Simmons' Mailbag: Potential flips, Pickens, 'Bama QB commit
CLASS OF 2019 RANKINGS: Rivals250 | State | Position | Team
TAKE TWO: Will Nick Bosa's decision to withdraw from school hurt his NFL stock?
There is nothing better than interacting with all the college football and college football recruiting fans out there. Thanks to all for your questions.
There were questions about a potential Tennessee flip, five-star George Pickens, what Clemson will do on the offensive line, Devonta Lee and more.
Thanks for your questions and here are my answers.
There will be some flips, like always, and Tennessee is hoping it is on the good side of a couple of those this cycle. There are a handful of names I could list, but two in-state prospects are who I will go with. Maurice Hampton is an LSU commit, and has been since July 2016, but he is now planning to visit Tennessee officially this weekend. Jeremy Pruitt has gone after this one hard since taking over the job in December. He will be a tough flip, like most are, but this is one to watch.
Another one, from the state of Tennessee is Michigan running back commit Eric Gray. The Vols appear to be a real threat to the Wolverines. Gray took his official visit to Knoxville last month, and he has remained in contact with the Tennessee staff. Ole Miss is in this too, but based on what I am hearing, Tennessee may be the one program Michigan is most worried about.
For me, there is no better way to evaluate prospects than in person. I watch a lot of game film and highlights, but seeing guys live tells me more. Not only from a physical standpoint, but mental as well. I love to see how guys compete, how hard they get after it, how they take coaching, how they respond to defeat and so on.
Offers, what schools show interest and all that don’t mean much of anything for me. So many offers in today’s recruiting game do not carry a lot of weight, and I go off what I see more than what schools may show up on a profile. I do as much homework as I can, then rank prospects.
Jamious Griffin is a prospect I have mentioned in numerous national features since I saw him play against Marietta late in August. I have mentioned him as a 'Stock Up' prospect for me and he has really stepped up this season with more carries and being as productive as ever.
As far as him being a three-star and up for Player of the Year, awards and accolades do not play a big role in my evaluations. Player of the Year awards typically go off stats. I am not big on stats. Yes, I want guys to be productive, but not everyone is in the perfect system to do so. I saw the leading rusher in the state of Georgia earlier in my career not even sign a scholarship. He carried the ball 30-35 times a game, so he had stats, but he was not an elite talent. Those two things do not always match up.
With Griffin, they do match up. He is a talented running back and could be a steal for NC State. He is stronger than most think unless they go up against him and he has a great burst when he sees daylight. Not to mention that he is a competitor and a winner.
Wisconsin got off to a hot start, but stalled out a little before tight end Clay Cundiff committed last week. The class will likely be on the smaller side, so not too many spots left, but one to keep an eye on is defensive lineman Rodas Johnson.
Johnson could come down to Penn State and Wisconsin in the end. He took his official visit to Wisconsin over the summer, then to Penn State for the Ohio State game a few weeks ago.
The Badgers appear to still have a little momentum here, but he has no set commitment date at this time.
George Pickens is still visiting schools and talking to numerous coaches, so he is not done yet. With that said, I still like Auburn’s chances to hold on to him. I have said for a couple of months; I feel Alabama is the Tigers' biggest threat based on what I have heard.
Florida State, Georgia, LSU and a few others want to be in this, but I do not view them as legitimate threats. Lets see if he take official visits, and to who they go to. I expect Auburn and Alabama to receive one for sure. He is so connected with quarterback Bo Nix, and unless something drastic happens, I do not see him flipping to anyone at this time.
Again, Alabama is a school to watch, and maybe someone to worry about if you are an Auburn fan, but I still like Auburn’s chances to sign Pickens right now.
I am not sure which player you are referring to, but there are quite a few players out there claiming 40 offers that are three-star type prospects. Offers are verbal offers for the most part, and in a lot of instances, that verbal offer means a school is interested in the prospect.
There are many situations out there these days when prospects think they have the offer that allows them to call up the school and commit, but they don’t. It is not in all situations, but in some.
To be a three-star prospect, that prospect is still considered elite. Sure, five-stars are considered the best, and guys we see becoming first round NFL Draft picks, but there only 32 first round picks each year. Three-star prospects are considered special football talents in my book as well.
They sure hope to. From what I have heard, the Tigers hope to sign at least three offensive linemen in this class. With one committed, there are still involved with some big names. Clay Webb (visiting Clemson this weekend) is a five-star center still very much in play, then you have Trevor Keegan and William Putnam as well.
Who will Clemson land? I would not say the Tigers are trending for any elite offensive lineman right now, but I expect them to close well. They are contenders for some of the top uncommitted offensive linemen on their board, so let's see how it plays out. I see Clemson as a true candidate for Webb, the No. 1 center in the country.
There will be flips. Kirby Smart doesn’t give up on players until they are signed. There are not too many right now that I see Georgia having a real chance at flipping, but one I continue to hear buzz about is Nick Cross.
The safety out of Maryland has been committed to Florida State for a month and a half, but the Bulldogs are involved here. Cross fits what Smart wants at safety and I expect the Bulldogs to receive an official visit. He has taken four of his five official visits, so will Georgia that the final one? If so, this one to really watch closely.
As far as the how the class finishes out, I see it as being a strong finish again. Georgia has a real shot at Florida defensive backs Tyrique Stevenson and Kaiir Elam, they are in play for Clay Webb and Trevor Keegan on the offensive line, linebacker Nakobe Dean is a top target visiting next month and I expect Smart to do what he did a year ago, close well. They are still fighting for five-star Jadon Haselwood among others too.
I really like what I have seen out of Justin Robinson early on. He is a prospect I feel will add many more offers in the coming months. He did not play as a freshman due to injury, then he missed last season because of a transfer, so this is first football season in high school. What stands out to me other than his size is his how physical he plays, his strong hands and just the overall athleticism. I saw him play earlier this season and he played a lot of cornerback too. For me, he has played better than his initial ranking and his offer list shows.
I see Clemson and Tennessee each as a threat to Michigan. Quavaris Crouch is an elite talent, so it will be a fight for his signature until the end. The official visit to Michigan did not take place this past weekend, but is expected to be rescheduled for next month. I would give the two schools you mentioned, Clemson and Tennessee an advantage over the Wolverines right now, but that all could change once he takes his official visit to Ann Arbor. Lets see what type of vibe we are getting once that happens.
I feel like Jaren Handy can play anywhere. He is a talented, athletic defensive end with his best football ahead of him. He is still a raw talent with basketball being his sport for many years, but once he focuses on only football and spends time in the weight room while perfecting his craft, the sky is the limit.
Auburn will have to hold off schools like Alabama, Florida, LSU and others. He is all about upside and could be a force for many defenses on the next level.
I feel Devonta Lee is a heavy lean to LSU. I have felt that way for months, and now, with the way the Tigers are playing, that only helps. He is a top in-state target, he knows he is a priority for Ed Orgeron and that staff, and it is honestly hard for me seeing him leave the state right now.
He talks about Alabama, Arkansas, Ole Miss and numerous other programs, but the relationship he has with the staff in Baton Rouge, how close he is to multiple commits and just the chance to stay close to home really plays in LSU’s favor. I see LSU in the driver’s seat right now.
I am not sure about Taulia Tagovailoa ending up as a five-star, but he is a prospect that has impressed me this season. I love his arm strength, release, mobility, composure and there is a lot to like, but him being a five-star or not will be determined at a later date.
He is putting up big numbers and I saw him throw for over 200 yards in a half this season, so he is making his case to be one of the top quarterbacks this cycle. He does not have elite measurables, but there is a lot to like in this Alabama commit.