Rivals.com - Ten recruiting surprises from five-star prospects in 2022 class
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Ten recruiting surprises from five-star prospects in 2022 class

Luther Burden
Luther Burden (Nick Lucero/Rivals.com)

Every recruiting cycle has an incredible amount of surprises. It’s what makes following recruiting so fun. Here are 10 storylines among the five-stars that have piqued our interest and are worthwhile to follow leading up to signing day in December.


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1. Hunter sticking with FSU

Travis Hunter is the No. 1 prospect in the 2022 class, and he’s been committed to Florida State since March 2020. The Suwanee (Ga.) Collins Hill standout's commitment endured through last year's 3-6 record in coach Mike Norvell's debut. Now FSU is 2-4, but Hunter released a social media graphic in recent days saying he was not de-committing.

Those rumors were sparked after Hunter took two visits to Georgia and from the fact that the Bulldogs’ coaching staff is making the five-star athlete a big priority in this recruiting class. Georgia is No. 1 and is steaming toward the College Football Playoff with arguably the best defense in the country. Florida State is struggling to find its footing. But Hunter appears to be sticking with the ‘Noles for now.



2. Nolen has more than top three

Tennessee, Texas A&M and Georgia are the top three for Walter Nolen, but it was made clear in recent weeks that it’s a current top three and not a final list. That changes the ballgame, especially since the Powell, Tenn., five-star defensive tackle now plans to visit Alabama for its matchup against LSU in a couple weeks.

Nolen’s relationship with Tennessee position coach Rodney Garner and the respect the family has for him is high. But Nolen also likes assistant coaches at Texas A&M (Elijah Robinson) and Georgia (Tray Scott). He will be at Texas A&M again this weekend. The upcoming Alabama visit is one to watch, too.


3. UNC over Clemson for Shaw

North Carolina is doing great with in-state recruiting for the 2022 class, but over the years Clemson has won a lot of those recruiting battles, especially along the defensive line. Not for five-star Travis Shaw, who picked the Tar Heels over Clemson and many others and could provide an immediate spark along the defensive line for the Tar Heels.

Shaw committed to North Carolina in August and could be the most impactful recruit of the Mack Brown era in Chapel Hill if the five-star reaches his potential.


4. Georgia emerges for Singletary

It’s not a surprise that Georgia is involved for a five-star at any position. But how Jaheim Singletary’s recruitment has played out has been one to watch. The five-star cornerback committed to Ohio State in January, and it looked like the Buckeyes had dipped back into Florida for one of the nation’s top players again.

But in August, Singletary backed off his Ohio State pledge and it looked like Florida had emerged as the frontrunner, with Miami and others involved. But a recent visit to Georgia has moved the Bulldogs way up his list and after spending time around the program and seeing the “genuine love” he receives there, Singletary said, “It’s like I’m already playing for the Dawgs.”


5. Burden picks Missouri over Georgia

Luther Burden’s commitment to Oklahoma lasted about 10 months, but the five-star receiver from East St. Louis, Ill., backed off that pledge in August. Missouri and Georgia emerged as the two favorites and Burden picked the Tigers over the Bulldogs on Tuesday.

According to sources, Georgia very much liked its chances heading into the decision and was cautiously optimistic, especially since Burden just returned from a trip to Athens right before his decision. But Missouri is local and its offense could be suited to get him the ball a lot. Burden told me he really likes and respects coach Eli Drinkwitz and his staff, and some close to the five-star were leaning toward him staying closer. It’s a huge pickup for the Tigers and a surprise the No. 1 team in the country didn’t win out, because Georgia doesn’t lose many of these battles.



6. Jackson sticking with USC

Domani Jackson has taken numerous visits to Michigan. He is a close friend of former five-star cornerback Will Johnson, who’s committed to the Wolverines. During Jackson’s last visit the two had a talk in the Big House about playing together there. Through all that, the five-star corner from Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei has stuck with his USC commitment despite coach Clay Helton getting fired and uncertainty about the future coaching staff.

The reason? Donte Williams.

Jackson has such a strong relationship with the position coach and is sure he will be on the new USC staff that sticking with the Trojans is the move at this point.



7. Oregon takes it to the Banks

The intelligentsia believed it was a battle between Texas and Texas A&M for five-star offensive tackle Kelvin Banks. It made sense. The Houston (Texas) Summer Creek standout grew up a Longhorns fan with posters on his walls, but he was a local kid and the Aggies always do well in the Houston area.

But Oregon dipped into Texas for the five-star talent as the Ducks have done incredibly well recruiting and developing offensive linemen in recent years. Recruiting has not stopped for Banks, who said Texas, Texas A&M and LSU are still coming hard, but he’s shown no signs of flipping.



8. Iowa surges for Nwankpa

Six months ago, Iowa was mentioned by five-star safety Xavier Nwankpa, but not many had a lot of faith – and according to some sources, that includes the Hawkeyes' coaching staff – that he would end up playing in Iowa City.

But fast forward to today and Iowa is arguably the team to beat in his recruitment after such an excellent start to the season, getting the Pleasant Hill (Iowa) Southeast Polk standout on campus with his family numerous times and getting a better feel for everything the program could offer.

Ohio State and Notre Dame are still right there, but Iowa is absolutely a top team in his recruitment.


9. Mathews backs off LSU pledge

It has been written and talked about endlessly, but it deserves to be mentioned in this context: Every No. 1 player in the state of Louisiana for the last decade has picked LSU. History is on the Tigers’ side when it comes to the recruitment of five-star safety Jacoby Mathews, even if he has already been committed once to the Tigers.

Still, Texas A&M, Texas, Oklahoma and others are all making a serious run at the Ponchatoula, La., standout, and the LSU coaching situation is in flux. But as things shake out in the coming months, the Tigers should be very much involved in landing Mathews and keeping that trend alive that the top player in the state almost always goes to LSU.


10. Howard will visit Notre Dame

When word got out that five-star quarterback Walker Howard was going to visit Notre Dame earlier this season a lot of the talk was dismissed as a kid who wanted to see a game-day experience and see something different but that his commitment to LSU was not being questioned.

That visit did not happen, since the LSU pledge got hurt the night before the expected trip. But now with the Tigers’ coaching situation up in the air and Howard’s plan to visit Notre Dame this weekend, Howard’s visit to South Bend is at least something significant to follow.

A side note: The Irish have also reached out to USC QB commit Devin Brown, so there could be interest in taking another quarterback in this class.