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Three-Point Stance: QB transfers, tough-to-read recruitments, five-stars

JT Daniels
JT Daniels (USA Today Sports Images)

National recruiting director Adam Gorney addresses the madness around the transfer portal particularly at quarterback, the five toughest-to-read recruitments among top prospects and he looks at five candidates who will be in the discussion to land their fifth star when the Rivals team meets in early June to update the 2023 rankings.


NFL DRAFT: Five lessons from the NFL Draft | 10 players who could be the top pick in 2023 | Breaking it down by Power Five conferences | Gorney's memories, grades of first-rounders | Thirteen five-stars that went undrafted | Five-stars that were drafted - and where

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CLASS OF 2023 RANKINGS: Rivals250 | Team | Position | State

CLASS OF 2024 RANKINGS: Rivals250 | Team | Position | State

TRANSFER PORTAL: Stories/coverage | Message board

RIVALS CAMP SERIES: Info for 2022 series

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CRAZY QB TRANSFER PORTAL

Everyone knows the transfer portal has morphed into something almost no one could expect with incredible - and maybe unsustainable amounts of movement and change. The USC quarterback dominoes have been incredible as just one example.

Former USC quarterbacks JT Daniels (West Virginia), Kedon Slovis (Pitt) and Jaxson Dart (Ole Miss) have all transferred out of the program and - wait for it - the Trojans have actually drastically upgraded by bringing in former Oklahoma QB Caleb Williams.

All but eight passes from Miller Moss are gone from last season and yet USC is in a better quarterback situation because of the portal. Amazing.

Oklahoma is another crazy situation. Former five-stars Williams and Spencer Rattler (now at South Carolina) left but the Sooners should be A-OK with former UCF quarterback Dillon Gabriel calling the shots in Norman. Only Ralph Rucker and receiver Mario Williams threw other passes for Oklahoma last season and Williams is off to USC as well.

Or LSU where Max Johnson left for Texas A&M after throwing for 2,815 yards and 27 touchdowns but the Tigers arguably upgraded by bringing in Arizona State transfer Jayden Daniels and then having a stable of other talented players behind him.

Quinn Ewers, the No. 1 prospect in the 2021 class who reclassified to go to college early, has already transferred from Ohio State to Texas. Williams was the No. 1 dual-threat in that same recruiting class.

In 2020, four-star quarterback Harrison Bailey has left Tennessee for UNLV. The No. 4 quarterback in that class Ethan Garbers has transferred from Washington to UCLA. There are other examples.

The only question is: Who’s next?

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2. FIVE TOUGHEST-TO-READ RECRUITMENTS

Brandon Inniss
Brandon Inniss (Nick Lucero/Rivals.com)

There are a lot of players that look headed in a certain direction in their recruitment but others who are still tough to read for numerous reasons whether they don’t talk much or there are still a lot of schools involved or other factors. Here’s a look at five of the biggest names in the 2023 class:

Brandon Inniss - The nation’s top receiver has a select group of programs he’s considering but his recruitment could still go many ways. Ohio State might have the edge right now - especially after he saw Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave get drafted in the first round - but Alabama is going to try hard, Miami is working on him, LSU has been mentioned and then playing for Lincoln Riley now at USC remains a serious possibility if distance wasn’t an issue.

Dante Moore - Notre Dame has been the programmentioned with Moore from the beginning and the Irish still have to love their chances. But former ND coach Brian Kelly is now at LSU and maybe playing in the South isn’t such a hang-up anymore. Oregon just had Moore in for an excellent visit and once the quarterback dominoes start falling there’s no telling if a surprise power program gets more involved.

Samuel M’Pemba - The St. Louis native has talked up Notre Dame for a long time and using him as an edge rusher or outside linebacker would transform the Irish defense especially if they keep fellow five-star Keon Keeley in the class which looks probable after his great visit to South Bend. But M’Pemba is now at Bradenton (Fla.) IMG Academy with Georgia, the Florida programs, Alabama and others not letting go easily. Plus, the five-star doesn’t say much so a surprise might be in store.

Nyckoles Harbor - Where Harbor ends up is anyone’s guess. It’s not even clear he has a definite set of front-runners yet with Maryland, Michigan, USC, Penn State and others all involved including programs across the Southeast. If there is one elite player where a prediction is near impossible right now it’s with Harbor, who is also a track star.

Francis Mauigoa - There was a lot of talk that Mauigoa, originally from American Samoa and played at San Bernardino (Calif.) Aquinas before heading to Bradenton (Fla.) IMG Academy, wanted to return West for college so his family could more easily see him play. USC shot to the top of his list and Oregon was always there. But now there is so much talk about Tennessee especially after five-star QB Nico Iamaleava from Long Beach (Calif.) Poly committed there and other SEC programs are involved, too. His return West doesn’t seem as certain now.

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3. FIVE FIVE-STAR CANDIDATES

Francis Mauigoa
Francis Mauigoa (Rivals.com)

There are no guarantees when it comes to new rankings but here are five players I’ll be watching as to whether they get a five-star ranking during our June meetings:

Francis Mauigoa - Five offensive tackles were taken in the first round of the NFL Draft last week and at least two it could be argued were reaches. There is currently only one five-star offensive tackle in the 2023 class in Kadyn Proctor but Mauigoa has the size, physical ability and toughness to at least be in the conversation.

Duce Robinson - Robinson has not done much this offseason but after seeing him last summer and through his junior year if there is a tight end that resembles former five-star O.J. Howard it’s the Phoenix Pinnacle prospect. He has awesome size, is a Florida State and Florida legacy so his parents are athletic people, he has an incredible build, great hands and he’s more of a jumbo receiver than a blocking tight end.

Rueben Owens II - I just wrote this week about the difficulty of naming five-star running backs because of their decreased value in the first round of the NFL Draft but Owens will be in the discussion - mainly because he’s an all-purpose back and there’s value there. He’s fast, elusive, can run and catch and is an interesting prospect in this class.

Zachariah Branch - There is no receiver as dynamic and sudden as Branch in this class and while he’s undersized, the NFL doesn’t mind that nearly as much anymore. Jameson Williams was really skinny in high school. Jahan Dotson measured 5-foot-11, 184 and was a first-round pick and Branch at least matches his elusiveness or tops it already.

Hykeem Williams - This might be the most interesting debate of all. The Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) Stranahan receiver played in seven games last season and had solid stats but not earth-shattering. However, this offseason he’s been highly impressive, he’s arguably the best-looking receiver from a physical standpoint in the class and he’s long and athletic.