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Recruiting Rumor Mill: Prospects hit the road as the Dead Period ends

Brandon Inniss
Brandon Inniss (Nick Lucero/Rivals.com)

The dead period is over and top prospects from around the country were back on the road especially over the weekend. That means the Recruiting Rumor Mill has been kicked into high gear once again:

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Clemson has not offered yet but if the Tigers do they could be tough to beat for the three-star safety from Hampton (Va.) Phoebus after his weekend visit. The word is everything stood out from the players, to the practice, to the academics but what appealed the most to Bass was Dabo Swinney’s two-hour talk breaking down everything Clemson has to offer.

“Never seen any head coach do that,” Bass said. “That was special to me.”

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Downs’ father played at NC State and his brother is at North Carolina but the rumor is that neither program is likely to get the top-ranked safety in the class out of Hoschton (Ga.) Mill Creek. Georgia looks like the most likely destination for Downs but Alabama, Clemson and others are still battling it out. Look for the Bulldogs to land the high-level four-star safety right now.

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There is a long way to go in Ferguson’s recruitment but if LSU wins out for the 2024 cornerback from Loganville (Ga.) Grayson it will be because of cornerbacks coach Robert Steeples. The two hit it off when Ferguson visited Baton Rouge in recent days as he loves Steeples’ philosophy and energy. The 2024 recruit also loved the community and its focus on LSU football as well. South Carolina, Georgia, North Carolina, Texas, Pitt, Florida State, Arkansas and Kentucky are also getting looks.

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A Florida commit from July through mid-February, the 2024 running back now at Bradenton (Fla.) IMG Academy was back in Gainesville this weekend. What stood out most was Gibson’s meeting with Jabbar Juluke and that could go a long way in a future decision. A “great time” was had by Gibson but he won’t know for a while if Florida has a shot to land his commitment again as Ohio State, Texas, Alabama, UCF and Oregon have emerged as contenders, too.

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Alabama, Georgia and many other SEC powerhouses will be involved with Green but Clemson made a big impression on him this weekend and the Tigers definitely have a fighting chance especially because Green hit it off with assistant coach Nick Eason. That could be a major connection Clemson could lean on for the four-star DT from Rome, Ga., who loved coach Dabo Swinney’s message during the weekend and that every player - from the star to the walk-on - was treated equally there.

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There are still a lot of programs involved with the high four-star receiver from Longview, Texas but a weekend visit to Alabama went really well and he was “very pleased” with his trip. The message from coach Nick Saban was that he liked Hale’s film and wants to see him back in Tuscaloosa. That could definitely happen even with Oklahoma and others probably having a slight edge now. A trip to USC is coming up and then Hale will see more programs as well.

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The three-star Utah linebacker commitment has “a lot to think about now” after visiting Nebraska over the weekend. Helu loved the trip to Lincoln and especially enjoyed the people and the Nebraska campus along with his talks with coach Scott Frost and Barrett Ruud. The Tooele, Utah standout has been committed to the Utes since August and many times in-state kids stick with their pledges but Nebraska is within striking distance here.

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Ohio State might still be very tough to beat for the four-star defensive end from College Park (Ga.) Woodward Academy but Clemson has definitely inched into that top-two list as well. Hoffler landed an offer from the Tigers over the weekend, loves the family feel of the place and that the entire staff recruits him. It could be a post-visit high that Hoffler is experiencing but Clemson is definitely in the running now with the Buckeyes.

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It was made clear to Holly that he’s a top priority at LSU because coach Brian Kelly took the four-star all-purpose back into his private office for a meeting over the weekend. The pitch was that the Farmerville (La.) Union Parish standout could turn the program around and come in and play right away. Holly hit it off with assistants Joe Sloan and Frank Wilson as the Tigers remain a top contender.

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The five-star receiver had a good trip to Florida State over the weekend and he especially loved how practice was run and the intensity of the workout. The Seminoles still are probably on the outside looking in as the Plantation (Fla.) American Heritage standout plots out more visits. He will be at USC this weekend since his South Florida Express team will play in the Pylon tournament in Los Angeles and reuniting with coach Lincoln Riley will be huge. The former Oklahoma commit will also be at Louisville surprisingly later this month and then Ohio State and Alabama and April. It’s believed the Buckeyes and Crimson Tide have a slight edge but if USC goes really well, watch out.

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The four-star tight end from Bridgeland, Texas has more than 30 offers but his newest one from Clemson will play a “huge” role in his recruitment. He visited there this past weekend and loved the family atmosphere there and just the general sense of caring around the program. There is fierce competition with Alabama, South Carolina, North Carolina, Baylor, Ole Miss and Miami but Clemson is now a major player.

“A Clemson offer means you fit all the boxes of being a great student, person and player,” Mikeska said.

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The rumor that Notre Dame is the team to beat for Muhammad might be a little overdone because the Irish have not been communicating as much with the family recently and the Dallas (Texas) South Oak Cliff four-star cornerback has taken notice. Muhammad still loves the Irish and he believes Notre Dame is “building something great” under the new coaching staff but Alabama, Michigan, Penn State, Texas, Texas A&M, Oklahoma, North Carolina and LSU have been more involved recently.

“I just want to be where I’m wanted,” Muhammad said.

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If the four-star offensive tackle from Chattanooga (Tenn.) Baylor School ends up picking LSU then it’s because of his relationship with position coach Brad Davis.

“He’s one of the realest coaches I’ve talked to and we’re building a great relationship,” Sanders said. “The rest of the coaches were amazing as well.”

Tennessee, Georgia, Kentucky and many others remain involved and Sanders will visit Oklahoma at the end of the month but watch out for LSU gaining ground here after his visit to Baton Rouge.

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Tennessee impressed the big tight end from Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei in a variety of ways over the weekend from the culture coach Josh Heupel is building to how Alex Golesh constructs the offense plus he loved the facilities and the fan base since he went to the Tennessee-Arkansas basketball game. There will be Pac-12 competition, though for Shannon, who goes to Cal later this month and then Washington, Utah and Texas in April. He will also return to UCLA soon as the Bruins remain a serious player.

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The 2024 five-star defensive end was at Arkansas this past weekend and the Razorbacks have a real shot with the Duncanville, Texas standout because his teammate, Jordan Crook, signed there in the 2022 class and has been talking up the program hard. But Simmons has at least one family member that really likes Baylor a lot and then the five-star has Oklahoma State, Texas and Texas A&M very high as well.

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The 2026 class is a long way off but Stewart could be in the running for the top prospect in that class and Alabama among others is already interested. The massive lineman met with coach Nick Saban this past weekend and what stood out most about his trip was that he realized Alabama is not for everybody. It most definitely could be for him and as his recruitment continues, Stewart fully expects the Crimson Tide to be in his top five.

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The offer from Alabama showed Thornton that “my hard work is paying off,” and so the Crimson Tide will definitely be a major contender for the three-star athlete from Alpharetta (Ga.) Milton. He loved the family vibe and the facilities in Tuscaloosa and that relationship will continue to build. Clemson, LSU, Florida and Miami are four others to watch and Thornton is trying to visit Ohio State soon.

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A new offer from Oklahoma is big for the four-star safety Baylor commitment from San Antonio (Texas) Brennan but it doesn’t look like the Sooners will be guaranteed an official visit yet. The plan for Turner is to definitely visit Texas and Utah sometime in June and then figure out the rest of his trips once the dust settles in his recruitment. Baylor remains locked in with Turner, who committed to the Bears in January.

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The four-star defensive end from Austin (Texas) Westlake has seen his recruitment take off in recent months and in recent days Vasek was at Oklahoma. He loved the atmosphere in Norman and how coach Brent Venables and the staff organized the day. The Sooners are definitely a major contender for Vasek but so is Texas and others especially with visits to Clemson and Texas A&M coming up.

“Not only are they going to make you a better player but they’re also going to make you a much better person,” Vasek said of the Oklahoma staff.

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South Carolina, Florida, Arkansas, Penn State, Tennessee and Baylor are the frontrunners for the four-star all-purpose back from Jacksonville (Fla.) Trinity Christian. Webb was supposed to visit North Carolina this weekend but canceled that trip after he visited Florida. The word is that Webb liked “everything” about his trip to Gainesville and that the Gators could now have the edge.