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Ohio State, LSU Among Programs Working to Flip Elite QB Recruits

From Elite 11 finalists to emerging targets, early verbal commitments are being challenged from coast to coast.

A handful of quarterback recruits in the class of 2023 have had a major change of heart—aka a de-commitment—making a switch from one college program to another. 

All but Reese Mooney, the most recent to back off a pledge (Vanderbilt in mid-May), have long gone public with their new college plan. Each decision was relatively simple to explain at the time and again in hindsight.

Elite 11 finalist Malachi Nelson, who was committed to Lincoln Riley at Oklahoma only to change his mind for USC once the coach took over in Los Angeles, made almost an expected change from one program to the next. LaNorris Sellers did similar, following multiple assistant coaches from Virginia to Syracuse. Drew Viotto backed off of Eastern Michigan once Minnesota offered, another common path in the de-commitment game (going from the FBS to Power Five). 

The most talked about move made in this light to date was that of Eli Holstein. The Louisiana state champion—also headed to L.A. for the Elite 11 at the end of the month—was long a pledge to Jimbo Fisher at Texas A&M. He backed off during the spring months and wound up picking Alabama right around the time the college football world was hanging on the former mentor and mentee's every word.

Surely, other changes of heart at the game's most important position stand ahead in the 2023 class. Not only are big dominoes among the uncommitted like Arch Manning and Dante Moore eventually going to fall, but Jaden Rashada, Dylan Lonergan, Brock Glenn and Avery Johnson appear ready to come off the board this month. 

It means the programs missing out on the best available talent will likely re-evaluate options and target an emerging option among the undeclared or increase communication with a quarterback already on board with another school publicly. 

Austin Novosad has become one of the most targeted at the position of late. The Dripping Springs (Texas) High School standout has been on board with in-state Baylor since December, but Ohio State and Stanford are recent additions to the offer list. The emerging talent threw for the Buckeye offer at camp and set up an official visit to Columbus soon after. He was back at Baylor last weekend and has told SI that other programs are also in communication. 

"They all have pros and cons, so just ultimately the one that has the most positive and family environment (will win out)," Novosad told Inside The Bears.

Chris Parson

Parson has become coveted despite a pledge to Florida State.

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Chris Parson is another longtime pledge to one program, Florida State, now taking trips to other schools looking to change his mind. The Tennessee native has been on board with Mike Norvell and company for nearly a year, with little indication he would look elsewhere. 

Then it appeared as if it was Norvell and company making the initial move, offering Glenn and Purdue commitment Rickie Collins. Each has since taken his official visit to Tallahassee while considering other options. Parson, at nearly the same time meanwhile, set up trips to see Mike Leach and Mississippi State as well as Rhett Lashlee at SMU. Many eyes in college football will be on his next trip to Tallahassee, an official visit scheduled for this weekend. 

It's not just FSU after Collins, a Baton Rouge (La.) Woodlawn product, either. As the hometown LSU Tigers have targeted and missed on the other elite in-state QBs like Manning and Holstein, and without much traction for undeclared targets like Moore and Rashada, Brian Kelly has upped the pressure on keeping Collins home. 

Purdue and Jeff Brohm earned the initial commitment in October, of course before Kelly made the move from Norte Dame to the SEC West. Collins threw for the LSU staff at the program's camp of late. The Purdue official visit already came and went during the first weekend of June, so there is increasing chatter around Collins' recruitment. Oregon also offered him a scholarship last month and the Ducks remain without a signal caller on board thus far in the 2023 cycle.

The flip game is active beyond those committed to Power Five programs at the moment, too. Virginia has continued to target Middle Tennessee State pledge Anthony Colandrea and actually got him on campus for a recent multi-day visit. The Blue Raiders then got the St. Petersburg (Fla.) Lakewood star back on campus for his official visit last weekend, but now an official visit to Virginia is in the works for September. 

"This visit was awesome!" Colandrea, who is also hearing from Wake Forest and Illinois of late, told SI of UVa. "I got to be with the coaches for a couple of days and spend time with them and see the campus and see how they are going to rebuild Virginia."

The Cavaliers have been quite active on the trail this year, making plays for Glenn, Johnson and capturing the attention of plenty when Manning made a trek to Charlottesville. It's both a sign of how aggressively new head coach Tony Elliott will push for talent at quarterback and the business to secure the future face of the program.

The first-time head coach is far from alone in courting those already thought to be done with the process. Action is sure to pick up over the coming weeks and into the NCAA dead period in July when many refreshed evaluations are to be made from program to prospect and vice versa.

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