Counter Intel: Illinois Loading Up, Five-Star Safety Staying in the Bayou, and an Up-And-Down Week in Ann Arbor

By Andrew Ellis on April 27, 2021 at 10:10 am
Four-star WR Tyler Morris is the latest Wolverine pledge.
Tyler Morris 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.

Busy Week Up North

Jim Harbaugh and the Wolverines picked up commitment No. 7 last week when 2022 wideout Tyler Morris made his intentions known. Checking in at 6-foot and 175 pounds, the four-star is listed as the country's 10th-best player at the position. Morris is a former teammate of five-star 2021 signee J.J. McCarthy, and Michigan was long believed to be the favorite for the Illinois product. This is a nice pickup for Jim Harbaugh and Co. Notre Dame was also in hot pursuit. 

Michigan has had some issues lately with players hitting the transfer portal. Last week it was offensive lineman Willie Allen who became the latest to do so. A 6-foot-6, 340-pound offensive lineman, Allen is now looking for his fifth program. He previously had stints at LSU, Tyler Junior College, and Louisiana Tech. This isn't the biggest loss for the Wolverines, but Allen is the 11th scholarship player to enter the portal since January. That seems......not great. 

Meanwhile, former starting quarterback Joe Milton has officially found a new home in Knoxville. I'm not sure if I should congratulate Volunteer fans or what exactly. I suppose this at least gives them yet another subpar quarterback to follow in the footsteps of Jarrett Guarantano. Milton is merely expected to provide some depth behind presumptive starter Harrison Bailey.

We're Not Worthy 

In other news that's pertinent to the maize and blue, one of the Wolverines' top signees from the 2021 recruiting class is officially heading elsewhere. It was just about two weeks ago when four-star wide receiver Xavier Worthy asked out of his letter of intent. The California native was heavily recruited by Steve Sarkisian when he was still in Tuscaloosa, so many felt that Austin could be his ultimate landing spot.

The news became official on Saturday when Worthy announced his commitment to Texas. Listed at 6-foot-1 and 160 pounds, the track star is one of the fastest players in the entire country. This was a big loss for a Michigan program that's in need of playmakers at the position. Worthy was the nation's eighth-best wideout and No. 61 overall recruit in the 2021 class. He's ranked higher than all but one of the Longhorns' signees. The lone exception is five-star Denton, Texas edge rusher Ja'Tavion Sanders (No. 12 nationally). 

Five-Star Louisiana Safety Staying Home

Ed Orgeron's 2022 class has jumped Ohio State and taken hold of the second spot in the team rankings. That's going to happen when the Buckeyes lose a four-star athlete and the Bayou Bengals pick up their third five-star. It's also worth noting that LSU has 13 commitments compared to Ohio State's 10. 

The latest addition comes in the form of Jacoby Mathews, the country's second-best safety and No. 30 overall prospect. We briefly talked about Mathews just about a year ago around the time Jyaire Brown – who was then living in Louisiana – committed to Ohio State. At the time, Mathews had been looking for a Buckeye offer. Fast forward to 2021. That offer never came, and it probably wouldn't have mattered. Most expected the Ponchatoula, La. native to end up in Baton Rouge. 

Bert Adds a Trio, Cincy Native Picks Kentucky

Our old friend in Champaign has had a busy few weeks. The Illini added three new commits to bring the 2022 class total up to five. All three are of the local variety and ranked in the 700-900 range nationally, which is about what one would expect for Illinois. The additions include a pair of offensive lineman in Hunter Whitenack and Clayton Leonard. Wide receiver Hank Beatty was the third commitment. A 5-foot-11, 180-pound three-star from Rochester, his biggest offer is from Matt Campbell and the Cyclones. The Illini class is up to No. 8 in the Big Ten.

Two of Ohio's top-30 prospects are now committed to the SEC. Dayton tight end Elijah Brown committed to Alabama back in February. The most recent pledge came from the same program that delivered Jake Hausmann to Columbus. Cincinnati Moeller tight end Josh Kattus announced his commitment to Kentucky last week. He's the No. 29 player in Ohio, and his offer list includes a number of MAC programs to go along with UK and Arkansas. 

2022 Class Rankings, 4/27
1 Georgia 12 241.09 94.24
2 LSU 13 236.99 92.91
3 Ohio State 10 221.84 95.51
4 Notre Dame 11 194.93 91.08
5 Texas A&M 8 172.69 93.60
6 Texas 8 171.45 93.40
7 Rutgers 11 168.17 88.08
8 Penn State 8 166.03 92.79
9 Oklahoma 7 161.49 94.61
10 Kentucky 9 152.34 88.78

Movement in the Team Rankings

Has Nick Saban lost his touch? Is Ryan Day's job now in jeopardy? These are questions that literally no one is asking, but we do have some significant changes in the team rankings after a busy few weeks. 

As noted above, LSU has scooted past Ohio State to take the No. 2 spot. The biggest takeaway, however, is that the Buckeyes still have the top average commit rating at a crisp 95.51. That's especially impressive considering the class just lost Dasan McCullough and his four-star 97.84 rating. Ryan Day's 10-man class currently checks in with four five-star commits and six of the four-star variety. 

Rutgers and Kentucky are the biggest surprises in the top-10. Greg Schiano has 11 commitments with top-100 quarterback Gavin Wimsatt being the crown jewel of the class. The Wildcats' class is headlined by a familiar name in four-star tackle Kiyaunta Goodwin. Kentucky got a massive win over the national powers when Goodwin announced a few weeks back. Now Mark Stoops just has to hang on to him until he signs his letter of intent.

Alabama is sitting at No. 14 in the team rankings as Nick Saban has just six commits right now. Here's a little #SpoilerAlert: the Crimson Tide will land several more good players and once again push for the top class in the country. Pretty shocking, I know. The class makeup currently features a pair of five-stars with the rest being of the four-star variety. 

Heartbreaking News Hits the 2022 Class 

This is a far more somber note, but I wanted to at least mention the tragic passing of 2022 prospect Aaron Wilson. A four-star defensive end recruit out of Baltimore, Wilson was rated as the country's No. 108 prospect and held offers from the likes of Penn State, Florida, and Florida State. He was also a member of the National Honor Society and carried a 4.4 GPA.

After being diagnosed with a grade-IV brain tumor, his mother launched a GoFundMe last month to assist with the medical costs. There aren't many things worse than a child or teenager dealing with something like this. Our deepest condolences go out to the family, friends, and teammates. Rest in peace, young man.

View 38 Comments