Michigan keeps cleaning up on the trail while, on the other end of the recruiting spectrum, Florida’s 2017 class remains bewildering.
Well, first and foremost, happy holidays, everyone!
I write this roughly 24 hours before I hop on a plane and head out to Las Vegas to spend Christmas with my parents. Yup, we’re talking way too many buffets, hitting the slots with my grandfather for seven hours too many, and doing a lot of writing while trying to survive yet another dance with Sin City.
But you’re not here to talk about fighting holiday weight. You’re here to talk recruiting, and I can do that for days.
On Thursday, we here at Campus Insiders released a commitment video for 5-star linebacker Jordan Anthony, and it turned out great. When I first interviewed Jordan in the spring, I knew immediately that he was a special person and player. Michigan fans are gong to love having him on the team, and as an ambassador of the university.
A two-sport athlete (baseball and football), he understands just how important the recruiting process is. Just as importantly, his father understands how important it was for Jordan to brand himself while making the transition from high school to college. Fortunately we were able to do that by making Jordan the first recruit to announce his decision through Campus Insiders’ “You Have My Word” series. It’s a a new division of our Campus Commitment franchise, and I’m excited about its future.
I’m also very appreciative that Jordan and his father gave me exclusive insight during the commitment process. It really was a lot of fun and, again, I believe Jordan will thrive in Ann Arbor.
But there are other recruiting headlines out there, as the dead period continues to march on. Here’s what’s in the notebook.
Longhorns Lining Up
Unfortunately for Toneil Carter, Nick Chubb and Sony Michel decided to return to Athens for one more go-around with the Bulldogs. That’s why Carter reportedly had his offer pulled by Georgia. Well, it worked out for Tom Herman. Carter committed to Texas hours after announcing he had left UGA’s 2017 recruiting class. And now, the Longhorns could be ready for a big surge as January approaches.
Four-star running back Eno Benjamin also received a Texas offer, and I believe the former Iowa commit will end up in Austin instead of heading to Arizona State or any other program pursuing him.
Jimbo Fisher Is FSU
With a $44.4 million buyout, there’s now a price to how much Florida State values Jimbo Fisher and what he can do for the Seminoles. If you ever find yourself questioning what Fisher does for FSU (you know, if a national title, Heisman Trophy and scores of NFL talent isn’t enough), take a look at what he has going on with the Seminoles’ 2017 recruiting class. It appears as though former Maryland commit Joshua Kaindoh is headed to Tallahassee despite his mother’s preference for him to play closer to home for the Terrapins.
The highly touted defensive end might not be the only blue-chip recruit FSU will be reeling in soon. Five-star running back Cam Akers is set to announce his decision on Dec. 27, and the ‘Noles are in an excellent position to land him. In fact, I’m picking Florida State to get his commitment over the SEC West tandem of Ole Miss and LSU.
Ohio State’s 5-Star Collection
It was only a couple of weeks ago that Tate Martell was telling Buckeye Nation to be on the lookout for more big-time commits. Martell said he knew of two definite 5-star players who were going to commit, and that there was a great chance it would end up being three.
At first, I believed Akers was going to be one of those 5-star pledges. However, he didn’t have an Ohio State hat on the table when announcing his commitment details. And, as previously mentioned, I now believe he’ll end up at FSU.
The Buckeyes are looking great with 5-star safety Jeffrey Okudah, who’s already registered in Ohio State’s student directory. I also believe Urban Meyer’s staff will end up reeling in Marvin Wilson despite both FSU and LSU are making huge pushes for him. Cornerback Darnay Holmes is also in the mix there. So, if Martell is right about there being two to three 5-star commits left to nab, I expect it’ll end up being Okudah, Wilson and Holmes.
Najee Harris’ Recruitment Is He Said, She Said
There isn’t any new information to report on the matter. What this has come down to is a he-said-she-said situation. People around the program in Ann Arbor believe Najee Harris will end up signing with Michigan. Those who are close to the Crimson Tide — or currently committed to Alabama — believe the 5-star running back will honor his pledge and end up in Tuscaloosa.
What you shouldn’t expect is a big production for his announcement. He may not even have one. Plenty of people believe Harris will simply show up in either Ann Arbor or Tuscaloosa when it’s time to report to campus, and that’s how we’ll all find out. I still have a gut feeling he’ll end up flipping his commitment. Because he’s an early enrollee, that decision will be coming any day now, so be on the lookout.
Chris Petersen Could Cash In
Not many people are picking Washington to beat Alabama in the College Football Playoff. Call me crazy (you won’t be alone) but I have a David-and-Goliath feeling from this matchup. I also love everything about Jake Browning’s game, so there is that.
Anyway, if the Huskies can hold their ground or even win against the Crimson Tide, it can pay off in a big way. I still expect them to land 5-star offensive tackle Foster Sarell. And it appears as though 4-star safety Isaiah Pola-Mao will be choosing Washington as well. Four-star safety Chaz Ah You is another one I expect to end up in Seattle, and a solid showing in the CFP can have some ripple effects for the Huskies on the recruiting trail — especially as we close out the 2017 cycle.
Four-star cornerback Elijah Blades is causing a stir because his Twitter bio no longer says he’s committed to the University of Florida. It has almost been de-Gatorized with the exception of the initial tweet from when he committed to Florida. What’s interesting is that his Twitter cover photo is a picture of Heath Ledger as The Joker. Former Gators running back Jordan Cronkrite, who is transferring from the program, also incorporated images of Ledger as The Joker on his Twitter profile when he was away from the team earlier this season. Could it be a coincidence? Maybe. But there is a feeling Blades will end up flipping his commitment to either Nebraska or USC.
If Blades does flip, the Gators will try and fill his spot in the class with 4-star athlete Tray Bishop, who recently decommitted from Auburn. Though listed as an athlete, Bishop projects as a cornerback at the collegiate level. Florida is also closing in on former Miami commit Christopher Henderson and 4-star safety Brad Stewart.
Coach O, Canada
Here’s how important it is to have a stable coaching staff. Before LSU hired Matt Canada away from Pitt, the Tigers watched both their 4-star quarterback commits, Myles Brennan and Lowell Narcisse, waver on their pledges. Brennan clarified to say he was simply opening up his options, while Narcisse flat-out decommitted from the class. At the time, many felt Auburn would get Narcisse to re-commit to its 2017 class.
However, Canada was hired, faith was restored and both Brennan and Narcisse re-committed. The Tigers also got 4-star JUCO wide receiver Stephen Guidry to re-commit, and they’re in play for the aforementioned Cam Akers. Canada’s hiring is already paying dividends … ay.