When Jaleel Skinner was a young recruit, he came to the All-American Combine in San Antonio and said if Clemson were to offer, he might shut down his recruitment and pick the Tigers.
It made sense. The four-star tight end from Greer, S.C., lives about an hour from campus, he grew up watching Clemson and it looked like his recruitment was taking shape.
But a few years on, Skinner has now received offers from numerous national programs, taken visits all over the country and has an expanded view of his entire recruitment.
Clemson has made his final five but Alabama, Texas, Florida State and Miami are also on the list as the No. 3 tight end in the class works through his top teams toward a decision.
In today’s Making The Case, writers from around the Rivals network lay out why that particular school could land Skinner and then Rivals National Recruiting Director Adam Gorney issues his verdict.
Alabama has been strongly in the mix for Skinner since the Tide extended him an offer in March. Skinner took an official visit to Alabama on June 18-20 and left Tuscaloosa with very high regard for the defending national champions. Alabama continues to heavily pursue him and is a top contender for his commitment. Skinner likely won’t name a leader prior to his decision, but a potential commitment to the Crimson Tide will not come as a surprise. Alabama is likely at the top or in the top two for the elite athlete. – Andrew Bone, BamaInsider.com
Once upon a time, Skinner cited Clemson as the dream offer, and the Tigers profiled as the potentially logical match — being the elite program in his backyard and all. Skinner did return to compete at Clemson’s camp last month. But our intel has had the two on divergent paths for quite awhile, and we don’t see that changing in the near future. They amount to a token or courtesy inclusion, however you want to look at it. My belief is Alabama holds the cards with Skinner, and we’re not so sure Miami hasn’t now displaced Florida State and previously Florida as the new Sunshine State flavor of the month. – Paul Strelow, TigerIllustrated.com
There’s no question there are some big boys involved with Skinner and that includes Alabama and Clemson, who I view as the biggest threats to Florida State at this stage. There’s a lot to like for FSU in this race. First, FSU was one of the first schools that Skinner visited and that was also his dream school from the start. In addition, unlike a lot of visits he stayed nearly a week at FSU for their big events and he has a really good connection with Mike Norvell, and this entire FSU staff. Skinner has talked about how things are different at FSU when he’s there. Another attractive thing for FSU here is that unlike a lot of schools FSU is recruiting Skinner as a receiver. They see him as a big weapon at this position and at receiver it gives him more of a chance for explosive plays and highlights his big skills as a pass-catching receiver and Skinner loves that about the FSU offense.
It’s the staff and culture at FSU that could be the biggest sell in this race. There’s a lot of comfort with the diversity at FSU that really connects with Skinner. It also doesn’t hurt that Skinner is very close with FSU commits Travis Hunter, A.J. Duffy and a few others. He’s set to officially visit FSU as well for the Notre Dame game and if FSU shows a solid product in that game it is hard for me to see the ‘Noles not winning out. – Michael Langston, Warchant.com
Miami has gone all in on landing Skinner, apparently removing all other tight end prospects from active recruiting status. The Hurricanes like to refer to themselves as Tight End U and it is not a reach. Miami has very effectively used the tight end for many years from David Njoku to Brevin Jordan. This year’s starter, Will Mallory, is expected to be a major part of Rhett Lashlee‘s offensive attack. Skinner’s athletic skill set is also tailor-made for Lashlee’s offense. There are a lot of reasons that a Miami-Skinner marriage should happen except Florida State has been Skinner’s dream school since he was a baby. But the ‘Noles don’t have anywhere close to Miami’s track record with tight ends. We expect the Hurricanes to be a major player here right to the very end. – Gary Ferman, CaneSport.com
Skinner’s so private that it’s tough to get a great read on what he’s thinking, but the Longhorns did get him in for a visit in June and the chatter behind the scenes is that things went very well. Texas really wasn’t much of a factor before that visit but it made a strong enough impression to move the Longhorns into his top five. The new UT staff is selling its small handful of tight end targets on Texas’ offense operating out of a lot of two-tight end sets, so the opportunity for early playing time could be something that could weigh in UT’s favor. – Jason Suchomel, OrangeBloods.com
This is incredibly difficult because while Clemson and Texas are probably on the outside looking in, a legitimate case could be made for the three other programs in his top five. If Alabama continues to push and continues to sell all the things the Crimson Tide have to offer, they rarely lose any recruiting battles. But Skinner had such an excellent extended visit to Florida State in June where he hit it off with Travis Hunter and others as the Seminoles sold how they would utilize him in the offense.
Miami has come on strong recently and the Hurricanes could certainly be the winner for Skinner’s services. The tight end tradition in Coral Gables is strong and it’s something that Skinner is definitely considering. But my guess right now is that this comes down to Alabama and Florida State and if I had to choose today I’d pick the Crimson Tide. The track record is there, the coaching staff wants him and when coach Nick Saban wants somebody, he usually gets him. – Adam Gorney, Rivals National Recruiting Director