Kelly will lean into his new digs a bit more and the band will play “Neck” in a commitment video. Would we rule anything out for Kelly? I wouldn’t.

By the way, for all those who questioned Kelly’s ability to recruit in the Bayou, he’s going into Wednesday with the chance to sign 7 of the state’s top 12 recruits (that’s if Mathews and Citizen both sign with LSU). Not bad for a yankee.

9. Is Deion Sanders doing more heavy lifting?

It’s crazy to think that even though Sanders set the internet ablaze by signing No. 1 overall recruit Travis Hunter, he still went into National Signing Day with a class outside the top 100 in the 247sports rankings. Part of that is because Jackson State only has 6 signees and it has 11 transfers, 7 of whom were from the Power 5 level. In the transfer portal class rankings, Sanders’ squad is at No. 36 (as of Tuesday afternoon).

The question is if another splash awaits on Wednesday. Like, what if Perkins shocked the world and pulled the February version of Hunter’s move? Never rule it out. Don’t rule out the possibility that at least 1 more 4-star recruit commits to Jackson State. We already saw 4-star receiver Kevin Coleman stun Miami by committing to Sanders earlier in the month. Could we see top-100 recruit Gentry Williams drop his Oklahoma commitment to play cornerback in Sanders’ defense?

If December was any indication, brace for more noise from the rising HBCU.

10. The Jim Harbaugh ripple effect

As of this writing, Harbaugh is still Michigan’s coach. Granted, he was expected to interview with the Vikings … on National Signing Day. If Harbaugh does leave Ann Arbor, you better believe we’re going to see players from Michigan’s 2022 class request out of their National Letter of Intent. We should. In this era of the transfer portal and tampering, I’d expect a free-for-all if Harbaugh does indeed bolt for the NFL.

Michigan has the No. 8 class in the country. That’s with 22 signees and 1 verbal commitment from 16 different states. Only 1 of those signees was from the state of Michigan … and it was 5-star cornerback Will Johnson. He’d have his pick of the litter if he wanted to leave in the event of a Harbaugh exit. Things at Michigan could get messy in a hurry, and if they do, their’ll be no shortage of schools who stand to benefit from it.