Counter Intel: Huskers Stay Hot, Vols Lead the SEC Charge, and Some Interesting Crystal Ball Trends

By Andrew Ellis on September 6, 2020 at 11:07 am
Nebraska's latest addition is three-star linebacker Mikai Gbayor.
Mikai Gbayor via 247 Sports
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Counter Intel is the smart Ohio State fan's look at recruiting action taking place within the Big Ten and top national programs.

Huskers Stay Hot

After landing its biggest commit of the cycle in four-star tight end Thomas Fidone, Scott Frost was back at it again this week. Though not quite the magnitude of the Fidone news, three-star linebacker Mikai Gbayor made his intentions known on Friday and brought Nebraska's 2021 class up to 18 commitments. 

Gbayor is an Irvington, New Jersey product who checks in at 6-foot-2 and 220 pounds. He actually has a very impressive offer sheet that includes programs like Alabama, LSU, and Michigan. Gbayor recorded 88 tackles and 12 sacks as a junior at Irvington High. Michigan State was the other finalist, so this was a nice win over another Big Ten foe. He's the fourth linebacker commit for Frost and his staff.

Penn State's 2022 Class Adds Another Piece

There were two 2022 commitments in the Big Ten this week. Kevin Wilson and the Buckeyes added Georgia tight end Bennett Christian on Tuesday, and the Nittany Lions came through with a big addition on Friday. Downington, Pennsylvania's Drew Shelton is a four-star and rated as the country's No. 13 offensive tackle. He held early offers from Michigan, Oregon, Oklahoma, and Florida before committing to the in-state Nittany Lions.

The Class of 2021 hasn't been all that kind to James Franklin and Co. Thus far, 2022 has been a far different case as Penn State is sitting at No. 3 in the country with five commitments, and four of them are of the four-star variety. As for 2021, five-star Lititz, Pennsylvania tackle Nolan Rucci is set to announce on Tuesday. It's looking like it'll be the Nittany Lions or Badgers, and this could be another really bad loss for Franklin. 

Vols Lead the Way in SEC Country

The biggest pickup in SEC land came on Sunday when four-star guard Jager Burton spurned the Buckeyes and Tide in favor of the in-state Wildcats. Zack touched on this last week in The Hurry-Up, but this was some more unfortunate news for Greg Studrawa as the COVID-19 pandemic prevented Burton from getting back to Columbus. He's now the top-rated commit in Mark Stoops' 2021 class. 

It was Jeremy Pruitt and the Volunteers that likely had the biggest week, however, as Tennessee added a pair of three-star offensive tackles to bring the class up to a whopping 26 commitments. Nashville's William Parker is a player that Nick Saban had been pretty high on, but I'm not sure the Tide really had room for the nation's No. 413 prospect. Parker committed to Tennessee on Friday. Seymour, Tennessee's J'Marion Gooch had been committed to Auburn for about five months before flipping to the Vols this week. At 6-foot-7.5 and 358 pounds, he may have a little Dawand Jones in him.

Ed Orgeron and the Tigers added commitment No. 18 last Sunday when they added three-star Mississippi tight end Jalen Shead. He wasn't the most coveted prospect as he's rated as the nation's 48th-best player at the position, but Shead does hold offers from Alabama and Florida State. It's no surprise that this commitment came right after top tight end target Thomas Fidone pledged to the Huskers. LSU's class is holding steady at No. 3 in the team rankings.

How about them Hogs? Very rarely do I care about or pay any attention to what Arkansas is doing, but Sam Pittman is a heck of a recruiter and it paid off this week for the Razorbacks. Ketron Jackson is a four-star, top-150 prospect from the state of Texas, and he just sided with Arkansas over a number of big-time offers. Colorado and TCU were among the finalists, so it's clear some of the "offers" like LSU, Alabama, and Ohio State weren't exactly pushing. Still, this is a nice pickup for Pittman and the folks in Fayetteville. 

Kirby Smart has now had two players commit to Georgia, decommit, and then commit once again. That's precisely what went down with Jared Wilson last month, and the latest instance is IMG Academy defensive tackle Marlin Dean. The 6-foot-6, 265-pounder was a Bulldog pledge from March until July before putting himself back on the market. This past Friday, he committed once again to become No. 15 in a class that sits at No. 11 nationally.

2021 Class Ranking, 9/6
1 OHIO STATE 302.20 94.63
2 ALABAMA 301.61 94.20
3 LSU 271.51 92.42
4 CLEMSON 266.33 94.10
5 OREGON 262.85 91.72
6 TENNESSEE 262.60 89.78
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

Crystal Ball Trends and Such 

The fortunate programs are prepping for the 2020 season, so I suppose it's not a surprise that this was a fairly uneventful week on the trail. The top of the team rankings actually looks exactly like it did one week ago. However, there have been a few crystal ball trends that have caught my eye over the last week, and some of them are pertinent to Ohio State. 

Michigan's top remaining target is four-star West Bloomfield running back Donovan Edwards. The one-time Buckeye target seems to be favoring the Wolverines over Oklahoma and Georgia, but it's been an interesting recruitment that's still got a ways to go. Michigan is suddenly trending for three-star Texas running back Tavierre Dunlap and appears to be battling Oklahoma State for his services. Jim Harbaugh is looking for a pair of backs for 2021, and Edwards would clearly be the bigger prize.

Scott Frost is trending in a big way for four-star Las Vegas defensive end Tiaoalii Savea. USC had been viewed as the landing spot for some time before the crystal balls started flowing in Nebraska's direction. The aforementioned Nolan Rucci could provide a big boost to Paul Chryst's class when he announces on Tuesday. The five-star tackle has been trending toward Wisconsin in the week leading up to his commitment.

If you're an Ohio State fan who's been following the 2022 class at all, then you may know that five-star St. Louis (Cardinal Ritter) wideout Luthur Burden is one of Brian Hartline's top targets in what should be a fairly small class at the position. A former teammate of Jameson Williams, Burden is the country's No. 2 wideout and would be another big addition from the state of Missouri.

However, the last week has seen a handful of crystal ball and FutureCast picks in favor of the Sooners. It doesn't seem like Burden is in a hurry to make a decision, but it is likely to be an Ohio State/Oklahoma battle with a bit of Alabama sprinkled in. If you're Ohio State, the talent buildup in the wide receiver room is something to be extremely excited about. We'll see if it has any impact on Burden and his 2022 counterparts.

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