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Recruiting Rumor Mill: Latest on Arik Gilbert, Terrion Arnold, more

Arik Gilbert
Arik Gilbert (Nick Lucero/Rivals.com)

There are always recruiting rumors and rumblings, whether it’s close to National Signing Day or not. In this series, we break down that chatter from the 2021 and 2022 classes, along with the transfer portal, to see what’s the latest news across the recruiting landscape.

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CLASS OF 2021 RANKINGS: Rivals250 | Position | Team | State

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

COVERAGE: Rivals Transfer Tracker | Rivals Camp Series

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Florida, Georgia lead for Arnold

When Florida fired secondary coaches Torrian Gray and Ron English, the feeling was that the Gators were significantly trailing for four-star safety Terrion Arnold. But the chatter now for the top uncommitted prospect in the state is that Florida and Georgia are basically tied at the top and then Alabama is running a distant third place. Arnold does plan to visit all three before National Signing Day on Feb. 3, and that could change things, but the Gators and Bulldogs seem to be battling it out.

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Worthy dismisses Texas talk

Xavier Worthy planned to enroll early at Michigan and coach Jim Harbaugh mentioned Worthy during an Early Signing Period press conference, but now the four-star receiver from Fresno (Calif.) Central will wait to go to college. There might have been an issue with Worthy’s paperwork to get him enrolled early, and Monday he said enrolling early will not happen. There have been some rumors of interest in Texas now that Steve Sarkisian left Alabama for the Longhorns, but Worthy said none of the chatter is true.

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Ricks to transfer portal a possibility

Could one of the nation’s best cornerbacks be looking at other schools? Former five-star prospect Elias Ricks had a fantastic freshman season at LSU, but the rumor is that he is looking at transferring to Ohio State. USC was his dream school growing up, but the Buckeyes would be the leader for Ricks if he decides to end up in the transfer portal. There were some curious tweets from Ricks in recent days and nothing is finalized, but there is talk about this happening.

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Multiple SEC schools still in running for Gilbert

Homesickness was one of the reasons used for former five-star tight end Arik Gilbert to enter the transfer portal earlier this month. Since then, all kinds of twists and turns have happened in his new recruitment. First, it was believed Tennessee would be the spot for Gilbert and he would reunite with Harrison Bailey, his former QB and teammate at Marietta, Ga. That looks off now in the wake of Jeremy Pruitt’s firing and NCAA issues. Florida is making a run as Gilbert could be the next Kyle Pitts for the Gators, but others are in the mix, too. Georgia and Alabama are right there, and the rumor is that Gilbert has reached back out to LSU to discuss a possible return to Baton Rouge.

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Irish still in mix to keep Griffith

Houston Griffith is in the transfer portal after playing at Notre Dame and what happens next could be really interesting for the former high four-star safety who played at Bradenton (Fla.) IMG Academy. Georgia, Oklahoma and Illinois look like the most serious competitors for Griffith, but do not count out the very real possibility of a return to Notre Dame. With a new defensive coordinator in Marcus Freeman, who could be very influential, and a new safeties coach coming in after Terry Joseph left for Texas, the Irish are still very much in the mix to get Griffith back.

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Alabama enters picture for Blue

Alabama offered Jaydon Blue earlier this month, and that could be a game-changer. The Crimson Tide might be out in front for the Houston (Texas) Klein Oak standout and a commitment in the coming weeks might happen. Seeing what Alabama did to Ohio State in the national championship and just watching that offense is a major selling point to Blue, but others will be fighting it out as well, with Oklahoma, Texas, LSU and Georgia also in the running for Blue.

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Texas, Texas A&M still battling for Johnson

LJ Johnson visited Texas A&M this past weekend and while the trip might have gone very well, the high four-star running back still has not committed anywhere and he’s expected to visit Texas this week. That’s where this gets very interesting, because over the last day or so there seems to be this feeling that the Longhorns once again have a real chance at landing him - especially since he didn’t end things after his A&M visit. Either way, Johnson is tough to read because he doesn’t say much, but classes have started and the Cypress (Texas) Fairbanks standout has to figure it out soon.

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New Texas staff trying to poach Wheaton?

There are two sides to every story, and there are definitely some interesting rumors around five-star running back Camar Wheaton, who committed to Alabama over Oklahoma and others two days before Christmas. However, Wheaton has not signed and now Texas could make a serious run at the in-state running back, especially with Steve Sarkisian and Jeff Banks, two former Alabama assistants, now in Austin. Coach Nick Saban did a lot of leg work on getting Wheaton locked in with the Crimson Tide, though, and a source close to the five-star said the expectation is Wheaton sticks with his pledge.

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Florida, FSU to host Marchiol before impending decision

Over the next few days, 2022 four-star quarterback Nicco Marchiol is visiting Florida and Florida State and a decision could come soon after these trips. Arizona State and Rutgers are also in Marchiol’s top four, but this swing could be huge for the Chandler (Ariz.) Hamilton lefty quarterback. He has a great relationship with FSU offensive coordinator/quarterbacks Kenny Dilligham, and playing in Florida coach Dan Mullen’s offense is also appealing. These visits are going to be crucial.