Counter Intel: West Virginia Outduels Penn State, Harbaugh Keeps Hitting Connecticut, and the Trojans Add a Talented Trio

By Andrew Ellis on June 7, 2020 at 1:15 pm
Four-star wideout Kaden Prather committed to West Virginia over Penn State on Saturday.
Kaden Prather via 247 Sports

Counter Intel is the smart Ohio State fan's look at recruiting action taking place within the Big Ten and top national programs.

Clemson Lands Troy Stellato

We're not going to spend too much time here, but we'll start with the Troy Stellato news since it has the most direct impact on the Buckeyes. My colleague dove into this in Friday's edition of the Hurry Up as the Ohio State target came off the board and announced his commitment to Dabo Swinney and the Tigers. 

Stellato was Brian Hartline's No. 2 remaining target behind five-star Washington wideout Emeka Egbuka, and we've long been saying that the Buckeyes were highly unlikely to get them both. The COVID-19 pandemic made it impossible for Stellato to make it back to Columbus and Clemson was able to get him on campus before things shut down. The commitment didn't come as much of a surprise, and now Hartline's sole focus will be on beating out Washington and Oklahoma for Egbuka. 

Stellato, Egbuka, Marvin Harrison Jr., and Beaux Collins were all four coveted by the Buckeyes and Tigers. It's looking like Hartline and Clemson wide receivers coach Tyler Grisham may end up with an even split. The Stellato addition boosts Dabo's class past Tennessee and into the No. 2 spot.

Tough Times for James Franklin

Penn State has been the one Big Ten program to really compete with the Buckeyes for the conference recruiting crown, but the Nits have hit a bit of a rough stretch for the 2021 class. James Franklin's 18th-ranked recruiting class hit another snag just yesterday when four-star Germantown, Maryland receiver Kaden Prather sided with the Mountaineers. 

Prather had been one of Penn State's top targets and the Nittany Lions were believed to be the favorite as recently as 48 hours ago. At 6-foot-3 and 210 pounds, he's an imposing figure with an impressive offer sheet that includes Alabama, Auburn, Florida State, and yes even Ohio State. While he certainly wasn't a take at all of those places, he had narrowed things down to West Virginia, Penn State, Maryland, Oklahoma, and South Carolina.

This loss obviously doesn't even compare to someone like Julian Fleming, but the wide receiver situation has gotten a bit dicey of late. The Nittany Lions have a pair of commitments from three-star athletes in Lonnie White Jr. and Liam Clifford (brother of quarterback Sean Clifford), but that's not the most tantalizing future wide receiver duo.

Harbaugh Still Courting Connecticut 

Last Sunday we touched on the new Wolverine additions, including four-star pass-rusher Kechaun Bennett from Suffield, Connecticut. Later on that same day, three-star offensive tackle Tristan Bounds – who hails from Wallingford – announced that he will be bringing even more East Cost flavor to Ann Arbor. I'd like to personally thank Jim Harbaugh for allowing me to discover that Connecticut is known as "the Nutmeg State."

This particular teen is already on the Kyle Kalis path and will probably be guaranteeing wins à la Karan Higdon or spearheading revenge tours like Chase Winovich. In speaking on a podcast this week, Bounds discussed his big plans that include "kicking the shit out of Ohio State" and winning national championships.

Bounds is now the fourth 2021 offensive line commit for the Wolverines as Harbaugh continues to chase in-state prospect Rocco Spindler and Massachusetts guard Drew Kendall. Meanwhile, we'll all be on pins and needles as we wait to see if five-star defensive end Jack Sawyer backs off of his Ohio State pledge due to the overwhelming fear. 

Hoosiers, Husks Tap Into the Midwest 

Indiana and Nebraska didn't have to look too far for their most recent commitments. The Hoosiers added three-star Illinois athlete Trenten Howland on Friday, and the 6-foot-2, 218-pounder had been recruited by our old friend and current Indiana running backs coach Mike Hart. Howland is obviously a bigger tailback and he also excels on the hardwood. Other offers included Minnesota, Purdue, Iowa State, and several from MAC programs. 

Scott Frost went up to Iowa to land commitment No. 9 for the Huskers. Three-star linebacker Seth Malcom is ranked outside of the national top-1,000 and is actually now the lowest-rated commitment in the Nebraska class, but his offer sheet wasn't all that bad with Iowa State, Minnesota, and Kansas State all in the running. The Cornhuskers' class now checks in at No. 39, which is two spots ahead of the Crimson Tide. 

Fighting Irish Fend Off Michigan for Three-Star Corner

Notre Dame's cornerback recruiting has caused a bit of panic in the fanbase over the years. It seems like the Irish get close on guys like Clark Phillips III and Jakailin Johnson, but they're never able to reel them in. Now, the fanbase is hoping that new cornerbacks coach Mike Mickens can help change their fortunes a bit. 

The latest addition comes in the form of three-star Ryan Barnes from Gaithersburg, Maryland. At 6-foot-2 and 180 pounds, he had an impressive list of offers that includes Michigan, Georgia, Clemson, Florida, and Florida State. Barnes is the nation's No. 43 cornerback and No. 585 overall prospect. The Irish had been viewed as the favorite for some time. 

2021 Class Ranking, 6/7
1 OHIO STATE 301.39 95.34
2 CLEMSON 262.24 94.54
3 TENNESSEE 259.13 89.89
4 SOUTHERN CAL 245.60 91.37
5 NORTH CAROLINA 234.74 91.20
6 MICHIGAN 228.78 88.93
7 FLORIDA 219.74 89.86
8 LSU 212.38 92.84
9 MINNESOTA 205.72 87.47
10 OREGON 201.62 91.57

Trojans Add Trio on Offense

USC's 2021 class is up to No. 4 in the country thanks to three new additions this week. For the previous class, Ohio State had the nation's best pair of quarterback additions in C.J. Stroud and Jack Miller. The Trojans are almost certain to take home that honor for 2021 as four-star Miller Moss committed this week and joined forces with fellow four-star Jake Garcia. The Cali duo gives Clay Helton the No. 4 and No. 5 pro-style passers for the 2021 class. 

The other two additions are of the three-star variety and will help both Moss and Garcia in the passing game. Las Vegas receiver Michael Jackson chose the Trojans over Texas and a number of PAC-12 offers including Arizona and Arizona State. He's the country's No. 65 wideout and cited the future quarterback room as a big factor in his decision. 

Speaking of the Longhorns, USC also beat out Texas for a local product who was a part of the Horns' 2021 class at one point in time. Three-star tight end Lake McRee suits up for the powerhouse Lake Travis program that once featured the likes of Garrett Wilson and Matthew Baldwin. Rated as the nation's 18th-best tight end, he holds offers from Alabama, Auburn, and LSU. Lake McRee from Lake Travis also rolls off the tongue quite nicely. 

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