Alabama Crimson Tide boast No. 1 recruiting class on National Signing Day; Oregon Ducks move up to No. 5

Alabama, after the first day of the final signing period for recruits in the Class of 2021, finished with the No. 1-ranked class overall -- and potentially Nick Saban's best since joining the Crimson Tide.

The Crimson Tide were able to keep ESPN 300 running back Camar Wheaton from flipping to Oklahoma, and they signed ESPN 300 safety Terrion Arnold to finish with 22 ESPN 300 commitments. That includes three five-stars and 13 prospects ranked in the top 100.

"[Saban's] message to me was just, 'Why not come to a winning program?''' Arnold said during the ESPN telecast that aired his announcement. "The competition level there is high-level competition, and if I feel like I'm one of the best players in the country, why not go compete with the best?''

Saban credited his staff with adjusting to the times and developing virtual relationships with recruits during the pandemic.

"We turned what would have been official visits and camps and all those things into virtual reality, so to speak, in terms of how we managed, how we developed relationships, the time we spent with the players we recruited and the relationships we were able to develop,'' Saban said.

Ohio State didn't add any recruits in this signing period, as the staff is waiting for a decision from five-star defensive tackle J.T. Tuimoloau, the No. 4 prospect overall. How long he plans to wait is up in the air, but he's considering Ohio State, Alabama, Oregon, Washington and USC.

The most notable jump in the top 10 of the class rankings on the day had the Texas A&M Aggies moving up from No. 9 to No. 6 after landing ESPN 300 running back L.J. Johnson, the No. 86-ranked recruit overall.

Other movement included Oregon moving into the top 5 and USC moving up to No. 8. LSU fell two spots to No. 7.

Dickerson boosts Ducks to top-5 class: Cornerback Avante Dickerson, the No. 49-ranked prospect overall and one of only four recruits left uncommitted in February inside the top 50 of the rankings, committed to Oregon on Wednesday.

The 6-foot, 170-pound corner from Westside High School in Omaha, Nebraska, had been committed to Minnesota and was the highest-ranked commit the Gophers had ever had, but he decommitted on Jan. 24 after not signing in December.

When he reopened his recruitment, Dickerson was considering Oregon, Nebraska and Minnesota, and ultimately chose the Ducks. His commitment adds to an already excellent recruiting class for Oregon, which was ranked No. 6 in the class rankings before his commitment.

Dickerson is now the highest-ranked commitment in the class for Oregon, 10 spots ahead of wide receiver Isaiah Brevard, who's at No. 59. His commitment gives the Ducks 16 ESPN 300 recruits, three of whom are defensive backs.

The staff already has built a foundation of young defensive players on the roster, having added 13 defensive ESPN 300 prospects over the past three classes. In the 2021 cycle, seven of the top eight commitments are on offense.

That includes quarterback Ty Thompson, wide receivers Brevard, Troy Franklin and Dont'e Thornton and running back Seven McGee.

Oregon has steadily been on the rise in recruiting rankings over the past few cycles under coach Mario Cristobal, and the 16 ESPN 300 commitments in this class are the most the program has signed since the ESPN 300 started in 2013.

No. 46 Davis commits to Trojans: USC also added a top-50 commitment to its class with linebacker Raesjon Davis, the No. 46 prospect overall.

Davis chose the Trojans over Ohio State, LSU, Oregon and Vanderbilt. USC now has commitments from three of the top four in-state recruits, including defensive end Korey Foreman, the No. 1-ranked prospect in California.

USC, which finished No. 54 overall last year, has made a major jump to a top-15 class this year. The staff made a concerted effort to keep the top recruits out west at USC.

USC had only one ESPN 300 commitment in the 2020 cycle. In 2021, the coaching staff has 10 with Davis in the class.

Defensive tackle Malone opts for Ole Miss: Ole Miss was able to reel in ESPN 300 defensive tackle Tywone Malone, the No. 45-ranked recruit overall, despite him not meeting Lane Kiffin in this recruiting cycle.

Malone is a 6-4, 310-pound tackle from Bergen Catholic High in Oradell, New Jersey, who chose Ole Miss over Texas A&M, Florida State, Rutgers, Tennessee and USC. He also intends to play baseball at Ole Miss, having been given the go-ahead to try his hand at both after being recruited by both coaching staffs.

Malone is the highest-ranked commit in the class. Ole Miss was able to flip ESPN 300 quarterback Luke Altmyer from Florida State and also got a commitment from four-star tight end Hudson Wolfe, who had decommitted from Tennessee.

Overall, Kiffin has seven ESPN 300 commitments in the class.

Receiver Hill chooses FSU: Florida State is still trying to rebuild the roster and got a boost to the offense when ESPN 300 wide receiver Destyn Hill announced his commitment to the Seminoles.

Hill is the No. 89-ranked recruit overall and is now the highest-ranked commit in the class for coach Mike Norvell and his staff. Hill is a 6-foot, 170-pound receiver out of Edna Karr High School in New Orleans, and is the second ESPN 300 wide receiver commit in the class along with Malik McClain.

The staff now has six ESPN 300 commitments overall, but it has also focused heavily on the transfer portal in this cycle. Norvell has added eight transfers, including quarterback McKenzie Milton, safety Jammie Robinson and running back D.J. Williams.

Those transfers will help Norvell and his staff transform the roster quickly by adding in players who can help immediately while the high school recruits continue to develop.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.