Friday Five: Ewers to Ohio State, South Carolina Coaching Consideration

SI All-American

More college games have been canceled, the first big firing went down, recruiting powers are flexing the muscle and more in what has been a busy week in college football. 

SI All-American jumps right into some of the biggest targets in the latest Friday Five. 

1. Top 2022 QB Quinn Ewers to Ohio State

The former Texas commitment, who grew up a huge Longhorn fan and committed to Tom Herman and company in August, is now a Buckeye. He opened up the process in October and Ryan Day's program has been the public favorite ever since despite topping the recruiting board at programs like Alabama, LSU, Oklahoma and many others. The Southlake (Texas) Carroll star put up 4,000 yards and 45 touchdowns in 2019, his first season as a starter. 

The junior can do it all from the game's most important position, from sit in the pocket and power the ball to all three levels, play off-script and hold his own as a pure runner as needed. Ewers stands 6-foot-3, 200 pounds early on, reminding us of red-hot Ole Miss quarterback Matt Corral from an athletic profile standpoint. Southlake Carroll has sent plenty of QBs to the Power 5 and even the NFL in Chase Daniel, Greg McElroy and Kenny Hill, but in just a season and a half into his starting varsity career and that conversation has already shifted to Ewers at the top of that list. 

And how about the Bucks in Texas? OSU has splashed in the Lone Star State over the years from JK Dobbins to Jeff Okudah, not to mention 2020 breakout frosh Jaxon Smith-Njigba, but this could go down as the most important hit in the talent-rich state yet. Time will tell but that QB room is loaded with diverse and talented underclassmen set for the post Justin Fields era.

2. The Hill South Carolina Must Climb

Will Muschamp is a noted recruiter and defensive coordinator, but the lack of success as a head coach in the SEC was too much for South Carolina to look past in firing him this month. Beyond a strong stable of assistant coaches potentially under consideration, including interim Mike Bobo, landing a worthy replacement given what USC is up against won't be easy. 

Instead of rattling off the next crop of hot (or recycled) names in the middle of a pandemic season, we're more curious at the task at hand for whoever that next coach is. Of course we begin in looking at it from a recruiting perspective, where not only does USC have to combat SEC powers in the nation's most competitive conference, relying on a geographical pipeline most of America focuses on border state Georgia, but they're located in the same state as national power Clemson. Good luck.

Even on the field, the Gamecocks are heading in the wrong direction as the SEC East finally rebounds from a bit of a lull over the last half-decade or so from a depth perspective compared to the SEC West. Now, though, Florida has matched Georgia's stance atop the list while Tennessee and Kentucky have shown at least some progress in recent years under what seem to be like stable regimes as of this writing. Again, not as much of a quick-fix opportunity as the surface or conference reputation may suggest. 

3. Smael Makes Georgia Smile

If you heard bells ringing and songs singing in Athens this week, the reason is because the Bulldogs received fantastic news on the recruiting trail. Smael Mondon, the nation's top linebacker and No. 6 overall prospect in the SI99, announced he was "staying home" to play for Georgia. At 6-foot-3 and 220 pounds, Mondon has great athleticism, range and play speed. 

One college defensive coordinator told us earlier this year that he'd put Mondon in the boundary on the second level, let him chase and make plays. Whether he plays Mike, Will or even Sam, the Peach State native has traits to become a defensive star for head coach Kirby Smart, who has a defensive background of developing top talent. Mondon's pledge gives UGA 19 commitments, with six being SI99 members. The Dawgs are closing in on a top-5 class.

4. Irish Eyes see Irish Rise

Notre Dame currently has the No. 10 recruiting class, and its position could be making a move up. Head coach Brian Kelly and his staff are coming down the home stretch to finish strong, marked by getting a quartet of commitments this week. Kelly re-flipped Philip Riley, Jr., a defensive back prospect out of Florida, from rival USC. Riley had been committed to play in South Bend since the spring, yet backed off and flipped to USC several weeks ago. He opted to re-commit to Notre Dame Monday night. The Irish then received a trio of pledges Thursday, with OT Caleb Johnson, LB Kahanu Kia and K Josh Bryan choosing to wear gold helmets.

5. Florida's Best Set for National Showcase

Friday night football has been taking a bevy of hits due to cancellations linked to COVID-19, but one game on track for a national audience tonight features many of the top recruits in the Sunshine State through multiple classes. It's IMG Academy hosting TRU Prep and it will be seen on ESPNU as of this writing. 

The list of prospects to keep an eye on is quite long, but some of the top seniors expected in action include SI99 members in QB JJ McCarthy (committed to Michigan), OL JC Latham (Alabama), LB Xavian Sorey, WR Jacorey Brooks (Alabama) and other P5 prospects like OL Marcus Tate (Clemson), RB Lovasea Carroll (Georgia), OL Greg Crippen (Michigan), WR Malik McClain (Florida State) and many more. 

If TRU Prep has a chance against the top prep team in the nation, 2023 wide receiver prospect Brandon Inniss will have to play a big part. The polished underclassman already holds offers from some of college football's best, including LSU, Florida, Georgia, Miami, Oklahoma and others.  

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