Here's a look at five schools that have pledges in action at this weekend's second annual
The Five-Star Challenge is in Notre Dame's backyard, and the Irish will be well-represented with five commits signed up to participate. Running back Elijah Hood and offensive tackle Quenton Nelson are five-star recruits while offensive tackle Alex Bars, offensive guard Sam Mustipher and wide receiver Justin Brent are four-stars. The top four running backs in the 2014 class will be at the event, so Hood, No. 3 in the latest rankings at this position, will have an opportunity to move up. With five recruits at the Five-Star Challenge, there will be a chance for these prospects to push for other players to commit to their schools as well. QB Kyle Allen has Notre Dame in his top five. ND was a "surreal" offer for 2015 QB Jack Beneventi. Others to watch include wide receivers Johnnie Dixon, Josh Malone and Malachi Dupre, along with five-star corner Adoree' Jackson, defensive tackle Thomas Holley and five-star running back Joe Mixon.
The Crimson Tide will have a nice contingent of commits at the Five-Star Challenge with running back Bo Scarbrough and linebackers Shaun Dion Hamilton and Zach Whitley in Chicago. Alabama is after the nation's top-ranked player, defensive end Da'Shawn Hand, who will be one of the most watched players at the Five-Star Challenge. Five-star cornerback Marlon Humphrey could be another major factor in this recruiting class, along with offensive tackle Damian Prince, outside linebacker Dillon Bates, wide receiver Travis Rudolph, 2015 safety Shawn Burgess-Becker, defensive end Lorenzo Carter, defensive tackle Andrew Brown and many others. It's not hard to sell Alabama football with its recent success, but that probably won't stop the committed kids from trying in Chicago.
The Tigers will have two commits at the Five-Star Challenge in linebacker Tre Williams and offensive center Joshua Casher, and there are plenty of targets to recruit during the weekend in Chicago. Topping that list has to be five-star quarterback Deshaun Watson, a Clemson commit who recently took a one-night trip to The Plains. Another Clemson pledge, Milan Richard, will be there, so it will be interesting to see what transpires if the Auburn commits try to recruit Watson hard. If Watson doesn't show interest, there are plenty of other targets, including wide receivers Ermon Lane, Josh Malone and Speedy Noil. Prince, Isaiah Wynn, and 2015 standout Mitch Hyatt are offensive line prospects to watch while five-star linebacker Raekwon McMillan is the defensive star that the Tigers want. Auburn is not giving up on Hand even though he does not have the Tigers in his current top five.
Watson, like any top-rated quarterback, can play a huge role in recruiting at the Five-Star Challenge, especially if he hooks up with some of the best receivers at the event. Lane, Malone, Dupre, KD Cannon, Artavis Scott, Saeed Blacknall, Jamil Kamara and others will be working out, and if they have a connection with Watson during one-on-one drills or 7-on-7, that could be an important recruiting tool for the Tigers. Several other targets, including five-star defensive end Kentavious Street, McMillan and Holley, will be in Chicago, and if Watson and Richard can connect with a few prospects that could pay dividends for Clemson's recruiting efforts.
The Tigers have only one 2014 commitment in attendance in four-star tight end Jacory Washington, but they have a special advantage by having a 2015 pledge; cornerback Kevin Toliver II will be in Chicago as well. Having Toliver there to jell with running backs Nicholas Brossette and Jacques Patrick, fellow cornerback Kendall Sheffield and Burgess-Becker and Rico McGraw could really jump-start LSU's recruiting efforts in 2015. The Tigers have nine commitments in their 2014 class, but Washington and Toliver will surely be working on other guys. Top-rated running back Leonard Fournette is priority No. 1. Lane, Dupre, Noil and Blacknall are targets at wide receiver. Carter, Hand and Malik McDowell are names to watch. And don't forget about Jackson, the Gardena (Calif.) Serra standout who is originally from the Midwest and lists LSU as one of his favorites.