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College Football Juggernauts Chasing the 2022 Recruiting Crown

Forecasting the nation's top recruiting class of 2022 goes beyond the SEC, but the conversation begins there

The October recruiting update in the SI All-American college football team recruiting rankings feel like long ago. 

Penn State was a solid No. 1 with Alabama beginning to close the gap with some high-profile additions like No. 1 offensive tackle recruit Elijah Pritchett. Georgia was clinging to a top five position as they begin their annual strong close under Kirby Smart having added in-stater Carlton Madden. LSU was still in the top 10 just a few weeks before the move to part ways with Ed Orgeron went public. 

November will have a different, yet familiar feel and more importantly -- the nation's recruiting powers are aligning ahead of the Early Signing Period in mid December. The next update will have SEC flavor at the top but what about when the signing period dust settles December 15?

Five programs beyond dark horses Oregon and Texas A&M have some kind of shot for top honors, it would appear. 

Alabama

October Ranking: 2

Rinse and repeat, right? Eight months after sitting under consideration for landing one of the best recruiting classes ever, though its 2017 haul will always be tough to top, the Crimson Tide are in position to challenge for another recruiting crown. UA already holds nine SI99 prospects, the most in the country, and is closing in on position for several more. 

In October Alabama picked up No. 1 tight end Jaleel Skinner, giving the program three prospects on the commitment list atop their position ranking (Pritchett, No. 1 edge Jeremiah Alexander) to date. It added one of the top secondary prospects in the country in Trequon Fegans 10 days later. Fellow SI99 prospects Walter Nolen, Denver Harris, Evan Stewart, Domani Jackson, Earl Little, Shemar James, Kurtiss Perry, Barion Brown and several others have UA in the thick of it down the stretch. Even Canada's top prospect and Kentucky's top commitment are contemplating joining the haul. 

Any combination of these elite prospects, in a class with some space left to maneuver down the stretch, should push Alabama near of over one dozen SI99 signees when all is said and done. Its No. 1 haul in the 2021 cycle finished with 12 of the nation's top prospects in the fold. 

Georgia

October Ranking: 5

As UGA ascended to No. 1 on the field, its recruiting pushes have correlated down the stretch. The Bulldogs have hit the trenches hard in the month of October, adding four prospects that look like they have early-impact potential, flipping two along the way. In-state pass rusher Mykell Williams flipped from USC while IMG Academy offensive lineman Alioh Bah flipped from Florida State. Williams joined top 10 tight end Oscar Delp among SI99 additions for the Dawgs in the month.

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Another Ascender recently joined the fold in Bear Alexander. It's one thing to flex recruiting muscle in flipping a target's commitment from another program. It's entirely another to lose out on a longtime commitment to your own program and build the rapport all the way back towards picking up his pledge a second time. Throw in stiff competition against his home state program Texas A&M, and the decision from Alexander feels as big as he is (listed at 6'4", 320 pounds by Rivals). 

Among those left, Georgia is just like Alabama in how many elite targets have the program at or near the top for their services. Another IMG Academy star in No. 1 safety Kamari Wilson, fellow elite defensive back Jaheim Singletary, south Florida pass rushers Shemar Stewart and Marvin Jones Jr., among others, all have UGA in the mix. Recent Florida Gator decommits from Shemar James and Julian Humphrey are in the crosshairs, too. 

Ohio State

October Ranking: 7

The Buckeyes spent time at No. 1 early in the year with Singletary and top quarterback Quinn Ewers in the fold, but the program remains in striking distance despite losing each in the 2022 cycle (Ewers skipped the season and enrolled as a retroactive member of the 2021 cycle). October has been good to the Bucks, beating out Alabama and Ohio State for SI99 edge talent Kenyatta Jackson and trusting their evaluation of in-state offensive tackle Avery Henry

The group on hand has SI99 firepower and a big weekend lies ahead with Penn State coming to town. Top 2022 OSU targets like offensive linemen Earnest Greene and Kam Dewberry are scheduled to visit as are pass rushers Omari Abor, Marvin Jones Jr. and Hero Kanu. Throw in arguably the nation's top safeties in Xavier Nwankpa and Zion Branch and the priorities are clear for Ryan Day and company down the stretch. 

Texas

October Ranking: 6

The brand of Texas football, and specifically its future, is alive and well despite a first-year coaching staff under Steve Sarkisian. UT was just outside the top five a month back and added a key piece in Spearman (Texas) wide receiver Brenen Thompson a week later to push the class to 22 pledges. Three are in the SI99 and several targets lie within the ranking or remain in consideration for the final ranking moving forward.

Ask any Longhorn fan and they'll probably list speedy former pledge Evan Stewart is the top UT target of them all, and they'd probably be right. As we mentioned with UGA getting Alexander back in the fold, it's not easy and is a true recruiting flex. If Sark's staff can do it against chief and national competition, then he moves that much closer to the elite threshold. The upside of the haul remains even higher given its new search for a second quarterback to pair with physical specimen Maalik Murphy. In-state stars Harold Perkins, Denver Harris, Devon Campbell and Omari Abor are all in play, too. 

Penn State

October Ranking: 1

While some foresaw the decommitment of defensive back Jordan Allen to kick off the week, it still hurts the perception of the overall Penn State haul despite sitting atop the rankings of late. It is still the biggest class among the contenders in this feature, loaded with talent at or near the top of their positions like quarterback Drew Allar, running back Nicholas Singleton, slot Kaden Saunders and defensive lineman Dani Dennis-Sutton, all SI99 recruits.

As for what's left to charge for the top spot, James Franklin and his staff are looking for more juice on the outside at wide receiver, where targets Darrius Clemons and/or Andre Greene Jr. could fill a need. The back seven could use another athlete or two and the secondary could make the most sense if there is a lack of room for multiple adds, given Allen's departure. It did pick up two-way Texas standout Omari Evans in early October.