The No. 1 overall player in the 2017 recruiting class could be on the verge of flipping his commitment, and this week’s edition of Hey Judes breaks down how likely it is Najee Harris will be a Michigan Wolverine by National Signing Day.
The recruiting dead period kind of reminds me of the SheiKra roller coaster at Busch Gardens.
There is a ton of excitement and anticipation heading into it, and while it’s going on, you’re simply just reacting and flailing about while trying to make sense of everything. And, in the end, you kiss the ground and get ready for the next ride.
Also, complete tangent, but there is a graphic on its way. My esteemed colleague, Erik Czupryn has a design in the works that will go with each version of my column. He’s jammed up with all kinds of projects here at CI, but hopefully it will be ready by next Thursday.
Until then, you’ll all have to deal with a nice image of the nation’s No. 1 overall player, and that’s where we’ll pick this up.
Najee Harris: To Flip Or Not To Flip?
Clearly, there has been a lot of chatter about whether or not the 5-star running back will stay true to his Alabama commitment. He pledged to the Crimson Tide in April of 2015, and I thought it would be impossible for anyone to lure him away from Tuscaloosa.
However, Michigan has made a huge push in the last couple of months, and from what I’ve heard, Harris’ official visit to Ann Arbor last weekend went great. Having the Jordan brand image is huge for the Wolverines, and there is talk of a new uniform next season for Michigan, so that’s always a plus.
I’m not saying anything is definite. When we spoke with Harris about a potential flip, he refused to answer the question. I believe the nation’s No. 1 overall player is saying more by saying less. If he were solid to Alabama, he would say it. That’s why I have a gut feeling he’ll end up in maize and blue.
Harbaugh Is A Machine
I tried to tell you last week that Michigan was going to go on a tear, and it’s happening. The Wolverines landed 4-star wide receiver Tarik Black on Wednesday over Alabama and Auburn, and Jim Harbaugh is far from done. And on Thursday night, 5-star wider receiver Donovan Peoples-Jones picked Michigan over Florida, Florida State, Michigan State and Ohio State. By Sunday, Michigan will have landed anywhere from two to four new commits and will be sitting pretty within the top five of the 2017 recruiting class rankings — on any site. Last week, I said Dylan McCaffrey would be a very happy guy because of a couple of the commits that were looming, and both Black and Peoples-Jones made that come true. If Harris joins the class, like I believe he will, Harbaugh is going to have a top-three class by the time National Signing Day wraps up.
Willie Taggart Getting Things Quacking
Don’t hate me because I’m fond of puns. I’m also a huge fan of dad jokes, but there’s nothing to joke about here when it comes to what’s going on in Eugene.
Taggart knows there is little-to-no shot he’ll flip Tua Tagovailoa from Alabama. However, Oregon did offer his younger brother, Taulia Tagovailoa, a quarterback in the 2019 recruiting class. Taggart is setting a tone early on in his tenure with the Ducks, and I like it. I believe 4-star cornerback Deommodore Lenoir will re-commit to the Ducks, and that’s why I also expect 4-star cornerback Thomas Graham to commit to Oregon when he announces on Friday. Taggart will have the Ducks competing for Pac-12 titles again in no time.
Tom Herman Already Paying Dividends
When he spoke to Campus Insiders, 4-star running back Eno Benjamin put it bluntly: he wanted a scholarship offer from Texas. A nose wiggle and a nod later, and Benjamin had notched that offer. Now, he’s walking around school rocking Longhorns gear, and I believe the former Iowa commit will end up in Austin instead of leaving his home state of Texas for Arizona State.
It doesn’t stop there. Five-star offensive tackle Walker Little is set to announce his decision on Friday, and the Longhorns have a great shot to land him. Stanford is considered the heavy favorite to get Little’s commitment, but Herman made a huge impression on his in-home visit with Little’s family.
I believe Texas will land him, but even if Little goes to Stanford, it proves Herman is a dynamite recruiter and will have Texas back in a jiffy. If Little does end up in Austin, I think Texas could have a legitimate shot at Marvin Wilson, too. The No. 1 defensive tackle in the nation appears to be headed to Ohio State, though. LSU will also put up a fight to keep that from happening, but it’ll be interesting to see if Herman can make a late push to keep Wilson close to home like his mom would like him to do.
Clay Helton Building A Defense
After 3-star defensive tackle James Lynch, 3-star linebacker Daniel Green and 3-star cornerback Wylan Free backed off their pledges to USC, it appeared as though the Trojans were moving in the wrong direction. However, on Thursday, USC added a pledge from 4-star athlete Tayler Katoa, who will likely be used as a hybrid edge rusher for the Trojans. Helton’s staff is also working to get 4-star safety Bubba Bolden back into the class, and there is a solid chance of that happening. It seems as though all will be okay on the defensive side of the ball in Los Angeles as we head into 2017.
Ohio State Keeps Building
On Sunday, Tate Martell flat-out said the Buckeyes were going to get two more 5-star commits, and there was a chance they’d be getting a third. Five-star safety Jeffrey Okudah is down to Florida State, Ohio State and Oklahoma, but I believe he’s one of those 5-star commits Martell was talking about. Marvin Wilson and cornerback Darnay Holmes are another pair of 5-star prospects whom I believe to be the ones Martell alluded to with that message. There’s a chance Cam Akers, the nation’s No. 2 running back, is in that group. But if I had to bet on it, I’m going with the first three as the ones Martell believes will end up in Columbus.
Florida’s Offensive Line
The Gators were hoping to keep 5-star offensive tackle Alex Leatherwood in the Sunshine State. That didn’t happen. He reaffirmed his commitment to Alabama earlier this week, which wasn’t at all unexpected. Florida was also pursuing 4-star offensive tackle Navaughn Donaldson, but the Miami commit shut down his recruitment and will stay true to the Hurricanes — FSU struck out trying to flip Donaldson, too.
Still, it seems as though there is good news is on the horizon for offensive line coach Mike Summers. If 4-star offensive tackle Isaiah Wilson commits to Michigan on Friday, that could open the door up for a possible flip for 4-star offensive tackle Kai-Leon Herbert, whom the Gators have remained in contact with. Miami is also a potential landing spot for Herbert if he were to flip, but I like Florida’s chances. The Gators also have a great shot at landing 4-star offensive guard Caleb Chandler. He’s taking an official visit to Gainesville on Jan. 27, and he would be a nice addition for McElwain’s staff.
Note: Scout rankings and ratings used in this article.