Iron Bowl teaser

Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn greets Alabama head coach Nick Saban before the 2017 game. (Photo by Trent Penny/The Anniston Star)

Trent Penny/The Anniston Star

The traditional February National Signing Day is coming Wednesday, and even though the NCAA for the first time allowed recruits to sign their scholarship papers in December, there’s still plenty of drama this week.

Good teams are built partially on what they do on signing day. For example, look back at the top of 27sports’ 2014 recruiting rankings, and you’ll see the cream of the 2017 season, when those guys were seniors or redshirt juniors. Alabama, with the No. 1-rated recruiting class in ’14, won the 2017 national championship. No. 8 Georgia won the SEC Championship Game over No. 6 Auburn. No. 3 Ohio State won the Big Ten. No. 10 Southern California won the Pac-12.

But one high-ranked class doesn’t make a program great. In 2014, 247sports had Tennessee’s class at No. 6. The Vols didn’t win an SEC game this year, while No. 14 Clemson and No. 16 Oklahoma won their league championships and made the College Football Playoff.

Still, here’s five fast facts to know about National Signing Day:

1. Not No. 1

According to 247sports, Alabama has had the nation’s top recruiting class every year during 2011-17, but for 2018, Rivals, 247sports and ESPN all have Georgia first, Ohio State second and Texas third.

ESPN’s Tom Luginbill said in a conference call with reporters Monday that the best the Tide can do likely will be fourth and that one of the current top three will finish first this year. So far, Alabama is fourth by ESPN, sixth by Rivals and ninths by 247sports.

2. Auburn QB

In the December signing period, Auburn landed Joey Gatewood from Jacksonville, Fla., and he’s already enrolled and on campus. Rivals rates him the No. 3 dual-threat quarterback nationally in his class.

The Tigers have Bo Nix, a high school senior next year, on the way, too. Rivals has Nix, the son of former Auburn quarterback Patrick Nix, as the No. 2 pro-style quarterback in the Class of 2019.

3. Alabama QB

Nick Saban said he would like to have four scholarshipped quarterbacks on campus, and at the moment, he has three. In addition, Luginbill said Monday he could see Hurts choosing not to return as Tua Tagovailoa has made a strong case he should start in 2018.

In the past two days, Alabama has lost four-star prospect Brevin Knight of Lancaster, Calif., to Princeton and three-star Brock Purdy of Gilbert, Ariz., told SEC Country on Monday that the Tide is out of the race for him. Four-star James Foster II of Sidney Lanier in Montgomery still has Alabama on his list along with LSU, Texas A&M and Florida State.

4. No. 1 state recruit

The top target in the state, according to 247sports, is receiver Justyn Ross of Phenix City. A 6-foot-4, 20-1 pounder, Ross is considering Alabama, Auburn and Clemson.

5. Top targets left

Patrick Surtain Jr. of American Heritage in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and high school teammate Tyson Campbell are the Nos. 1 and 2 cornerbacks nationally, and both are still on the board.

So is offensive tackle Nicholas Petit-Frere of Berkeley Prep in Tampa, Fla. On 247sports’ list, Surtain is No. 6 nationally, Petit-Frere is seventh and Campbell is 12th. Everyone else in the top 25 signed or committed already. All three have Alabama on their short lists. 

Sports Editor Mark Edwards: 256-235-3570. On Twitter: @MarkSportsStar.