Recruiting is a fickle field. The way a team’s recruiting class looks today could change drastically on National Signing Day, with 17- and 18-year-old kids changing their minds in a flash.

One of the most important factors in recruiting is program momentum. If things start to go badly, that can lead to a snowball effect — just look at South Carolina.

The pendulum swings the other way, though, and teams that get hot can parlay that momentum into big signing days. Which programs are trending in the right direction heading into NSD?

  • Tennessee — Coming off a 7-6 season that featured the Volunteers’ first bowl win since the 2008 Outback Bowl, there is no program in the SEC East as hot as Tennessee, with the Vols getting early buzz as the divisonal favorite. Preston Williams, the Vols’ top-rated receiver recruit, was just another example of Big Orange being on the way up when he was asked to leave his visit to Auburn after wearing Tennessee gear and trying to recruit other players to join him at UT. Butch Jones is having one of the best recruiting seasons in recent memory for Tennessee, with his class currently ranked in the top five in the nation. The Vols already have 10 players on campus and are so stuffed to the gills with recruits — 18 more players have committed — that they’ve had to rescind scholarship offers.
  • LSU — After scuffling along with a class on the fringe of the national top 20, LSU has vaulted up into the top 10 of most services’ rankings in recent weeks. LSU got things moving in the right direction at the Under Armour All-American game, when five-star receiver Tyron Johnson picked LSU over a few other SEC programs, once again giving the Tigers the top player in their home state. LSU kept the ball rolling by hiring two excellent recruits, Kevin Steele and Ed Orgeron, on the defensive side of the ball, and those two have said they’re hoping to add a few more coveted pieces to this recruiting class. New Orleans athlete Donte Jackson was a good start for them. We’ll see if they’re able to snatch any last-minute jewels in the days before NSD.
  • Auburn — How quickly is Will Muschamp’s impact going to be felt around the national recruiting scene? We could find out pretty quickly. Auburn is lurking on the fringes of the top 10 recruiting classes, with 14 four-star prospects already committed. Of any team ranked in the top 25 right now, the Tigers are the biggest threat to make a huge leap. Auburn has had a slew of heralded prospects on campus in the last few weeks, including top-10 players Byron Cowart, CeCe Jefferson and Terry Beckner Jr., all defensive line studs who could swing the fate of Auburn’s defense. If Coach Boom can get one or two of those three players on campus, he could have the defense performing at an elite level in his first year, vaulting Auburn into serious national title contention.