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Monday, February 4, 2013
Signing Day preview: 5 stats to know

By Jonathan McDonald

ESPNU will have 11.5 hours of live National Signing Day coverage on Wednesday, with announcements coming from 17 of the top prospects in the country. Here's five stats you need to know to be ready for a busy day:

1. For the third straight year a defensive end (Robert Nkemdiche) has been crowned top player in the ESPN 150. Coincidentally, the top two players in the country are both defensive ends and both from the Atlanta area. This is the first time in the eight-year history of the ESPN 150 that the top two prospects have played the same position and only the seconnd time that the top two prospects have hailed from the same state (2012 being the other)

2. For the sixth straight year under Nick Saban, Alabama Crimson Tide looks to land a Top-3 class. But for the first time since 2010, the Crimson Tide may not have the best recruiting class in the SEC, an honor which currently belongs to Florida.

Notre Dame Fighting Irish is looking to lock up its first Top-3 class in the history of the ESPN 150. Notre Dame's class is headlined by the 2012 High School Butkus Award winner Jaylon Smith, the No. 7 player in the country. Smith is the highest rated prospect at any position to choose Notre Dame since Manti Te'o in 2009. Te'o was the 2012 recipient of the collegiate Butkus Award.

3. The SEC currently claims five of the top 10 classes. That's tied for the most Top-10 classes from one conference in the history of the ESPN 150, something the SEC also accomplished in 2007 and 2010.

What may come as a shock is to see Ole Miss Rebels among the SEC heavyweights.

Coach Hugh Freeze is one of four current coaches in his second year with a school to have a Top-15 class. Urban Meyer, Kevin Sumlin, and Jim Mora are the others.

More good news for Ole Miss: it remains in the running for three prospects that are ranked No. 1 at their respective positions, including top prospect Nkemdiche.

4. The 11 SEC states produced 85 of the players in the ESPN 150 and 175 of the players in the ESPN 300. Florida leads the way as the home state of 30 of the ESPN 150, 12 more than Texas which produced the second-most. All told, the state of Florida has produced 230 of the 1,200 prospects ESPN has graded in the ESPN 150 since 2006, almost 20 percent.

5. Christian Hackenberg, the nation's top quarterback, is slated to go to Penn State Nittany Lions to play for Bill O'Brien.

Hackenberg will become the highest rated quarterback to sign with a Big Ten school since Terrelle Pryor five years ago. The No. 2 QB in the class, Max Browne, is headed to USC Trojans, where he will practice alongside the No. 3 QB from 2011, Max Wittek.

Browne will become the fifth QB in the Top 60 of the ESPN 150 to sign with USC since 2007. That's more than every other school in the country, and every conference except the SEC and Pac-12 over that span.