Ranking the Contenders: Xavier Nwankpa
Over the weekend, four-star safety Xavier Nwankpa narrowed his choices to a top seven as the Pleasant Hill (Iowa) Southeast Polk standout works toward a decision.
Official visits are being planned with at least three already on the books and then Nwankpa could be ready to make his choice.
In today’s Ranking The Contenders, we take a closer look at Nwankpa’s frontrunners and which schools look best to land his commitment.
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1. OHIO STATE
The Buckeyes could be so far out in front for Nwankpa that there is some chatter that after his official visit the weekend of June 4 he could wind up leaving Columbus committed. That is not a certainty but it speaks to just how high Ohio State is on his list, the level of recruitment from that coaching staff and how much interest both sides have in each other. Through this offseason, Nwankpa has proven to be one of the top safeties nationally and Ohio State has targeted him for some time. The Buckeyes don’t lose many of those battles.
2. NOTRE DAME
Nwankpa is at the top of the defensive back board for the Irish and it makes sense because the four-star has been outstanding at numerous events this offseason and many top programs nationally are targeting him. With Notre Dame, and every other program, it’s a question of whether the Irish coaching staff can convince him South Bend is the best spot. An official visit is planned in June and that’s when coach Brian Kelly and his staff will have their opportunity. It still could be a tough sell.
Nwankpa was at Iowa’s spring game over the weekend. That’s a good sign. The four-star lives less than two hours from campus. Another positive sign. The Pleasant Hill Southeast Polk standout has a former teammate on the Hawkeyes and he’s familiar with other players. All those things can keep Iowa in the running here but with Ohio State having such an edge in his recruitment, any optimism that the Hawkeyes can keep him home has to be guarded at this point.
4. TEXAS A&M
There is serious interest in Texas A&M for numerous reasons and many of them are why the Aggies are so high on so many lists for elite prospects. There is a feeling A&M is on the cusp of a run to the College Football Playoff. Jimbo Fisher is doing an excellent job recruiting and developing players for the NFL. There is a big-time nature to the Aggies in the SEC. Nwankpa has already visited College Station once and he’s going back for an official visit. Again, though, the trip will have to blow him away to get him to commit.
Every defensive back is going to respect LSU and Nwankpa has a little more love for the Tigers than some other programs especially since they’ve done such a great job over the years developing players all over the secondary. That is going to play a big role in Nwankpa’s thinking but the confidence level is low that the Midwest four-star is going to end up in Baton Rouge.
The Tigers play for national titles. They pump out players into the NFL. It’s a big-time program with a big-time atmosphere and a different style of recruiting that could appeal to someone like Nwankpa. But there is no confusion here: Clemson can go anywhere for anybody but it’s just unlikely that the four-star safety is going to end up with the Tigers. If he schedules a surprise official visit then things could change but it’s a long shot right now.
7. ARIZONA STATE
Nwankpa has some family in Arizona and he’s played with the Tucson Turf 7-on-7 team during some tournaments this offseason plus the Sun Devils’ coaching staff is really aggressive on top targets but this does not seem viable right now. If a visit happens, maybe something could develop, but unlikely at this point.