In his weekly series, Rivals National Recruiting Director Adam Gorney offers his thoughts on recruiting topics and storylines that impact the national landscape.
ALEXANDER BIG FOR ALABAMA
After every Power Five commitment, it’s important to review film of those players to think about their ranking and how they fit into the scheme and Jeremiah Alexander is a really talented and versatile prospect.
The former Alabama pledge picked the Crimson Tide a second time over Clemson and others and he’s the state’s top prospect out of Alabaster (Ala.) Thompson. He’s also the top weak-side defensive end in the country but he feels too low at No. 62 nationally.
Alexander can do it all. He’s physical, he hits, he chases down the ball carrier, he times up plays well, he covers ground and he’s that elite edge rusher that Alabama has been so good at developing over the years. I want to see him at the all-star events after his senior season but on film, Alexander looks a lot like Will Anderson at the same stage.
NELSON COMMITMENT COMING
Malachi Nelson is expected to commit on July 18 and Oklahoma is definitely a front-runner in his recruitment, a perfect fit for the 2023 five-star quarterback who has a really live arm and should be perfect in coach Lincoln Riley’s offense. He’s a blend of all the good ones – great arm, athletic but doesn’t need to run a ton, dynamic, explosive playmaker and all that.
The Trojans got burned when Bryce Young decommitted and then went to Alabama and I understand that USC has to make sure it’s doing its duty to get the right quarterback in the class but one wonders if USC just gambled and stuck with only offering Nelson if he would have ended up in its class. It would have been a huge risk with Oklahoma looming but maybe one that would’ve been worth taking.
ARCH MANNING’S SUMMER
I liked Lebbeus Overton at the Rivals Five-Star Challenge and liked his burst off the snap and his aggressive nature but he’s not absolutely locked in as the No. 1 prospect in the 2023 class and there will be a debate later this summer when those rankings are readjusted.
One name that’s going to be discussed is New Orleans (La.) Isidore Newman five-star quarterback Arch Manning, who threw at numerous programs this summer and was very impressive.
I talked to two people who saw Manning throw at Clemson and they both said that he was amazing and had an outstanding performance there. I saw some throws from Texas and he was definitely good there and obviously the pedigree is going to be important to consider as well.
OFFERS FOR 2024 QUARTERBACKS
Believe it or not, but there are already more than 60 quarterbacks in the 2024 class with offers already and we’ve gotten a jumpstart on seeing a good deal of them this summer but certainly not all of them even as camps and events come back to life after the COVID-19 shutdown.
Some names that are clearly big-time quarterbacks in the 2024 class that I’ve seen and really liked: Flower Mound (Texas) Marcus’ Cole Welliver, The Woodlands, Texas’ Mabrey Mettauer, Miami (Fla.) Monsignor Pace’s Adrian Posse, Oxford, Ala. prospect Kamari McClellan, Carlsbad, Calif., standout Julian Sayin and Fort Mill (S.C.) Catawba Ridge’s Jadyn Davis.
I saw Sayin again over the weekend at a 7-on-7 and he was fantastic. Smooth, great delivery and as accurate as any quarterback in any class, the Carlsbad quarterback will definitely be mentioned among the top players at his position in 2024. But maybe no one in the class throws a better ball than McClellan, who shined at the recent Rivals Underclassmen Challenge.
OREGON CAN CLOSE
Mario Cristobal has done a phenomenal job during his tenure at Oregon in recruiting and on the field. Some of his best work has been done in the last few days as the Ducks landed five-star offensive tackle Kelvin Banks from Houston (Texas) Summer Creek and four-star speedster Isaiah Sategna from Fayetteville, Ark., who had previously been committed to Texas A&M.
By all accounts leading up to Banks’ decision on July 4, the five-star was going to pick either Texas (his childhood favorite) or Texas A&M (the local school with championship ambitions) but Oregon won out and it was a major recruiting coup.
The rumor heading into the weekend was that Sategna was headed to USC and was basically a lock but something happened over the last 24 hours before his decision, the Trojans became less confident and Oregon landed him as well. Oregon now has the seventh-best class in the country sandwiched between Oklahoma and Georgia, a pretty good place to be.
JACKSON RECRUITING FOR USC
I talked to Domani Jackson over the weekend and the five-star cornerback is locked in with his USC commitment although other visits could still happen with Michigan, Oklahoma and Alabama. Still, it would now be a major surprise to see the Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei flip to another school especially after he talked so glowingly about this USC recruiting class, the 2021 class that was led by five-star DE Korey Foreman and Jackson’s relationship with Donte Williams.
PROGRAMS GETTING NOTICED
With June now in the books and a busy July of commitments coming together, there are a few programs that have had just an awesome start to the month loading up on commitments and putting pieces together to make their classes even more special.
Oklahoma, Michigan, Penn State, West Virginia and Vanderbilt have particularly caught my attention in the last couple weeks. The Sooners loaded up with tough, hard-nosed offensive linemen Jake Taylor and Jacob Sexton, four-star defensive end Derrick Moore, flipped Kansas commit Xavion Brice and landed three-star receiver Robert Spears-Jennings, who we all know will get maximum exposure in Riley’s offense.
Michigan has landed four commitments from the start of July winning in Florida with four-star defensive end Mario Eugenio (who was actually better as an interior rusher than off the edge at the Five-Star Challenge) and high three-star linebacker Micah Pollard, four-star defensive back Myles Pollard and high three-star tight end Colston Loveland from Idaho, who is more of a flex/big wide receiver and should be a big target in the Wolverines’ offense.
The Nittany Lions have had a very busy July with six commitments already led by four-star in-state running back Nicholas Singleton, who picked Penn State over Notre Dame and others and a trio of defensive linemen in Tyreese Fearbry, Zane Durant and Kaleb Artis.
West Virginia landed three prospects and all could be stars for the Mountaineers in the coming years. I particularly like four-star running back Justin Williams, who’s more of a pounder and West Virginia beat out Nebraska and others for him and then defensive backs Christion Stokes and Jacolby Spells, who’s currently ranked as a receiver but is expected to play cornerback in Morgantown.
I also like what Vanderbilt has done in recent days. The Commodores have been on a tear since late June as coach Clark Lea and his staff look for a jumpstart in Nashville. There has been a particularly focus in recent weeks landing defensive backs and I think three-star athlete Kenzy Paul could be underrated as a mid-level three-star. Bryce Cowan didn’t have big offers but his length and playmaking ability could make him a steal.