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:
HUNTER DOMINATES AGAIN
I was getting ready to cover the Bellflower (Calif.) St. John Bosco season opener on Saturday night and was watching clips of Travis Hunter completely dominate another event at the Atlanta Pylon 7v7. We saw him a few weeks ago playing for Fast Houston at the Pylon in Bullhead City, Ariz., and his athleticism is completely off the charts. I wrote then that it looks like he plays the game on a pogo stick because he’s so bouncy and dynamic and his competitive drive is outstanding. He would be a five-star at receiver or defensive back and it feels like No. 12 nationally is just way too low for the Florida State commitment.
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WATCH OUT FOR … RUTGERS?
The last three commitments for Rutgers have been four-star prospects and none bigger than four-star receiver Amarion Brown from Stuart (Fla.) Martin County, whose relationship with position coach Tiquan Underwood beat out Florida and others for his services. Oregon, Virginia Tech, Mississippi State and Pitt were also high on his list. After getting Brown and four-star defenders Kenny Fletcher and Anthony Johnson, coach Greg Schiano is also very much in the picture to land Rivals100 quarterback Gavin Wimsatt along with four-star RB Samuel Brown and others. It’s too early to say Schiano will have any level of success like his first go-round at Rutgers but the Scarlet Knights are doing a phenomenal job on the recruiting trail.
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MAALIK MURPHY THOUGHTS
Maalik Murphy is ranked No. 48 nationally and he’s already committed to Texas but the one reservation we had on the Gardena (Calif.) Serra four-star quarterback was his limited experience on the varsity level heading into this season. He has been phenomenal in camp and 7-on-7 settings but on Friday night in Serra’s season opener against Long Beach (Calif.) Poly, Murphy had an uneven performance with two touchdowns and two interceptions. Serra is not loaded with elite playmakers and that’s part of the issue but Murphy’s accuracy has been called into question as well. One game does not make a season but in-game performance matters most and we will look for Murphy to improve.
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CHRIS HAWKINS DOING WORK
At Arizona State, coach Herm Edwards knows how to close, Antonio Pierce, Prentice Gill and that entire staff do a great job recruiting but defensive backs coach Chris Hawkins has had an unreal start to the 2022 class. And he’s not just locking up local recruits. Hawkins was very involved in landing four-star safety Alfonzo Allen and three-star safety Jaylin Marshall both from Hallandale, Fla., and had a hand with four-star Larry Turner-Gooden, who picked the Sun Devils over USC and many others. Three of four Arizona State’s early commitments are defensive backs so Hawkins has been really busy.
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LIVINGSTON IS WHAT WE LOOK FOR
In the evaluation process, falling in love with massive, filled-out offensive linemen seems sensible but it could also be a trap. Studying the last many NFL Drafts, a lot of early picks along the offensive line either played tight end or another position in high school and many were definitely not complete prospects when they went to college. Tony Livingston, the new Florida commit, definitely fits the bill. Currently ranked as a four-star tight end, the 6-foot-6, 265-pound prospect will probably play on the offensive line for the Gators and with his athletic ability and a frame that could easily add more weight, Livingston will be one to watch as someone who could emerge as a special player in the SEC.
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NEXT STEPS AFTER HENDERSON’S COMMITMENT
Ranked as the third-best running back in the 2022 class, Emmanuel Henderson came off the board this weekend when he picked Alabama and that could have a domino effect with other running backs along the way. The Crimson Tide are also involved with the top-ranked RB Branson Robinson from Madison (Miss.) Germantown but Georgia and others are as well. One to watch could be four-star Kaytron Allen, the top running back at Bradenton (Fla.) IMG Academy. Competition at running back is encouraged at Alabama and Henderson is a very nice start to the class at that position.
NO TOP PROGRAM FOR SKINNER
It was interesting to see that four-star tight end Jaleel Skinner said this past weekend that Florida is no longer his leader and that he’s considering all schools again, a few days after three-star tight end CJ Hawkins committed to the Gators. When I talked to Skinner at the All-American Combine in San Antonio more than a year ago he said that if Clemson offered his recruitment might be over because that was the dream school. Florida is still making him a massive priority in this class and Skinner is emerging as one of the top tight ends nationally so my understanding is that Florida still looks best in his recruitment and that the Gators might even get a commitment soon. If that doesn’t happen, watch out for Clemson more.
GEORGIA LEADING FOR TOP RB?
When I traded messages with Branson Robinson this past weekend, he said Georgia, Oregon, LSU, Alabama and Tennessee are recruiting him the hardest and that Henderson’s commitment to the Crimson Tide won’t negatively impact his thinking with that program. But I have to think the Bulldogs are in a great position with Robinson since he looks like a Nick Chubb clone and that could be a big selling point. Others are trying very hard but Georgia has made him a priority and the feeling could be mutual.
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WILLIAMS SLOWS DOWN
I heard a rumor this past weekend that five-star defensive end Mykel Williams slowed down his recruitment mainly because USC has been pushing very hard for him and that could definitely be interesting but I have to think Georgia still looks the best for the Columbus (Ga.) Hardaway standout. Williams told me he wasn’t going to commit unless he was 100 percent certain on making his pledge. If he visits USC, watch out for the Trojans, but the Bulldogs rarely lose players at his level from in-state.
CASTELLANOS TO UCF IS INTERESTING
After Florida State recently offered Thomas Castellanos, it looked like the Seminoles were going to land his commitment. The Waycross (Ga.) Ware County three-star dual-threat quarterback who put up big numbers through the air and on the ground last season has been to Florida State, his cousin is Devonta Freeman and Castellanos seemed to like the big-time nature of the program. So his commitment Monday morning to UCF came as a surprise but it’s a huge win for first-year coach Gus Malzahn, who has the offensive mind to squeeze out every ounce of ability in Castellanos’ game. In some ways, picking UCF makes more sense and this is a big commitment for Malzahn’s future on offense.
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