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Saturday Slate: 10 Key College Football Recruiting Visits for Week 8

Arch Manning at Ole Miss, Walter Nolen at Texas A&M, while Alabama and Notre Dame work on flipping two of the nation's best

The back half of the college football schedule has already begun but the weekend is where the recruiting momentum will shift in Week 8. 

Scores of top recruits in the senior class of 2022, and early high-profile talent in the class of 2023, are on the move from coast to coast. While programs like Notre Dame and Penn State look to add the final piece or two to strong recruiting classes, the SEC powers Alabama and Texas A&M are rounding into form as the critical home stretch of the recruiting calendar draws near. 

From trending programs making a move up the list to favorites looking to wrap up key recruitments, 10 scheduled visits stand above the rest this weekend. 

QB Arch Manning -  Ole Miss

Any time the first family of football heads on a prospect visit, it will draw headlines. When it’s surrounded by Eli Manning’s jersey retirement with the end zone sporting the surname, it will draw that much more. Arch has been busy this fall, taking trips to Texas, Alabama and Georgia, but there isn’t a campus he is more tied to or familiar with than that of the one whose program is headlined by Lane Kiffin. Saturday will also be the only scheduled in-person experience seeing the home state LSU Tigers up close, something to consider as Manning won’t soon rush into a verbal commitment. 

IDL Walter Nolen - Texas A&M

The nation’s top interior defensive line prospect is winding down his visit slate before a decision, he said Thursday night. Nolen will see A&M this weekend and then visit local Tennessee for his final official visit when the Georgia Bulldogs are in town. It means this trip to College Station will be Nolen’s last outside of state lines before he makes his college decision public. His list has fluctuated as much as any prospect’s has, but A&M, UT and Georgia are the current lead group. 

Edge Shemar Stewart - Texas A&M

Like with Nolen, A&M has trended for Stewart since a late summer visit and the Aggies being able to get him back on campus is critical. The top 10 prospect admitted he nearly called Jimbo Fisher up and made a commitment after the program’s upset of Alabama, so a return trip with the loaded group of visitors expected in College Station won’t hurt the Aggie pitch. Ohio State could be emerging as the premiere competition for the south Florida star, with Georgia and Miami among those hanging in the race. 

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IDL Anthony Lucas - Notre Dame

Another trench talent busy on the trail, Lucas was at LSU for what is likely his last impression of Baton Rouge before a decision becomes public. It has become a national battle for Lucas, who is also considering Alabama, Oregon, Miami and others in a truly national recruitment. Notre Dame got him on campus in June for an official visit, but the rivalry matchup with USC and a return trip on his own dime says a lot about the Irish’s chances. 

OT Kiyaunta Goodwin - Alabama

The massive left tackle talent has been a rock solid pledge to Kentucky for some time, but Goodwin is going to do some due diligence and check out additional options. Despite a great 2021 on the field, Goodwin looking around even a little bit is worrisome for Mark Stoops and UK faithful, especially when it’s beginning with Alabama for a multi-day stay. It means retaining the Louisville native will have to theoretically include overcoming the Sunday breakfast at Nick Saban’s house — no easy feat. 

QB Walker Howard - Notre Dame

Many quarterbacks nationally are keeping an eye on the coaching carousel, so it would make sense that the longtime in-state LSU pledge may take a look elsewhere. With Notre Dame, however, Howard and Brian Kelly’s staff have been working on locking in a visit for several weeks, so landing on good logistics for this weekend plays timely now that Ed Orgeron is out in Baton Rouge. Howard’s father is on record saying the ball remains in LSU’s court, but it’s tough for progress to be made before the new hire materializes. 

S Xavier Nwankpa - Notre Dame

From a national perspective, the Iowa prospect has been focused on the home state Hawkeyes, Ohio State and Notre Dame for some time. The race has recently felt more like an OSU-Iowa battle, so this is the Irish staffs last in-person chance to push for contention. It helps when the pitch is as simple as, ‘hey look at No. 14, he’s about to go in the first round and we want you to replace him.’ Nwankpa has some similarities to Kyle Hamilton on the field, too. 

LB Shemar James - Alabama

James has taken a few trips to Georgia of late and it helped towards backing off of his long time commitment to Dan Mullen and Florida less than a week ago. Now the Mobile (Ala.) Faith Academy star will see the in-state Crimson Tide, which led for his services before the surprise pledge to the Gators. The UA angle never slowed in the communication department despite James’ commitment, so this is shaping up to be a heavyweight bout between the two SEC powers on the field and in recruiting.

WR Chris Marshall - Alabama

The speedy Texan recently cut his list to three programs, Alabama, Texas A&M and USC. Alabama gets the first visit since trimming the list to the trio, and it’s an official visit, so game on if Saban and company is going to pull yet another coveted Texan out of the Lone Star State. The Aggies have held momentum for Marshall for some time, dating back to his summer official to College Station. Of course he was on hand unofficially for the Alabama upset, too, so the Tide has some work to do in person.   

QB Justyn Martin - UCLA

Can Chip Kelly and his staff wrap up their quarterback recruiting for the class this weekend? The ball is in their court for the Inglewood (Calif.) High School star, who admits to growing up considering the Bruins as his dream program. Ole Miss and Michigan have made things interesting, especially Kiffin and company following an official visit that led to Martin backing off of his commitment to Cal, but the Bruins getting the last two trips ahead of the October 28 decision says a lot about where the nation’s No. 10 QB recruit may be headed.