Fact or Fiction: Five-star Jacoby Mathews will end up back with LSU
Rivals national recruiting director Adam Gorney and national recruiting analyst Sam Spiegelman along with Andrew Bone from BamaInsider.com and Michael Langston of Warchant.com tackle three recruiting or rankings topics and determine whether they believe each statement.
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1. LSU and Texas A&M are the front-runners for Jacoby Mathews but it's likely he ends up back where it all started - with the Tigers.
Gorney’s take: FACT. I want to think Texas A&M has a real shot because Jacoby Mathews has shown so much interest in the program, has already visited multiple times and plans to be back this fall but history is just not on anyone’s side when it comes to No. 1 players in the state of Louisiana. It was a decade ago that Landon Collins picked Alabama over LSU, the last top-ranked prospect in the state to go elsewhere. There’s no guarantee Mathews ends up No. 1 in the state but he’s there now and LSU has lots of history on its side.
Spiegelman’s take: FACT. Since Ed Orgeron took over at LSU he's been able to keep the top players in-state, especially when it comes to No. 1 in-state. Texas A&M has a star-studded recruiting class and Mathews has a lot of strong ties to those players and he's been to College Station twice and will likely return before he makes up his mind. Jimbo Fisher coached Derwin James and his track record has Mathews' attention in a big way. I'd also expect Alabama, Texas and Oklahoma to make a run at Mathews, but with so many ties to LSU -- including the coaches, current commitments and players on the roster -- the Tigers will remain in a favorable spot.
2. Jaleel Skinner has set his commitment date. Alabama should be considered the leader.
Gorney’s take: FICTION. There was a lot of Alabama talk for some time with Jaleel Skinner but my guess is that the four-star ends up elsewhere - and Florida State could be one of the landing spots. Miami is there and I wouldn’t be surprised if more teams start poking around much more before his decision in October. Skinner is arguably the best-looking tight end in this class, long, rangy and athletic and so that could intrigue a lot of coaches in the coming months. He visited Florida State and spent a lot of time there this summer and joining that outstanding recruiting class would be huge for the Seminoles.
Bone’s take: FICTION. I don’t believe Skinner will commit to the Tide. Alabama has at least one pure tight end commitment in Elijah Brown. The Crimson Tide hold Brown in very high regard and consider him one of the premier tight ends in the country. Alabama also added an elite athlete in Amari Niblack who was completely dominant in the seven-on-seven camp circuit. The top college football team in the country is in great shape at the position in this class which may bode well for other schools like Florida State or Miami. The expectation, at this time, is Skinner will land elsewhere.
3. This is the Florida State class that will start the Seminoles back toward national prominence.
Gorney’s take: FACT. It feels like a long time but it really was only a handful of years ago that Florida State was a national contender and winning double-digit games almost every season. It has been a serious dry spell recently, though, and while coach Mike Norvell does seem to be turning a corner I’m still going to say begrudgingly it’s a FACT for this question. The 2017 class had four five-stars and three others on the cusp of five-star status and that group was largely disappointing in Tallahassee. I have no doubt Travis Hunter can be a huge addition to Florida State on both sides of the ball and that Sam McCall and others can be major contributors. More than anything, there is a feeling about FSU that top guys want to play there again, there is a pride back in the program that wasn’t there over the last few years and this class could be a major contributor to getting the Seminoles back. The proof will be on the field, though, after FSU had its worst winning percentage last season since the mid-1970s.
Langston’s take: FACT. This is certainly the class you circle that helps FSU take that next step. The 'Noles are off to a torrid start and while they do still need to sign these prospects there's no doubt that this FSU staff and program has built excitement that we have not seen in a long time and you can see these commits are buying into the product, the culture at FSU and what the future is going to be with the right additions to this class.
Honestly, you could argue last year’s class was the start of it and even more pointed you could say the additions of the transfer portal and how detailed FSU was in adding the right pieces got that started. But this class has a national brand feel to it so far and you see what direction this is going for Florida State going forward. The way recruits talk about FSU is a lot different. But with this one there's a lot more consistency with the type of high ranked prospects they are recruiting and landing. The fact that FSU has the No. 1 recruit in the nation coming in Travis Hunter speaks to that. But it's not just him. A big focus is the job they have done with the OL position, a position mind you that FSU has struggled to recruit at a high level. This is probably the best OL class they have recruited that I can remember since covering the 'Noles.
So the start is there. Now FSU will need to show growth on the field to keep that going and even land a few more pieces but the momentum. The belief and vision is clearly there to put FSU back on the map as a national brand. Now it's about showing that product on the field.