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Recruiting Rumor Mill: Latest on top defensive prospects

Omari Abor
Omari Abor (Sam Spiegelman)

National recruiting director Adam Gorney is back with his Recruiting Rumor Mill, which features recruiting chatter and news from around the country. Today he focuses on defensive players.

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Ohio State, Oklahoma, Alabama, LSU and others are major contenders for Abor but the word is Texas is “most definitely” becoming a big-time player as well, especially after the four-star from Duncanville, Texas, visited in late July. The visit was better than expected. Abor loved the entire coaching staff and he especially hit it off with coach Steve Sarkisian. The Longhorns had been trailing in his recruitment but Abor likes them a lot now.

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The three-star defensive tackle from Southaven, Miss., has hit it off with Ole Miss assistant coach Randall Joyner and that connection would be a huge reason why Bryant would pick the Rebels. Planning to commit later this month, Ole Miss is definitely a major contender but the rumor right now is that Texas holds the edge in his recruitment.

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Ferrell was pleased with his performance at Florida’s Friday Night Lights and he loves the coaching staff there but an offer has not come from the Gators yet even though the two sides keep in contact a lot. Right now, Miami, Florida State and South Carolina are the frontrunners for the 2023 safety from Lake City (Fla.) Columbia.

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Oregon is going to remain a major contender for Florence especially after receiving so much personal attention at the Ducks’ camp over the weekend. The message from the coaches was that the San Diego (Calif.) Lincoln standout was the top priority at defensive back along with teammate Jalil Tucker, who also visited over the weekend. The chatter is that Florence is now “heavily considering” the Ducks along with Michigan and others.

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The word is that Texas is “definitely” the early leader for the 2023 defensive back and his recent visit to Austin only solidified that as he thinks Texas has the best opportunities in the country. How the staff treats the recruits definitely stands out to the Dickinson, Texas, standout and he thinks the whole environment there is special.

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The Cocoa, Fla., standout did not know what to expect when he visited Arkansas at the end of July but the 2023 prospect was blown away. “Shocking” was used about what Hawkins saw in Fayetteville. He loved the facilities and the environment. The message from the Razorbacks’ coaches was that he’s at the top of their board right now. Arkansas should be a contender moving forward, much more than before the visit.

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The Florida commit was back in Gainesville for the Friday Night Lights camp and that’s a very good sign but there’s no doubt numerous teams are trying to flip him. Georgia is making a run and the Houston (Texas) Clear Lake four-star cornerback recently visited Texas A&M as well. The word is that the Aggies are selling him on staying home, keeping the best talent in the state of Texas and that Humphrey likes that A&M is looking for “dogs” at the cornerback position. Florida is still doing a great job in his recruitment but others are not giving up.

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So far, the 2023 defensive back has landed an offer from Tennessee but after a recent visit to Auburn, the Tigers could be coming through with one soon if things come together early in his junior season. On that trip, Metcalf hit it off with coach Bryan Harsin but especially with defensive coordinator Derek Mason and cornerbacks coach Zac Etheridge. Metcalf loved that the Auburn staff was already familiar with his game and his feeling is that the Tigers could offer at any point.

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Perkins visited Ole Miss last weekend and told reporters that the Rebels are his leader so it’s not much of a rumor but the 2023 four-star prospect has been saying that Ole Miss and Georgia are the frontrunners. The word is that the Rebels are very much out in front for the Raleigh, Miss., standout and could be very tough to beat regardless.

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The message Presley received during his time at Oregon last weekend was that coach Mario Cristobal and position coach Rod Chance will do anything to keep the top players in the Northwest and they want him to be a member of the 2023 class. It was definitely a big selling point but it’s also been a busy summer as Alabama, Washington, Texas A&M, Notre Dame and now LSU are standing out as well.

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The rumor is that Texas A&M is becoming an even bigger contender for Stewart and what stood out most during his recent visit is his feeling that the depth chart at his position means early playing time is his to lose if he delivers once he gets on campus. Elite players will be leaving there and Stewart sees a real possibility in College Station plus he loved the atmosphere and coaching staff. He felt the town was similar to back home for the Opa Locka (Fla.) Monsignor Pace standout.

Miami is definitely high on the list along with Georgia, Ohio State and others but Stewart isn’t giving up his top school just yet.

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Florida, Georgia Tech and LSU are the three finalists for the four-star athlete from Niceville, Fla., and the word here is that he could be ready to make a commitment soon. That decision is coming on the heels of his most recent visit to Florida, which went very well as the chatter is Thomas felt really wanted in Gainesville. He felt “genuine love” and he has really bonded with the Gators’ coaching staff.

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Michigan is considered the frontrunner for Walker and the Wolverines might be tough to beat but the rumor is his new offer from Alabama is a game-changer in his recruitment – how well the Crimson Tide develop defensive linemen, the Alabama culture and playing for position coach Freddie Roach.

With all that being said, can Alabama overtake Michigan’s lead?

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This is not the first time Wayne has been compared to Kayvon Thibodeaux (I’ve actually compared the two players before and think it’s a good one) but when the 2023 four-star defensive end talked on the phone with Oregon defensive coordinator Tim DeRuyter and heard the same thing, that was definitely big for the Ducks.

Thibodeaux and Von Miller were the comps and even with Wayne always having interest in Oregon, this only helped the Ducks more. Watch out for Alabama and others as Wayne looks at favorites.

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Ole Miss is making a serious run at the three-star safety from Little Rock (Ark.) Parkview and his visit there recently has really sold him on the Rebels. The breakdown he saw put him at different spots on the defense, he loved his one-on-one time with coach Lane Kiffin and he saw that the players loved it in Oxford. The word is Ole Miss, Oklahoma State and Louisville are the frontrunners in his recruitment.

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The belief is that Alabama, LSU and Florida are battling it out for the high four-star defensive end from Baton Rouge (La.) Madison Prep Academy and that could be the case but Wiggins did visit Texas recently and loved what he saw.

Wiggins was especially impressed by the vision for the defense and the move to the SEC is also a tremendous draw for him. According to a source, Wiggins “loves Texas” and the Longhorns are going to be in the mix when it becomes decision time.

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The No. 5 prospect in the 2023 class, Woods still has a top 11 because he doesn’t want to eliminate schools he hasn’t seen yet but after another great visit to Alabama, the Crimson Tide have to be considered a major frontrunner.

The word is that the defensive end from Alabaster (Ala.) Thompson has an “amazing” relationship with the coaches and current players in Tuscaloosa, and so the Crimson Tide could be tough to beat.

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Notre Dame was the best visit of the summer for the 2023 defensive back from Denton (Texas) Guyer because it was his first one and also very surprising as to how much he liked the experience.

Ole Miss, LSU, TCU and Texas also stood out and the one to Austin is fresh in his mind as he spent time with safeties coach Blake Gideon. The word is that trip “felt like another home.”