Tuesdays with Gorney: Safety rankings may need to be shuffled
In a new weekly series, Rivals National Recruiting Director Adam Gorney offers his thoughts and opinions on recruiting topics and storylines that impact the national landscape:
FLORIDA STATE COMMIT DUE FOR BIG BUMP
After watching multiple clips from the Under Armour camp in Miami and comparing Nyjalik Kelly to many defensive ends ahead of him, it's pretty safe to say the Florida State commit is due for a serious bump the next time we update the rankings. The Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) Dillard standout is all of 6-foot-5 and 240 pounds but also super smooth and excellent off the edge. Maybe we just haven’t seen him enough in person before that camp but Kelly is clearly a dynamic prospect. With that length and that speed to get into the backfield, not many defensive ends look that good in this class.
THIS COULD BE THE REAL START TO FSU’S TURNAROUND
I started with the thought on Kelly to say this: Florida State’s 2022 class is phenomenal so far and it could really be the start of what needs to be a significant turnaround in Tallahassee to make the Seminoles national contenders again. Even with a strong close in 2021, FSU’s top-30 finish is not going to cut it especially as Clemson continues to dominate the conference. But in 2022, Kelly is very good, five-star Travis Hunter could have a legitimate argument as the best player in the country and getting high four-star Sam McCall, a former Florida commit, to pick the Seminoles was huge as well. Patience is needed because this will not be instantaneous but there is some positivity coming out of FSU from a recruiting standpoint that could start something special.
THE SAFETY RANKINGS COULD NEED A RESHUFFLE
I have nothing against the seven safeties ranked ahead of Pleasant Hill (Iowa) Southeast Polk’s Xavier Nwankpa but after his performance at Battle New Orleans this past weekend and just watching more of his film, the four-star has a very real argument to make a big move up in the rankings. A Rivals100 member already, we like Nwankpa a lot but maybe not enough since he not only had six interceptions in his junior season but is a physical, athletic star and looked great this past weekend.
QB DOMINOES CONTINUE
More quarterback dominoes are going to fall soon as things get even more interesting at the position. All the way from Gordo, Ala., four-star quarterback Tanner Bailey visited Oregon with his family recently and committed to the Ducks on Monday. Jacurri Brown is going to commit on March 26 with Miami and Florida among the front-runners. All the quarterbacks are coming off the board especially at pro-style but this could hasten others as well as spots dry up.
ND QUARTERBACK DOMINO EFFECT
I really found how Notre Dame’s quarterback situation played out was really interesting. The Irish offered Steve Angeli early but then over the last couple weeks, Notre Dame came after Medina, Ohio’s Drew Allar, who is heavily leaning to Penn State, which made the situation even more interesting. Was it a move to push Angeli to commit so the Irish could lock him up? Well, it worked because Angeli, who was probably going to pledge to the Irish at some point anyway, picked Notre Dame. That should solidify Allar to PSU - and it also leaves four-star dual-threat Gavin Wimsatt waiting in the wings. Notre Dame was once a player there but now Kentucky looks like the winner in the Wimsatt sweepstakes with Cincinnati, Rutgers and others involved.
THE CB DEBATE WILL BE INTERESTING
There are currently four five-star cornerbacks and then some really talented four-stars and no one is guaranteed that top spot even though Domani Jackson is a phenomenal prospect who is so physical and so competitive on every play. But Jaheim Singletary’s length and playmaking ability that he’s shown at numerous events including at Battle New Orleans this past weekend is really intriguing. Plus, Denver Harris and Will Johnson are very talented and could make an argument for themselves as well. I like Jackson but it’s probably because I’ve seen him more than the others but Singletary is one to watch.
WHO’S NO. 1 AT OFFENSIVE TACKLE?
The No. 1 offensive tackle in the 2022 class is Julian Armella, who had a good showing at the Under Armour Camp in Miami over the weekend but Southeast analyst Chad Simmons wrote that he had some struggles with speed off the edge and also had success on the interior line so right tackle could be his future spot. All this leads to an interesting question. Kam Dewberry is No. 2 but at 6-foot-4 and 313 pounds, is he an interior guy or a right tackle as well? Is Zach Rice No. 1? There is also a decent chance it could be Devon Campbell, who plays with a mean streak and moves really well at the position. The Arlington (Texas) Bowie standout just moved to five-star but could be moving up higher because there will be lots of debate at offensive tackle.
I LIKE WHAT SAM PITTMAN IS DOING
There is only one four-star commit among Arkansas’ six pledges but coach Sam Pittman is working from the inside out, getting a bunch of top local prospects and more could be coming soon. Three-star offensive lineman Andrew Chamblee from Maumelle, Ark., and three-star running back James Jointer from Little Rock (Ark.) Parkview committed over the weekend and the backfield looks strong along with the recent commitment of four-star running back Rashod Dubinion. Former four-star offensive lineman Ty’Kieast Crawford is also transferring in as the offensive line should get some immediate help. I don’t think an SEC title is right around the corner but there’s a chance to get Isaiah Sategna (although Texas A&M could be tough to beat), four-star offensive lineman E’Marion Harris and others from the state to make the Razorbacks have an impact in the SEC West.
CLEMSON CAN GO ANYWHERE
I continue to be struck by just how much success Clemson has had recruiting nationally and how it could pay off again in the 2022 class. This isn’t just the Tigers going into the Southeast but into Southern California to get D.J. Uiagalelei or Beaux Collins and now it looks like Clemson is the leader for Spearman, Texas, four-star athlete Brenen Thompson. Rated No. 42 nationally, Thompson’s hometown has a population of about 3,300 and a search says Spearman is known for its collection of windmills. But Clemson has targeted Thompson and even though Oklahoma, Texas and others are involved it feels like the Tigers will be tough to beat just out of Clemson’s reach to go anywhere for top players.
TUIMOLOAU ON OFFENSE?
Since J.T. Tuimoloau has not signed anywhere yet - and might not for a while until he can take visits to his top schools, which might not be possible for months - it seems relevant to talk about him in this space. Over the weekend, there was a viral video of Tuimoloau playing tight end in his high school game catching a pass over the middle and then outrunning defenders for a 39-yard touchdown. He is a very talented defensive lineman and that could be his long-term position but he could seriously be one of the better tight ends in the 2021 class and I wouldn’t be surprised if he gets some run there in college. Ohio State, Alabama, Oregon, Washington and USC are his top five.