In his weekly series, Rivals National Recruiting Director Adam Gorney offers his thoughts and opinions on recruiting topics and storylines that impact the national landscape.
CLASS OF 2023 RANKINGS: Rivals100
RIVALS CAMP SERIES: Info/coverage on 2021 camp series
NO. 1 CORNER UP FOR DEBATE
There are four five-star cornerbacks and then some very talented high four-stars behind them and the more I look at this position, the more debate there is going to be about which one is the best in the 2022 class. I say that because over the weekend, five-star Domani Jackson made some impressive plays but also had some trouble containing four-star receiver Tetairoa McMillan in their matchup. Jaheim Singletary is the one I’m watching most but Will Johnson is really intriguing as well and I wouldn’t count out some of those high four-star recruits surging, either.
***** FLORIDA PROSPECTS LOVE CLEMSON
Clemson had its spring game over the weekend and a handful of prospects from Florida were there. If things stay on trend, the Tigers are going to do very well in the Sunshine State landing prospects in the 2022 and 2023 classes.
Kissimmee (Fla.) Osceola 2023 defensive end Derrick LeBlanc told me the Tigers are definitely one of his top choices now and the way he felt welcomed on campus was something special. He came to campus with 2023 four-star offensive lineman Payton Kirkland from Orlando (Fla.) Dr. Phillips and Kirkland had similar sentiments, that Clemson is now a major player in his recruitment even though the Tigers haven’t offered yet. I haven’t gotten word back from 2022 four-star defensive backs Ryan Turner and Daylen Everette yet but both are very high on Clemson as well.
***** I LIKE GEORGIA MORE THAN EVER FOR ROBINSON
Georgia has been pegged as the front-runner for the nation’s top running back, Madison (Miss.) Germantown’s Branson Robinson, and after the release of his top list, I think the Bulldogs are in better shape than ever. Some have compared Robinson to Nick Chubb at the same stage and while that’s heady company, I can see why. Alabama wants to see him this summer, LSU has lots of other targets, Tennessee seems like a long shot and Clemson just offered. Georgia is sitting pretty right now for another elite running back.
***** SEC PROGRAMS LEADING FOR NOLEN
LSU, Alabama, Michigan, Georgia, Florida, Oregon, Ohio State and USC made the cut for five-star defensive tackle Walter Nolen and there could be a legitimate case made for almost every program on his list but the feeling is that the SEC schools have the best shot at landing him. I’ve been told there are some schools outside that conference that are skeptical he will leave the South and while they remain hopeful especially if he visits, it’s definitely guarded optimism. I’m not counting out Michigan or Ohio State ever but I think LSU, Alabama, Georgia and Florida could be battling it out until the end.
***** SURPRISED AUBURN BACKED OFF SHOR
Under the old coaching staff, it looked like a near lock that four-star offensive lineman Dayne Shor would end up at Auburn. He has family connections there. He talked highly of the Tigers throughout his early recruitment. It just looked like it was going to happen. But the Alpharetta (Ga.) King’s Ridge Christian standout told me last week that he has not yet talked with new position coach Will Friend and now he’s set his visit schedule and Auburn’s not on it. I can’t blame coach Bryan Harsin and his staff for prioritizing who they think would fit their new system best, it’s just surprising Shor looks headed elsewhere.
***** FLORIDA STATE’S SPRING GAME LIST IS INSANE
I’m not saying Florida State is back to being national contenders because of one spring game list but the quantity and quality of elite talent coming to Tallahassee for that event is one of the best I’ve seen in recent years. A.J. Duffy, Jaylon Glover, Richard Young, Treyaun Webb, Hykeem Williams, Brandon Inniss, Julian Armella, Shemar Stewart, Gabe Dindy, the list really does go on and on and on. Contact will be limited with the coaches but the job they’ve done to compile this list of talent and show all these top 2022 and 2023 guys the program’s direction really says something. The Seminoles are trending in the right direction.
***** GOODWIN HEADING TO THE SEC?
High four-star offensive lineman Kiyaunta Goodwin released his top five recently with Kentucky, Ohio State, Michigan State, Clemson and Alabama making the cut but many feel this will end up being a battle between the Wildcats and Buckeyes – and UK could hold the edge.
The Kentucky staff is super close with Goodwin and the people around him, Wan’Dale Robinson transferring to Lexington could play a role because of a connection to their trainer and I’ve been told it’s almost inevitable that Goodwin will end up in Lexington. That would be a huge recruiting win for coach Mark Stoops because Goodwin is massive and has special qualities as an offensive lineman.
***** VERY STRONG PENN STATE CLASS
Penn State fans have to love the start of this 2022 recruiting class for the Nittany Lions as they’re ranked seventh nationally but would be a spot higher (ahead of Texas A&M) if the rankings were based solely on average star ranking. Seven of the eight early commitments are four-stars and Penn State has once again won in-state recruiting battles for top players.
I also think three-star quarterback commit Drew Allar, who picked Penn State over Notre Dame and others, should get four-star consideration the more we see him through the recruiting process. Last cycle was just OK for Penn State but the Nittany Lions are loading up quickly in 2022.
***** RYAN DAY’S INCREDIBLE RECRUITING
When Ryan Day took over for Urban Meyer, I said it was crazy to think this but it felt like Ohio State was getting a fresh start on the field and in recruiting and things have only ramped up from there. After Day’s first class in 2019, which we will give him a pass for since it wasn’t a full recruiting cycle, Ohio State has signed or landed commitments from nine five-star prospects.
Only Georgia with 10 has had more during that three-year stretch. Alabama has nine as well, Clemson is at seven, LSU has five and Oklahoma is at four. It’s clear Day is building a roster poised to win a national title and pump players into the NFL.
***** CAMPS COULD MEAN CHANGES IN RANKINGS
The Rivals Camp Series starts this weekend in Dallas and I’m excited about our six stops. This past year has been incredibly difficult for so many but also for people in our industry since evaluation opportunities have been so limited especially in specific parts of the country.
That’s going to change over the next few months as we see so many top-ranked (and under-ranked) players at our events. By no means do players get any special privileges by attending a Rivals camp but it certainly helps performing well since our staff is there to compare and contrast the elite athletes in one setting, and get a much better feel for all the prospects in attendance. It’s going to be interesting and with camps back it’s inevitable that significant changes could be coming to the rankings as well.