Sports Illustrated's John Garcia Jr. selects one question posed to him through social media (@JohnGarcia_Jr and @SIAllAmerican) each week to delve into the college football recruiting topics fans want to know most about.
Summer college football recruiting momentum is winding down for programs across the country, so naturally some have made out better than others.
June official visits windows and the July recruiting dead period have combined for hundreds of college commitments as prospects look to shut down that part of the process before their senior football seasons begin in August.
Ahead of the initial SI class ranking, and as a counter to the last mailbag on those disappointing on the trail, many have asked about who has the most momentum in college football recruiting heading into the season. We'll address contenders by conference in alphabetical order.
Miami gets the nod ever-so-slightly over Clemson and Duke, which has the biggest class in the country at 25 commitments, and North Carolina. The Hurricanes take it in part due to the quick turnaround under new coach Mario Cristobal relative to keeping in-state talent home as well as expanding the UM brand back to national status. For every Malik Bryant recruiting win over in-state rival Florida, which was finalized on Wednesday, there are tallies like that of offensive lineman Francis Mauigoa and pass rusher Jayden Wayne that ended up in orange and green over considerable national options since June began. In the meantime, securing a strong two-man quarterback class, including Elite 11 Finalists Jaden Rashada and Emory Williams, also puts extra a little oomph in the case for the Hurricanes to top the list.
Clemson added more summer pledges from a volume perspective, including a large upset win over the Crimson Tide for perhaps the best defensive player in Alabama when Peter Woods picked the Tigers in early July. He leads what could be shaping up to be the best defensive line haul in the country for the class of 2023, made up of key out-of-state recruits like Georgia native Vic Burley and Washington D.C. pass rusher David Ojiegbe.
Another tough conference to peg with multiple contenders, Ohio State's July momentum pushes it to the top of the list because of Penn State's ebb and flow behind it. Had the Nittany Lions been able to hold on to some key commitments who had a change of heart, including Elite 11 Finalist Marcus Stokes (flipped to Florida), the outlook of the class would be stronger. The Buckeyes are also still searching for a quarterback, but the wide receiver haul completed this summer is far and away the best in America to date with Brandon Inniss, Carnell Tate, Noah Rogers and Bryson Rodgers on board.
OSU's secondary class has also rounded into shape during the summer months, including the addition of former Georgia commitment Kayin Lee and the flip of then Texas Tech pledge Calvin Simpson-Hunt. While other position groups have work to be done for Ryan Day's staff, banner individual wins of late include pass rusher Jason Moore and tight end recruit Jelani Thurman, each recent and contested national wins from outside the Midwestern footprint.
Is there any doubt Texas would run away with this offseason honor? An argument could be made for the Longhorns sitting as the hottest recruiting program of the entire cycle at this point, sparked by the pledge of Arch Manning, of course. The program also hit big in the state of Louisiana on the defensive side of the ball in elite safety Derek Williams, and more Bayou targets could eventually join the fold in Austin at a later date.
Most expected a run of offensive recruits following Manning, and that's already come to fruition under Steve Sarkisian, winning close in-state battles like that of twitchy wide receiver Johntay Cook over Texas A&M, but also battles outside of convention like that of Payton Kirkland having gone Texas' way. The fifth offensive lineman to commit following Manning's June decision, Kirkland picked the program over a national offer list without even making a visit to Austin beforehand. Last weekend, he became commitment No. 20 overall for UT, and No. 12 since Manning picked the program over Georgia and Alabama back on June 23.
USC is picking up nice momentum over the last few weeks and Oregon has the best individual get in SI Elite 11 MVP Dante Moore, but it is Washington that has rolled like no other out west since June began. Under new head coach Kalen DeBoer, 15 new Huskies have gone public with verbal commitments, including the newest on Thursday evening in California offensive lineman Kahlee Tafai. The state DeBoer came from has been ideal for UW thus far in the cycle, serving as the home of 11 of the program's 19 pledges to date.
Among the marquee summer wins for Washington include quarterback Lincoln Kienholz, one of the most productive in America as a junior in 2021, in a battle UW's rookie staff won over stable opposition in Wisconsin and North Dakota State. Louisiana defensive back Curley Reed is among the most recent commitments in a relatively surprising decision to leave SEC country for a program producing NFL defensive backs at a similar rate.
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In one of the tougher calls to make relative to volume and consistency from programs like Georgia, Arkansas, LSU, Tennessee, Florida and South Carolina, Alabama's last two commitments before this writing were enough for the nod. Going into Georgia's backyard for arguably the top two recruits in the state in legacy running back recruit Justice Haynes and consensus No. 1 safety Caleb Downs is no small feat, even for Nick Saban.
Before that point, UA secured the top in-state secondary recruit in Tony Mitchell, international offensive line recruit Olaus Alinen, two-sport star quarterback Dylan Lonergan and No. 1 overall junior college recruit Malik Benson among others. Twelve of Alabama's 15 current commitments have come in the last two months, with plenty of top targets remaining for the defending SEC champs.
When you have constructed arguably the No. 1 recruiting class in the country (SI's rankings come out in August), you deserve your due regardless of what conference you may or may not call home. So Notre Dame, and new head coach Marcus Freeman, this is the beginning of said due. The Irish have rolled from the point Freeman got the nod to replace Brian Kelly, and the summer scene has been no different.
Notre Dame has added seven more pledges to its class in June and July, with more on the way (this is your warning to check out Irish Breakdown the first week of August). Of those in the Irish corner publicly, elite offensive tackle Charles Jagusah profiles as one of the best at the position nationally as do a pair of Texans added to the fold in July in wide receiver Jaden Greathouse and cornerback Micah Bell.
To the surprise of few who have paid attention on the field or on the recruiting trail, Cincinnati is again making major moves toward its future roster. Luke Fickell's program continues to edge Power Five opposition for top talent, and the month of July has been no different. The most recent win came from the state of Illinois, as Chicago Simeon wide receiver Malik Elzy popped for UC over more than a dozen P5 offers.
June was the center of the Bearcats' momentum, though, in adding 12 new commitments to the class. Former Indiana secondary pledge Daeh McCullough, lengthy Michigan defensive back prospect Amare Snowden and fast-rising in-state star Cameron Calhoun, all June pledges, should bolster the DB unit of the future Big 12 program.
Have a recruiting question? Connect with @SIAllAmerican and/or @JohnGarcia_Jr to submit yours and it could be featured on the next mailbag.
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