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.
MYKEL WILLIAMS’ SITUATION IS INTERESTING
I’ve been really intrigued following Mykel Williams’ recruitment and how it has played out in recent weeks. The Columbus (Ga.) Hardaway five-star defensive end had a commitment date in mind and it looked like he was a lock for Georgia but then he decided to hold off on making a pledge and said he wasn’t going to commit until he was absolutely sure.
Now he’s planning to take officials to USC and Georgia Tech and Georgia should also get a visit as well. Michael Trigg was a 2021 signee of the Trojans and he’s Williams’ step-brother so that could be a link and Georgia Tech surprises me. I still believe Georgia is in very good shape here but the longer it goes the more interesting it gets.
RALEEK BROWN COMPARISON
I’m not someone who makes outlandish or wild comparisons and I despise when every quarterback is the next Tom Brady or Peyton Manning but I’m going to make an outlandish and wild comparison now: Oklahoma commit Raleek Brown has some Barry Sanders in him. Brown’s junior season opener was this past weekend and I was on the sidelines and he’s just different with the ball in his hands. Three defenders close on him and he makes two quick moves and he gets by all of them. He runs into the line of scrimmage, looks like he’s swallowed up and then he squirts away for a big gain.
Brown has all the moves, all the shake that Sanders had and of course he’s not on that level but they play the game similarly. And there might not be a better coach in the country to maximize that ability than Oklahoma’s Lincoln Riley.
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EVAN STEWART/NICK EVERS CONNECTION
This past weekend, Nick Evers and Evan Stewart played in another 7-on-7 tournament together and I can’t help but think it’s going to be a big boost in recruiting. Evers is a high three-star quarterback from Flower Mound, Texas, and is actively recruiting Stewart and others to join him at Florida.
Stewart has lots of SEC suitors including the Gators, Texas A&M and others after he backed off his Texas pledge. Some think he ends up back with the Longhorns but Florida is definitely an interesting option since playing in coach Dan Mullen’s offense is intriguing and developing chemistry with Evers could be even more important.
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JUNE IS GOING TO BE WILD
Programs are starting to book official visits for June – Florida and West Virginia have been particularly active so far – and it feels like that month is going to be completely wild on the recruiting trail. The summer is usually some down time between camps and the 7-on-7 circuit and the upcoming season but with COVID-19 changing everything this year, June is going to be incredibly busy for everyone involved.
There’s no doubt lots of commitments will be coming after prospects take official visits, there will be a lot more offers sent out that month and that inevitably means it could be the new decommitment season as well. Buckle up because June is not that far away.
FLORIDA STATE COMING BACK
I got in a disagreement with Mike Farrell on the Godfather & Gorney podcast last week about Florida State because Farrell believes the Seminoles are still very, very far away from competing in the ACC and for spots in the College Football Playoff again and I took the other side.
Yes, Florida State has been very bad and don’t look close but recruiting is seeing a huge uptick in 2022 and this could be the start of the tide turning. FSU has the eighth-best class right now led by do-it-all five-star Travis Hunter and then Sam McCall, Nyjalik Kelly and others are game-changers as well. The Seminoles won’t play for a national title tomorrow and there are still major holes to fill but Mike Norvell has the program going the right way if he’s given time to rebuild it.
DUFFY MAKING THINGS INTERESTING
Only one of the top 13 pro-style quarterbacks in the 2022 class remains uncommitted and it’s A.J. Duffy, who recently transferred from Moreno Valley (Calif.) Rancho Verde to Bradenton (Fla.) IMG Academy. The four-star has a top list but it looks like Arizona State, Florida State and Michigan State are the front-runners and a decision has been scheduled for the end of the month.
There is some chatter that Duffy could hold off longer since he’s torn between those three programs but we will see. The Sun Devils remain a serious contender but I get the feeling he’s legitimately interested in both the Seminoles and the Spartans as well and doesn’t want to rush.
MOVING PARTS AT TIGHT END
There was a Fact or Fiction last week that asked if the top four tight ends in the 2022 class – Oscar Delp, Jake Johnson, Jaleel Skinner and Donovan Green – would all end up in the SEC, which would be a real coup for the conference. I still think so as Delp just scheduled a really important visit to Georgia in June and Green is already committed to Texas A&M.
Johnson is a curious one, though, since his brother plays at LSU but Clemson has been linked to him as well. And Skinner has had Florida as his leader (and a commitment to the Gators could be close) but Clemson is coming on strong for him as well. Could three Southeast tight ends all say no to Clemson? I find it hard to believe but I also see a path that they all go to the SEC.
Keyan Burnett made a play in his team’s season opener that was eerily similar to DK Metcalf’s when he ran the length of the field to make a tackle after a turnover. The USC commit who is 6-foot-5 and 210 pounds (exactly Metcalf’s measurables in high school) sprinted down the field after a fumble to make the tackle inside the 10-yard line which showed not only his speed but also his competitive nature to not give up on the play.
Will Burnett turn into a physical specimen like Metcalf? Probably not. But he’s another hybrid receiver/tight end who has size, can fill out into his body and should be a huge mismatch problem in the Trojans’ offense.
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PROCTOR IS SOMETHING SPECIAL
We are starting the 2023 class rankings soon and going through tape, Kadyn Proctor stands out in a major way. The 6-foot-7, 300-pound offensive tackle from Pleasant Hill (Iowa) Southeast Polk is so physical and unforgiving to any defensive lineman that challenges him but he’s also very mobile, light on his feet and he can get to the second level to block downfield, too.
This is going to be a long process and a lot will be worked out positionally but Proctor is definitely one of the best 2023 offensive tackles nationally.
ALSTON ON RECLASSIFYING
There was a report that Damari Alston is being pushed by Auburn to reclassify to the 2021 class and that way he could be on the field for the Tigers this fall. It was under serious consideration but after talking it over with his family, the College Park (Ga.) Woodward Academy standout said he’s leaning toward staying in the 2022 class.
I don’t know if that’s a reflection against Auburn in his recruitment or that he doesn’t want to rush out of high school but the Tigers definitely took their shot on trying to get Alston to consider it. Ohio State and Georgia Tech are two programs high on the list as well as others. It was an interesting pitch but it looks like Alston will pass.