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Tuesdays with Gorney: Takeaways from the Elite 11, OT7 Nationals

Julian Sayin
Julian Sayin

Rivals national recruiting director Adam Gorney was at the Elite 11 and the OT7 Nationals in recent days and he has a lot of takeaways and thoughts in this week’s Tuesdays With Gorney:


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Can Julian Sayin be No. 1?

Sayin won the Elite 11. He then drove about 30 miles down the road to OT7 Nationals and was arguably the best player at that event, too. So what’s holding us back from making the Alabama five-star quarterback commit the No. 1 player in the class? Probably nothing but it’s going to be a conversation to be had for the next rankings meeting.

The Carlsbad, Calif., prospect is already No. 4 nationally so Sayin is incredibly well thought of in this recruiting class and while he’s not the most physically gifted or the most athletic quarterback, he might just be the best overall player with a competitive drive that is very high but does not come across as arrogant.

My prediction: Sayin goes to play for the Crimson Tide, doesn’t freak out if he doesn’t get the starting job from Day 1, learns the playbook, earns the trust of coach Nick Saban very quickly and thrives in Tuscaloosa. Over the last week, Sayin proved to be elite.

Is he No. 1? We will determine that as the recruiting calendar goes on.



Five-star QBs after Elite 11

Right now, Dylan Raiola, Sayin and Jadyn Davis are the three five-star quarterbacks in the 2024 class. The Elite 11 – although it’s only one event – is super important because it’s truly the only apples-to-apples comparison until the all-star events. After seeing them compete together at the event, my vote for five-stars would be Raiola, Sayin and Ohio State commit Air Noland.

Davis is talented but I don’t see a five-star quarterback there. Perhaps there could be a conversation around Florida commit DJ Lagway. His throwing motion is quirky although his physical features do make him elite.

Notre Dame pledge CJ Carr is also definitely in the conversation after a solid – if not spectacular – Elite 11 showing.


Takeaways on Raiola

There was a very worthwhile argument that could have been made last recruiting cycle that Nico Iamaleava and Dante Moore were better quarterbacks than Arch Manning. It was an incredibly difficult evaluation cycle because Manning just didn’t show up to any national events. At some point we just had to trust our limited in-person evaluations and the family lineage and go with our gut.

That same scenario is not playing out this recruiting cycle because No. 1 Dylan Raiola has not hidden from anybody and he also has a super competitive drive that should be really welcomed inside the Georgia locker room.

But is he the clear-cut No. 1 player in the country? The Phoenix (Ariz.) Pinnacle quarterback had a very strong showing at Elite 11 and was clearly the No. 1 guy if not for Sayin's incredible showing. Raiola looked especially good during the all-important Pro Day segment where quarterbacks are put through a gauntlet of throws.

What I liked even more about Raiola? On the final day of the event, the five-star quarterback struggled during the accuracy competition where the QBs have to hit set targets. Instead of brushing it off as nothing, Raiola approached me and another reporter genuinely bummed that he didn’t perform well. That level of caring from an arbitrary contest is telling: The kid cares about being great.



Don’t sleep on Kromenhoek

Luke Kromenhoek
Luke Kromenhoek

Three or four years from now, as Luke Kromenhoek gets more seasoning, the Florida State commit could be one of the better quarterbacks from the 2024 class.

The high three-star (that should change in the next rankings cycle) has not played quarterback long. He just got his first start there last season at Savannah (Ga.) Benedictine Military School.

Despite finishing last in the Elite 11 Pro Day (which is really the most important part of the whole event) I left leaving the event feeling like his upside is really high, that he throws a really nice and catchable ball and he has sneaky athleticism to really thrive in coach Mike Norvell’s offense. He’s also very competitive and has tons of talent so not only should he move to four-star status, he has the tools to be really special in this class.



Jackson could be really special

After four-star Elijah Brown committed to Stanford over the weekend, Trever Jackson is now the only Elite 11 quarterback who has not picked a school yet. Whichever one gets the Winter Garden (Fla.) West Orange three-star will be getting someone with unique abilities who could move way higher in this class.

Right now, it feels like Pitt could be the team to beat but Maryland just offered and Miami is very much in the picture as well. Of all the quarterbacks there, Jackson timed up with his receivers and threw with incredible anticipation to them during the Pro Day. He missed on some deep balls though which speaks to the refinement he still needs to find over time.


Smith and then what at WR?

After Jeremiah Smith – who is the top receiver in the class without question – the wide receiver position becomes muddled and there could be a tremendous amount of movement along the way.

There are lots of Texas Tech rumors swirling around five-star Micah Hudson and he’s a very talented kid but hasn’t done any national events this offseason and we might not see him at that level until the all-star games. Fellow five-star Ryan Wingo has a similar story and I’m not entirely sold on him this high anyway.

There are a list of players to watch though: Cam Coleman, Clemson commit Bryant Wesco, Georgia pledge Ny Carr, speedy Gatlin Bair, Ohio State pledge Mylan Graham (who also looked the part catching balls at Elite 11 and OT7) and new Tennessee commit Boo Carter are all in the running. Five-star Joshisa Trader is also one to watch and might be at risk of a bump down but that is yet to be determined.


Georgia loading up with pass-catchers

The final frontier for Georgia might be landing elite pass-catchers such as Alabama has in years past and Ohio State continues to do.

Tight end recruiting has been phenomenal and now the back-to-back national champions are getting elite receivers as well with Ny Carr and NiTareon Tuggle committed. Carr has shined at numerous recent events and Tuggle was definitely impressive at OT7 as a big receiver with length and physicality who should have no issues in the SEC.

But the one the Georgia media is hyping up is four-star tight end Carter Nelson, who has drawn Brock Bowers comparisons after working out in Athens. Raiola’s dad has talked Nelson up to me and apparently he more than looked the part at Georgia this summer.

From tiny Ainsworth, Neb., in the North Central part of the state, Nelson plays 8-man football in high school but has the size and athletic ability to be special. If Georgia could hold off Nebraska and Notre Dame for him, watch out.


Underwood will have competition as No. 1 QB

Bryce Underwood is the No. 1 quarterback in the 2025 class and he’s a really talented player but there is going to be significant pressure on him to stay in that top spot because I’m not crazy about his mechanics after seeing him at OT7 in Las Vegas last summer and during some clips of a recent camp workout in Detroit.

Plus, there are just other really talented quarterbacks in this class and my bet is that new Texas commit KJ Lacey is the best of the bunch behind Underwood for now. I despise making these lofty comps but he has a little Bryce Young in his game and Alabama is trying to flip him hard. George MacIntyre is also really good and has the size and athleticism to back it up and I loved what I saw from lefty Deuce Knight at OT7 this past week since he throws such an effortless and easy ball.


Lots of tight end talk at Elite 11

The Elite 11 is a quarterback event but a lot of high-end tight ends were out there as well catching balls and none more highly-rated than Florida State commit Landen Thomas. He didn’t put in as much work as 2023 No. 1 tight end Duce Robinson (who basically went every other rep working out with the QBs and USC’s Caleb Williams who threw a lot of passes that night) but Thomas looked great and so smooth for a big tight end.

After seeing him in person, USC commit Walter Matthews feels low at No. 15 even in a loaded tight end class. He’s a legit 6-foot-7 and while he’s not a burner, definitely moves well for that size. I also very much liked Penn State pledge Luke Reynolds, who ran an inordinate amount of reps during the Elite 11 Pro Day and had zero drops.


Patterson not up high enough?

There are now four five-stars in the state of Florida in Smith, Bradenton (Fla.) IMG Academy DT David Stone, Trader and Hollywood (Fla.) Chaminade Madonna’s Zaquan Patterson, which would amazingly put him as the third five-star on his own team.

But I don’t think Patterson - who projects as a safety but could move down to outside linebacker if needed or even play receiver - is high enough. After seeing him again at OT7, Patterson looks like a college football player already and his versatility is a massive bonus. If I was the only one in charge of the rankings, I’d move Patterson to second in the state of Florida.