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Cincinnati, Pitt Set Pace for Momentous Weekend of College Football Recruiting Decisions

Many of the Power 5 college football programs added recruits in bulk over the first June visit weekend.

A verbal commitment decision, for those who follow the future of college football, is about as banner a moment as there is ahead of sporting those college colors. 

Over the weekend, big calls were made from every method in the sport, as high school recruits, junior college talent and transfer portal prospects each put an end to their individual recruiting processes.

The timing surrounding the wave of decisions shouldn’t come as a major surprise, either, given that it was the first official visit weekend of the month of June. It's the time of year when college coaches routinely host a depth of talent on campus, via visits and college camps—so naturally many recruits are given the green light to make a commitment, and plenty oblige. 

Working from the most experienced of prospects to the prep talent with another year of high school football to be played, key wide receivers elected to come out of the NCAA transfer portal in Charlie Jones and Koy Moore. The duo made the moves to play within the same conference while playing the same position. Each splashed at previous stops, too. 

Jones, who entered the portal just two weeks ago, made a national mark as a kick returner last fall at Iowa, where he was an All Big-Ten selection. Also a steady receiver with 323 yards on 21 receptions in 2021, he will now refine the hue of black and gold and suit up for Purdue, per a report

Moore had previously been one of the longest-tenured portal prospects before making his weekend decision. The former LSU standout, who flashed as a true freshman as the Tigers rebuilt in 2020, hit the portal in October not long after the writing was on the wall for Ed Orgeron's staff in Baton Rouge. There hadn’t been much buzz around Moore’s name relative to his new destination until he scheduled a visit to Auburn. The weekend trip concluded with the Louisiana native's decision going public within the SEC, reuniting with former LSU teammate and AU quarterback T.J. Finley in the process.

Other portal decisions over the weekend included South Carolina wide receiver Rico Powers pledging to Deion Sanders and Jackson State, Illinois quarterback Matt Robinson committing to travel back to his native California and play for Fresno State, and Alabama offensive lineman Dayne Shor announcing plans to team up with Jim Mora at UConn. A few players also entered the portal over the weekend, as the seemingly endless cycle of college players changing colors continued.

One of the most-tracked junior college prospects came off the board Saturday in Roman Rashada. The Diablo Valley College standout defensive back had been considering Miami, Virginia Tech and Ole Miss before picking the Rebels. He took an official visit to Oxford during the week, alongside brother and top class of 2023 quarterback Jaden Rashada, wrapping up his recruitment soon after. Missouri and Tennessee added junior college commitments during the week.

The primary avenue for talent acquisition in college football is still plucking from the prep ranks. This weekend was a stark reminder with the volume coming off the board. Some 16 Power 5 programs added at least one recruit, publicly, since the first official visit weekend of the month kicked off. Pitt, Arizona, Illinois and Virginia added multiple recruits, with the Panthers putting six new pledges on the board after entering the weekend with just a pair. 

A soon-to-be P5 program made the most recruiting headlines over the weekend, at least from a decision-based perspective. Cincinnati, which will of course head to the Big 12 in 2023, added a staggering eight verbal commitments over the weekend. The Bearcats had built one of the bigger classes before this point, so doubling the total number in a matter of days gives Luke Fickell's program the third-most pledges to date in the ’23 cycle with 16 (Texas Tech has 20, Notre Dame has 17).  

Many of the Bearcats’ commitments naturally had options to play within Power 5 conferences, but one of the pledges is a former pledge within those ranks in Daeh McCullough. The former Indiana commitment and local prospect went back on the recruiting market May 19, and the trip to Cincinnati was set up shortly thereafter. Closing on the defensive back, who had renewed interest from Penn State, Miami and others, is the latest example of the program's ability to compete for top talent. These are the type of recruiting wins, à la SI99 pass rusher Mario Eugenio in ’22, that keep UC king among Group of 5 programs on the field. 

While verbal commitments move the needle most, it should be noted that the initial visit weekend of the month played well across the blueblood programs in the sport as well. Arch Manning headlined the weekend at Georgia, taking his first official visit while UGA unveiled all-white uniforms through recruit photo shoots. Clemson hosted perhaps the biggest group of official visitors of all time, as some 30 recruits spent the weekend in town on the ACC powers’ dime. Alabama, Texas A&M, Auburn, Nebraska and Wisconsin likely hosted talent that will be added to the commitment roster at a later date. 

Expect more movement in June and July ahead of the initial Sports Illustrated team recruiting rankings debut in August. 

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