Counter Intel: Several B1G Additions, Irish Add a Huge Piece, and Clay Helton is Somehow Still Landing Top Prospects

By Andrew Ellis on June 22, 2021 at 8:35 am
Four-star cornerback Jaeden Gould is the latest commitment for the Trojans.
Jaeden Gould via @Hayesfawcett3

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

NIL Bailing Out USC?

When I go out to get wings, I like to look at the flavors and figure out which one best correlates to Clay Helton's current status at USC. It usually falls somewhere between medium and volcanic, which is never a good thing for a guy who's gone 18-13 over the last three years at a program that's supposed to be the class of the Pac 12. 

Despite Helton's status, the Trojans are the hottest team in the country right now on the recruiting trail. USC plucked five-star defensive tackle Mykel Williams out of Georgia last week, giving the program a big win over the Dawgs and Crimson Tide. Cornerbacks coach Donte Williams is one of the best in the country at his craft. He already had five-star Domani Jackson in the fold, and he added another big addition on Sunday with four-star New Jersey corner Jaeden Gould. Both Michigan and Penn State were believed to be the favorites at one point for Gould's services. 

I never really bought into the name, image, and likeness legislation shaking things up too much on the recruiting trail. However, if it's going to really benefit any one program, it makes sense that it could help to boost one that's located in Los Angeles. Perhaps the big market can help to save Helton's job? But we'll have to see what happens on the field this fall. USC is also trending in a big way for four-star Buckeye tackle target Christen Miller

Busy Week in the Midwest 

It would be nearly impossible to touch on every single bit of news across Big Ten country as it was a whirlwind of a week. Instead, we'll look at some of the bigger storylines from a week that saw well over 20 new commitments. 

Six New Commits for P.J. Fleck

It would be an understatement to call it a busy week in the Twin Cities. The crown jewel of Minnesota's 2022 class is still four-star Lakewood, Ohio edge rusher Trey Bixby. But Fleck's group now consists of 13 commitments and ranks No. 7 in the Big Ten. The biggest addition came just yesterday, and Bixby now has some help in the trenches with three-star Pennsylvania lineman Anthony Smith. The 6-foot-6, 265-pounder was recently offered by the Wolverines. 

The Gophers also added three pledges from the Sunshine State. Three-star wideout Aidan Gousby, Jacksonville edge rusher Jack Pyburn, and Clearwater corner Rhyland Kelly announced their decisions on Sunday. Minnesota now has three in-state commitments and five from the SEC footprint. Louisiana cornerback Tariq Watson also pledged to the Gophers on Sunday. 

Wolverines Add a Pair of Three-Stars

Michigan continued its trend of adding players that were nowhere close to the Ohio State or national radars. In-state linebacker Aaron Alexander chose the Wolverines over Eastern Illinois and Marshall. South Carolina running back C.J. Stokes is, in fact, ranked inside the national top-1,000. Stokes announced his commitment on Saturday.. He has a few decent offers from teams like Missouri and Vanderbilt. The Gamecocks had also shown interest prior to the coaching staff shakeup.

On the morning of June 17, it was reported that Michigan was potentially on the verge of landing a top target in 2022 quarterback Nate Johnson. 24 hours later, the California signal-caller announced his commitment to Utah. Jim Harbaugh's class currently has nine commits and ranks No. 19 in the country. 

Tom Allen Grabs Another Four-Star

The Hoosiers landed another four-star for the 2022 class over the weekend. Florida cornerback Trevell Mullen joins Dasan McCullough at the top of the commitment list. Mullen holds offers from schools like Florida, Auburn, and Penn State. He's the younger brother of current Hoosier corner Tiawan Mullen and his older brother – Trayvon – played for Clemson before being selected by the Raiders in the second round of the 2020 NFL draft. London, Ohio linebacker Isaiah Jones also pledged to Indiana over the weekend. Tom Allen's 2022 class is now up to five commitments. 

Trio of New Commits for Sparty

Michigan State had a few really good years on the trail under Mark Dantonio. Nowadays, we don't hear too much about the happenings in East Lansing, but it was a busy week for Mel Tucker and Co. The Spartans want all across the country to add three new commits to their 2022 class. A class that now sits at nine commitments and ranks No. 5 in the Big Ten and No. 26 nationally.

The latest additions are all on the offensive side of the ball and are all of the three-star variety. Aurora, Colorado tackle Braden Miller made his announcement last Wednesday. Arizona tight end Michael Masunas and Florida wideout Jaron Glover both committed over the weekend. Masunas has a decent offer sheet with Florida State, Tennessee, and Maryland all having shown interest. Miller holds offers from Tennessee, Michigan, Stanford, and Miami.

PSU Trending in the Wrong Direction

James Franklin has a solid class that features 12 commitments and ranks No. 7 in the country. However, there seems to be some more trouble brewing on the trail. One of the nation's top running backs is Reading, Pennsylvania's Nicholas Singleton. Heading into this past weekend, the Nittany Lions were the clear favorites. A trip to South Bend appears to have changed things as most now believe the Irish are now in control. Julian Fleming? Kyle McCord? Marvin Harrison Jr.? The troubling trend could be continuing in Happy Valley. 

The Nittany Lions did land a commitment from an unranked player who's got offers from Coastal Carolina and Charlotte, however. Virginia's Tyler Johnson is a six-foot, 175-pound wideout who made his official visit over the weekend. He decided to hop on board just yesterday. In Johnson's defense, he also holds offers from teams like Boston College and Maryland. 

Mullen Beats Saban For Top In-State Target

I'm going to go ahead and say that Nick Saban rarely misses out on a top target in the state of Alabama unless perhaps said prospect comes from an Auburn-loving family. That's why it was a bit of a surprise to see Dan Mullen get the best of the Crimson Tide. A four-star prospect and top Tide linebacker target, Shemar James announced his commitment to Florida on Sunday. 

Rated as the nation's No. 146 prospect, James' crystal ball was 100 percent in Alabama's favor. He's the eighth commitment in a Florida class that ranks No. 21 nationally. Now all Dan Mullen has to do is keep him away from the Tide until he signs in December. 

Irish Strike on the West Coast

Notre Dame is fresh off one of the biggest recruiting weekends in the country. It was a star-studded list of attendees that included top Ohio State targets like Xavier Nwankpa and Aamil Wagner. Shifting the momentum in the Nicholas Singleton recruitment was big news in itself, but so was the latest pledge from one of the West Coast's top players. 

The Irish beat out Texas and USC to land commitment No. 15 in the 2022 class. Niuafe "Junior" Tuihalamaka is a four-star linebacker from Mission Hills, California. He's ranked just outside the national top-100 and is listed as the country's 11th-best linebacker. The addition lifts Notre Dame ahead of LSU and into the No. 2 spot in the team rankings. Brian Kelly's class is still more than 20 points behind the Buckeyes.

Canes Land Four-Star Corner

Khamauri Rogers committed to LSU in November of 2019. He decided to back off of that pledge about a year later in December of 2020. The six-foot, 155-pound Mississippi native announced over the weekend that Miami is his new program of choice. The news came on the heels of his official visit to Coral Gables. 

Rated as the country's No. 61 overall prospect, Rogers is now the top-rated player in a Miami class that has just four commits and is barely ranked inside the top-50 of the team rankings. The Canes are one of three teams – along with Georgia and Florida – that are working hard to flip five-star Buckeye commit Jaheim Singletary. The Jacksonville corner was just in Athens for an official and will head to Columbus this weekend.

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