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Notebook: Texas, OU Win Final Recruiting Weekend of the Year

Texas and Oklahoma splashed in recruiting over the weekend while USC, Miami and LSU took big steps

The NCAA Dead Period has kicked back in. 

After a wild final college football recruiting weekend for the year, and the last ahead of Wednesday's National Signing Day, prospects and coaches have to stay put. No in-person connection is to be permitted, though electronic communication will hit an apex over the next 48 hours until pen can meet paper to make the biggest recruiting decisions of the 2022 cycle official.

A bevy of top programs hosted prospects for the final stretch of the contact period and results from the trips, from a tangible standpoint, continue to come in. 

Ewers to Texas, But OL Needs Met, Too

The biggest recruiting news from the weekend didn't come from the prep or junior college ranks, but from the transfer portal. Former Southlake (Texas) Carroll star quarterback and Ohio State freshman Quinn Ewers made his transfer to Texas public. Originally committed to the Longhorns under Tom Herman, Ewers was considering both UT and Texas Tech of late, visiting each in the process. 

Ewers famously skipped the 2021 season, forgoing his senior season at Southlake Carroll, to reclassify to the 2021 class in order to enroll at OSU in August. Sitting behind Heisman finalist C.J. Stroud and others while cashing in on NIL opportunities, there was constant chatter about the strong-armed Ewers looking around for his next stop. Less than 10 days after entering the portal itself, Ewers settled on Steve Sarkisian and Texas on Sunday night. 

Ewers and his powerful right arm will dominate the headlines, but quarterback play at UT wasn't the only downfall of the 5-7 year in Austin. Injuries, the defense, offensive line play and much more were to blame. Through traditional recruiting, one of the major needs were addressed with two important in-state recruits committing to the program. 

Kelvin Banks, SI99 offensive line recruit from Humble (Texas) Summer Creek, announced his pledge to UT on Saturday. Not only is he the No. 2 offensive tackle recruit in the class, but he was previously considering a late decision because of the coaching carousel. Banks was committed to Mario Cristobal and Oregon for five months. Another piece of the future (perhaps immediate) Horns offensive line jumped in on Sunday, and it was another former Duck pledge in Cameron Williams. The 6'5", 360-pound prospect could play right tackle or inside in Austin. Texas' top 10 recruiting class could push for top-five status come Wednesday in what would be one of the bigger surprises of the cycle. 

Oklahoma Has its Next QB1

Regardless of the future of Caleb Williams in Norman, adding to the quarterback room is always a priority and the Sooners held off several for new addition Nick Evers. Announcing intentions to play in Norman Monday morning, the Flower Mound (Texas) quarterback was in town for an official visit over the weekend despite invitations to see plenty of campuses following his decommitment from Billy Napier and Florida. 

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Evers, who was met in-person by new Sooner offensive coordinator Jeff Lebby before finalizing the visit plans, could now develop into the heir to the position depending on what Williams eventually decides. The 6'3", 200-pound Evers kept up with Ewers during the offseason while working on the same field and now perhaps the two will continue to be linked on opposite sides of the rivalry. The senior is the first class of 2022 recruit on board for the Brent Venables regime at OU, too. 

Texas A&M Hosts Massive Recruiting Weekend

It hasn't resulted in decisions, at least not yet, but Jimbo Fisher and Texas A&M were at it again with big names in College Station. From No. 1 defensive recruit Walter Nolen and other commitments, to elite uncommitted pass rushers Shemar Stewart and Enai White, there has been buzz on the trail with the program since beating 'Bama on the field in late October. Since, no recruiting run has been better than that of the Aggies. 

The nation's top cornerback recruit, Denver Harris, was in town as the Aggies appear to be the favorites to land his signature. It's closer to call with fellow SI99 defensive recruit Harold Perkins, a linebacker, but he was also on campus over the weekend for his final look at a college program before the dead period. The loss of defensive coordinator Mike Elko, who is the new head coach at Duke, hasn't appeared to have an impact on A&M's ceiling on the trail yet. 

'Bama to Cap Cycle with IMG Academy Flips?

The relationship between most prep programs and Alabama is a strong one, true from elite national staples like Mater Dei (where Heisman winner Bryce Young prepped) and of course IMG Academy, where several former Ascenders are on the No. 1 team's roster right now. More are on the way in SI99 offensive line recruit Tyler Booker, but two other IMG stars looking for a collegiate home also made it to Tuscaloosa. 

Jihaad Campbell, a pass rusher, as well as defensive back Daylen Everette each decommitted from Clemson following Venables' move to OU (he was recruiting them to CU at IMG just days prior) and have heard from droves of college programs looking for defensive help. Each ended up seeing Alabama just days after Nick Saban made a stop at IMG himself. The current No. 1 class holds the most SI99 recruits of any (nine) and could add several more between now and Wednesday evening. 

USC Gets Top Targets Back to L.A.

Lincoln Riley and USC put together their first major recruiting weekend on campus and as one may expect, plenty of local and semi-local talent showed up. It included more than one former commitment to the program, headlined by SI99 cornerback Domani Jackson. The Mater Dei standout, who recently announced USC and Alabama as his top two, got one final look at the campus he is most familiar with before the dead period kicks in. Alabama and Michigan hosted Jackson earlier this year. 

Staying in the secondary, top uncommitted safety Zion Branch was also in town, seeing his childhood favorite school yet again all with younger brother and elite 2023 wide receiver Zachariah Branch in town. Big brother is considering Ohio State and others down the stretch. A teammate of the Branch brothers at Las Vegas (Nev.) Bishop Gorman High School was also able to see L.A. for a couple of days in pass rusher Cyrus Moss, who then jetted to Miami for a fresh look at Cristobal's program. Moss was heavily considering Oregon before the change of leadership. 

Can Kelly Close with In-State Recruits?

Look, it's been easy (and fun) to point out the relative awkwardness with Brian Kelly at LSU, especially with that 'new' accent. But over the weekend, the type of prospects he got on campus was a reminder of why the Tiger administration courted him the way they did. Not only has he all but solidified the desperate need to add quarterback talent to the roster in SI99 passer Walker Howard, but the staff hosed a bevy of Louisiana's best for one last look. 

The top targets in the state are being courted by Alabama, A&M, Florida and a host of others, but LSU will hold some off at or near the top of the list. It's a matter of how many, but the list now includes new additions among targets. In-state standouts Jordan Allen and Landon Ibieta were overlooked by Ed Orgeron's staff but each has a new Tiger offer in-hand and made it to campus over the weekend. Allen is a former Penn State defensive back pledge while Ibieta is one of the top pass catchers in the state and is currently committed to Miami. Landing both won't be a surprise under Kelly.