Breaking down the top uncommitted recruits in the class of 2018

2:35 | College Football
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Friday June 2nd, 2017

It’s still early in the 2018 recruiting cycle, but not as early as it has been in previous years. The implementation of a December signing period means rising senior prospects will be able to ink a National Letter of Intent before Christmas Day (December 20–22). Many recruits will wait for the traditional date on the first Wednesday of February, but a sizable portion should be off the board before the calendar flips to 2018.

While there’s still a lot of time for prospects to sort out which program is an optimal fit for them, the best ones have been listening to pitches from coaches for months. By now, if they don’t know where they’re going for sure, they probably have a short list of options. With full recognition that these players can and probably will change their minds several times over the next few months, SI.com is breaking down the recruitments of the top 10 uncommitted prospects in the class of 2018, according to Scout.com.

Micah Parsons

Scout 300 rank: 2
Position: Defensive end
Position rank: 1
High school: Harrisburg (Pa.)

Parsons became the first member of Penn State’s 2018 recruiting class in February 2016 by issuing a verbal commitment. More than a year later, the Nittany Lions have been reduced to co-contender status with eight other programs. Last week Parsons released a list of nine composed of Alabama, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, Miami, Michigan, Nebraska, Ohio State and Penn State. When Parsons reneged on his pledge to the Nittany Lions in April, he said he felt as if he “committed too soon.” Another Big Ten title, one presumes, would make the Nittany Lions more attractive at a much later stage of Parsons’s recruitment, and it would come at the expense of three of his other finalists (the Wolverines, Buckeyes and Cornhuskers).

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Patrick Surtain

Scout 300 rank: 3
Position: Cornerback
Position rank: 1
High school: American Heritage (Fla.)

It’s safe to assume Surtain won’t be following in the footsteps of his father, an 11-year NFL veteran and three-time Pro Bowl defensive back, in playing his college football at Southern Miss. Surtain said in interviews last month that LSU is leading his recruitment but that he’s also considering several other Power 5 powers, including local programs Florida State, Florida and Miami. Reports also indicated Surtain plans to release a top five at some point before making his decision. Plucking Surtain out of South Florida would be a coup for the Tigers, but it’s clear head coach Ed Orgeron and defensive backs coach Corey Raymond will have no shortage of competition to pull that off.

Zamir White

Scout 300 rank: 5
Position: Running back
Position rank: 1
High school: Scotland (N.C.)

Clemson already has the top quarterback in the class of 2018, Cartersville (Ga.) High’s Trevor Lawrence, on board. Soon it could add the class’s top running back. White reportedly plans to reveal his choice at the end of June, and he listed the Tigers in his top four in February along with Georgia, Alabama and North Carolina. The Bulldogs are pushing hard for White and definitely could use a pledge from a prospect of his caliber, given they currently count only three commitments in their 2018 class. White would be a huge pickup for Georgia as it moves on from senior backs Nick Chubb and Sony Michel next off-season, though the Bulldogs did nab D'Andre Swift, the No. 4 running back recruit in the class of 2017.

Jamaree Salyer

Scout 300 rank: 7
Position: Offensive guard
Position rank: 1
High school: Pace (Ga.)

Georgia signed six offensive linemen as part of its 2017 recruiting class, but none of them were as highly regarded as the five-star it is a strong contender to add in its 2018 class. Salyer leads all offensive linemen in the 2018 Scout 300. But keeping the guard in the Peach State won’t be easy. He’s mentioned Ohio State, Stanford and Clemson as other programs he’s focusing on, and he reportedly has visited each one unofficially. Salyer is not expected to reveal his intentions soon, so that group definitely could change during his senior season at Pace. Still, expect the Bulldogs to press hard for his commitment up until decision day.

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Anthony Cook

Scout 300 rank: 8
Position: Cornerback
Position rank: 2
High school: Lamar (Texas)

Only two of the top 10 prospects from Texas in the class of 2017 signed with an in-state program. As the Lone Star State’s highest-ranked recruit in the class of 2018, Cook will have plenty of out-of-state programs ready to welcome him with open arms if he decides to leave home. Conversely, he could elect to join four-star Steele (Texas) High safety Caden Sterns as a blue-chip defensive back in head coach Tom Herman’s first full class at Texas. Cook included the Longhorns on the list of 10 he unveiled in April. Other programs that made the cut: Baylor, Clemson, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, LSU, Notre Dame, Ohio State and USC.

Phelan M. Ebenhack via AP

Tyreke Johnson

Scout 300 rank: 9
Position: Cornerback
Position rank: 3
High school: Trinity Christian (Fla.)

Johnson is the younger brother of former Florida State (and current Florida Atlantic) quarterback De’Andre Johnson, who was dismissed from the Seminoles in July 2015 after allegedly punching a woman at a bar. It seems more likely Tyreke Johnson will pick a different program in the Sunshine State, Florida, than the two De’Andre Johnson has joined since beginning his college career. The younger Johnson, who has said he plans to play cornerback despite his large frame (6’1,’’ 191 pounds), reportedly has taken multiple unofficial visits to Gainesville, and he’s made plain his esteem for the program’s development of former four-star prospect and current sophomore CB Chauncey Gardner. If the Gators whiff on Surtain, Johnson would be a solid consolation prize.

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Amon-Ra St. Brown

Scout 300 rank: 11
Position: Wide receiver
Position rank: 1
High school: Mater Dei (Calif.)

Amon-Ra St. Brown is a higher-rated prospect than either of his two older brothers: Osiris, a four-star in the class of 2017 who picked Stanford; and Equanimeous, a four-star in the class of 2015 who chose Notre Dame. Amon-Ra St. Brown could end up playing with either of them, and he’ll benefit from their feedback on those two programs during the rest of his recruitment. But he’ll also have many different paths to consider. More than 20 programs reportedly have extended offers, including Big Ten heavyweights Michigan and Ohio State and Los Angeles rivals USC and UCLA. A decision is not expected soon.

Terrace Marshall Jr.

Scout 300 rank: 12
Position: Wide receiver
Position rank: 2
High school: Parkway (La.)

Marshall reportedly plans to release a top-six list early this month. LSU will almost certainly be on it, but earning Marshall’s signature will be a serious challenge, even for a program that recently hired a head coach with a reputation as an elite recruiter (Ed Orgeron) and has traditionally excelled at fending off out-of-state programs for coveted Louisiana prospects. (Last year, when only two of the state’s top 11 players chose the Tigers, was an exception.) LSU produced an abundance of NFL talent at Marshall’s position during former head coach Les Miles’s tenure, but a promising debut season from new offensive coordinator Matt Canada would make the program more appealing. Marshall has indicated that he’ll wait until December to reveal his destination.

Brennan Eagles

Scout 300 rank: 13
Position: Wide receiver
Position rank: 3
High school: Taylor (Texas)

When Eagles posted a list of his top 10 schools to his Twitter account in late February, he said he had decided to “shut down” his recruitment. Two months later, Eagles sent out a revised top 10 comprising these programs: Clemson, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, LSU, Ohio State, Oklahoma, TCU, Texas and USC. He ranks behind only Cook among Texas-based prospects in the class of 2018, so it’s not surprising that the Longhorns are targeting him. Whether they’ll be able to beat out the other programs on that list (or any other programs that appear on future lists) is another matter, but Eagles would make a nice addition to a receiving corps headlined by sophomore Collin Johnson.

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Jalen Hall

Scout 300 rank: 15
Position: Wide receiver
Position rank: 4
High school: Long Beach Polytechnic (Calif.)

USC became one of the biggest winners on National Signing Day this February when it landed two prized playmakers out of Augustus F. Hawkins (Calif.) High, five-star wide receiver Joseph Lewis and four-star athlete Greg Johnson. The Trojans appear on track to reel in another former Hawkins standout in this recruiting cycle. Hall, who transferred to Long Beach Poly this off-season along with USC five-star quarterback commit Matt Corral (who left Oaks Christian School in Westlake Village, Calif.), has visited other programs, including Michigan and Notre Dame, but it would be an upset if Hall doesn’t join Lewis and Johnson in Los Angeles next season.

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