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Ohio State, Oregon Among Top Visit Destinations for Football Recruits in Week 9

SI takes a look at 10 of the biggest recruiting visits taking place in Week 9 of the college football slate

The back-half of the college football season wares on and it means the recruits looking to lock in where they will suit up next year will scatter across America for their latest look at a program in contention. 

As per usual, the biggest games of the weekend correlate with the most recruiting attention on a particular campus, from Ohio State hosting Penn State, Auburn hosting Ole Miss, Oregon with Colorado on the schedule and even Clemson with Florida State in town. 

Sports Illustrated zeroes in on 10 of the biggest prospect visits scheduled for Saturday and beyond, in some cases. 

OL Earnest Greene - Ohio State

The race for one of the top uncommitted offensive line prospects in the class of 2022 takes a critical step forward this weekend with Greene finally making it to Columbus. The Bellflower (Calif.) St. John Bosco standout had been trying to see the campus in person for some time, and even had to reschedule a trip because of logistics. Now, Greene gets a thorough look at OSU on the heels of trips he enjoyed at Georgia and Texas. This is truly a national recruitment and the way the versatile offensive lineman is leaning could shift after the trip. 

S Zion Branch - Ohio State

Las Vegas (Nev.) Bishop Gorman safety Zion Branch has been viewed among the top safety recruits in the class for years and his recruitment has followed suit. Ohio State has long been right in the thick of the race and there is buzz that the Buckeyes could be in the driver's seat for the senior. It means a return trip to Columbus could all but seal the deal in one of the most important secondary recruitments left on the slate. Alabama and Clemson are still due for visits in November, but the Buckeye lead has a chance to be tough to overcome down the stretch. 

S Xavier Nwankpa - Ohio State

The top prospect in Iowa and arguably top safety in the class was on this list last week when he visited Notre Dame. Iowa is the other contender in the mix and the leader in the race is all but up for grabs at this point, though at one point recently it was the Buckeyes who were viewed as the top threat to pull him out of his home state. While last week was the last chance for an in-person impression at Notre Dame, it is similar at Ohio State this weekend. There is no confirmation of any Nwankpa visits beyond Saturday, so the OSU game impression could also be his last before making a final call between the three Midwest powers. 

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DE Omari Abor - Ohio State

One of the best pass rushers available in the country has a top group, but SI sources have leaned towards tabbing it a two-horse race between in-state Texas A&M and Ohio State of late. If so, given he has already taken his official visit to Columbus, this could be Ryan Day and company's last in-person game impression to sell him on being one of the next great edge prospects in town. Abor still has an official visit window open to take to College Station late in the cycle, so potential future position coach Larry Johnson's close will be closely tracked here. Big need at the position for Ohio State even though it is off to a strong start in landing SI99 edge Kenyatta Jackson of late. 

DE Cyrus Moss - Oregon

While other trips are scheduled for Moss, the weekend in Eugene should go a long way towards determining where one of the most versatile pass rushers still on the market ends up. There is a scheduled decision at one of the All-American games in January but if there is a chance Moss comes off the board sooner it would likely be big news for Mario Cristobal and company. Alabama, Florida and Notre Dame are also in the running. Coveted junior college cornerback Keionte Scott will also be a key recruit in Eugene as the Ducks look to fend off SEC suitors. 

DE Nyjalik Kelly - Oregon

If Moss is the top edge target for the Ducks than Kelly is a 1A selection at this stage. The Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) Dillard star, once committed to Florida State, has long eyed a return trip to Eugene to see perhaps his favorite program growing up. Kelly has already been to campus and cites the group of coaches from the Duck programs courting him, including Cristobal himself. Earlier this fall Kelly told SI the only other staff approaching him with similar volume is Miami's. 

LB David Bailey - USC

A decision is expected relatively soon for the SI99 prospect, who could project as a true pass rusher or new-age linebacker depending on his college destination. The Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei star was at UCLA earlier this month and has Stanford high on his list, among others. In a truly California recruiting battle, the Trojans may be able to contend for Bailey despite the unanswered question surrounding the future of the coaching staff. He has been to the Trojan campus well more than any other. If there is an out-of-state threat looking to make a late play in this one, keep an eye on the Oregon Ducks. 

DE Trevion Williams - Mississippi State

Quietly one of the biggest recruiting battles remaining in SEC country is that of the former Florida State commitment. Williams is likely the most coveted uncommitted recruit in the Magnolia State and he will be back on campus at Mississippi State, which has been able to host him more than most. Egg Bowl rival Ole Miss is in the mix and LSU has pushed to become a player as well, but at this stage Williams' recruitment has the feel of an old school in-state showdown. 

OL Tae Woody - Auburn

A Florida State commitment who reports true solidity to the Seminoles, there has been a lot of recent AU buzz of late anyway. Now, the program some 30 minutes down the road will host the big interior offensive line prospect for a thorough visit. Woody admits Ole Miss and Mississippi State are also technically contenders for his final decision, though the proximity to Auburn from Lafayette (Ala.) High makes the Tigers feel like the top threat. Woody was in town Friday night as IMG Academy played Auburn (Ala.) High School and he said he was there to see FSU quarterback commitment AJ Duffy in action, sporting Seminole gear and all. 

2023 QB Arch Manning - Clemson

Of course Arch watch continues through a busy in-season visit slate and Clemson gets the last game visit for the young phenom quarterback in 2021. While SI has all but confirmed Manning won't be making a decision any time soon, the family has admitted each game visit is critical not only in gauging the feel for the culture on campus, the coaching staff and its relationship with the players, but for the on-field product as well. Dabo Swinney's staff had a lot of Manning buzz in the summer when the junior attended camp, but it has since faded relative to Texas, Alabama, Georgia and of course Ole Miss given the circumstances surrounding the trip to his 'second home.' Can Clemson impress?