{{ timeAgo('2022-09-08 07:09:37 -0500') }} football Edit

Three-Point Stance: SEC race, Florida State's win, Tennessee-Pitt

T.J. Shanahan, Jr.
T.J. Shanahan, Jr. (Nick Lucero/Rivals.com)

Rivals national recruiting analyst Ryan Wright has thoughts on Texas A&M's recent recruiting momentum, Florida State's win over LSU and a big game between Tennessee and Pitt.


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SEC RECRUITING RACE GETTING INTERESTING

Tennessee and Arkansas jumped out early on their SEC counterparts in the 2023 team recruiting rankings but then gave way to a massive movement by Alabama. The Crimson Tide picked up eight commitments in July with another five in August to take the No. 1 spot in the nation. As Alabama made its move, so did LSU and Florida, working their way into the top-10.

Now Texas A&M is making its long-awaited move with eyes on winning another recruiting rankings title.

In mid-July, the Aggies were ranked 60th with just five commitments. Texas A&M closed out the month adding three recruits, four-star offensive lineman Chase Bisontis, five-star linebacker Anthony Hill and four-star athlete Dalton Brooks. August saw three-stars Samu Tamanupepe and Naquil Betrand commit, and the fireworks got going again in September with four-star defensive back Bravion Rogers and five-star offensive lineman TJ Shanahan Jr. jumping on board. The Aggies are now ranked No. 21 nationally making big strides toward the top 10, much to the chagrin of their SEC peers

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WHAT'S IN A WIN? EVERYTHING.

Mike Norvell
Mike Norvell (USA Today Sports Images)

Down 38-20 entering the fourth quarter to then-No. 9 Notre Dame, Florida State roared back a year ago and sent the game to overtime with a last-minute 43-yard field goal from Ryan Fitzgerald. The hero in one minute, the goat in another, Fitzgerald missed a 37-yarder in overtime to give the Fighting Irish a 41-38 win. The emotional toll of the game hung over the Seminoles for three more games before claiming a win the first weekend in October against Syracuse. Had Florida State held on to beat Notre Dame, would the rest of the 2021 season had played out differently? Would the 2022 recruiting class finished higher than No. 17?

The Seminoles held a commanding 24-10 lead in the early part of the fourth quarter against LSU, but the Tigers stormed back and set up the possibility for overtime. History was seemingly about to repeat itself, but a blocked PAT sealed the win for Florida State. That win gives head coach Mike Norvell and his staff a chance to start a new season off with positive momentum.

The win is already changing perceptions among recruits giving the Seminoles extra juice on the recruiting trail. The Seminoles have an early bye coming in Week 2 giving extra time to heal up and refocus for a road trip to Louisville. Time will tell how the Seminoles react from the big win against LSU; might this win propel FSU to its first winning season since 2017? Might this win help the Seminoles jump from outside the Rivals top 15 team rankings into the mix with the top programs? This has the feel of a turning point for Florida State.

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RESPECT EARNED, NOT GIVEN

Patt Narduzzi
Patt Narduzzi (USA Today Sports Images)

Two teams looking for respect will meet Saturday at Acrisure Stadium when Tennessee travels to Pitt for an SEC vs. ACC showdown. Both are proud programs looking to reestablish themselves among college football’s elite.

There may not be a fanbase wanting it more than Tennessee’s. For decades, the Volunteers were a winning program that regularly challenged for national championships. The end of the Phillip Fulmer era effectively ended Tennessee’s run. But hope has reemerged on Rocky Top with Josh Heupel in town. Tennessee ended the 2021 campaign with a 7-6 mark, with three losses coming by a combined 15 points.

The Johnny Majors into Jackie Sherrill eras at Pitt in the late 70s and early 80s gave the Panther faithful a taste of winning at an elite level year after year. If Pat Narduzzi has been anything, he’s been a consistent winner looking to get over the proverbial hump. The 2021 season may have been that hurdle-clearing year producing an 11-3 record that included a 41-34 win over Tennessee, a conference title and a berth in the Peach Bowl.

Bragging rights, a recruiting boost and respect are on the line come Saturday.

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