Three-Point Stance: Big visits, programs that will close strong, Ohio State
Rivals national recruiting director Adam Gorney looks at five crucial official visits this weekend with signing day less than a week away, a few teams that could close really strong heading into Wednesday and breaks down just how dominant Ohio State has been at recruiting receivers:
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SIX VISITS TO WATCH THIS WEEKEND
I tried to narrow the list down to five but there were far too many intriguing official visits happening on the final weekend before signing day. Here are six I’ll be particularly watching:
Auburn, Ohio State, Kentucky and Clemson are the four finalists for the four-star running back and while Kentucky looks like the landing spot for him now a weekend trip to The Plains could make things interesting. The Douglasville (Ga.) South Paulding standout will get a better feel for coach Hugh Freeze’s vision on offense, he’ll be hanging around Cadillac Williams and many other top recruits - both from the high school and transfer portal ranks. Will it be enough to convince him to play for the Tigers?
Maybe the most interesting visit of the weekend, Coleman is headed to Colorado to get the pitch from coach Deion Sanders and the new staff in Boulder. Colorado has already flipped marquee four-star Dylan Edwards and landing Coleman would be absolutely huge because he’s not only the top-ranked player in Nebraska - and the Huskers want to get him back in the fold - but he’s incredibly talented on both sides of the ball. He’s said Colorado has told him he’s the top priority.
After an unofficial visit to LSU this season it seems like the Tigers have jumped to the top of Ricks’ list and could be tough to beat as he has a strong relationship with position coach Robert Steeples and others. The five-star who reclassified from 2024 has said it would be tough to turn down Nick Saban and Florida has come on strong but LSU looks like the team to beat - and an official to Baton Rouge this weekend could seal it days after the Tigers landed fellow five-star corner Javien Toviano.
Last year at the National Combine in San Antonio, Smith called LSU his dream school and now it could be his opportunity to fulfill that wish by playing for the Tigers. Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Vanderbilt and others remain in the picture for the four-star safety from Fulton (Miss.) Itawamba but LSU looks way ahead in his recruitment.
Just weeks ago, it looked like Florida was a near lock for the four-star running back from Plantation (Fla.) American Heritage and the Gators are still in a great position but the big test will be this weekend as Miami brings him in for a visit. It was undecided a few days ago if Fletcher would actually make the trip over to Coral Gables but now that he has chose to visit with the Canes it’s definitely worth watching.
The Alabaster (Ala.) Thompson standout has been committed to Alabama since June but he’s taken numerous visits to Auburn and Texas A&M since that time and now it’s the Aggies’ last chance to flip him. Mitchell continues to say he’s fully committed to the Crimson Tide but those other SEC programs keep trying and don’t think they’re wasting their time. The four-star defensive back has always had a thing for the Aggies and this weekend’s trip could be really important.
THESE PROGRAMS WILL CLOSE STRONG
Five teams have been identified as those who could really have a strong finish leading up to or on signing day. Here’s a quick look as we consider only uncommitted players here:
Alabama - The Crimson Tide already have the No. 1 class but they could be closing strong as they’re still the favorites to land Montgomery (Ala.) Carver teammates Jaquavious Russaw and James Smith. Both will be returning to Auburn this weekend but the feeling for a while now is that Alabama has extended its lead.
Georgia - The calculations will have to be made and everything will have to fall into place but Georgia has a chance at the top spot again especially if the Bulldogs land five-star defensive end Damon Wilson, four-star defensive tackle Jordan Hall and four-star DB Daniel Harris. It’s looking good. Maybe a surprise takes Wilson to Ohio State but coach Kirby Smart could be closing strong again.
LSU - LSU has two big official visitors on campus this weekend in five-star cornerback Desmond Ricks and four-star safety Isaac Smith - and both could end up playing for the Tigers. Fresh off a commitment from five-star cornerback Javien Toviano, LSU is considered significant favorites for both Ricks and Smith heading into their weekend visits.
Ohio State - It could be an even bigger close for the Buckeyes if some surprises come in (maybe getting Damon Wilson on board or flipping five-star safety Caleb Downs) but even if those don’t come in, Ohio State could still have a good day. It’s still a little murky and unsure where five-star defensive end Matayo Uiagalelei will end up but the Buckeyes are squarely in it and they also look good for former LSU commit Joshua Mickens. Either way, Ohio State is loaded.
USC - There could still be some significant surprises - like Matayo Uiagalelei since he has the Trojans in his final three - but five-star tight end end Duce Robinson and four-star cornerback Rodrick Pleasant are definitely two to watch. It’s been relatively quiet for the Trojans on the trail recently but a strong finish could be coming.
OHIO STATE'S RECEIVER RECRUITING IS OFF THE CHARTS
The level of Ohio State’s domination in recruiting star receivers in recent years is extraordinary - and it actually could have been much more impressive if all of them were ranked accurately compared to their production with the Buckeyes and their NFL Draft spot.
Chris Olave was a high three-star and Garrett Wilson was a four-star. Both were first-round NFL Draft picks. In 2020, Julian Fleming and Jaxon Smith-Njigba were five-stars and the latter has a very good shot at a high draft position.
In 2021, Emeka Egbuka was a five-star and Marvin Harrison Jr., was No. 15 at the position, too low for his production at Ohio State. In 2022, Ohio State signed four receivers inside the top 36 at the position and now in 2023, the Buckeyes have commitments from the top-two receivers in the class five-stars Brandon Inniss and Carnell Tate.
The Buckeyes just landed a pledge from 2024 five-star and No. 1 receiver Jeremiah Smith from Hollywood (Calif.) Chaminade Madonna.
Ryan Day and his staff have dominated receiver recruiting but the rankings are actually lower than they should be. That is truly incredible.