Fact or Fiction: Alabama has a real shot at landing five-star Zach Rice
Rivals National Recruiting Director Adam Gorney and recruiting analyst Sam Spiegelman along with Andrew Bone from BamaInsider.com and Matt Moreno of GoAZCats.com tackle three topics in recruiting and determine whether or not they believe each statement.
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1. Alabama has a very real shot at landing five-star OL Zach Rice.
Gorney’s take: FACT. I still believe North Carolina and Virginia are probably the two front-runners for Zach Rice at this point but I will never count out Alabama for any prospect in the country especially after an official visit and especially after one that goes so well. From Nick Saban down through the entire staff, there is an aura about Alabama that catches on with many recruits who used to have a top list and then everything changes after a visit. I’m not 100 percent sold that happens with Rice since others have captured his attention in a big way but Alabama is a contender. If they push even harder, the Crimson Tide could definitely land him.
Bone’s take: FACT. Rice took his first trip to Tuscaloosa this past weekend. He said he was "speechless" when Alabama offered him in May 2020. It was a little surprising when Alabama did not make his original top eight, but the Tide continued to chip away in his recruitment. Alabama moved into the top five and received an official. Rice and his mother were blown away by the data numbers Alabama showed them from graduation rates to the low percentage of injuries on the team. Alabama seems to have made a very significant move in his recruitment after the weekend in T-Town. It's hard to say who is in the driver's seat for Rice at this point, but Alabama has put itself as a very strong contender for his signature.
2. Four-star WR Tetairoa McMillan could really go to Arizona.
Gorney’s take: FACT. I’ve been doing this for a long time and Tetairoa McMillan is one of the more unique prospects when it comes to recruiting. He doesn’t talk much about his favorites and it seems like he’s definitely going to stay in the Pac-12, but it wouldn’t be a complete shock if he picked a national program. He’s just difficult to read because he doesn’t say much about his front-runners. I know for sure USC is very high and might be very difficult to beat. But he had an awesome time at Arizona and Noah Fifita is a huge factor here. For a player like McMillan, I don’t think school name recognition is as important to him as comfort with the staff and the surroundings and it’s why the Wildcats do have a real shot.
Moreno’s take: FACT. Jedd Fisch and the new staff have been able to get some big names on campus already this month, but none have been ranked as highly as McMillan. It’s not uncommon to see Arizona attract some high-level recruits to campus for official visits, but getting them to commit has been a different story. This one feels different. The key, of course, is quarterback commit Noah Fifita. He is teammates and close friends with McMillan, and Arizona rolled out the red carpet for that duo plus their Servite teammate Keyan Burnett. The attention to detail on the visit was something that really seemed to hit home with the group. It will absolutely be a challenge to add McMillan’s commitment, but the interest feels much more realistic and genuine than many of the other high-profile recruiting battles Arizona has been involved with in the past.
3. Walter Nolen is the best defensive tackle in the 2022 class.
Gorney’s take: FICTION. After Walter Nolen’s performance at the Future 50 where he dominated and showed elite athletic ability up the middle, it’s hard to say no here. But I still give the slightest edge to Travis Shaw because with pads on, in game situations, the Greensboro (N.C.) Grimsley prospect is so freakish and dominant, so fast and so big at the same time, that I would still have him No. 1 at the position. But Nolen is really, really close. This is going to be a debate all the way through the last rankings meetings and I completely understand why some prefer Nolen but Shaw is special in so many ways, too, and his size mixed with power and speed set him apart.
Spiegelman’s take: FACT. The argument is there. To be fair, I've yet to see Shaw play live, but Nolen has been absolutely dominant this offseason, including the Future 50 recently. Despite being massive in size, Nolen is especially agile and powerful, bends well and can force the issue off the edge and anywhere inside. He has quick hands and has a knack for finishing. He's one of a handful of players that should be mentioned as a possible top player in the country along with Quinn Ewers and Travis Hunter.