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Signing day’s key players

The names tend to change, the scouting services add on new gadgets and innovations and on occasion, a player may get more compensation than a scholarship.

But in recruiting, there is one constant — it ain’t over till the ink dries.

College football fans get one more taste of the college season, before shifting focus to basketball, baseball and a changing of the seasons that culminates with two-a-day practices. The 2009 football season may be seven months away, but success will largely be determined by what transpires today.

According to Rivals.com, Alabama enters National Signing Day with the No. 4 class in the country. Scout.com has Alabama at No. 8. But, the frightening part is, the Tide is waiting on several signing day decisions that will only bolster the class.

Reuben Randle, rated the No. 1 receiver in the country, tops Alabama’s wish list. However, the Bastrop, La., native appears destined for LSU. If Randle does not announce for Alabama, the Tide already has commits from top-50 wide receivers Michael Bowman and Kevin Norwood and viable options in Kendall Kelly and Kenny Bell. BamaOnLine.com recruiting editor Tim Watts gives the Tide a 60 percent chance to land Kelly and a 50 percent chance at Bell.

And despite a commitment from offensive tackle D.J. Fluker — No. 1 OT in the country, according to Rivals — and five other top-45 linemen, the Tide has a shot to bolster its offensive line even further.

Hargrave offensive tackle Bobby Massie tops the list, and is down to Alabama and Ole Miss in a race that looks like it could go wither way. This one will be determined at 9:30 on Wednesday morning.

To close strong, Alabama has to hold onto running back Trent Richardson, who committed in June. Richardson is still committed, but is currently a soft verbal, and considering Alabama, LSU, Florida and Florida State. The magic ball points to Richardson honoring his commitment.

Alabama hopes to round out the class with top-rated cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick and linebacker Tana Patrick. The Tide is also after Georgia cornerback Greg Reid, free safety Darren Myles, Louisiana running back Eddie Lacy and Tennessee athlete Marsalis Teague.

Auburn, on the other hand, wants to get the Gene Chizik era off on the right foot, and it appears the Tigers have done a good job closing on some prospects in the last two weeks.

Chizik salvaged most of the players that committed to Tommy Tuberville’s staff, keeping the Tigers in the top 25 of the recruiting rankings.

Rivals.com has the Tigers at No. 18, and Scout.com has them at No. 17.

After losing quarterback Raymond Cotton two months ago, Auburn locked up Scout.com’s No. 11 quarterback, Tyrik Rollison, on Jan. 23. The Tigers also talked 5-star junior college cornerback/receiver Demond Washington into switching from Ole Miss.

However, sandwiched between them were pledges from receiver Anthony Gulley and safety Darren Bates — both of whom combine for one BCS offer, other than Auburn, between them.

Auburn has a chance to do well. The first priority is to hang on to soft commits Terrance Coleman, Harris Gaston and Jonathan Evans.

The Tigers would like to get running back Bryce Brown, rated by Rivals.com as its No. 1 overall prospect. However, he appears destined for Miami.

Auburn still has a good shot at running backs Dontae Aycock (also considering Louisville and Georgia Tech), and Oklahoma product David Oku, who will make a decision after signing day.

The Tigers are also in on offensive tackle Aubrey Phillips, Louisiana defensive lineman DeQuinta Jones and wide receiver DeAngelo Benton, a two-time LSU signee.