Five must-get prospects for Southeast programs
Commitment season is upon us and the college football world is waiting for dominoes to fall. Many of the nation's best prospects have been recruited for years and the teams that have targeted certain players from an early age can't afford to miss out on players they worked this hard to sign.
Here are five players from the Southeast that are must-get prospects for certain teams this cycle.
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FLORIDA: Cormani McClain
Other teams may be in play for official visits, but this feels like a two-team race between Alabama and Florida for the five-star corner. McClain has made numerous visits to Gainesville under former head coach Dan Mullen, and now with new coach Billy Napier. McClain spent time with the Gators in March and April as they shared a mutual interest. Alabama has also played host to McClain in March. The tug-of-war on McClain may go down to the wire for these SEC powerhouses.
From a talent perspective, McClain is as good a cornerback as we get coming out of the high school ranks. Currently ranked fourth overall in the 2023 class, he will be in discussions as the top overall prospect before all is said and done. McClain is tall with a big wingspan, fast, and has great technique. He is a true can’t-miss and a must-get prospect for Florida.
MIAMI: Brandon Inniss
Football fans have yet to see the full extent of Inniss’ abilities on the field. During his junior year he toggled back and forth between playing his true position and quarterback for American Heritage. Inniss is an explosive athlete that can turn an ordinary play into a highlight clip. His skills are a wanted asset on any college roster.
As unfair as it may be to put the pressure on Miami head coach Mario Cristobal, of all the players in South Florida, Inniss is the star-caliber player the Hurricanes need to sign. Inniss was a one-time verbal commit to Lincoln Riley while he was at Oklahoma, and another possible roadblock is the surge Ohio State is making in the state of Florida, especially with Miami-area talents.
FLORIDA STATE: Zechariah Owens
A big point of emphasis for the Noles' 2022 class was in the offensive trenches. They signed six offensive linemen, with three of those signees being four-stars. Florida State is set up to beef up its O-line again in 2023, as it is in the running with Luke Burgess, Kelton Smith and Connor Stroh. But the most important prospect from the region is Owens.
Signing Owens would be a signal that FSU is building the program back up from the foundation. Landing Owens not only adds great size and talent to the Seminoles’ roster, but it will also be yet another building block with recruiting to tout to high-profile quarterbacks and running backs about the future of the program.
GEORGIA: Justice Haynes
On the superlative front, there’s not much more to say about Haynes that hasn’t already been said. Haynes is a complete back that can be counted on for 20-plus carries a game, if needed. He is the top-rated tailback in the 2023 class for a reason.
Under Kirby Smart the Bulldogs are always in the running for a top-five recruiting finish if not vying for the No. 1 spot. Landing Haynes not only brings bragging rights but is also a big boost to laying claim for the best recruiting class this time around. Adding to the pressure: Haynes is a legacy. The four-star announced his top schools on Monday, listing USC, Alabama, Ohio State and Georgia. There is a chance this must-get happens.
UCF: John Walker
Might this be the year UCF makes that jump from high-achieving Group of Five team to a building Power Five squad? The upcoming move to the Big 12 is bringing more and more four-star prospects to Orlando to hear the pitch. The current haul already has two four-stars attached. Could Walker join the group?
The Orlando area is stocked full of great talent, and the Osceola defensive tackle is one of them. Walker has visited the Knights multiple times this spring and tagged them for his first official on June 3. Miami and Florida may be in the running with Walker as well. Other official visits are being taken to USC, Michigan and Ohio State. The Knights must keep some of the local talent local, and this four-star has the size, strength and grit to get nasty in the trenches.