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National Signing Day provided a stunner when the nation's No. 1 recruit, cornerback Travis Hunter, de-committed from Florida State in favor of Jackson State, an FCS program and HBCU.

Why it matters: Hunter is the first five-star high school prospect to sign with an FCS team (or HBCU) since ESPN began its rankings in 2006.

  • After an 11-1 season under NFL Hall of Famer Deion Sanders' leadership, and with Hunter set to enter the fold, it's safe to say Jackson State might garner some attention next year.

The big picture: It's impossible to know whether Hunter's historic decision will lead to more top prospects carving their own path at less heralded schools, but it certainly feels like an inflection point.

  • With the rise of NIL, players like Hunter may in fact earn more as a big fish in a small pond.
  • And regarding HBCUs, perhaps last years' hoops recruiting cycle โ€” when various top prospects considered HBCUs but just one signed โ€” was a prelude to this moment.
"Historically Black Colleges and Universities have a rich history in football. I want to be part of that history, and more, I want to be part of that future. I am making this decision so that I can light the way for others to follow, make it a little easier for the next player to recognize that HBCUs may be everything you want and more."
โ€” Hunter, on Twitter

More from Signing Day:

  • ๐Ÿฅ‡ Top classes: Alabama finished the day with the No. 1 class, per 247Sports, followed by Ohio State and LSU. But over at ESPN, which ranks slightly differently, Texas A&M finished first, followed by Alabama and Georgia.
  • ๐Ÿ’” Michigan Tate: The Spartans made Tate Myre โ€” the 16-year-old who sacrificed his life during last month's Oxford High shooting โ€” an honorary Spartan Dawg, which "is defined not by the plays they make ... but by the character they exemplify," said coach Mel Tucker.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

Kendall Baker, author ofย Sports
Jan 10, 2022 - Sports

Breaking down Alabama vs. Georgia

Photo illustration: Aรฏda Amer/Axios. Photos: John Bunch/Icon Sportswire, Kevin C. Cox, Marianna Massey, Joe Robbins/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images.

Alabama and Georgia will play for a championship Monday night โ€” five weeks after their SEC title game matchup, and four years after their national title game thriller.

State of play: The Bulldogs are slight favorites to win their first championship in 41 years, but they've lost seven straight to the Crimson Tide, who have won a casual six national titles in 14 years.

1 hour ago - World

Pentagon: 8,500 troops on high alert for possible deployment to eastern Europe

Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has placed 8,500 U.S. troops on "heightened preparedness to deploy" to eastern Europe in case NATO activates its rapid-response force over tensions with Russia, the Pentagon announced Monday.

Why it matters: No decisions have been made to actually deploy U.S. forces, but the heightened alert level will allow the military to rapidly shore up NATO's eastern flank in the event that Russia invades Ukraine. The Pentagon warned that Russia has shown "no signs of de-escalating," and continues to amass troops on Ukraine's borders.

Updated 2 hours ago - Economy & Business

S&P 500 on track for worst-ever start to year

Data: FactSet; Chart: Axios Visuals

Stocks suffered their steepest drop of the year early Monday, putting the S&P 500 on course for its worst-ever start to a year.

Driving the news: The benchmark S&P 500 dropped for its fifth straight day, with losses nearing 3% in early trading, momentarily putting it on track to fall into a "correction." Some of the steepest losses were recovered in early afternoon trading.