Counter Intel: Big Week in Bloomington, Pair of Cincinnati Prospects Heading to the SEC, and Two New Additions for PSU

By Andrew Ellis on May 18, 2021 at 8:35 am
Richard Thomas is the latest Indiana commitment for the 2022 class.
Indiana commit Richard Thomas, 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.

Big Things Happenin' in Bloomington

When we last met back on April 27, Tom Allen had just flipped four-star athlete Dasan McCullough from Ohio State. The family ties were simply too strong for Al Washington and the Buckeyes to overcome. Since that time, the Hoosiers have landed two more commitments. And one of those could provide an immediate impact in the fall. 

Looking back at the 2017 class, there were some familiar names in the backfield. J.K. Dobbins was the nation's sixth-best running back while Trey Sermon checked in at No. 15. California's Stephen Carr was third on the list and the five-star ultimately signed with the in-state Trojans. In four seasons at SoCal, Carr rushed for 1,319 yards and 12 touchdowns while averaging five yards per attempt.

His final year of eligibility will now be spent in Bloomington as he looks to help carry the load after Stevie Scott's departure. Carr has yet to live up to his five-star billing, but this is a nice pickup for Tom Allen and crew. And it comes at a position of need. Former Ohio State commit Sampson James is also in the running for the starting role.

The other Hoosier commitment was more of the traditional variety. Fort Lauderdale defensive end Richard Thomas became the program's third 2022 pledge when he made his intentions known last Friday. Listed as a three-star and No. 399 nationally, Thomas actually has a pretty nice offer sheet that includes the likes of Auburn, LSU, and Florida State. 

Georgia Speedster Sides with Gators 

When you look at the ungodly amount of talent in the state of Georgia, it can make one wonder why Kirby Smart continues to underachieve. I suppose having to get through Nick Saban is a fair excuse, but a player like Isaiah Bond being No. 56 in the state really does show the ridiculous depth of talent. He's got offers from basically all of the national powers besides Ohio State and Clemson, and for a while it was looking like the Bulldogs would keep him in the state. 

Instead, Bond announced on Mother's Day that he'll be playing for the Dawgs' biggest rivals. Even though it just offered in early April, Florida did seem to prioritize the 6-foot, 175-pounder a bit more than its SEC counterparts. We'll see how things turn out here, but there's no denying that Bond is one of the fastest players in the entire country. He's the Georgia 6A 100-meter and 200-meter champion. He has a personal best of 10.48 in the 100-meter and 21.05 in the 200-meter dash.

Queen City Pair Pledges to the SEC 

Ohio State's 2022 recruiting class has two commitments from the Cincinnati area in West Chester (Lakota West) teammates Jyaire Brown and Tegra Tshabola. Outside of that duo, there aren't many other Buckeye targets in the southwest portion of the state. Over the last two weeks, two more Cincinnati prospects have come off the board, and they'll both be heading to the SEC. 

Alex Afari is a teammate of Brown and Tshabola's at Lakota West. The three-star athlete announced his commitment to Kentucky on May 7. At 6-foot-2 and 195 pounds, he's got good size and is expected to play cornerback in Lexington. Indiana, Cincinnati, and Iowa State were among the other finalists. It's also worth noting that the Kentucky staff has been pushing hard to get Tshabola to make an official visit, though the Buckeye commit says he's solid with Ohio State.

Cincinnati's produced some solid tight ends over the years, and the latest commitment comes from Anderson's Brody Foley. The No. 29 player in the state of Ohio, Foley committed to Tennessee on May 8, selecting the Vols over offers from Auburn, Arkansas, and Indiana. This wasn't all that big of a surprise as the 6-foot-6, 235-pounder had made two separate trips to Knoxville leading up to the announcement. The Volunteers' 2022 class is now up to five commitments which ranks No. 39 nationally and No. 12 in the SEC.

Good & Bad News for PSU

The Lackawanna College to PSU pipeline continues to be a very real thing. Three-star defender Tyrece Mills committed to the Nittany Lions on May 5 and will become the third Lackawanna safety on James Franklin's roster. The Philly native played his first JUCO game in late March and was immediately awarded with a PSU offer. Losing Julian Fleming, Kyle McCord, and Marvin Harrison Jr. is tough, but at least the Lackawanna pipeline has been fruitful. 

Penn State also landed a very large human from the state of Massachusetts earlier this month. Maleek McNeil is a 6-foot-8, 340-pound tackle who became commitment No. 9 on May 1(Mills later became No. 10). Rutgers and Boston College were his other finalists. Penn State's 2022 class ranks No. 6 nationally and No. 2 in the Big Ten behind only Ohio State. 

If you're someone who watches the crystal balls, you may have noticed that one of the nation's best players – and a top Penn State target – is suddenly being forecasted to Alabama Rutgers. Offensive tackle Jacob Allen is the top-rated player in New Jersey and ranks just outside the national top-100. Most had him pegged to PSU up until the last 48 hours or so. The Hun School in Princeton is less than 20 miles from Rutgers, and this would be a nice little win for Greg Schiano. 

One to Watch in the Portal?

It's becoming darn near impossible to keep up with the daily events within the transfer portal. Do you know what I genuinely appreciate? A player who tweets out his offers much like he would during his junior and seniors years of high school. And that's precisely what Tulsa cornerback Akayleb Evans has been doing. 

I have no idea just how much Ohio State is sniffing around for the 6-foot-2, 188-pound corner. This isn't an Elias Ricks dream scenario where Kerry Coombs can perhaps go out and get an immediate upgrade at the position. But Evans is a good player who's appeared in 27 games and has two years of eligibility left. I've also got a soft spot for cornerbacks who chirp at the offense after every single play. His highlight tape seems solid (yes I realize every highlight tape is good) and it features plenty of power-five competition. 

As the best corner in the portal, Evans has been blowing up a bit of late. Notre Dame, Nebraska, West Virginia, Minnesota, and Mississippi State have all offered. He also earned a follow from Tony Alford on Twitter, but that could mean absolutely nothing. As Coombs looks to turn things around in the secondary, this could be a name to at least monitor moving forward.

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