Counter Intel: Fighting Irish Get the Best of the Wolverines, Jeff Hafley Shows His Recruiting Chops Yet Again

By Andrew Ellis on August 9, 2020 at 11:05 am
Four-star Michigan guard Rocco Spindler sided with the Irish on Saturday.
Rocco Spindler 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.

More Talent Fleeing the State of Michigan 

Garrett Dellinger, Damon Payne, and now Rocco Spindler. That's three of the top-five players in the state of Michigan that have made their commitments this summer. And not a single one of them has sided with Jim Harbaugh and the Wolverines. 

Rated as the nation's third-best guard prospect, Spindler made his announcement just yesterday and picked Notre Dame over Michigan, LSU, Penn State, and Ohio State. Most have long felt that it was going to be either the Wolverines or Irish, but Brian Kelly was victorious for the state's No. 3 player. Clarkston is about an hour north of Ann Arbor, and its two four-star offensive line prospects are now headed elsewhere with Dellinger having committed to LSU back in June. 

Michigan has put together a nice class that is ranked No. 9 nationally, but Harbaugh's inability to land the state's top talent has been a glaring issue this cycle. Still, the offensive line as a whole looks good with a trio of four-star commitments in the fold. The biggest remaining piece continues to be West Bloomfield tailback Donovan Edwards, though he doesn't seem to be all that close to a decision.

Meanwhile, the Irish are up to 17 commitments and have jumped up to No. 11 in the team rankings. Kelly also landed outside linebacker Prince Kollie this week to help his climb up the rankings. The Tennessee four-star has an impressive offer sheet that includes Alabama, Georgia, LSU, and Oklahoma. 

Nittany Lions Land 2022 Signal-Caller 

Ohio State's 2022 quarterback search isn't even close to being over, but James Franklin and the Nittany Lions appear to have already gotten their guy. York, Pennsylvania's Beau Pribula made the call on Monday when he selected the Nits over the likes of West Virginia, Virginia Tech, and Nebraska. 

Pribula became commitment No. 3 for Franklin's 2022 class as Penn State has secured commitments in each of the last three weeks. After playing wide receiver as a freshman, he put up about 1,600 yards and 18 touchdowns as a sophomore quarterback at Central York High. PSU has had some struggles with landing the state's top players (thanks in part to the Buckeyes), and James Franklin will look to improve for the Class of 2022. 

Hafley Gets a Head Start 

We've yet to see what he can do on the field, but Jeff Hafley is still doing big things on the trail. We're not seeing too many 2022 commitments, and we're nowhere close to talking much about the 2023 class. But that hasn't stopped Hafley from getting a bit of a head start as Boston College added a trio of 2023 teammates this week, and two of the three also hold early offers from Michigan. 

West Roxbury's Catholic Memorial High School saw three players pledge to the Eagles on Wednesday. That includes athlete Boubacar Traore, running back Datrell Jones, and wide receiver Jaeden Skeete. It's too early to get a feel for what the 2023 rankings will look like, but Traore and Jones clearly already have the Wolverines' attention as well. 

The Eagles also landed commitment No. 18 for the class of 2021 in Grand Prairie, Texas cornerback Jalon Williams. Mississippi State, Texas, and Missouri have also shown interest in the three-star. Hafley is pretty familiar with another cornerback who attended South Grand Prairie High as he helped to elevate Jeff Okudah into an All-American and No. 3 overall draft pick. 

A Rare Re-Commitment in SEC Land

It's fairly uncommon for a program to secure a kid's commitment more than once as a decommitment oftentimes ends the relationship between a prospect and the school in question. Kirby Smart and the Bulldogs pulled off a rare feat when three-star guard Jared Wilson flipped from North Carolina to Georgia this week.

Rated as the country's No. 22 guard, Wilson was a Bulldog commit from November through February until he elected to open things back up. Programs like Ohio State and Alabama then came calling before he ultimately pledged to the in-state Tarheels in April. A lot has changed in the last four months. North Carolina has landed a number of high-profile targets while the Bulldogs haven't found their usual success on the trail.

The loss of Fort Valley, Georgia guard Terrence Ferguson to Alabama was yet another blow just a few weeks back. This was likely the catalyst that led to the Bulldogs getting back on the prowl for Wilson. His commitment brought Georgia up to No. 15 in the recruiting rankings; a far cry from what we're used to seeing in Athens.

2021 Class Ranking, 8/9
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 MIAMI 253.36 89.56
9 MICHIGAN 251.36 89.37
10 NORTH CAROLINA 245.29 91.29

More Good News for Manny

This week Miami lost its best player when defensive end Gregory Rousseau and his 15.5 sacks opted out for the 2020 season (if there even is one). Fortunately for Manny Diaz, there was also some very good news on the recruiting trail.

Five-star defensive tackle Leonard Taylor had been deciding between the Gators and Canes before he sided with Miami on Thursday. Taylor is rated as the country's No. 27 overall prospect and he joins Fort Lauderdale athlete James Williams as the second five-star in the Canes' 2021 class. He's the team's third commitment from Miami's Palmetto High School, and Diaz is looking for No. 4 and 5 in five-star cornerback Jason Marshall and four-star safety Corey Collier.

Odds & Ends

The week was filled with all sorts of college football news as we await the season's fate, but things were fairly quiet on the trail. The only changes toward the top of the team rankings involved the Hurricanes jumping both Michigan and North Carolina to take the No. 8 slot. There wasn't any movement whatsoever for the rest of the top-10.  

It was a fairly uneventful week in the Big Ten as well. Maryland added three-star tackle Kyle Long, and the Missouri product was commitment No. 19 for Mike Locksley, which is good enough for fourth-best in the conference. Elsewhere, California cornerback Isaiah Johnson pledged to Arizona State. Johnson previously played in West Virginia and was an early five-star for the 2021 class. His stock has taken a fall as several of the programs that extended early offers have since backed off. 

Herb Hand and the Longhorns' offensive line recruiting are having some issues. After missing on the in-state Brockermeyer twins, Texas extended an offer to Dallas (Jesuit) tackle Ryan Lengyel. Some felt the offer would change the course of his recruitment. Instead, the unranked local sided with Baylor just yesterday. The Horns did land Jacksonville center Michael Myslinski this week, but he's barely ranked inside the top-1,000 and is now Tom Herman's second-lowest rated commit. That's not going to make the Texas faithful feel any better about losing the state's top linemen to Alabama. 

There are a couple of scheduled commitments this week that should have national implications. Miami safety Corey Collier announces tomorrow and most are feeling Florida for the country's No. 3 safety. But perhaps he throws a bit of a curveball and heads to Coral Gables with his Palmetto teammates? Maryland defensive end Monkell Goodwine will announce next weekend. Alabama and Texas A&M seem to be the frontrunners for the four-star.

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