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Recruiting Rumor Mill: Big visits in the books as conference play begins

Dakorien Moore
Dakorien Moore (Rivals.com)

It was another busy weekend of visits and recruiting rumors around the country. Here’s the latest Rivals national recruiting director Adam Gorney is hearing in this week’s Recruiting Rumor Mill:


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Although he’s a 2025 four-star receiver, Abdullah already has more than 30 offers but Ohio State is not one yet. Still, the College Park (Ga.) Woodward Academy standout visited for the Buckeyes’ big win over Wisconsin and loved the route running, how the position coaches worked with their players and the attention to detail. If the Buckeyes offer, they’d move way up with

Tennessee, Texas, Ole Miss, Texas A&M, Georgia and Florida as schools to watch.

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Visiting Texas A&M is a top priority for the three-star LSU linebacker commit from Jonesboro (La.) Hodge and trips to Tennessee, Alabama, Michigan State, Louisville and USC are strong possibilities as well. Despite a big round of visits possible, the word is that Atkins is locked in with LSU and is unlikely to de-commit since it was his dream school.

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During his weekend trip to Alabama, Autry talked a lot with coach Errin Joe and the recruiting process should pick up from here as the Crimson Tide just started showing interest in him last week. The Fulton (Miss.) Itawamba Agricultural four-star offensive lineman in the 2024 class saw “total domination” from Alabama over Vanderbilt, he loved to see that level of execution and Alabama would definitely be a major contender if an offer comes.

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From the hosts to the food, coaches and fans, the Tuscaloosa (Ala.) Northridge 2024 four-star cornerback had a “top-tier” experience at Tennessee this weekend as the Volunteers thoroughly impressed him in every way. He loved that the coaches talked to the recruits before and after the game and it was one of the best game-day experiences he’s had so far. Being from Tuscaloosa, Alabama could be tough to beat but the Vols impressed.

“Fans are unmatched,” Banks said.

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The intensity and discipline of the team was off the charts as the 2025 tight end from Alpharetta, Ga., saw it with the Crimson Tide whipping Vanderbilt on Saturday. Those points definitely stood out in a big way to Barbour, who has Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Ohio State and a few others highest on his list although the Crimson Tide and Buckeyes haven’t offered yet.

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Tennessee is going to be a major contender for the 2024 four-star athlete from Chattanooga (Tenn.) Chattanooga Christian School and his weekend experience in Knoxville could go a long way. There are still “a lot of schools” high on Carter’s list but the four-star loved the atmosphere over the weekend and feels like the Vols have the biggest fanbase in the SEC. He talked to coach Josh Heupel and secondary coach Willie Martinez and they had a clear message for him.

“They both told me I don’t have to wait to commit,” Carter said. “I can now or whenever.”

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One of the top receivers in the 2025 class, Cunningham was at Ole Miss on Saturday, a good sign since the Rebels already offered as the Ackerman (Miss.) Choctaw County standout works through his early recruitment. Cunningham loved the environment, loved how the coaching staff treated him and his family and he had a “wonderful” trip to Oxford. The 2025 standout plans to visit Mississippi State on Oct. 1 for the Texas A&M game.

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Iowa State, Kentucky, UMass, Minnesota and Pitt have offered so far but the 2025 running back said Ohio State is recruiting him the hardest right now and he was in Columbus on Saturday night for its win over Wisconsin. The Cleveland (Ohio) Cleveland Heights standout would definitely have the Buckeyes high on his list if an offer comes and with so much interest, that’s definitely possible.

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The four-star running back has been committed to Oregon since May but it was definitely interesting that the Picayune, Miss., standout visited Alabama over the weekend. Dowdell enjoyed his time in Tuscaloosa but felt the Crimson Tide was missing out on a top running back. It will be something to watch if Alabama pursues Dowdell hard right now with commitments from Justice Haynes and Richard Young already.

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The 2025 four-star receiver from Jacksonville (Fla.) Mandarin loved the atmosphere in Tallahassee but more than anything he saw “how much FSU is improving and the coaches are a big part of it.” Ffrench “loves” what it looks like now at Florida State as the Seminoles left a great impression this weekend. The Jacksonville Mandarin standout will be at Alabama for the Mississippi State game in October.

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Jackson State could legitimately become a serious contender for the 2025 athlete from Lake Cormorant, Miss., since he was blown away by talking with coach Deion Sanders, he hit it off with position coach Gary Harrell and the whole experience made a big impression. Hopson was blown away by Sanders and if the Hall of Famer is still there when the in-state 2025 standout makes his choice, Jackson State will be considered.

“This guy is who everyone said he is - legend,” Hopson said.

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Although he’s a 2026 prospect and has tons of time left in his recruitment, Hicks’ first offer from Georgia was “huge” and the Bulldogs might be tough to beat as things continue. The Lilburn (Ga.) Parkview standout loved the focus of the coaches and the players at Georgia on Saturday and how everyone made each other accountable. Arkansas, Clemson, Georgia Tech, North Carolina and Ohio State have all shown interest.

“This offer is huge for me,” Hicks said. “I didn’t expect it this early but it just makes me want to work even harder.”

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One of the top quarterbacks regardless of class, the 2026 prospect from Carrollton, Ga., was not only another recruit at the Georgia game on Saturday but got a tremendous amount of time with the coaching staff. Lewis talked with coach Kirby Smart, Todd Monken, Buster Faulkner and others as Smart offered advice to the 2026 QB as he goes through the busy recruiting process. The Bulldogs are expected to stay as a serious contender.

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The Florida State commit visited Alabama over the weekend and said the game was “amazing” and seeing the team play in person was “amazing” so if an offer comes the Crimson Tide could emerge as a serious contender. But it’s still in the early stages as the Quincy (Fla.) Robert F. Munroe Day School standout didn’t have much time to talk with the coaches and he hasn’t landed a Crimson Tide offer yet. Alabama has been sending mail but it looks like the Seminoles don’t have much to sweat just yet.

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If an offer comes - and it might soon - then Mitchell should be on flip watch because Florida State is the place he wants to be as he remains committed to Utah. The Middleburg, Fla., three-star running back has been serious about the Seminoles for a good while, has “a lot to think about” after his visit to Tallahassee and if an offer comes, could make the switch pretty quickly.

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Even though Oklahoma got upset by Kansas State on Saturday night, the 2025 four-star receiver from Duncanville, Texas loved the atmosphere in Norman and noticed that every time there was a big play made or even during a time out the stadium was electric. The Sooners remain one of the front-runners early on as Moore is trying to get to Arkansas this weekend for the Alabama matchup. Texas, USC and Ohio State should be watched, too.

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A visit to Ohio State definitely impressed the 2024 four-star offensive tackle from New Palestine, Ind., as the atmosphere stood out, the fans never stopped being electric and the message from coach Ryan Day is that the Buckeyes cannot slow down because teams all across the country are getting upset each week. A visit to Wisconsin happens this weekend for Moore, who could then be ready to make his commitment soon.

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Tennessee, Cincinnati and Michigan are three programs to watch in Owens’ recruitment but his visit to Knoxville this past weekend definitely stood out. The 2025 tight end from Alcoa, Tenn., loved the “amazing atmosphere” and the message from the coaches and their vision for the future of the program especially made an impression.

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A visit to Ole Miss over the weekend definitely left an impression on the 2025 four-star quarterback from Madison (Miss.) St. Joseph Catholic. The Rebels' coaching staff told him they could see him running the offense and that his elite arm talent matches their score-from-far brand. Picarella was at LSU last weekend, hopes to see Mississippi State and Texas soon and is thinking about a trip to Alabama, too.

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Michigan, Ohio State and Florida State have been some mainstay favorites in Pickett’s recruitment early on and now Cincinnati will be a team to watch since he visited there this past weekend. The fans were “crazy” and everything about the Bearcats was “amazing” plus the Zephyhills, Fla., 2025 four-star safety got a big message from the Cincy staff.

“The coaches told me I could be the biggest recruit in history if I came to Cincinnati,” Pickett said.

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Ole Miss could really be a team to watch in Rush’s recruitment especially if the Rebels come through with an offer because he hit it off with coach Randall Joyner this past weekend and said coach Kelvin Bolden “is like family” so the Rebels definitely stand out. So far, Florida State and Missouri are Rush’s biggest offers but more could be coming for the 2024 four-star defensive tackle from Pascagoula, Miss.


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The new LSU offer is a “game-changer” for the four-star safety from Fulton (Miss.) Itawamba Agricultural and it’s one he’s been waiting on for a long time. The Tigers have always been one of the front-runners for Smith and now with the offer in hand, they could be the team to beat in his recruitment as many other SEC teams are also involved.

“It’s DBU,” Smith said. “It has a name for itself.”

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Westphal has felt like a priority for Tennessee ever since getting offered in June especially after talking with coach Josh Heupel and position coach Glen Elarbee. Being at Tennessee’s win over Florida only solidified the Vols’ spot as one of the main contenders for the 2024 four-star OL from Leesburg (Va.) Tuscarora as the environment was one of the best he’s seen and he also watched Tennessee outplay Florida on the field.

“The energy and noise from 102,000 fans cheering for the Vols at Rocky Top is something you can only experience in person,” Westphal said. “They are building something special.”