football Edit

Recruiting Rumor Mill: Junior Days kicking into high gear

Dante Moore
Dante Moore (Nick Lucero/Rivals.com)

The Recruiting Rumor Mill has been kicked into high gear once again as junior days happen all over the country. Here are the latest news and notes from another busy weekend.

*****

MORE: Storylines to follow heading into National Signing Day

CLASS OF 2022 RANKINGS: Rivals250 | Position | Team | State | JUCO

CLASS OF 2023 RANKINGS: Rivals250 | Position | Team | State

TRANSFER PORTAL: Stories/coverage | Message board

RIVALS CAMP SERIES: Info for 2022 series

*****

Florida State made a big impression on the 2023 safety from Lake Wales, Fla., as it was his best visit yet over Miami. Anglin loved the attitude of the coaches toward the players, the energy there and the environment. Miami and many others remain in the hunt and it’s still early but the Seminoles have the edge.

*****  

The four-star defensive end from Platte City (Mo.) Platte County was back at Iowa State as the Cyclones have to be considered one of the front-runners in his recruitment. His relationship with position coach Eli Rasheed is a huge selling point and he said “everybody out here is just amazing.” There is also a program that ties in with his planned major of graphic design for off-the-field considerations.

“One of my favorite places to be,” Bradley said.

*****  

On New Year’s Day, Castell released a top 10 that included Alabama, Oklahoma, UCF, Tennessee and others. After a weekend trip to Tuscaloosa, the Crimson Tide have definitely taken a leg up and could be the team to beat. The Winter Garden (Fla.) West Orange safety loved the coaches and the environment and basically everything impressed him at Alabama.

“Everything just felt so right,” Castell said. “They stand out.”

*****  

The Oxnard (Calif.) Pacifica three-star defensive back who recently decommitted from UCLA was at USC this weekend and was especially impressed by the new focus of the coaching staff. There is a “winning mentality” and “accountability” there now and Crawford loves that he’s getting lots of attention from coach Lincoln Riley, defensive coordinator Alex Grinch and position coach Donte Williams.

*****  

Alabama and Texas A&M have emerged as the front-runners for the 2024 wide receiver from Birmingham (Ala.) Clay-Chalkville. He loves the atmosphere and the facilities in Tuscaloosa and the Aggies were his dream team growing up. A visit to Auburn could have thrown the Tigers into that top list as well because he had a great time talking to the coaches but there is still some ground to make up on those top two.

*****  

What stood out most to Crayton during his Auburn visit is that they cut up video of his and paired that with clips from Owen Pappoe and Zakoby McClain to show him how similar they were. That level of caring for an unofficial visit plus the message that Auburn would build the scheme around him, the family environment and the talk that the Tigers are looking to bring in players on the same mission all stood out. After the trip, Auburn joins Penn State, Missouri, Florida State, Cincinnati, UCF, Pitt and Arizona State as the programs that have caught his attention most.

*****  

The Dallas (Texas) Parish Episcopal School four-star safety made another trip to Ole Miss this past weekend in a good sign for the Rebels. Demery had a great time breaking things down with position coach Chris Partridge as they walked through the defensive scheme. Demery also loved the facilities and the growth he’s seen from the players.

*****  

A recent visit to Miami has really perked up the Hurricanes for the four-star defensive back from Jacksonville (Fla.) Bartram Trail. Denson loved the campus but what stood out most was the message from Ed Reed about making sure everybody surrounds themselves with the right people. Miami has made a move up for Denson as Florida State and South Carolina are also high. The hire of Travaris Robinson at Alabama has caught Denson’s attention in a big way, too.

*****  

The 2024 safety from Baltimore (Md.) St. Frances actually likes Penn State’s more rural location so he could focus on school and football. The environment around the football team definitely stood out as the Nittany Lions made a huge move up in his recruitment.

“It opened my eyes up a lot more,” Farooq said.

*****  

Alabama has offered and Formby us from Tuscaloosa (Ala.) Northridge so the Crimson Tide will be heavily involved but Auburn has been in the mix longer and he had a great visit there this weekend. Formby has hit it off with position coach Will Friend and that could go a long way in determining favorites.

“I have always been excited about Auburn and they have always been high on my list,” Formby said.

*****  

What stood out most about Gardner’s trip to Arizona on Saturday was that the coaches had a personality and it wasn’t just all about business. The Peoria (Ariz.) Liberty defensive tackle felt like he fit in with everybody in Tucson although it could be an uphill battle to keep him in-state. Over the last few weeks, Gardner has landed tons of offers and Oregon, USC, Iowa, Iowa State and UCLA stand out most.

*****  

Clemson is going to be a major contender along with Georgia and others for the No. 1 running back in the 2023 class and this weekend’s trip to Clemson could give that program an edge as Haynes looks at his recruitment. The Roswell (Ga.) Blessed Trinity standout was absolutely blown away by a speech coach Dabo Swinney gave about his vision for the program, how he got to where he is now and so much more. It could help the Tigers in a big way.

“It was by far the best speech I have ever heard from a coach,” Haynes said.

*****  

The star 2025 running back is not going to make any snap decisions this early in his recruitment but Georgia made a huge impression over the weekend and the Bulldogs will remain a serious contender. He has nearly double-digit offers already with no leaders but Georgia will be up there.

“They all made me feel as if I was at home from the time I walked up until I left out of the locker room,” Henderson said. “Treated me as if I was one of their children.”

*****  

Oklahoma is the team to beat and it could be tough to overcome for the four-star cornerback from Mustang, Okla., especially after his weekend trip to Norman. What stood out to Johnson was the messaging from the new coaching staff and the feeling that Oklahoma could set him up for life after football, too.

“Just everything that they were saying was awesome,” Johnson said.

*****  

The three-star offensive tackle from Ocala (Fla.) Trinity Catholic does not have a top five yet but when he does Florida is going to make it - and it’s believed the Gators are going to be tough to beat. Kinsler had an outstanding visit this past weekend and what really stood out to him most were his interactions with coach Billy Napier and Darnell Stapleton.

“They are definitely in my top five even though I haven’t decided on my top five yet,” Kinsler said.

*****  

Georgia and Florida State are standing out most now to the Jacksonville (Fla.) Raines safety after a recent trip to Tallahassee went especially well. The message that Kirkland got from coach Mike Norvell when he visited Florida State was that “If you’re not willing to work, don’t come here to Florida State.” That especially stood out to Kirkland on his trip.

*****  

Texas A&M and LSU were the two front-runners for the 2024 four-star quarterback from Willis, Texas and now Alabama has joined that top group as well. Lagway visited Tuscaloosa over the weekend, had a phenomenal time and was especially struck at how genuine the coaching staff was during the visit. Those three SEC powers are now battling it out for him.

*****  

There have been rumors that Mauigoa could be leaning toward coming back West for his college career and USC could have made a huge move after this weekend. The high four-star offensive tackle who’s originally from American Samoa loved his time with coach Lincoln Riley and especially assistants Josh Henson and Shaun Nua.

“The vibe was immaculate,” Mauigoa said. “It was something different. The atmosphere was amazing. You could feel it with your first step on campus. Ain’t no place else like Hollywood.”

*****  

What stood out most to McDonald during his Louisville visit was how much attention coach Scott Satterfield paid to him even though there were 2022 prospects there on official visits. That definitely left a major impression along with the facilities and the basketball game against Duke. Georgia, Wisconsin, NC State, Michigan State and Ohio State are also high on the list for the Suwanee (Ga.) North Gwinnett standout. He visits Oklahoma in early March.

*****  

Texas A&M has shown the 2024 athlete from Tyler (Texas) John Tyler the most love and after his weekend visit the Aggies now hold the edge in his recruitment. Texas, Arkansas and Oklahoma State are also high on the list but his trip to College Station, his interaction with the coaches and seeing the facilities all stood out.

“Texas A&M felt just like home and somewhere I can spend my career,” McFall said.

*****  

Michigan, Michigan State, Notre Dame and Penn State have a major jumpstart on Moore’s recruitment but the high four-star quarterback loved his trip to Oregon and his interactions with the new coaching staff there. The message from coach Dan Lanning to the Detroit (Mich.) Martin Luther King standout was how much he’s loving it in Eugene and Moore was blown away by just how nice everything is on Oregon’s campus. He also loves how offensive coordinator Kenny Dillingham operates.

“His offensive style fits me great,” Moore said.

The message from coach Brian Kelly to the four-star defensive end from Trussville (Ala.) Hewitt Trussville was that it’s a new era in Baton Rouge, that academics are going to be prioritized even more and that was all music to Osborne’s ears. What Osborne was also told is that the staff is going to pour everything they have into developing each player on the team and that stood out as well.

“He is stressing how the program will be all about accountability and holding each other accountable,” Osborne said of Kelly.

South Carolina is standing out the most for the massive three-star offensive lineman from McDonough (Ga.) Eagle’s Landing Christian but Georgia is closing the gap especially after seeing the Bulldogs in the summer and the relationship that’s being built. A surprise offer from Alabama came recently and Owens said he “almost hit a backflip” when that one came in. South Carolina has the edge but will have to hold off some superpowers.

*****  

Texas, Texas A&M, USC and Miami lead the way for the four-star offensive tackle from Arlington (Texas) Lamar but there are still many others including TCU and Baylor that have piqued Robinson’s early interest. One other school that should definitely be watched is Prairie View A&M if there is an outlier in his recruitment. Robinson’s brother goes to school there and the four-star has been to campus numerous times. It’s unlikely he ends up there but stranger things have happened.

*****  

The 2024 four-star really hit it off and liked the energy and experience of the defensive staff especially Jason Kaufusi and that could help the Wildcats throughout Rushing’s recruitment. It’s still very early but Arizona, Arizona State and Oregon have made the biggest impression so far. The weekend trip to Tucson was definitely big.

*****  

There are rumors that Baylor is the team to beat for the massive offensive lineman from Frisco (Texas) Wakeland and the Bears are definitely in great shape with him. But a recent visit to Texas went well, Florida State is right there too and Texas Tech is in the running. If I had to pick today, though, Baylor would be the team up top.

*****  

Alabama is at the top for the four-star defensive back from Tallahassee (Fla.) John Paul II Catholic especially after his one-on-one talk with coach Nick Saban during his visit. Texas, Georgia, Florida State and Stanford are also making an impression but the Crimson Tide are the highest.

“He liked my style of play,” Vickers said. “He liked my size and length and speed and my ability to change direction. He likes my versatility as well so I could play any position in the secondary.”

*****

The four-star offensive tackle from Tampa (Fla.) Carrollwood Day absolutely loves the individualized approach to player development on the field and in academics at Alabama and it could go a long way to keeping the Crimson Tide high on his list. Wedin plans to narrow things down to three or four schools soon but is keeping it private but Alabama could definitely be very much in the picture along with some Florida programs.