Counter Intel is the smart Ohio State fan's look at recruiting action taking place within the Big Ten and top national programs.
Saban, Brown Land Buckeye Targets
Much like last week with Troy Stellato, we'll touch on a pair of additions for other programs that have a direct impact on Ohio State. Nick Saban's offensive line development has been nothing short of spectacular of late, and Alabama will have yet another first-round tackle next year when Alex Leatherwood hears his name called. If we're being honest, it's tough to blame five-star IMG Academy standout JC Latham for siding with the Tide.
We've had Latham No. 2 on our recruiting board for a few months now, and this is a big-time loss for Ryan Day and Greg Studrawa. The COVID-19 situation only made things even more challenging, and the staff will certainly try to get the Milwaukee native on campus this fall. For Nick Saban, he's now on track to land a pair of five-stars at the position as Fort Worth's Tommy Brockermeyer has also been trending heavily toward the Tide.
Mack Brown continues to impress on the trail as the Tarheels landed four-star defensive end Jahvaree Ritzie on Friday. Ohio State was in Ritzie's top-five, but this one had been trending toward UNC for some time. The news isn't nearly as devastating as Latham's commitment, but it is another nice pickup for the Heels whose 2021 class now sits at 16 pledges with 14 of those being from within the state.
Big Week in the Big Ten
It wasn't the best week for the Buckeyes, but the rest of the conference fared quite well as several new commitments hopped on board; especially in the West. Wisconsin, Nebraska, Iowa, Northwestern, and Purdue all added to their 2021 classes. Some East programs got in on the action as well.
The top-rated new addition was four-star defensive end TJ Bollers as the Badgers plucked the second-best prospect from the state of Iowa. Checking in as the nation's No. 8 weakside end, Bollers holds offers from Penn State, Notre Dame, Michigan, Florida, Alabama, and others.
Scott Frost headed to California to grab commitment No. 10 for the Huskers in the form of three-star linebacker Will Schweitzer. The Hawkeyes went up to Cuyahoga County to add three-star quarterback Joey Labas from Broadview Heights. The Ohioan had a MAC-heavy offer sheet until Iowa offered in late May. Not to be outdone, Pat Fitzgerald and his virtual visits helped to land 6-foot-1, 207-pound tailback Anthony Tyus III out of Portage, Michigan.
Three-star athlete Sam Jackson has had an interesting recruitment. The Naperville, Illinois product decommitted from Minnesota for the second time last week and made the decision to flip to Purdue. He was recruited by PJ Fleck as an athlete but it appears that Jeff Brohm has every intention of letting him play quarterback, which is his preferred position. He's only 5-foot-11 and 170 pounds but is without question one of the country's more versatile prospects.
In the East, Indiana picked up a big pledge on Thursday from four-star dual-threat quarterback Donaven McCulley. He became Tom Allen's top-rated commitment and the only four-star in the class thus far. The Indy signal-caller had a number of Big Ten offers as well as SEC programs like Missouri and Ole Miss.
Over on the East Coast, Greg Schiano added three-star Philadelphia tackle Tyler Needham just yesterday as Rutgers jumped into the top-20 of the national rankings. That's commitment No. 21 for Schiano giving him more than any team in the country with Tennessee being the lone exception.
If you want to look a ways down the road then James Franklin's got you covered. Penn State's tight end success is showing no signs of stopping as the Nittany Lions added 2023 prospect Mathias Barnwell. This kid just finished his freshman year and is already 6-foot-5 and 240 pounds. He also comes from a place in Virginia called "Spotsylvania" which leads me to believe he's been a PSU lock since birth.
Ducks Still Flyin' High
The country's No. 1 wide receiver is five-star Buckeye target Emeka Egbuka. California's Troy Franklin is right behind Egbuka and checks in as the No. 31 overall prospect. Last month he listed a final four of Alabama, Washington, Arizona State, and Oregon. Franklin announced his commitment to Mario Cristobal and the Ducks on Friday
Franklin became Oregon's top-rated commitment and its second four-star wideout. Cristobal's class is ranked second in the Pac-12 behind only USC, though it has three fewer commitments and a better average rating per prospect. The Ducks have also been trending for Baltimore's Dont'e Thornton. A top PSU target, Thornton could help to cap off one heck of a wide receiver haul.
Not That AJ Green
Arkansas isn't a team we talk about too much, but new head coach Sam Pittman has proven to be a heck of a recruiter when he was in Athens. Tulsa, Oklahoma's AJ Green has been recruited as both a running back and a defensive back, but he seems likely to play on the offensive side of the ball at the next level. The four-star committed to Arkansas on Friday over a number of other suitors.
Green has been a big-time Michigan target for several months now, and it's safe to assume Jim Harbaugh will continue the pursuit despite the Razorback pledge. The Sooners expressed some interest as well, though Green perhaps wasn't a take for Lincoln Riley and Co. He was commitment No. 11 for Pittman and is the team's lone four-star at the moment.
LSU Loses One
Ohio State's spot atop the national recruiting rankings is safe for now, but there are probably three or four teams who could make a push as we get further into the process. LSU may be one of those programs, but Ed Orgeron did suffer a bit of a setback last week when three-star Florida safety Dakota Mitchell backed off of his pledge.
Rated as the No. 407 prospect nationally, Mitchell doesn't have the star power as some of the other Tiger commits. His recruitment has been one of those #teen spectacles that we love to watch unfold. He committed to LSU in March and two months later tweeted that his recruitment was shut down. Then, on Friday, he backed off his LSU pledge and of course requested that his decision be respected.
Enter Miami, Exit Minny
Miami is known for a lot of things. After an amazing start to the current millennium, the Canes have finished ranked in the Top-25 just twice in the last 10 years. Another thing Coral Gables is known for? How about more decommitments than any other program in America. It's become an unfortunate trend for Mark Richt and now Manny Diaz.
The Canes did get some good news just yesterday when local star Romello Brinson announced his commitment. The country's No. 25 wideout and No. 132 overall prospect, Brinson selected the home team over Georgia, Alabama, LSU, and plenty of other offers. He's a part of the Miami Northwestern program that's produced an absurd amount of talent including Deandre Baker, Amari Cooper, and Teddy Bridgewater.
The addition helped to bump the Golden Gophers out of the top-10. Now the Canes just have to hope to hold onto this one.