Crunch time has long been here in the recruiting game, and the weekend ahead will help shape how the final SI All-American team recruiting rankings wrap up.
Can Texas A&M hold onto the top class? Many Aggie targets are visiting other programs this weekend while No. 2 Alabama sits with some late targets having seen Tuscaloosa over the last two weekends. Beyond the race at the top, the new coaching staffs at Miami, LSU and Florida are gearing up for the biggest senior visit opportunities of the weekend in an effort to finish strong on the trail to add talent ahead of the first game they coach at their new gigs.
Here are the 10 biggest visits set for the final weekend of the 2022 recruiting cycle before pen meets paper to make things official next week.
DE Shemar Stewart - Miami
Stewart is not only the top undeclared recruit in the country, but he's also the local target Miami has gone all in for under multiple coaching staffs. Mario Cristobal's crew has picked it up to another level this month. The last two weeks have included four different opportunities for face-to-face contact between Stewart and the Miami coaching staff and 48 hours in Coral Gables will wrap it up for the local star. Texas A&M is a true contender and Georgia got him on campus just last weekend, but this is the must-get prospect for the greater issue at Miami -- keeping elite South Florida talent at home. Stewart picking The U would be just the third local on board in 2022 and also give the Hurricanes one of the best pass-rushing classes in the country, right up there with the programs that just played for it all in Georgia and Alabama.
OT Josh Conerly - Miami
The SI99 left tackle talent from Seattle has somehow had a quiet recruitment despite having the most contenders down the home stretch of the cycle compared to other elite talents. Six programs—Washington, USC, Oregon, Miami, Oklahoma and Michigan—technically remain in the mix for the towering prospect. OU and Michigan got official visits, and Miami will get the final call under Cristobal and Alex Mirabal, the same combination of coaches who were establishing their positioning at Oregon. Despite the prowess of the coaching duo, the Hurricanes don't have a single offensive lineman committed or signed to The U just yet. It won't likely be the case come Wednesday, especially with late-riser Anez Cooper of Alabama also visiting this weekend, but Conerly would go a longer way towards the issue—at least in terms of perception.
LB Harold Perkins - LSU
One of the most interesting recruitments late in the game has a lot of smoke and speculation around it, from dark horse Jackson State and Deion Sanders plotting another potential shocker to LSU and Florida's push under their new coaching staffs. Then there is Texas A&M, where Perkins was verbally committed until this week, still trying to hold on to any ounce of hope days before the final decision. LSU was always in the mix with the two-way standout, who has some family ties to New Orleans, even before its coaching change from Ed Orgeron to Brian Kelly. The new staff has prioritized the top undeclared linebacker in the land as one would expect down the stretch. If there is more intrigue around one decision set for next week than that of Perkins, we haven't seen it.
S Jacoby Mathews - LSU
This recruitment has always come back to LSU, and Kelly's staff will get the final impression with the top undecided safety in the land. A one-time verbal commitment, Mathews has given Florida and Texas A&M a thorough look late in the game, but a destination other than that of the Tigers may be a surprise to some come Wednesday. A&M held momentum after the coaching change in Baton Rouge, then Florida came out of the gates swinging for the fences this month, including on the official visit last weekend. But spending the last weekend in Baton Rouge may be too much for the others to overcome. At a minimum, the ball is in the home state program's court.
IDL Christen Miller - Miami
Georgia has been the perceived favorite to keep the in-state defensive lineman home, but the SI99 recruit has long been recruited by Cristobal and it has more than carried over to his staff at Miami, which includes defensive line coach Joe Salave'a. Oregon and Florida A&M got the two most recent official visits, but Miller's place in the massive Miami official visit weekend is that of the dark horse. Winning the Stewart recruitment or even Conerly's would be strong wins with plenty of logic behind it, but beating the national champions for a priority trench talent in their own state would be among the biggest recruiting wins Cristobal has had at any of his stops.
DE Jack Pyburn - Florida
This battle was to come down to Auburn and Miami, where he has spent considerable time this month including official visits to each program, but Florida is making a late push for the in-state star. Pyburn had a wrestling tournament scheduled for the end of the week, but he will instead hit nearby Gainesville to wrap up the contact period just a few days before a planned commitment and signing on Wednesday. The former Minnesota commitment elected not to sign after receiving plenty of interest on the heels of a 14-sack senior season, and now the Gators will get their shot after jumping into the race at the 11th hour. Stranger things have happened on the trail, and Pyburn using the last trip for the school closest to home is intriguing late in the game.
"The plot thickens," Pyburn told SI Friday.
LB TJ Dudley - Clemson
A commitment to Oregon for the bulk of his senior season, Dudley went back on the market in December, and there has been no shortage of interest from programs all over the country. Clemson was the first to jump on the phone with him following the reset of his recruitment, and their push will pay off with the final visit of his recruitment. Logistical issues prevented the trip from happening last weekend, but he didn't make it to any campus as a result. Oregon and Texas round out the top contenders for Dudley, he told SI this week, but the final visit to Clemson and lack of time on the other campuses of late should have Tiger fans excited about the weekend. Dudley won't be the only star from the state of Alabama on campus, either.
DE Caden Story - Florida
The Gators get the last shot at the ex-Auburn commit and All-American Bowl standout pass rusher. Clemson had him on campus the weekend prior and made a strong impression on the family, so Billy Napier's crew has its work cut out for it over the weekend. It goes without saying that retooling an SEC roster is relatively dependent on its ability to add quality in the trenches, and Story is about as good as there is left on the market from a ceiling perspective. He played all over the field in high school before settling on the defensive line as an upperclassman, improving considerably with time. Local Auburn is still in the race, per Story himself, but the recent decommitment combined with the push from Clemson has the ball in the ACC Tigers' court.
DB Jahlil Florence - Oregon
The Ducks have a strong final visit weekend planned under Dan Lanning, with other priorities like verbal commitment Dave Iuli and late-riser Arlis Boardingham (down to UO and Florida), but Florence is the statement senior visitor on campus relative to the competition. It's down to the Ducks and rival USC for the San Diego native, lengthy and one of the faster defensive backs still on the board for any program this late in the game. Florence, who was pledged to the Ducks under Cristobal until the combination of the coaching change and USC scholarship offer in December, made it to Eugene early Friday morning. Reeling him back in would be a strong indication of the recruiting future of the program under Lanning and the rebuilt staff.
OL Jalen Farmer - Alabama
Talk about the power of an Alabama scholarship offer. The massive Peach State offensive lineman, long committed to the Florida Gators, has added new offers and interest this month, but the Crimson Tide extension came on Thursday and less than 24 hours later the final official visit of the cycle was set for Tuscaloosa. Farmer had been planning on visiting Mississippi State coming off of a trip to Auburn last weekend ahead of a final decision between SEC programs. While Florida is in the mix for several big names and figures to close well when the signatures start to roll in, there is intrigue with the unsigned interior offensive lineman. Remember, Napier took over at Florida just days before the December signing window, so Farmer held off on locking in with UF and now the door is wide open for others in the conference.
The traditional signing period for senior college football prospects opens up on Feb. 2, aka National Signing Day.