Fact or Fiction: Lebbeus Overton is clearly the top 2023 prospect
National recruiting director Adam Gorney along with analyst Chad Simmons and Ryan Young from TrojanSports.com and EJ Holland from TheWolverine.com tackle three topics in recruiting and determine whether they believe the statements or not.
FIVE-STAR CHECKUP: The latest on all of the 2022 five-stars
1. USC will keep four-star WR Tetairoa McMillan home.
Gorney’s take: FACT. This is difficult because Tetairoa McMillan has been so laid back about his recruitment and has not narrowed anything down yet so it’s still hard to tell where the four-star receiver ends up. But there has been a lot of chatter about USC and that doesn’t surprise me at all. Staying home is definitely a real option for McMillan so I wouldn’t be stunned if UCLA is also involved and then Notre Dame, Stanford and others could be in the mix. McMillan is tough to read. For example, during the COVID shutdown, he went to Hawaii and didn’t have his phone for weeks so was unsure which coaches were trying to reach out. He’s just a different kind of prospect who isn’t caught up in the recruiting process. Still, USC has the best chance to land him and that will be my prediction.
Young’s take: FACT. Whenever McMillan is asked about his recruitment, he likes to say he’s taking things slow, managing the process at his pace. And yet he also makes it clear he’s talking to USC constantly and more than any other school, which is a good sign for the Trojans. USC is building connections with McMillan from multiple angles on staff, treating him like a top priority and determined to not see another top local receiver leave home.
2. Michigan is a serious contender for five-star DL Walter Nolen.
Gorney’s take: FACT. Michigan is doing everything possible to convince Walter Nolen it would be the best fit for him - and selling that NFL experience on its revamped coaching staff and the opportunity to play early are two attractive aspects. Nolen’s grandparents live in Detroit and that’s another bonus but I’m not sure it’s a huge one in his thinking. I’m not sure Michigan can beat Ohio State or the many SEC programs after him - namely Alabama, LSU or Georgia - but the Wolverines have to be considered a serious contender especially if the visit this weekend goes great.
Holland’s take: FACT. Michigan is definitely a major player for Nolen. While it will be tough for the Wolverines to win a highly-contested battle in the South, the staff has done a tremendous job of recruiting him early on. Nolen is set to take a self-guided tour to Michigan this weekend and has family in the state. New assistant Ron Bellamy, a Louisiana native, is building a strong rapport with Nolen while new DC Mo Linguist, a Texas native, has already plucked fellow Memphis-area recruit Kody Jones. Michigan has pitched Nolen on playing right away for a new defensive staff with NFL experience and the need for defensive tackles in Ann Arbor. Five-star Michigan commit Will Johnson is also helping the Wolverines in this one as the two are growing close. Michigan could make an even bigger move this weekend.
3. Lebbeus Overton is clearly the No. 1 prospect in the 2023 class.
Gorney’s take: FACT. I understand the point that it’s still so early in the 2023 class and it’s impossible to know who is the best player in the class because no player has a lengthy resume yet but Lebbeus Overton is the best I’ve seen in person or on film and it might not be too close. He’s so athletic, such a playmaker from his position and so dominant for being just a sophomore that he could be unstoppable in the coming years. Francis Mauigoa is also someone to watch just because he’s such a physical specimen. I also think QB Malachi Nelson and OL Kadyn Proctor are two others to watch. But Overton is the best at this point.
Simmons’ take: FICTION. Can there be a clear No. 1 in the country two seasons out, and coming off a year the country had dealt with a pandemic? It is too early to call Overton, or any other prospect, the clear No. 1 in all of the country. But he is clearly one of the best I’ve seen. He is a freak athlete with football and basketball offers, and he has such a high ceiling on the defensive line. It is easy to see why top programs in the country are already investing time every week to recruit him, and he will be, and should be in the discussion for the top overall player in the country. It is just too early for me personally to call anyone a clear No. 1 in the 2023 class.