Recruiting Rumor Mill: Prospects weigh in after big visits
The Recruiting Rumor Mill is back with a lot of news and rumors from another busy weekend of visits.
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Georgia overwhelmed Auburn on Saturday and while many prospects who were in attendance are being recruited by both teams, many spoke of the environment and the fan base that especially stood out there.
Jace Arnold, the 2023 three-star cornerback from Marietta, Ga., saw a “crazy atmosphere” and “probably the loudest game I’ve been to.” Auburn is among his early favorites along with Mississippi State, Ole Miss, West Virginia, Kentucky, Georgia Tech and Georgia.
The word is Auburn and Florida State are the two front-runners for 2023 four-star defensive end Keldric Faulk from Highland Home, Ala. He loved the atmosphere and tradition that he saw at Auburn this past weekend.
Alex Cunningham watched the Auburn defensive line closely and loved the energy shown - but Georgia is also high on his early list and that left an impression as well. The 2024 defensive end from Johns Creek, Ga., has his recruitment wide open but some “unnamed SEC teams” impressed him this weekend. That might be Georgia, Texas A&M and others.
Another top 2024 prospect is linebacker Sammy Brown and he loved the Auburn fans even when the game got out of hand and that could actually help the Tigers in Brown’s recruitment. Georgia is definitely an early favorite as well but the “loyalty” of the Auburn fans made a big impression. The 2024 linebacker couldn’t help but be impressed by the Georgia defense as well. “It’s crazy what that defense can do,” Brown said.
Savannah (Ga.) Calvary Day 2023 three-star linebacker Troy Ford, Jr., sat next to the student section and “they for sure made the experience better than it already was.” Auburn has him interested but watch out for South Carolina in his recruitment along with Mississippi State, Notre Dame and Clemson, too.
The fans stood out most to 2023 four-star DB Dakaari Nelson from Selma, Ala., who also has Tennessee, Oklahoma, Penn State, Michigan, Georgia Tech and Arkansas standing out. Thomaston (Ga.) Upson Lee 2023 DE TJ Searcy loved the atmosphere and especially how authentic the coaching staff was when they talked.
Top 2024 QB Kamari McClellan, who will visit Mississippi State this weekend, had a great time and watched both sides closely. Running backs coach Carnell Williams and 2025 RB Anthony Rogers had a great conversation that stuck out and that could help Auburn with the Pike Road, Ala., standout down the road.
The atmosphere and how much the coaches care about the players stood out most to 2024 Pinson (Ala.) Clay ATH Jaylen Mbakwe, who also definitely took note of Georgia’s defensive domination.
LSU and then Auburn, Tennessee and Mississippi State stand out most to 2023 four-star all-purpose back Khai Prean from Donaldsonville (La.) Ascension Catholic. He loved seeing all the Auburn alumni at the game and chatting them up to learn more about the program.
Four-star Alabama commit Antonio Kite was also at Auburn on Saturday and he thought the fans were “awesome” but the word is the Anniston, Ala., safety remains “100 percent” committed to the Crimson Tide right now and that a flip is not imminent.
The chatter is that Florida now has a real shot with four-star defensive end Quency Wiggins after his visit to Gainesville this past weekend although LSU especially along with Alabama and others are very high as well. The Baton Rouge (La.) Madison Prep standout especially felt the love during the weekend and that stood out. “The love is real,” Wiggins said.
Miami four-star commit Chris Graves visited Florida this weekend and the Fort Myers (Fla.) Bishop Verot prospect could be on flip watch. There is definitely a feeling that position coach Jules Montinar is trying really, really hard to get Graves on board and that the four-star is at least listening pretty seriously.
Another top prospect who visited Florida this past weekend was 2023 four-star OL Miles McVay from East St. Louis, Ill, who loved the physical nature of the offensive line and he hit it off with the coaches. The Gators sit “pretty high” on his list but McVay isn’t giving too much away because he’s about to drop his top schools soon.
Five-star Xavier Nwankpa is the No. 1 prospect in the Iowa state rankings for 2022 and he was back at Kinnick Stadium on Saturday, an “electric” environment and the loudest game experience he’s had there. Iowa, Ohio State and Notre Dame are the three finalists and the word is that the Hawkeyes are “really up there” in his recruitment but he wants to take a few more game-day visits and then figure out what’s best. The chatter, though, is that Iowa has really made a huge move in recent months.
The top offensive tackle in the 2023 class is five-star Kadyn Proctor and the Pleasant Hill (Iowa) Southeast Polk standout was back at Iowa this weekend. It was “electric and exciting to see” and after seeing the Hawkeyes beat Penn State and closely watching the offensive line, the feeling is that Iowa could do “wonders” for him. Proctor is not ready to name a front-runner yet but Iowa is high up there and a list of top schools is expected soon.
One of the top 2023 offensive linemen nationally, Cayden Green was at Kinnick Stadium on Saturday for the big come-from-behind victory and the Lee’s Summit (Mo.) Lee’s Summit North standout had an amazing time. “You couldn’t hear the person next you talking hardly at all during the game and it had an affect on Penn State,” Green said. The 2023 four-star talked a lot with position coach George Barnett and running backs coach Ladell Betts. The Hawkeyes have “always been very high on my list and will continue to be,” Green said.
Joshua Mickens, a four-star defensive end from Indianapolis (Ind.) Lawrence Central, doesn’t have any front-runners yet but Iowa definitely moved up especially after the win. Urbandale, Iowa, 2023 tight end Kai Black had an “unforgettable feeling” inside the stadium and although that win might not have moved the Hawkeyes higher in his recruitment, it has planted the idea that Black can stay in his own backyard and compete for championships.
Kendrick Gilbert loved the atmosphere during the game - electric and very exciting were words used - and his relationship is only growing with DL coach Kelvin Bell is only getting stronger. Ankeny, Iowa, 2023 QB JJ Kohl saw a “really special environment” at Iowa and the Hawkeyes are definitely a serious school of interest for him but he’s not going to focus much on recruiting until after the season.
Iowa was already a top school for 2023 three-star defensive end Tyler Gant from St. Louis (Mo.) Christian Brothers and the win over Penn State didn’t surprise him because he loves how the team operates. He also loved the stadium experience where it “got so loud you couldn’t hear the person next to you speaking.”
Keeping high four-star offensive lineman Kiyaunta Goodwin in the class is a huge priority as he has other visits to Alabama, Michigan, Michigan State and Ohio State planned and the dominant win over LSU helped the Wildcats a whole bunch. He loved that the fans he talked to felt like Kentucky should beat LSU as the program takes steps in the right direction. The word Goodwin got from coach Mark Stoops and position coach Vince Marrow was that he had to carry on the tradition and be a plug-and-play guy next season. That meant a lot.
Campbellsville (Ky.) Taylor County 2024 offensive lineman Hayes Johnson has been to many games in Lexington but the word is Saturday night was like “something I’ve never experienced before.” Kentucky has already offered and is in great shape with Vanderbilt and some MAC programs showing early interest as well.
Greenville, S.C., 2024 receiver Mazeo Bennett was also at Kentucky this weekend and loved the fans, called them “amazing” and really took notice to the players’ energy as well. His conversation with position coach Scott Woodward especially stood out since the point was that the Wildcats were going to be using their receiving assets more. Kentucky is definitely a serious early contender for Bennett.
Lincoln (Neb.) East 2023 athlete Malachi Coleman is getting the distinct impression he’s a top target for the Huskers’ staff since he has contact with them almost every single day. “They are all amazing to me and my family and we really appreciate the love that they show to us,” Coleman said.
Denham Springs, La., 2023 quarterback Reese Mooney had an “awesome” time in town for the Michigan game and the coaches liked his size when they got to take a look on Saturday. The Huskers are one of the top teams for Mooney, who plans to make his decision at the end of the season. Many believe Nebraska is right now the team to beat for him.
Lake Mary, Fla., 2023 cornerback Braeden Marshall has really emerged in his junior season and he had an “amazing” time at Nebraska over the weekend. No front-runners have emerged in his recruitment yet because offers are coming in all the time but “they’re up there” and he plans to make a decision in the spring.
The word is Ole Miss is the leader for 2023 four-star receiver Ethan Davis from Suwanee (Ga.) Collins Hill after his weekend visit. He called it “unreal,” he said it was “indescribable” and now the Rebels have moved to the front although many other SEC and national powers will be after him throughout his recruitment.
The word out of Walter Nolen’s camp was that the on-field play and the environment at Texas A&M was so impressive and unreal that the five-star’s decision just got a whole lot harder. The Aggies were one of Nolen’s top three schools and the family liked their trip to College Station earlier in his recruitment more than they thought they would but now things just got a whole lot more interesting against Tennessee, Georgia and others because the weekend visit went so well.
Four-star tight end Donovan Green has been committed since January and his target list for the Aggies’ recruiting class is pretty interesting. The Dickinson, Texas standout is going after Nolen, Keithian Alexander, LSU commit TreVonte' Citizen, Chris Marshall, Anthony Lucas, Harold Perkins, Oregon pledge Kelvin Banks, Evan Stewart, Georgia commit Marques Groves-Killebrew (who visited A&M over the weekend) and Mark Nabou.
Arlington (Texas) Lamar 2023 four-star offensive lineman Isaiah Robinson thought the atmosphere at Texas A&M was “insane” and the “loudest and wildest college game I’ve been to so far. There was never a dull moment.” What Robinson also liked was that even with doubters, the Aggies went out and played their game - and beat No. 1 Alabama.
Baton Rouge (La.) Woodlawn 2023 four-star cornerback Jordan Matthews was there and he felt the love from the A&M coaches and knows they really want him in that recruiting class. The Aggies are moving up his list fast but Matthews also wants to see if A&M can build on this momentum and win more games. LSU and others will be involved here.
LSU, Texas A&M and Baylor are the three early standouts for 2024 four-star QB DJ Lagway with Arkansas still in the picture and the Aggies definitely impressed him this weekend. “I finally, truly understood what the 12th Man is really all about.” He feels like a “main priority” in the 2024 class by the coaching staff.
Gibson Pyle received a great message from the Texas A&M coaches over the weekend: “That they are not to be taken lightly and are a serious force in the SEC.” The 2024 offensive tackle from Klein (Texas) Cain has an early offer from USC, he will be at Texas this week for the Oklahoma State game and he’s trying to get to SMU as well.
Missouri City (Texas) Fort Bend Marshall 2023 athlete Ja’Koby Banks had “the time of my life” at the game and said “that was the best football game I’ve ever been at.” The Aggies are one of a few early offers for Banks and now they have his attention even more. Mississippi State, Notre Dame, Houston, Texas Tech, Baylor, Ole Miss, Texas and others are showing interest.
Virginia Tech is “definitely one of my top schools,” 2023 four-star defensive tackle Stephiylan Green said about his experience in Blacksburg. The Rome, Ga., standout loved that the stadium was rocking and he especially liked how down-to-earth the coaching staff was on game-day.
Chris Culliver got “cold bumps” when he saw the Virginia Tech offense in action and liked that “they can do anything with the ball,” the 2023 receiver from Maiden, N.C. said. Ayden Bussell loved that the feeling in the stadium was like the whole town was behind them. The Hokies are on him “pretty heavy” along with Tennessee, Vanderbilt and Kentucky right now.
Virginia Tech will be a “top school” for 2023 three-star cornerback Kaleb Cost from Fayetteville (Ga.) Sandy Creek and he “felt like I was a part of the Hokie family.” Madden Sanker had an excellent trip to Blacksburg, hit it off with position coach Vance Vice, loved the facilities and especially the Enter Sandman entrance. Georgia and other SEC programs are high on his list but Virginia Tech could make a move.
Alcoa, Tenn., four-star offensive guard Tyler Jeffries loved the atmosphere and that the Hokies never gave up Saturday night. His relationship with coach Vice remains strong and is getting better. There seems to be an uptick from Virginia Tech in interest recently and Vice is supposed to see Alcoa play sometime this season.
“Virginia Tech is definitely a school I’m going to be looking at hard,” said Brycen Sanders, the 2023 four-star OL from Chattanooga (Tenn.) Baylor School. The atmosphere stood out and the “environment is one of the best.” It’s early for Sanders and a lot of programs will be involved but the Hokies made a great impression.