Tuesdays with Gorney: Looking at the 2023 crop of cornerbacks
There are a lot of interesting storylines and movement when it comes to the loaded 2023 crop of cornerbacks. In this week’s Tuesdays with Gorney, national recruiting director Adam Gorney shares his thoughts on the position, what he thinks of the rankings and where he sees these players ending up:
COMMITMENT BREAKDOWN: Justyn Rhett commits to Georgia
CLASS OF 2023 RANKINGS: Rivals250 | Team | Position | State
CLASS OF 2024 RANKINGS: Rivals250 | Team | Position | State
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FIRST, THOUGHTS ON THE GROUP
Cormani McClain is the No. 1 cornerback in the 2023 class and an argument could be made that he’s the best cornerback prospect since Eli Ricks in 2020 or Derek Stingley Jr. in 2019.
The Lakeland (Fla.) Lake Gibson prospect has nice size, is so incredibly smooth and his instincts are just beyond measure when it comes to anyone else in this class. A quiet kid off the field, McClain has a burning competitiveness when he steps between the lines and that’s also impressive to watch.
Trusting his eyes, breaking on the ball, getting his hand in there to knock passes away, running with receivers, timing, the ability to pick passes off (that knack reminds me of Ricks who picked everything off when anybody tested his side of the field) are all top-notch for McClain and that’s why it will be tough for anyone to move him off that No. 1 spot at the position.
After McClain, things could go in a lot of different directions.
AJ Harris is very talented and physical plus he’s a great communicator on the field so he’s currently in the second spot but others could push him. Javien Toviano will be in that conversation and then Alabama commit Jahlil Hurley and Texas A&M pledge Bravion Rogers have not been on the national scene much so this summer could give them more exposure.
NOW TO THE RECRUITING PART
For months, it seemed like Alabama and Ohio State were battling it out for McClain, currently the only five-star in the class, but now it looks like the Crimson Tide are trying to hold off Florida after the Gators have made monumental strides in his recruitment recently.
Coach Billy Napier and position coach Corey Raymond have made up a ton of ground in McClain’s recruitment who only about a month ago didn’t seem to be feeling Florida all that much. That has significantly changed and the Gators are absolutely right there with Alabama at this point.
What’s really interesting is that Florida is now considered the clear front-runner in Harris’ recruitment and if the Gators could pull off the top two cornerbacks in the country that would be huge in their 2023 recruiting haul. Georgia, North Carolina and others are in the mix but Florida looks like the team to beat for the Phenix City (Ala.) Central standout.
Texas A&M has to like its spot with Arlington (Texas) Martin’s Javien Toviano but Texas and LSU should be two others to watch right now as there are some Baylor rumors mixed in as well. Tony Mitchell from Alabaster (Ala.) Thompson is definitely an interesting one because he’s said Texas A&M is the new front-runner but he’s shown a lot of interest in Florida and Georgia recently, Alabama is sticking around for sure and now Auburn seems to be making a serious run at him with a visit there this past weekend.
Alabama commit Jahlil Hurley is also an intriguing one to watch. He might be the most undervalued cornerback in this class mainly because the Florence, Ala., four-star just hasn’t been to many elite-level events over the years so getting a comparison to McClain, Harris and others has not been easy. But a source told me over the weekend that his family are Auburn fans and he did visit The Plains this past weekend so the Tigers are 100 percent involved in this recruitment as well.
LSU could be making a run at Texas A&M commit Bravion Rogers but that flip is hard to believe especially since La Grange, Texas, is about 90 minutes from College Station and the Aggies are rolling. Getting Toviano and keeping Rogers along with four-star pledge Jayvon Thomas would be another amazing haul.
With Justyn Rhett’s commitment Monday to Georgia, there is a very real chance the top seven cornerbacks in the class end up in the SEC. That has never even come close to happening in the history of Rivals dating back to 2002.