Counter Intel: Bama Vs. Buckeye Back and Forth Continues, Kirby Smart Causes Problems for James Franklin

By Andrew Ellis on August 30, 2020 at 11:05 am
One of the nation's top tight ends is headed to Lincoln.
Four-star Nebraska commit Thomas Fidone

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

Frost Fighting Back 

Scott Frost and the Nebraska program have been fighting back against the Big Ten's decision, and they've recently had some hardships on the trail as well. Losing California pass-rusher Will Schweitzer to Notre Dame a few weeks back was unfortunate, and it dropped the Huskers down to No. 9 in the Big Ten. This week was a different case in Lincoln as Frost now has Nebraska back up to No. 6 in the conference following a trio of additions.

Iowa tight end Thomas Fidone had long been a top target for programs like LSU, Michigan, and Penn State. The 6-foot-5, 225-pounder is rated as the No. 1 or No. 2 player at his position depending on the outlet and is ranked No. 92 in the composite. Frost got his biggest get of the 2021 class when Fidone announced his commitment to Nebraska on Wednesday, becoming far and away the top-ranked player in the class. His player comparison is Zach Ertz and Fidone should make an early splash in Lincoln.

Nebraska grabbed two other 2021 prospects this week; both of whom reside in Omaha. On Monday it was three-star safety Koby Bretz who chose Nebraska over Kansas State and a number of MAC offers. Frost got his second tight end on Friday when AJ Rollins sided with the Huskers over programs like Missouri and Iowa State. The Huskers' 2021 class is now up to 17 commitments and sitting at No. 24 nationally.

Georgia Pulls a Stunner 

The country's top JUCO cornerback has been suiting up for Pennsylvania's Lackawanna Community College. A Maryland native, De'Jahn Warren had looked like one of the sure things for James Franklin's 2021 recruiting class. The four-star is from a region Franklin is all too familiar with, has thus far spent his college days a few hours east of State College, and has long been a top PSU target.

Last Monday was Warren's 21st birthday. Shortly after midnight, he sent out a thank you tweet to the folks at Penn State.

Not long after the tweet, he became commitment No. 14 for the Georgia Bulldogs. This was yet another blow to what's been a disappointing class for James Franklin. Warren's crystal ball was 100 percent in favor of the Nittany Lions and most had already penciled him in as a potential instant-impact guy in 2021. Penn State's class has 13 commitments and sits at No. 8 in the Big Ten and No. 32 nationally. Not Great.

New Additions for Gophs, Scarlet Knights

How often do we hear about a Mississippi prospect ending up in the Big Ten? Hardly ever. But that didn't stop P.J. Fleck from adding three-star Biloxi cornerback Justin Walley last Sunday. A football and track star, the 5-foot-10, 185-pounder had some impressive offers from the likes of Auburn, Ole Miss, and Mississippi State. His older brother (Jaden) is a wideout for Mike Leach and the Bulldogs. The Gophs' 2021 class checks in at No. 7 in the Big Ten and No. 25 overall. 

Greg Schiano has more commitments than any other program in the conference, and he picked up No. 22 on Tuesday with Illinois defensive end Ryan Keeler. The 6-foot-5, 250-pounder will enroll in January instead of participating in his home state's spring football season. He holds offers from Michigan, Michigan State, Iowa, and Ole Miss. Keeler is Schiano's fourth defensive end commit for the 2021 class.

2021 Class Ranking, 8/30
1 OHIO STATE 302.20 94.63
2 ALABAMA 301.61 94.20
3 LSU 268.76 92.82
4 CLEMSON 266.33 94.10
5 OREGON 262.85 91.72
6 TENNESSEE 261.41 90.01
7 FLORIDA 260.51 89.98
8 MIAMI 256.41 89.59
9 MICHIGAN 255.75 89.68
10 SOUTHERN CAL 255.29 91.33

LSU and Miami Movin' on Up 

The Tigers and Canes each added commitments this week and managed to jump up a spot in the team rankings. One long-time LSU lean made things official on Friday when Georgia corner Nathaniel Wiggins made his intentions known. Wiggins is the country's No. 8 cornerback and 117th-best overall prospect. It's hardly a surprise to see Ed Orgeron and Corey Raymond landing talented defensive backs as LSU is the only school that can give Ohio State a run for its money in terms of recent NFL Draft success. The SEC Tigers surpassed the ACC's Tigers for the No. 3 spot in the team rankings.

AC Slater is without question the best prospect to ever play for Bayside High School, but I suppose Manny Diaz got a good one from Bayside himself this week when four-star athlete Chase Smith made his commitment. The Palm Bay, Florida star is expected to play the "striker" position in Coral Gables, which is the Canes' version of the linebacker/safety hybrid. Smith has offers from just about all of the national powers, and his commitment helped lift Miami's class up to No. 8.

Buckeyes, Tide Flip-Floppin' at the Top

It wasn't the busiest week on the trail, but there were some key happenings that impacted things at the top of the team rankings. First of all, updated their 2021 player rankings, which were then of course factored into the composite scores. Marvin Harrison Jr. dropping nearly 80 spots didn't help the Buckeyes' overall score. And wouldn't you know, Alabama was suddenly sitting at No. 1 after the update. 

Ohio State quickly took back the top spot after landing four-star defensive tackle Tyleik Williams on Thursday. Nick Saban answered just yesterday when the Tide added three-star in-state tackle Tim Keenan. However, that wasn't enough to take back the No. 1 ranking, and the Buckeyes presently hold a lead of less than one point while also having one fewer commit than their SEC counterpart.

A word of warning: Anyone who follows recruiting knows this game all too well. The infamous "Bama bumps" are bound to continue with these player rankings. In fact, one outlet is already claiming to have "secret tape" that was "asked to be kept private" on Tide defensive end commit Monkell Goodwine. A pretty big bump is reportedly already in the works for the four-star who played in just five games last season. We can probably expect much of the same for former Buckeye commit Devonta Smith.

It's sounding like Alabama could take upwards of 27 signees when all is said and done. If that happens, then the chances of Ohio State – and its 24-25 signees – finishing on top would probably be fairly slim. Either way, the battle for No. 1 continues to be pretty intense with the early signing period now less than four months away.

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