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Recruiting Rumor Mill: Early Signing Period approaches

Zion Branch
Zion Branch

The Early Signing Period is only two days away and the last weekend of official visits is in the books. Here is all the latest news and rumors heading into Wednesday:


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Dan Lanning’s move from Georgia defensive coordinator to Oregon’s coach “changes absolutely nothing,” according to a source close to the five-star defensive tackle from Bradenton (Fla.) IMG Academy. The Bulldogs landed two commitments from Alexander actually through this cycle as he committed, decommitted and recommitted and there looks to be no drama down the stretch.

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The rumor now is that USC is emerging as the clear leader and if Donte Williams remains on staff then it could be a foregone conclusion. Branch took his last visit to USC this past weekend and while Ohio State absolutely could never be counted out it looks like the Trojans - and Lincoln Riley and his staff - could wind up with Branch in their recruiting class.

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As Miami fired Manny Diaz and replaced him with Mario Cristobal, teams saw a chance to get more involved with Brown as Florida, Arkansas and others made efforts. But after a visit with Cristobal and now his trip to Miami, every indication is that the Valdosta (Ga.) Lowndes high three-star QB will stick with the Canes.

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After Brent Venables left to take the Oklahoma job, Campbell backed off his pledge to Clemson but the four-star outside linebacker still does plan to sign on Wednesday. Alabama is putting on the full-court press down the stretch as Campbell was in Tuscaloosa over the weekend, spent time with Alabama commit Jeremiah Alexander and Nick Saban as well and the Crimson Tide could now be considered the team to beat. Texas A&M is also right there and he’s visiting, too. The Aggies were one of the schools most involved before he committed to Clemson in the first place.

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Figuring out Coleman’s future destination has been difficult but this looks like it could be down to Miami or Florida State unless there’s a surprise coming. The coaching change at Oregon hurts the Ducks and the rumor is Coleman isn’t in love with Eugene as much as other places. The Miami visit this weekend went really well and he could end up playing for the same coaches he would’ve at Oregon but at Miami now. Florida State has been a huge mainstay and coach Mike Norvell has made him a big priority as well so it feels like a two-team battle right now.

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Goodwin will have a lot to think about and is planning a final announcement on signing day which absolutely does not rule out Kentucky by any means but the next 48 hours could be interesting. A final visit to Michigan State went really well this past weekend as the massive high four-star offensive lineman loved the honesty of the coaches and what Mel Tucker is building in East Lansing. Goodwin sees a Big Ten title in the works. The other team to really watch is Texas A&M because he loved College Station and absolutely is enthralled with his opportunity there.

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A few weeks ago, the four-star cornerback from Fort Myers (Fla.) Bishop Verot told me he was “iffy” about Miami. But the word is all those concerns have been settled now that Mario Cristobal has taken over. The Canes might have completely wrapped up Graves during his weekend visit although other teams have given it a shot in recent weeks.

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Green has been a ringleader of sorts for this Texas A&M recruiting class after pledging to the Aggies last January and he has a target list for them to close out with that is quite impressive. And there’s at least a decent chance many of them end up in College Station. Kelvin Banks was on it but no longer after he committed to Texas but Green is still focused on getting Kam Dewberry, Denver Harris, Trevonte’ Citizen, Harold Perkins, Shemar Stewart, Enai White and Kiyaunta Goodwin.


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After decommitting from Florida State, the rumor was Kelly wanted to stay closer to home but then the uncertainty at Miami stalled those plans. That could be until Mario Cristobal got the job and then made the four-star defensive end from Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) Dillard a top priority. Cristobal has not hidden his interest in landing Kelly as South Florida prospects will be a priority and the momentum is headed that way.

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The four-star outside linebacker/defensive end from Las Vegas (Nev.) Bishop Gorman had a busy weekend with trips to both USC and Miami. The Trojans were not considered a contender but in recent weeks they’ve completely moved up Moss’ list and are now in the running. Moss was very high on Oregon prior to Mario Cristobal’s move to Miami and it will be interesting to see if the Hurricanes could steal him. Don’t count out Arizona State, either, because he visited there recently when he was supposed to see Oregon so the Sun Devils could be sneaky here.

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There might be some buzz about Nolen flipping to Tennessee but my sources aren’t buying it and think he’s about as locked in as possible with Texas A&M. He and his family have grown so familiar with College Station and love it, Nolen is a very active recruiter for the Aggies and the class Texas A&M is putting together especially on defense is something that’s drawing Nolen to College Station even more. In a recruitment filled with twists and turns, down the stretch it might be boring from Nolen. Texas A&M will take it.

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A late run by new LSU assistant coach Frank Wilson certainly has made an impact because Wilson’s message to the family recently was that he’s back in Baton Rouge and they want to take their time and do it the right way but Alabama is still the team to beat for the four-star receiver. During the weekend visit, Preston watched the Heisman Trophy presentation won by Alabama QB Bryce Young and maybe nothing could be more impactful than that.

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Miami got the four-star tight end to visit over the weekend and that could be monumental for the Canes but the feeling is that it might have just been a nice visit to South Florida before sticking with Alabama on signing day. Skinner could be setting up to pull a stunner but all indications are that the Crimson Tide are sitting comfortably in his recruitment.

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Tennessee and Ole Miss among others are making a run at former Florida commit CJ Smith but the team to watch in the final stretch is Georgia. The Orlando (Fla.) Bishop Moore standout was there this past weekend, the Bulldogs clearly know how to close and elite speed like Smith’s is needed in Athens. Nothing is finalized yet but Georgia is looking stronger.

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Everyone is going to have to wait for Stewart’s decision - and it could mean things get shuffled over the next few months. The four-star defensive end from Opa Locka (Fla.) Monsignor Pace waiting to sign until February is viewed as good news for Miami, which now has the time to establish a better relationship with him and sell the program under Cristobal but Texas A&M is still seen as a very strong contender with Georgia in there as well.

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Wilson does not talk much so it’s tough to know for sure but the feeling is that the four-star safety from Bradenton (Fla.) IMG Academy had an excellent visit to Florida this weekend but that Georgia remains the team to beat. The Gators gave it a very good shot but Georgia has been ahead for so long and Dan Lanning’s departure is something to watch but hasn’t hurt the recruiting class at all. The expectation is Georgia still for Wilson.