No foolin' this weekend in college football recruiting.
Arch Manning is headed to his third visit in as many weeks, perhaps wrapping up a major stage in his decision-making process along the way. Alabama won't just be hosting the famous quarterback recruit, though, with key class of 2023 targets lining up to see Tuscaloosa as April kicks off.
Texas may have an even stronger group of recruits headed to see Austin, the second straight weekend UT is making national news with who is gets on campus after Manning headlined last week's slate. Miami has a smaller list, but the strength atop it is intriguing and could begin to help tell the next chapter of the quarterback dominoes set to fall nationally once Manning makes his decision.
Sports Illustrated locks in on 10 recruits hitting the road this weekend.
QB Arch Manning - Alabama
There is a sense that Manning's last three visits detail the trio of programs in the best shape to land his verbal commitment. He was at Georgia two weeks ago, saw Texas last weekend and will now spend Saturday at Alabama. As of this writing, no other trips are planned for the spring season, so programs like Ole Miss, LSU, Florida and others gunning for the phenom quarterback recruit may remain on the outside looking in. April brings more spring practices, and eventually spring games, so of course this can change in short order. As for the Crimson Tide, Nick Saban has a strong group of passers to consider in the class of 2023, with former Texas A&M commitment Eli Holstein and intriguing two-sport star Dylan Lonergan interested and familiar with Tuscaloosa. But make no mistake, the ball remains in the Manning camp's court as far as national quarterback dominoes are concerned. Buzz for UGA and UT is stronger than that of Alabama at the moment, but in recruiting the G.O.A.T. is never to be counted out.
QB Jaden Rashada - Miami
The trip began Thursday with a tour of Miami's indoor practice facility, as the Hurricane focus shifts to the California native after missing on the commitment of Nico Iamaleava. After playing with many Miami targets and two current commitments last weekend at the Battle 7v7 event in Dallas, Rashada is getting the full court press from Mario Cristobal's staff and well beyond. That staff had been courting him while at Oregon last year, so the two-day trip is significant as much in atmosphere as it is with getting closer to the Cristobal and Josh Gattis angle on the trail. Not only does Rashada liken south Florida to California aesthetically, but he called the staff push "crazy love" when detailing how frequent contact has been with UM.
"Coach (Josh) Gattis has been on me like nobody else, as well as coach (Mario) Cristobal and coach (Frank) Ponce," Rashada said."
RB Rueben Owens - Texas
This trip was supposed to go down last weekend, but Texas will gladly see its former running back commitment in town this weekend. Owens has a top group of UT, Texas A&M, Alabama, Georgia and USC, so every visit is critical between those schools. A&M is up next, something Texas is quite aware of, though the bond Owens has with UT running backs coach Tashard Choice predates the former NFL player's time on the Longhorn staff. Throw in the Arch Manning effect, as the two have talked about playing together and remain close, and Texas becomes that much more likely (though Alabama and Georgia are also in the mix for both). Wide receiver recruit and fellow Texan Johntay Cook, who is closer to Owens than Manning is, has also hinted at a package deal and they'll be taking in Austin together once again this weekend.
WR Carnell Tate - Ohio State
The recruitment of arguably the top wide receiver in the class of 2023 has been sold as a three-team focus for some time, between Ohio State, Notre Dame and Tennessee. Alabama and Georgia round out his top five, but when it comes to projecting potential commitments, our staff hears more about the trio compared to the national title game participants. Tate has been busy trying to get to each program and he is following up with Ryan Day and the Buckeyes once again. The childhood dream school for the IMG Academy star, he will be in town for the entire weekend for that much more time with perhaps the most noted wide receiver coach in the country in Brian Hartline. Entering Friday, both the Irish and Volunteer staff have projected confidence for Tate, though.
OT Kadyn Proctor - Iowa
The in-state program is one of three really pushing for the massive offensive tackle talent along with Alabama and Oregon. The Crimson Tide and Ducks are likely to get the next trips out of Proctor, though he is of course most familiar with the Hawkeye program between the three. Not only is there pressure for Kirk Farentz and his staff to keep an elite Iowan home for the second straight year, but winning last cycle's Xavier Nwankpa recruitment has also brought the two Iowa natives closer. Proctor even looks to the freshman safety for advice in being a fellow Iowan recruited as a national prospect.
"We're definitely close," Proctor told SI. "I ask him a lot about recruiting and I listen because he's been through it already. The advice from him is really good.
"He tells me all that real stuff, no fake stuff."
CB Javien Toviano - Texas
The competition for one of the top secondary prospects in the nation reflects the type of battles Texas needs to win on the recruiting trail to continue to get closer to being 'back' on the scene. The reigning national champions at Georgia and LSU each hosted him in March and he walked away very high on each SEC option while Ohio State, Florida, USC, Texas A&M, Alabama and others are in the race for Toviano's services, among others. After working out at the Under Armour Next camp in early March, he hinted at breaking down his list of option into a top group soon, so the trip to Texas could help him solidify the opinion of the in-state program.
QB Dylan Lonergan - Alabama
Lonergan has been hitting the visit trail of late, having seen Florida last weekend, as much as his demanding baseball schedule allows. The elite recruit in both sports has a desire to continue to play each in college, so learning how potentially lenient (or not) a coach like Saban will be in that regard could potentially make or break UA's chances with the Peach State star. Lonergan is the wild card of the QB domino scenario from a national perspective given his split sport focus so tracking how programs reciprocate remains telling. Florida and new coach Billy Napier appeared to be open to the idea last weekend as Lonergan sat down with the football and baseball staffs on his visit. Also fascinating is how Saban's staff will divide the attention between two elite quarterbacks in town this weekend in Lonergan and Arch Manning, one week after hosting Eli Holstein. One of the three will likely be Alabama's class headliner this cycle.
LB Anthony Hill - Texas
Another national recruit the Longhorns are working to keep within state lines, Hill has a top group of UT, A&M, Alabama, Oklahoma, Miami and USC. UT has probably hosted him more than any other program to date, yes including on weekends with Manning, so it plays important to get him on campus as much as possible. Hill has developed a strong relationship with the Longhorn coaching staff under Steve Sarkisian, a group selling the physically developed Denton (Texas) Ryan star on playing early on.
“Oh it’s really good," Hill said last week. "I feel like I talked to them a lot. It’s been really cool. I just feel like a guy coming in maybe like day one, day two just being able to do good in their scheme and system."
DB Caleb Downs - Alabama
A long-brewing national recruitment continues for Downs, who has been to Georgia and North Carolina of late. Ohio State, Notre Dame and many others are looking to get him on campus this month, beginning with Alabama this weekend. The Crimson Tide have been steady with him for more than a year, despite some transition on the defensive coaching staff. As is the case with national recruits, though, new Crimson Tide secondary coach Travaris Robinson offered Downs at Miami last year before Alabama did. Combining that relationship with that of another noted secondary developer in Saban has the industry relatively high on the program's chances to win this recruitment despite the heavyweight contenders participating.
DB Malik Muhammad - Miami
Rashada is the headliner in Coral Gables this weekend but Muhammad is a key secondary prospect for many programs dating back to his time as an underclassman recruit. What's interesting with the Texas native is that he's already been to Miami's campus under the Cristobal administration despite The U not making his top group of programs in November, before the coaching change. Alabama and LSU also hosted Muhammad of late and he has plans to get to Texas A&M and others in the SEC later in April. Miami has increased its potential to keep local recruits closer to home, but can it reach in and battle for an elite Texan with so much competition?