South: The buzz around key official visits this weekend
We are now less than three weeks from Signing Day (February 6), so each official visit is crucial at this stage.
Some of the best in the South (Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana and Mississippi) chose not to sign during the Early Signing Period (December 19-22), so there are some big battles still going on as we inch closer to the first Wednesday in February.
We preview some of this weekend's biggest visits and deliver the latest buzz around their recruitment here.
The Buzz: Barquet is a TCU target in Louisiana and the buzz right now is, if the visit goes well, Barquet could come out of this weekend committed to the Horned Frogs. The top 20 prospect out of Louisiana has also been considering SMU, a school that has recruited him hard, but TCU has become the favorite and he could be on Commitment Watch this weekend.
The Buzz: Will Cox stay with Tennessee or end up at Auburn or Ole Miss? Auburn has been considered a true threat to the Vols since the summer, but Cox was in Knoxville last weekend, the visit went well and he still says he is solid with his commitment. Keep an eye on Auburn though. It is the in-state school, he is very familiar with the program and they host him this weekend. It could come down to numbers here for both Auburn and Tennessee. He is set to visit Ole Miss January 25.
Visiting: Ole Miss
The Buzz: Gordon has been committed to Auburn and Ole Miss at different times, and he will end up signing with the Tigers or Rebels, so this weekend is crucial. He was at Auburn last weekend, so this will be his second, and most likely his final official visit. Ole Miss is the in-state school, and the Rebels may have some momentum here. Gordon was committed to Auburn until December 18, the day before the Early Signing Period. Could he make a decision this weekend? Gordon keeps quiet about his recruitment, so he will have many keeping close tabs on him in the coming days.
Hill had a very good visit to Colorado last weekend and he likes the plan Mel Tucker laid out for him. It will be Mario Cristobal in Eugene this weekend who has the chance to woo one of the top unsigned prospects in Georgia. The Ducks have come on strong the last few weeks and they had another successful in-home visit Tuesday. Oregon may be the leader heading into this weekend. Hill is still adding offers, and his visit schedule could change moving forward, but for now, he is set to visit Tennessee January 25 and USC February 1. North Carolina is another school being considered.
The Buzz: Cristobal and the Oregon Ducks are up next. Nebraska had their shot last week. Who can flip James from Mississippi State? Can anyone? He really likes Bulldogs’ defensive backs coach Terrell Buckley, so for another program to flip him, they will have to strike a quick connection. Oregon has been very aggressive with James. They were there Friday January 11, the day the dead period ended, then back again this week. Trikweze Bridges is a safety in Alabama that has signed with the Ducks, so they have already had some success in that state this cycle, and the two know each other. It looks like Ole Miss could host James next week, then Iowa the weekend before Signing Day. If you are a betting man, are you taking the Bulldogs or the field? The most buzz may be around the field at this time.
The Buzz: It looks like this will come down to Florida State and Tennessee, but Miami came in with an offer Wednesday night, so that is a new team to keep an eye on. The buzz seems to be with the Seminoles right now, so can the Vols change that this weekend? Legendre was at one time committed to Kansas, and since he opened his recruitment up, he has been very quiet about his recruitment. He has visited Florida State, they have been in regular contact recently, and they are selling him on the offensive scheme under Kendall Briles. We can’t completely rule the Jayhawks out yet either, and the Hurricanes could receive a visit now, but this weekend will be about the SEC program in this race.
Visiting: Georgia Tech
The Buzz: Lockhart is a hot name. His recruitment took off late and he is still reeling in offers as he tries to schedule official visits. He took an official visit to North Carolina last weekend, and this weekend he heads to Atlanta to see what Georgia Tech is like. New Yellow Jackets head coach Geoff Collins has been involved here, so that make Lockhart feel like a priority. Mississippi State was in to see him again Wednesday, and he heads to Starkville next weekend. His teammate Brevyn Jones, signed with the Bulldogs in December. A list of schools is being considered for the visit February 1, including Cincinnati, Iowa, Syracuse and Nebraska.
Just spent time with Michael Lockhart @the205mike at Huffman HS. What a story... first year EVER playing football and has over 20 offers. Like a blur for this young man. Visited #UNC last weekend. Who’s next? His plans have changed, but here’s the latest... @Rivals pic.twitter.com/fbkwxXxHDR— Chad Simmons (@ChadSimmons_) January 16, 2019
The Buzz: Before committing to Mississippi State, an in-state school in June, LSU was looked at as the favorite for Pickering. There was even some chatter that he silently committed to the Tigers on an unofficial visit to Baton Rouge in the spring. So we know LSU has been high on Pickering’s list for some time. He has stayed in regular contact with the Tigers, he is very fond of head coach Ed Orgeron and we will see if LSU can again become a true contender for the four-star defensive tackle this weekend. Alabama is a school to keep an eye on too and the Crimson Tide will host Pickering the final weekend, February 1. Next weekend, there is a chance he ends up at Mississippi State, Ole Miss or Oregon, so we will track that once he gets back from Baton Rouge.
Visiting: Mississippi State
The Buzz: Mingo has been committed to Ole Miss since the summer, but his plan was never to sign during the early period. Mississippi State has never given up on him. It looks like Mingo will be a tough flip, but Mississippi State gets their shot this weekend, then Florida State February 1. In between those visits, the four-star wide receiver will visit Ole Miss. He has a strong connection with Matt Luke and Jacob Peeler, so Joe Moorhead will try to make his move in the coming days.
The Buzz: The five-star wide receiver out of Alabama is committed to Auburn, but will he end up a Tiger on the Plains? Another Tigers, LSU, was thought to be the biggest threat, but could it be Georgia? The first day after the dead period, Georgia visited Pickens, and now the Dawgs will host him on an official visit. Pickens has been in regular contact with new offensive coordinator James Coley and receivers coach Cortez Hankton over the last six weeks and UGA was back in to see him Wednesday night. Tennessee has come on strong and the Vols are likely to have Pickens in Knoxville next weekend. He has already taken official visits to Auburn and LSU. The odds of him staying with Auburn are 50-50 right now it seems.
The Buzz: Mississippi State made a strong impression last weekend and it looked like Miami would be next. Things changed this week, and now it is Auburn that will host the UGA commit. Plumlee is still considering Georgia, but he has now been offered as a Blue Shirt by the Bulldogs, so he is much more open to other schools than he once was. He says he is exploring his options, but nothing has changed with him and Georgia — yet. The other Bulldogs in Starkville made a strong impression with their football and baseball offer. His girlfriend is a student there as well, so that does not hurt their chances. Ole Miss will get the visit after Auburn and Duke and Florida State are still in the mix as well. Plumlee had a good visit to Auburn back in the spring, so this will be something we monitor this weekend.
The Buzz: Has Auburn moved to the top of the list for Robinson? It looked like heading into last weekend, before the Auburn visit, it was Kentucky and South Carolina looking down to everyone else. After the visit though, there is a real buzz about the Tigers. Now, Tennessee has its chance. Robinson has not visited Knoxville near as much as he has Auburn and Columbia, so he is not as familiar with how things work under Jeremy Pruitt, but he feels like a priority for the Vols. He will give the UT staff a shot this weekend to show what they have to offer.
Visiting: Texas A&M
The Buzz: Ward was once a Kentucky commit, and after an in-home visit with the Wildcats this week, he is set to take his official visit to Lexington February 1. Before that visit, he will trip to Texas A&M (this weekend) and Florida State (January 25). Ward does not know as much about the Aggies as he does some of the other programs on his list, so this visit will be crucial for both parties. LSU is the frontrunner at this time, so Jimbo Fisher and his staff will see if they can change that this weekend. He took his official visit to Baton Rouge in December.
Visiting: South Carolina
The Buzz: The Gamecocks have been viewed as the favorite from many on the outside since Watts decommitted from UCF two months ago. He still lists the Knights, but at this time, Louisville, Oregon and South Carolina seem to be the schools he is focused on. It will be South Carolina’s time this weekend, then Louisville, who just offered this week will host him next weekend and Oregon gets him in Eugene days before he signs. Is he South Carolina’s to lose? Watts likes Travaris Robinson, the Carolina defensive coordinator. He says those two have a good relationship.
The Buzz: Williams was expected to visit LSU last week, but late in the week, his plans changed. He stayed home last week to play basketball, but he will hit the road this weekend and head south to Miami. Could the Hurricanes be a dark horse in this race? Williams is committed to Alabama, but there is some real chatter that he ends up elsewhere. LSU has been viewed as the favorite if Williams leaves ‘Bama, but Miami seems to have a real chance to slide in here late and make a big move. As of now, Williams says he will visit Alabama next weekend, then LSU, so we will keep an eye on that, but new head coach Manny Diaz will have his chance with the four-star DB in Coral Gables first.
Visiting: Ole Miss
The Buzz: Young says he is still locked in with Alabama, but he chose not to sign in December, so that means is still weighing his options. This weekend, Young will be visiting Ole Miss, an in-state school that he is pretty familiar with. Ole Miss was in to see him last Friday and again on Tuesday this week. Despite the turnover with coaches in Tuscaloosa, Young still says he is solid to Alabama. These next three weeks will be very big though. He will be at Ole Miss this weekend, Mississippi State next weekend and then finish up his official visits with a trip to LSU. Right now, it appears Young will be tough to pull away from Nick Saban.