Three-Point Stance: Busy visit weekend, rankings updates, five-star RBs
Rivals national recruiting director Adam Gorney takes a look at the busy official visit weekend ahead, a new 2023 rankings release next week and talk about five-star running backs:
1. BUSY WEEKEND AHEAD
Here we go.
The first big official visit weekend of June is here and it’s a blockbuster as there used to be a breather between all the spring events heading into the summer events and then especially heading into the season but no more. It’s non-stop, breakneck, nearly 365 days a year and it’s full-go now heading into June.
Five-star quarterback Arch Manning is at Georgia, an important stop as Texas battles the Bulldogs and Alabama for him. Manning loves Athens and respects the coaching staff and what Georgia has done so spending a few more days there will be crucial although last visits sometimes matter most and Texas is getting him later. It’s at least something to watch. Others at Georgia include RB Justice Haynes, S Caleb Downs and Michigan linebacker commit Raylen Wilson, who should at least be watched for a potential flip.
Five-star receiver Brandon Inniss will be at Alabama as the Crimson Tide try to move up with Ohio State and USC as the favorites right now. The word was that Inniss just didn’t have long-standing relationships with the Alabama staff like he had with other programs but he told me last weekend that has changed and that he and Holmon Wiggins among others have stepped it up. Time with coach Nick Saban could be huge over the next couple days.
Five-star defensive ends David Hicks Jr. and Jayden Wayne are at Michigan State and while the Spartans probably don’t lead for either, both love coach Mel Tucker. It will be interesting if that connection can surge Michigan State for both standout defensive linemen.
The list of interesting visitors is endless and so are the recruiting ramifications. Jason Moore is at Penn State as Notre Dame and others try to hold off the Nittany Lions. Rueben Owens is going to TCU and there are lots of rumors swirling there about Louisville maybe getting involved although I still think he ends up at Texas.
Four-star QB Jaden Rashada, who could now have Florida atop his list, is at Texas A&M and we all know lots of kids fall in love spending a weekend with Jimbo Fisher in College Station. Four-star OL Charles Jagusah goes to Missouri and quietly the Tigers could be putting together an elite offensive line class if things fall the right way.
Tackett Curtis is at Wisconsin and he loves the Badgers but it feels like Ohio State and USC have an edge there. Auburn hosts a good group including four-star Jaiden Ausberry and elite defensive tackle Jamaal Jarrett. Florida has lots of players on campus including Treyaun Webb, a Gators lean, and four-star DE Kelby Collins.
Oklahoma has its first ChampU BBQ under coach Brent Venables and looking back months from now this weekend could be huge for the Sooners’ recruiting efforts as OL Cayden Green, LB Anthony Hill, WR Jaquaize Pettaway and many others will be in Norman. Nebraska has recent LSU de-commit Omarion Miller and local superstar Malachi Coleman in town.
There is hardly time to breathe it’s so busy out there and a lot of commitments could be on the way.
2. NEW RANKINGS NEXT WEEK
The new 2023 rankings are going to be released next week and while I’ve been sworn to secrecy until they are released I can say there are some new five-stars on the list.
After so many events through the spring including the entire Rivals Camp Series and just so many others nationally, there was a lot of movement all across the board and there was a long discussion about whether to keep Arch Manning at the No. 1 spot as well.
Tune in Monday to see if that happened. But as I go to events, there are a lot of people including some high-level people in the recruiting industry that want to talk about Manning, a lot of good and some questions as well. I understand it.
There we are at the Steve Clarkson QB Retreat last weekend with Malachi Nelson and Dylan Raiola and Julian Sayin and DJ Lagway and many of the top quarterbacks nationally and no Manning. The Elite 11 finals list was released this week and the New Orleans (La.) Isidore Newman recruit isn’t on there. Overtime has a huge 7-on-7 tournament in Las Vegas next week where everybody from across the country is coming and no Manning.
I completely understand not doing offseason events. Manning isn’t the first one to opt-out and he won’t be the last. If many of the elite kids are being honest, I’d bet they would want their schedules whittled down, not add more things to do because it’s non-stop. But it’s also difficult to compare apples-to-apples if the biggest apple of them all is never on the same field competing.
We all know Manning is super-talented but how talented? Is he surefire No. 1 in the country? Will he compete at an all-star event after his senior season? I don’t know in Rivals history dating back to 2002 if there has been a No. 1 that we’ve seen less of and that will be something to ponder in rankings.
3. FIVE-STAR RUNNING BACK TALK
When it comes to five-star running backs, we’ve learned two lessons that have informed how we not only look at the position but think about our rankings as well: The first is that NFL teams are more reticent than ever to spend high draft picks on that position. And second, Rivals just hasn’t been great trying to rank five-star running backs in some recent recruiting classes.
That’s why we still really like Justice Haynes, Richard Young, Rueben Owens and others at the position but we’re a little gun shy on making them five-stars especially since our rankings are based off expected college performance and NFL Draft positioning.
In the NFL Draft, no running backs were taken in the first round a couple months back. In 2021, Najee Harris and Travis Etienne were late first-rounders and Harris was a freak show in high school and at Alabama. In 2020, Clyde Edwards-Helaire was the last pick of the first round. The previous year, Josh Jacobs was the only first-round running back at No. 20. The last time three were first-round picks was in 2018 with Saquon Barkely (No. 2 overall) and then Rashaad Penny (27) and Sony Michel (31).
In the last few years, we’ve made a concerted effort to pump the brakes on five-star backs in the Rivals rankings. There are currently none in 2023. No one finished as a five-star running back in 2022 after Georgia’s Branson Robinson was early on. In 2021, Camar Wheaton was a five-star but he hasn’t panned out and has now transferred from Alabama to SMU. The 2020 class was rough as we had four-star running backs in Zachary Evans, Demarkcus Bowamn, Kendall Milton and MarShawn Lloyd and none of them look like first-rounders right now.
It will be something we monitor closely as trends possibly change in the game but five-star running backs are tough to come by now.