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Recruiting Rumor Mill: Prospects criss-cross the country on visits

Jahkeem Stewart
Jahkeem Stewart (Rivals.com)

With spring games, visits and now transfer portal players on the road, there's a lot going on in the recruiting world. Rivals national recruiting director Adam Gorney has it covered in this week’s Recruiting Rumor Mill:

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LSU, Tennessee and Washington have been the mainstays in Afalava’s recruitment but now after a visit to Oklahoma, the Sooners are definitely a major contender. The four-star offensive lineman from Lehi (Utah) Skyridge feels he has the same vision as the coaching staff where they want to win and want hard workers.

An official visit back to Norman will now definitely happen before any decision.

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Cal made a big impression during a recent visit for the high three-star receiver from Colleyville (Texas) Heritage especially seeing how position coach Burl Toler works with his group. It stood out that Toler asked each of his receivers before practice one thing they could improve on that day and then held them to it during the workout.

The word is Blueitt “doesn’t really have a clue” who leads in his recruitment now, will get through spring ball and then see from there.

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The “mad love” Notre Dame’s entire coaching staff showed Dabney during his three-day visit to South Bend made a huge impression on the 2026 linebacker from Richmond (Va.) Huguenot especially recruiting staffer Carter Auman.

Notre Dame is definitely a major contender early in Dabney’s recruitment especially after this visit with Duke, NC State, South Carolina, Virginia Tech and Tennessee high on the list as well.

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Florida State, Florida, Miami, Tennessee and many others are involved with the four-star receiver from Hollywood (Fla.) Chaminade Madonna but the word is the Gators could have the edge in his recruitment.

Howard was supposed to commit in late March but pushed back that date but Florida still looks strong as the word is the four-star has been talking a lot with five-star 2024 QB DJ Lagway.

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If Johnson gets the opportunity, UCLA would be under even more serious consideration especially after he visited for the Bruins’ Friday Night Lights event. The 2026 high three-star safety from Ontario (Calif.) Colony loved the competitiveness of the practice and how he was treated by the coaches during his time in Westwood.

Florida has always been a dream school with Oregon, Texas and USC as some other standouts in his recruitment.

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Notre Dame has been a top program early on for the 2026 four-star linebacker from Port Arthur (Texas) Memorial and his trip to South Bend over the weekend absolutely moved the Irish even higher on his list. King loved his time with coach Marcus Freeman, defensive coordinator Al Golden and position coach Max Bullough and the tradition around the program.

Texas A&M could be tough in the end with Texas and Penn State also standing out.

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USC had been considered the main front-runner early in Moala’s recruitment and the Trojans could definitely still be a legitimate player but the word is that the Lawndale (Calif.) Leuzinger 2026 four-star linebacker is more focused on the Midwest.

Notre Dame, Michigan and Ohio State are leading the way and then Michigan State is also a team to watch. After a great visit to Oklahoma over the weekend, the Sooners are “definitely up there” for him as well.

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Alabama, Missouri, Oklahoma and Nebraska are the standouts for the four-star linebacker from Overland Park (Kan.) Blue Valley and the word is the Huskers have the edge now for his commitment after a recent visit.

Relationships are a huge deal to Merritt and he has so many of them in Lincoln and then seeing position coach Rob Dvoracek in action puts Nebraska as the team to beat.

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Oregon, Wisconsin, Alabama, USC, Missouri, TCU, Texas A&M, North Carolina and Florida have been in touch with Murphy and a recent visit to Miami definitely impressed the 2026 four-star quarterback. The Argyle (Texas) Liberty Christian School standout expects around 50 programs to stop by through spring practice and it’s important to see who comes through to gauge interest and build relationships.

Meeting with Miami offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson definitely stood out during his time in Coral Gables especially because the message from Dawson was that Murphy is on a short list of 2026 QBs for what Dawson sees as elite arm talent.

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There will be some other visits taken by Patmon but Oklahoma State looks like the team to beat especially after he was in Stillwater the last few days. The visit was “awesome” from “start to finish” and he loved the genuineness of both the coaches and the players. It wouldn’t be shocking if the three-star cornerback from Del Valle, Texas.

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UCLA has not yet offered the 2026 three-star running back from Inglewood, Calif., but Santino was one of many top prospects in Westwood for the Bruins’ Friday Night Lights event and he loved the energy and the competitiveness of practice.

There is definitely a difference in recruiting under first-year coach DeShaun Foster and an offer from the Bruins would be big for Santino, who also likes USC, Oregon, Cal, Arizona State and Alabama early on.

“UCLA has definitely changed for the better,” Santino said. “Players and coaches were going at it but it was all love in the end.”

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“Everything” stood out to the 2026 four-star linebacker/edge rusher on his Tennessee visit as the Volunteers remain one of the standouts early in his recruitment. Ohio State and UCLA are the two others to watch now in his recruitment along with Tennessee as the Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei standout loved the fans in Knoxville and especially the coaches as he met with all of them on the defensive side of the ball.

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The 2026 No. 1 prospect was at USC over the weekend and the talk throughout his recruitment was that the Trojans, Oregon and Texas really captured his attention the most. Stewart will be at Oregon next weekend and that’s another big trip after coming off a major visit to Ohio State that Stewart loved.

The message from USC especially from position coach Eric Henderson was that they’re going to let Stewart wreak havoc across the defensive line as so much stands out - on and off the field - for the Trojans.

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Oklahoma State is one of the standouts for the three-star defensive end from Saratoga Springs (Utah) Westlake especially after his recent visit to Stillwater. Taumoepeau especially loved that the coaching staff was super upfront about everything and felt the coaches and the players were “genuine” throughout the whole visit.

BYU, Stanford, Cal and Utah also stand out.

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The message from the Oklahoma staff really stood out to the 2026 four-star safety from Missouri City (Texas) Fort Bend Marshall and it was this: “You are our main priority and we want you to see how important you are to us.”

That left a massive impression on Williams, who is also high on Ohio State, Texas and Tennessee early in his recruitment.

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USC, Washington, Oregon and Penn State have stood out to the four-star cornerback but a visit to Michigan State over the weekend definitely left a great impression. If the Spartans continue to push, it could be something to watch with the Corona (Calif.) Centennial standout.

The connection to position coach Demetrice Martin stands out and the coaches in East Lansing made it clear to Zamorano that he’s a top priority there.

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