Counter Intel: Fireworks in Norman, Alabama's Surge Continues, and Mack Brown Gets His First Five-Star

By Andrew Ellis on July 5, 2020 at 11:05 am
Five-star quarterback Caleb Williams pledged to the Sooners on Independence Day.
Caleb Williams 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.

Fireworks Aplenty for Boomer Sooner

The nation's No. 1 quarterback made his intentions known on Independence Day, and it's hardly a surprise that a player like Caleb Williams will be heading to Norman to run the show for Lincoln Riley. Rated as the No. 4 player in America, LSU and Maryland had been the other primary contenders, and the Bayou Bengals actually looked to be the favorites early on. 

There are several things I want to touch on with this one. First of all, Williams is going to be a star in college playing in the perfect system. Yes, I know that's hardly a bold proclamation for a guy with five little stars next to his name. Additionally, he's going to be one heck of a recruiter for the Sooners as he's built up a great relationship with several of the country's top prospects. 

Earlier this spring, one prominent Oklahoma site even went as far as suggesting that – according to their sources – several of Ohio State's commits will likely flip after the Williams announcement. We've been poking fun at this for a long while now over on the recruiting board and will probably be doing so into the future even though the joke has officially been beaten to death.

All of that being said, Emeka Egbuka is a very real target for the Sooners. The five-star is coveted by Brian Hartline and every other team in the country, though his decision will come down to Ohio State, Oklahoma, Washington and Clemson. I find it funny that some places keep citing his relationship with Williams all the while completely overlooking the fact that he's been close with Kyle McCord for well over a year.

Egbuka has also grown extremely close with Hartline and has yet to even visit Norman (though he is expected to if permitted). The Sooners have done quite well with sending wideouts to the league, and this may very well prove to be an Oklahoma/Ohio State battle, but I see no reason for concern at this point.

My last thought on Williams is that his being named Elite 11 MVP was pretty darn laughable. I spent more time than I'd like to admit watching things unfold and his day-two and day-three performances were in the bottom half of the 20 participants. I guess that's what happens when Trent Dilfer gives someone an award based on their junior highlights rather than the play during the competition. He's a heck of a player, but the whole MVP thing was weird and seemed like a ploy to build the hype leading up to Saturday's announcement. 

The holiday also saw the Sooners land four-star Austin, Texas cornerback Latrell McCutchin. He's the nation's No. 11 player at the position and is someone Nick Saban still had his eye on even after he decommitted from Alabama back in March. Oklahoma's pass defense was dead last in 2018 and outside of the top-50 a season ago. Alex Grinch will take all the help he can get in the secondary.

Mack Brown > Most Humans

I feel like Mack Brown is someone my grandpa would enjoy hitting the lake with to scoop up some walleye and perhaps talk a little World War II. He's also someone several of the nation's top #teens seem to be drawn to as the Tar Heels continue to be one of the hottest teams on the trail. Zack touched on it the other day, but the addition of Tony Grimes has the folks in Chapel Hill thinking it's just a matter of time till they're challenging Clemson for ACC supremacy. 

Georgia and Ohio State were finalists, but Grimes was never going to end up in Columbus. Landing at North Carolina is a great spot where he'll be able to play right away.

One thing I like about the UNC class is how spread out and well-balanced it is. With the addition of the No. 1 cornerback, the Heels have high-end talent at just about every position for the class of 2021

The Heels' class is back up to No. 3 in the country behind only the Buckeyes and Tigers. It's the second straight superb recruiting cycle for UNC, and Grimes is the first five-star addition. I don't mind seeing good things happening for Mack Brown. Kirby Smart? That'd be another story. 

Mack Brown: Quite possibly my favorite human.
This is exactly what I hope to be doing as I approach age 70.

Tide Still Rolling

Not too long ago, Alabama's 2021 class was ranked somewhere in the 30s and 40s – basically in the same tier as Wake Forest and SMU. You'll be absolutely shocked to hear that Nick Saban is still, in fact, good at bringing talented kids to Tuscaloosa. 

The Tide have added four big-time commitments in the past month, and two of those came in the last seven days. Alabama was viewed as the favorite from the moment Cincinnati La Salle cornerback Devonta Smith backed off his Ohio State pledge. Saban and Co. seem to view Smith as one of the country's best at the position – and, yes, they're already talking about a major rankings boost (of course) –  and we wish him the best in Tuscaloosa

Bama now holds commitments from four of the top 12 players in the state of Florida. The latest bit of news came on Wednesday when four-star edge rusher Dallas Turner announced his intentions. Turner previously played at American Heritage (home of Torrance Gibson) and will be at St. Thomas Aquinas this fall. Georgia, Michigan and Florida were among the finalists for the country's No. 44 prospect. 

Unsurprisingly, Saban has the Tide's class surging as it's now up to No. 12 in the team rankings and No. 4 in the SEC behind Tennessee, LSU and Florida.

2021 Class Ranking, 7/5
1 OHIO STATE 298.06 95.71
2 CLEMSON 260.00 94.32
3 NORTH CAROLINA 259.73 92.10
4 TENNESSEE 259.34 89.92
5 OREGON 253.04 91.96
6 LSU 251.52 93.54
7 SOUTHERN CAL 249.71 91.22
8 MICHIGAN 243.48 89.32
9 FLORIDA 239.30 89.56
10 TEXAS 223.88 91.61

Trio of Commits Boosts LSU's Class

Ed Orgeron's class came in at No. 9 last week, but it's all the way up to No. 6 after three new commitments. The top-rated of the bunch was in-state wideout Chris Hilton. The four-star is the No. 8 receiver in the country and it was only a matter of time before he popped for the Tigers. Virginia Beach defender Naquan Brown also joined the class this weekend. The 6-foot-3, 205-pound outside linebacker/edge rusher chose LSU over Virginia Tech, Miami and others. 

The most surprising news went down yesterday when Florida pass rusher Keanu Koht sided with LSU. The Tigers had been one of the top choices along with Alabama and Florida, but the decision wasn't necessarily expected to come this soon. Koht became the fourth defensive end commitment for the 2021 class. And just like every other team in America, LSU remains in hot pursuit of five-star pass rusher Korey Foreman.

Mostly Quiet on the Midwest Front

Despite the national commitment barrage, It was a pretty quiet week in Big Ten Country. Nebraska celebrated Independence Day by landing a commitment from Texas wideout Latrell Neville. Some outlets had him identified as an early five-star, and there was early interest from the Buckeyes and several other big-time programs. 

Neville has seen his stock plummet throughout the process as he's now listed as a three-star and the No. 429 overall player. He spent a couple of months as a Virginia Tech commit before becoming No. 11 for Scott Frost and the Huskers. Nebraska's class is up to No. 38 in the county and No. 10 in the conference.

Mel Tucker dipped into the IMG Academy waters yesterday and landed three-star tight end Jake Renda. The New Jersey native is new to the position after previously playing quarterback, unranked in the composite, and his top offers are from Arizona, Boston College and NC State. Renda is commitment No. 12 for Mel Tucker, and thus far all of them are of the three-star and unranked variety. Only Illinois and Purdue are ranked lower in the conference.

Some other movement worth mentioning is Michigan taking over the crystal ball lead for Fresno, California speedster Xavier Worthy. Listed as the country's 32nd-best wide receiver, Oregon appeared to be the team to beat for the last several weeks. Worthy will announce his decision next Friday, and as of now, it's looking like Jim Harbaugh should get some more positive news from the West Coast. 

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