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Walker Howard, Devin Brown Among Senior Prospects Who May Flip Their Verbal Commitment

Committed or not, many big decisions lie ahead for the class of 2022 and it continues this weekend on the prospect visit front

If Wednesday was any indication, the college football recruiting class of 2022 is in for a wild finish on the trail. 

Solely among SI99-ranked recruits, the nation's No. 2 linebacker Shemar James backed off of a commitment to Florida and No. 4 interior defensive lineman Mykell Williams flipped his pledge from USC to Georgia. Each, representing the highest-ranked recruit on the respective list before making the move, was on campus in Athens over the weekend for a visit. 

There are always spurts of decommitments and changes of heart in flipping a verbal commitment from one program to the other, so it's never too early to look at potential moves to be made late in the recruiting cycle. 

Official visits have taken place since the summer months, but in the fall prospects can take trips surrounded by full-capacity game atmospheres, fellow recruits, dinners with head coaches' families and everything in between. Tracking the visits often helps to project when a decommitment or flip may go down. 

Week 8 on the college football schedule will begin to bring more clarity on the flip front. 

No. 6 quarterback prospect Walker Howard, who has been committed to LSU since June of 2020, has been working on scheduling an official visit to Notre Dame. Multiple reports this week suggests it will happen on Saturday when the Irish welcome rival USC to town. Of course the Tigers are officially searching for a new coach, so many commitments will look around. Top 10 slot receiver and fellow in-state recruit Aaron Anderson has already decommitted

"Not knowing who is going to be the next head coach is scary," Jamie Howard, Walker's father, told Koki Riley of the Daily Advertiser. "Even though he has the love for LSU and wants to be at LSU, it's hard for a quarterback because so many things come into play with the type of offense that can potentially come with a new coach. 

"Not knowing is the hard part. I don't know what's going to happen."

It's atypical to see quarterback prospects looking around so late, but coaching changes earlier in the football season have some of the nation's best doing their due diligence. Statistically, Devin Brown is the No. 2 passer in the country, already with 40 touchdown passes as a senior at Draper (Utah) Corner Canyon High School. Like Howard, he has been committed to his program for more than a year and Brown has continued to express a desire to play at USC, though little information on the direction of the program's new hire has other staffs ready to poach.

Lane Kiffin and Ole Miss have gotten Brown on campus for an official visit. UCLA brought him in for an unofficial visit and new scholarship offers are in from Ohio State and Texas in the last week or so. Trips to each are likely with an official visit window to Austin building around the Kansas game in November. 

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"I lean there, but you just don't know what is going to happen with coaches," Brown told Sports Illustrated on Sunday. "We really just have no idea who they're going to hire. I just have to be smart, look at all my other options and look at what schools are the best fit for me.

"With COVID, we committed on Zoom calls. Now I get to go on visits and it's been really helpful seeing coaches face to face, getting to talk to them in person, seeing the facilities and what the game day experience is like. I'm just doing my due diligence and getting to know about every single school to make the right decision for me."

Several SI99 recruits have already gone through a change of heart in the senior class, with a few recently. Wide receiver Luther Burden picked Missouri, earlier this week, over Georgia following a long time pledge to Oklahoma. Defensive back Trequon Fegans backed off of Miami to stay in-state with Alabama last week

Others among the nation's best are currently on the market after a long term commitment. It includes No. 2 cornerback Jaheim Singletary, who was once an Ohio State pledge, No. 2 slot receiver Evan Stewart (Texas) and top 10 edge Mario Eugenio (Michigan), among others.

Of course those still committed to one program while set to visit another are materializing as Week 8 in college football draws near.

Kentucky's top commitment is towering offensive lineman Kiyaunta Goodwin, still coveted by programs like Alabama, Ohio State and Michigan State, among others. 247Sports reports Goodwin is set to take his first official visit, this weekend, to Alabama. The Crimson Tide has battled Kentucky well for area prospects in the past but this one is likely to go down to the wire. 

Alabama, though often on the positive end, is not immune to the flip game. One of the top UA trench commitments will be seeing another campus this weekend as defensive lineman Jaheim Oatis takes an unofficial visit to Ole Miss. Miami's top-ranked commitment and fellow Mississippian Khamauri Rogers may take an unofficial to Oxford, too, after he takes the ACT Saturday morning. Rogers has already been to Mississippi State and plans on seeing Tennessee soon, too.  

That brings the conversation to where talking about the 2022 class begins, No. 1 prospect Travis Hunter. A longtime, often outspoken member of the Florida State commitment list for more than a year, the two-way Suwanee (Ga.) Collins Hill star has taken two visits to Georgia in the last month or so. Every time he shows up on another campus, especially the in-state one featuring the top program in the country, it has to push Seminole faithful into an attentive position.

Hunter has said all the right things on social media regarding sticking with the program and has even expressed frustration with defections from the Florida State class, which had another casualty Wednesday in Trevion Williams. Still, the old adage of tracking prospects by keeping an eye on where they visit will keep the top player's storyline afloat until his name is signed on a National Letter of Intent on December 15.

Fret not, traditional college football fan who dislikes player empowerment, the transfer portal and the hoopla surrounding recruiting -- it's not all fluidity and transition with today's generation. There is always a group of future stars who have doubled down on longstanding commitments and expressed loyalty to one school despite continued interest from other programs. 

Last week, Mario Cristobal and his staff had to be pleased to see how No. 2 offensive tackle Kelvin Banks elected to push against a flip narrative. The Texan is Oregon's highest-ranked commitment and amid talk he could visit other programs, Banks felt the need to come out publicly and deny the 'rumors.'