Counter Intel: Wolverines Steal One From Sparty's Backyard, Ohioan Sides with Irish, and Clemson Climbing Again

By Andrew Ellis on August 2, 2020 at 11:05 am
Three-star wideout Andrel Anthony sided with the Wolverines over the Spartans.
Andrel Anthony 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.

East Lansing Product Spurns the Local Team

Landing the No. 85 wide receiver in America doesn't sound all that spectacular on paper; especially for a team like the Wolverines. But Andrel Anthony had been a priority target for the rival Spartans for quite some time, and most pundits had the East Lansing three-star spending his college days in his hometown. 

Over the last week or so, things quickly changed for the top receiver in the state of Michigan, and Anthony pledged to the Wolverines on Friday. He made a visit to Ann Arbor last weekend and then the tone of his recruitment quickly switched. Rated as the nation's No. 529 overall prospect, Anthony became the fourth wide receiver in Michigan's 2021 class. Mel Tucker and the Spartans don't have a single commitment at the position. 

The biggest storyline here is the ineptitude of the Spartans' and their 64th-ranked recruiting class that's comprised entirely of three-star prospects (and one zero-star). Anthony had long been Tucker's top receiver target, would have been the top-rated commit in the Michigan State class, but instead he's elected to head about an hour southeast to Ann Arbor. Yikes.

More Notes from B1G Land 

We talked last week about Penn State landing its first 2022 pledge in Westerville wideout Kaden Saunders, and it didn't take long for James Franklin to land commitment No. 2. The latest addition was another four-star in Milwaukee tight end Jerry Cross. The 6-foot-6, 218-pounder is listed as the nation's second-best tight end for the 2022 class. I've said it before, but I'll never fault a tight end for siding with Penn State, Notre Dame, or even Michigan for that matter. 

The 2022 commitments are starting to trickle in for the conference, and the Nittany Lions appear to be on track for another one on Monday. Three-star York, Pennsylvania quarterback Beau Pribula is scheduled to announce and Penn State is the heavy favorite. Nebraska, Virginia Tech, and West Virginia have also extended offers for the 6-foot-2, 195-pounder. 

It was also a pretty decent week in the state of Indiana with both the Hoosiers and Boilermakers adding to their 2021 classes. Purdue landed unranked Florida linebacker Rickey Smith. Tom Allen grabbed a pair of commitments in three-star Brownsburg, Indiana offensive tackle Joshua Sales and Virginia safety Maurice Freeman. Ole Miss, Pitt, and Georgia Tech were among the finalists for Freeman. He's yet to step foot in Bloomington due to the extended dead period.

Maryland went to the Queen City for three-star outside linebacker Bam Booker. The Winton Woods product is the No. 27 player in the state of Ohio, holds a slew of MAC offers, and has a pretty solid name for a linebacker. Booker made his commitment on July 29, which was the birthday of his older brother and current Terrapin defensive tackle Anthony Booker.

Irish With a Trio of Additions 

Brian Kelly got some pretty good news this week with a pair of three-star 2021 commitments and a big addition for 2022. Notre Dame has been on the search for a running back ever since its top target – five-star Will Shipley – committed to Clemson back in May. The Irish were early contenders for Donovan Edwards, but things faded rather quickly on that front.

Kelly got his guy this week in the form of three-star Louisiana tailback Logan Diggs. He's not a huge name on the trail and is ranked No. 610 nationally, but Diggs does have some decent offers from the likes of Arkansas, Ole Miss, and Michigan State. His Archbishop Rummel program won the Louisiana Division I state championship in 2019. Diggs ran for 924 yards and scored nine touchdowns for the Raiders.

We've talked about some backup plans for the Buckeyes if the staff decides to add another tight end or looks for a project type at tackle. Wadsworth, Ohio's Mitchell Evans is one of the names we've mentioned over the last month or two, but the 6-foot-7, 240-pounder is now off the board and committed to Notre Dame. He's listed as a tight end but looks like someone who could go the Reid Fragel route and grow into more of an offensive tackle. Florida State and Duke were among the other noteworthy offers.

The Irish also landed four-star 2022 commitment Jack Nickel from Alpharetta, Georgia. He's the No. 12 tight end in the class and has offers from all over the country; though not from the in-state Bulldogs. Notre Dame has another Georgia tight end committed for the 2021 class in Hartwell's Cane Berrong.

Saturday Delivers Good & Bad News for Sooners

The No. 1 prospect in the state of Oklahoma is four-star safety Kendal Daniels. Just yesterday, the No 1 prospect in Oklahoma announced his commitment to Texas A&M. That obviously comes as a blow to the Sooners who had been viewed as the favorite for a while before Jimbo Fisher and the Aggies took over. Lincoln Riley has had some issues with talented in-state safeties. Ohio State signed Josh Proctor in 2018, Michigan landed Daxton Hill in 2019, and now the Aggies are on track to sign Daniels.

Alex Grinch did some good news, however, in the form of three-star Virginia cornerback Damond Harmon. The 6-foot-1, 178-pounder announced his commitment to the Sooners yesterday evening. South Carolina, Penn State, and Georgia were among the finalists for the country's No. 40 cornerback. Riley is also battling Penn State for Harmon's four-star 2021 teammate—defensive end Kelvin Gilliam

2021 Class Ranking, 8/2
1 OHIO STATE 305.47 94.94
2 ALABAMA 280.75 94.48
3 CLEMSON 267.02 94.16
4 OREGON 261.79 91.65
5 TENNESSEE 260.87 89.90
6 LSU 258.88 93.46
7 SOUTHERN CAL 255.23 91.26
8 MICHIGAN 251.36 89.37
9 NORTH CAROLINA 249.56 91.12
10 MIAMI 244.03 89.00

Clemson Climbing Again

After losing Jordan Hancock and seeing its class fall all the way down to No. 9 in the team rankings, Dabo Swinney and the Tigers are back up to No. 3 behind only the Buckeyes and Crimson Tide. Clemson added a pair of four-star commitments this week to boost the 2021 class back up toward the top of the rankings and close to where it will likely sit when things are wrapped up come February. 

The biggest addition was the nation's seventh-best defensive tackle in four-star North Carolina native Payton Page. Clemson had long been viewed as the favorite for the country's No. 80 overall prospect, so this was hardly a shocker despite some late chatter about Mack Brown and the Tarheels. Page is actually the first defensive line commit for the Tigers, but perhaps that shouldn't be a surprise considering the insane haul they had in 2020.

Four-star Tennessee guard Dietrick Pennington committed to Clemson on Wednesday, and that was a recruitment that seemed up in the air all the way up until the unexpected announcement. He's the country's 13th-best guard and the No. 4 player in Tennessee, but there are rumors of some academic hurdles he'll need to overcome before signing with Clemson or any other program. 

More National Notes

We briefly previewed Damon Payne's decision last weekend, and the five-star defensive tackle did in fact pledge to the Crimson Tide last Sunday. The news gave Nick Saban his fourth five-star commitment, which matches Ryan Day for the most in the country. Ohio State (19) has three more commitments than the Tide (16) and about a 25-point lead in the national team rankings. 

Manny Diaz and the Hurricanes are suddenly looking to get hot on the trail, and Miami's gain may actually help the Buckeyes fend off the Tide for the top spot. Five-star cornerback Jason Marshall appears to be trending back toward Miami after many felt Alabama had taken over the recruitment.

Marshall is a teammate of five-star defensive tackle Leonard Taylor, and he too is trending toward the Canes. At one time, Florida had actually been viewed as the favorite for both, but it's looking like the Palmetto High teammates could be off the board soon. Taylor is scheduled to commit on Aug. 6 and some feel Marshall could make his announcement in the coming week as well.

It's worth noting that the Canes have been notorious for losing commitments over the last several years. They've already had eight decommitments for the 2021 class, and that's less than half of the absurd 20 (twenty!) they had for 2020. For the sake of comparison, Ohio State has had 10 total decommits over the last three cycles. And that's during the same time period that saw one of college football's all-time greats announce his retirement. 

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