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February 3, 2010

Top surprises on Signing Day

MORE: Signing Day Central

Wednesday is National Signing Day, the first day football prospects can sign letters of intent to play college football.

Some players commit early and stick to their word. Other players wait until the last minute to make their college destinations, and invariably there are some unexpected choices.

Here are five of the biggest surprises from this year's National Signing Day:

Calvin Smith: When you are recruiting on the level of Tennessee, Alabama and Florida State, you don't expect to be challenged by a program near the bottom of the Mountain West Conference ranks. In the case of four-star defensive tackle Calvin Smith, that is exactly who the heavyweights should have had their eye on. Smith, a former Tennessee commit, visited the Vols, Alabama, Florida State and Illinois. However, he recently visited New Mexico. The recruiting job done by coach Mike Locksley and defensive line coach Rubin Carter was enough to convince the premiere defensive lineman to head west and sign with the Lobos.

LSU steals: Heading into the day, LSU had a good class, but somehow there was a spark missing. Several sparks came Wednesday. The Tigers stole four-star defensive end J.C. Copeland from Tennessee, four-star Jarrett Fobbs from Texas A&M, four-star Kadron Boone from Texas Tech and the gem of the day - J.R. Ferguson. Though Ferguson was not committed elsewhere, there wasn't an overwhelming sentiment that he would end up in Baton Rouge. His relative surprise tops a phenomenal day by the Tigers.

Dorsey to Michigan: Demar Dorsey was Florida's first commitment in the class of 2010. Athletically, he is one of the top players in the nation. After a decommitment from Florida late in the process, Florida State, USC and Tennessee all seemed like serious possibilities. Michigan remained an underdog, but stayed involved with Dorsey. On Wednesday, Dorsey decided to take his sub-4.4 speed north to the Big Ten.

Calvin Barnett's switch: The No. 1 player in the state of Oklahoma will not be an OU Sooner; he won't be going to Oklahoma State, either. In a Signing Day surprise, four-star defensive tackle Calvin Barnett shocked everybody by signing with the Arkansas Razorbacks. When it comes to reasons for his switch, weather may have played a role. After visiting Arkansas officially two weeks ago, Barnett went underground from the media and was unable to visit Oklahoma State officially due to inclement weather. In hindsight, the change of heart may have been predictable. But most people had Barnett heading to Stillwater in the fall of 2010.

Heimuli to Oregon: Nobody was sure which school four-star defensive tackle Ricky Heimuli would choose. Would he go to UCLA, or stay home at Utah? The answer turned out to be neither. Heimuli surprised many by picking Oregon. It appears a late in-home visit by several Ducks coaches paid off handsomely. The commitment comes at a great time for Oregon, because the Ducks are in desperate need of depth on the defensive line.




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