The month of September is here and while many in the recruiting business focus on it being the first day of communication with class of 2022 prospects, SI All-American is checking in on the top uncommitted stars in the senior class.
In fact, half of the top 10 recruits in the debut of the SI99 rankings just last week remain uncommitted at this time. We hit the SI network of team sites in addition to SIAA sources for more on where the nation's best are set to land.
1. JT Tuimoloau, Sammamish (Wash.) Eastide Catholic
6-foot-5, 277 pounds
SI99 Rank: No. 2
SI Positional Rank: No. 1
Buzz: Tuimoloau is notoriously private, thus making it tough for conjure a clear picture regarding his recruitment. He’s recently helped lead a movement in Washington to reinstate the high school football season. “Other than that”, says Dan Raley of Husky Maven, “JT stays underground.” However, in a recent story on SI’s Husky Maven site written by Mike Martin with contributions from Adam Prescott of BuckeyesNow, it appears this may be shaping up as a Washington-Ohio State showdown. The Buckeyes recently landed a defensive line commitment from SI All-American candidate Tyleik Williams, their third pledge amongst the defensive front. Ohio State also remains in the hunt for SI All-American candidate Tywone Malone (SI 99 No. 16), so spots have become limited in its class at the position. Toss in the circumstances of the current COVID-19 pandemic, and the hometown Huskies appear to be in a position to remain a major player until Tuimoloau makes a decision. Stanford, USC and Alabama also are in the mix.
2. IDL Korey Foreman, Corona (Calif.) Centennial
6-foot-4, 265 pounds
SI99 Rank: No. 4
SI Positional Rank: No. 1
Buzz: Since decommitting from Clemson in April, the knee-jerking expectation was for USC to remain at the forefront in the race for Foreman. Citing a lack of visit opportunities as the primary reason for backing off of the Tigers, the Californian has been unable to hit the road in a traditional official or unofficial visit scenario since due to COVID-19 and the often-extended NCAA Dead Period expected to remain in place for the foreseeable future. However, Foreman did take a trip to Athens to see Georgia up close with a bevy of fellow 2021 recruits, including Bulldog quarterback commitment and class leader Brock Vandagriff in August. Fellow interior projection Maason Smith, another SI99 member, continues to be considered a public package deal with Foreman. He was in town, too and returns are positive for Kirby Smart and company since for each trench talent. LSU, per SIAA sources, remains quite consistent with Foreman from a communication standpoint and characterizes their chances with him as "solid" at this time. Additional SIAA sources don't expect Clemson to factor into the conversation with the former Tiger pledge compared to USC and the SEC pair. Oregon and Howard round out Foreman's public top seven from July.
3. LB Smael Mondon, Dallas (Ga.) Paulding County
6-foot-3, 220 pounds
SI99 Rank: No. 6
SI Positional Rank: No. 6
Buzz: Mondon could be the toughest to track among the elites on this list other than the fact that he will play in the SEC, working with a public top five of Auburn, Florida, Georgia, LSU and Tennessee. Sources in the South indicate it's been more of a Georgia, Auburn, UT battle but his decision timeline has been fluid to say the least. He's bounced back and forth on making a decision but has yet to settle on that one team, with initial commitment expectations dating back to June. Mondon does not tip hand at all, but this recruitment is coming down to relationships. "He has a strong relationship with Travis Williams at Auburn, Glen Schumann at Georgia, and Brian Niedermeyer at Tennessee," said VR2 Publisher Matt Ray. "Those three are the front-runners in most people's opinion, and one would gather that from hearing Mondon talk, but nobody truly knows what Smael Mondon is thinking except Smael Mondon. So, do not discount LSU or Florida in this one just yet. His recruitment will extend until signing day, even if he commits before then. Expect several twists and turns between now and then. When he feels ready to tell other teams no, will be when he goes public with a decision, but, for now, there is no timetable in place."
4. RB Camar Wheaton, Garland (Texas) Lakeview Centennial
5-foot-11, 200 pounds
SI99 Rank: No. 9
SI Positional Rank: No. 2
Buzz: Is Wheaton the safest to peg in this top five? Just last week the speedy running back dished out his final three programs with Oklahoma flanked by Alabama and LSU. There was to be a top two dropped instead, but there was an expansion to three overnight. The industry expected OU and it felt like general curiosity when conversation about the other programs came up. In-state schools would then be eliminated for the Texan, reinforcing why most point to Oklahoma as perhaps an overwhelming favorite to land the top uncommitted running back in the SI99. He visited Norman with the Sooner Summit crew on a massive, prospect-led unofficial visit weekend in August and eliminated the Longhorns soon after. However, it would be foolish to count out the defending national champs and Alabama all together, especially considering UA doesn't have a running back committed to this point in the 2021 cycle. Wheaton has been to both Baton Rouge and Tuscaloosa in the past.
5. WR Emeka Egbuka, Steilacoom (Wash.) Steilacoom
6-foot-1, 190 pounds
SI99 Rank: No. 10
SI Positional Rank: No. 1
Buzz: The second elite prospect from the Apple State on this list, Egbuka’s recruitment is also following a somewhat discreet theme like Tuimoloau’s. In fact, Husky Maven’s Dan Raley has said of Tuimoloau and Egbuka, “They're fairly elusive, not doing interviews.” Egbuka has a core four of Ohio State, Washington, Oklahoma and Clemson, which he settled on late in the spring. He appears to have a good relationship with SI All-American’s No. 1 prospect, QB Caleb Williams, a Sooner pledge. Plus, never count out the hometown team in Washington, plus Dabo Swinney and Clemson are always in the hunt for elite talent. However, it could be tough to beat out Ohio State for Egbuka right now. "He has a great relationship with Brian Hartline," Prescott said. "He visited Ohio State twice before this pandemic."
John Garcia, Jr., Brooks Austin, Matt Ray, Zach Lentz, Adam Prescott and Dan Raley contributed to this feature.
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