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Rivals Underclassmen Challenge: Recruiting Rumor Mill

Marquise Lightfoot
Marquise Lightfoot (Nick Lucero/Rivals.com)

ATLANTA - The Rivals Underclassmen Challenge is being held here Friday and Media Night was Thursday evening. A lot of news and rumors came out of the event and Rivals national recruiting director Adam Gorney has you covered.

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The 2025 athlete from Sacramento, Calif., has Georgia, Texas A&M and Michigan as the early standouts, and watch out for the Wolverines since that was the dream school growing up. Plenty of new interest is coming in with Ohio State, Texas, Alabama and Nebraska reaching out, and Bell might not be done with trips this offseason as he wants to get back to USC, Georgia and Texas soon.

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Georgia Tech offered Benjamin on Thursday, and he “loved” his visit there, especially because he’s interested in studying engineering. The West Bloomfield, Mich., 2024 cornerback also had a previous relationship with position coach Travares Tillman that could go a long way. Northwestern, Tennessee, Michigan, Michigan State, Pitt and Duke also stand out, and Benjamin is receiving interest from Stanford, Oregon and Notre Dame. Alabama is the dream offer.

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The 2025 quarterback from Hodgenville (Ky.) LaRue County had a phenomenal visit to Michigan in recent days. He not only landed an offer from the Wolverines but also got the tour from coach Jim Harbaugh himself. Boley took that as a big sign that Michigan is really interested in him and the feeling is mutual. A round of big trips are coming up, too, as Boley will see Florida State, Georgia, Alabama and Tennessee in the coming days.

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The 2024 defensive lineman from Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei loved recent visits to Alabama and Oregon as both remain contenders in his recruitment, but USC and many others will be there, and Breland wants to take a bunch more visits. He wants to see Notre Dame and Tennessee for sure, and he would love to see Clemson if the Tigers show more interest and then trips to LSU and Miami should happen before any decision.

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Georgia, Florida and Clemson are three schools that should make the final cut for the 2024 four-star linebacker when he’s ready to cut things down, but an important trip next weekend could make things more interesting. The Jefferson, Ga., standout will see Notre Dame, Michigan and Michigan State in the coming days before shutting it down to focus on his junior season. The Bulldogs are still believed to be the frontrunner, but it’s not a lock yet.

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Oregon, Nebraska, Washington, Louisville and Arkansas are the early standouts for the 2024 cornerback from Desoto, Texas, but three big schools have been showing lots of interest as well. Texas, Texas A&M and Oklahoma have all been in contact and those could be major offers if they come through. Georgia is the dream school as Buford grew up liking the Bulldogs. Something else to watch in his recruitment is that Buford is a close friend of 2024 four-star receiver I’Marion Stewart and the two are serious about playing together in college.

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Alabama, Georgia, Ohio State and Texas are the early standouts for the 2025 running back from Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei after a busy offseason saw Davison load up with offers. Ohio State was the dream school growing up, but Davison is also close with the former trainer of Najee Harris, so the Crimson Tide definitely appeal to him as well. USC will be lurking for the Mater Dei standout, too.

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USC, Oregon and Washington are the early frontrunners for the 2025 cornerback from Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei, and the Trojans left a big impression during camp when Dixson hit it off with assistant coach Donte Williams. But Georgia, Alabama and Texas are showing a lot of interest as Dixson’s recruitment heats up.

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Ole Miss and Purdue are the early Power Five offers for the 2024 athlete from Indianapolis Warren Central, with new interest coming in from Louisville and Tennessee. Edmond will camp at Baylor soon and then Alabama is the dream school.

“I like the way Nick Saban runs his program,” Edmond said.

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Georgia, Texas and Utah are the early standouts for the 2025 receiver from Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei as he likes the receiver coaches at all three schools, especially Brennan Marion with the Longhorns. Oregon, Alabama, Baylor and USC are showing the most interest, but Harris still needs to keep building his relationship with the new Trojans coaching staff.

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Florida State, Florida, Georgia, Miami, LSU and UCF are some of the schools that interest the 2024 safety from Rockledge, Fla., the most, but many others could get involved soon. Heyward was at Georgia Tech on Thursday, and then Alabama is also a school that should definitely be watched as his recruitment continues.

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Nebraska, Tennessee, Notre Dame, Cincinnati, USC, Ole Miss and others are standing out early for the 2024 defensive end from Chicago Kenwood, but it’s still early in his recruitment and a lot could still happen. The Huskers could have a little bit of an edge since they were his first offer, but SEC schools definitely appeal to him a lot. Still, Lightfoot admits he’s new to the recruiting process and has a lot to learn.

“I didn’t even know what USC was,” he said.

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He’s a 2026 quarterback, so there’s so much time left in his recruitment, but O’Neal is already starting to prioritize what he’s looking for in his recruitment - and it sure looks like SEC schools have caught his eye. Texas A&M interests him a whole lot and the dream offer would be from Georgia because O’Neal likes coach Kirby Smart a lot.

“I see myself being (at Georgia),” O’Neal said.

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Georgia, Clemson, South Carolina and Ohio State should be four schools that make the top list for Pringle when he’s ready to cut it down, and the Bulldogs left a big impression when he visited on Thursday. Two important trips are coming up for the Dorchester (S.C.) Woodland star offensive lineman, though, as he goes to Virginia on Friday and then Tennessee on Sunday.

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Duke, Virginia Tech and Washington have particularly stood out to Ritchey recently, and then NC State has been showing tons of interest and that has also caught his eye. The Pittsboro (N.C.) Northwood 2025 defensive end is going to North Carolina and Michigan State in the coming weeks before turning his focus to his sophomore season.

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Rousseau’s brother, Greg, was a star at Miami and it’s not lost on his younger brother from Coconut Creek (Fla.) Monarch, who definitely likes the Hurricanes a lot. He recently attended the Hurricanes’ camp and seems to really like coach Mario Cristobal and the new staff in Coral Gables, where he saw a lot more energy. Staying in South Florida would be a major plus as well.

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Auburn, Michigan and Oregon are the three early frontrunners for Rubin, who visited Auburn on Thursday and landed his offer. He loved it on The Plains, so that’s definitely a school to watch, but so is Michigan because the Las Vegas Desert Pines 2024 cornerback grew up idolizing Charles Woodson. The Ducks definitely stand out as well since Rubin would watch highlights of DeAnthony Thomas and Marcus Mariota while getting driven to his youth league games.

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Indiana, Kansas and Toledo are the three offers for the 2025 quarterback from Palmetto, Fla., with interest coming in from Florida State, Alabama and Troy. Smith went to Clemson and Miami last year, and he grew up an Alabama fan, so those could be some other schools to watch. Right now, Smith likes his new offer from the Jayhawks and if the Seminoles offer that would be something to watch

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Oklahoma remains a top school for the 2024 four-star defensive tackle who is originally from Del City, Okla., but now plays at Bradenton (Fla.) IMG Academy. But the list is getting longer as Florida would move way up if the Gators offer, and then Tennessee has captured his interest along with Texas A&M, Wisconsin, USC and Oregon.

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Wisconsin is recruiting Strebig the hardest and the Badgers are the dream school for the Waukesha (Wisc.) Catholic Memorial standout who called Wisconsin “O-Line U.” But a recent visit to Northwestern definitely left an impression and the Wildcats stand out. Iowa has also gotten involved in his recruitment as well.

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Penn State and Iowa State are the early Power Five offers for the 2024 offensive tackle from Port Orange (Fla.) Spruce Creek, and a big visit to Florida is happening in the coming days. It’s still early and more interest could be coming in, so Walker doesn’t want to name a dream school or favorite just yet. Walker has just one demand when he picks a school.

“I just like to run the dang ball,” he said.