Counter Intel: Business Still Booming in Norman, Clemson Steals a Pair From the SEC, and Penn State Jumps Notre Dame

By Andrew Ellis on July 20, 2021 at 10:10 am
Five-star quarterback Malachi Nelson is the latest Oklahoma commit.
Malachi Nelson 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.

The college football world is once again in the midst of a recruiting dead period, but things have been as lively as ever on the trail. Even though the current dead period won't end until July 25, plenty of programs have been scorching hot adding a number of big names to the commitment columns. 

Three schools stood out the most over the last week, and it's led to a shakeup in the 2022 recruiting rankings. Ryan Day and the Buckeyes still have a comfortable lead at the top, but one Big Ten program has surged back into the No. 2 spot. 

Sooners Off and Running For 2023 

Lincoln Riley's 2023 class got on the board in a big way this weekend. Four-star Jacksonville athlete Treyaun Webb committed to the Sooners on Saturday. Also a target of Tony Alford's, it was Webb's second commitment already as he was once pledged to Kirby Smart and the dogs. Things got even better on Sunday when the nation's second-best 2023 quarterback announced his decision. 

Five-star California native Malachi Nelson is the next great quarterback project for Riley and Co., and the Sooners beat out everyone for the prized passer. Arch Manning is the only signal-caller with a higher rating in the class. As is the case with most big quarterback commitments, this one could also help to lure in a number of talented playmakers; even though that's not something the Sooners ever really struggle with. 

The 2022 class also saw some action as four-star in-state tight end Kaden Helms also hit the commitment column. Much like Nelson, he had long been considered a Sooner lean. Texas kicker Gavin Marshall also committed to OU, and it's important to remember that kickers are people too. Riley's class is still sitting at No. 5 in the nation.

Pair of Big-Time Additions for Dabo

We don't like giving Dabo Swinney credit for anything, but Clemson did reel in a pair of big-time commitments last week. The addition of two IMG Academy teammates was a nice win over Georgia as the Dawgs were a top suitor in both recruitments. Four-star corner Daylen Everette is the nation's No. 7 player at the position and No. 37 overall prospect. North Carolina and Florida State were also in the mix for his services.

Four-star athlete Keon Sabb sided with the Tigers over Georgia, Texas A&M, LSU, and I guess Michigan as well. Those who cover the Wolverines tried to give the fanbase some hope even though no one with any common sense ever thought Michigan was a legitimate contender. At 6-foot-2 and 200 pounds, Sabb can likely play either safety or linebacker at the next level. The two commitments bring Dabo's class up to 10 total and it's currently ranked No. 13 in the country. 

Penn State Takes Back the No. 2 Spot

It was also a dang good week in Happy Valley as James Franklin was busy with both the 2022 and 2023 classes. The Nittany Lions and Fighting Irish have been going back and forth for the No. 2 spot in the team rankings. It's now Penn State that's once again positioned right behind the Buckeyes. 

Starting with the current class, PSU added four-star IMG Academy tailback Kaytron Allen over the weekend. At 5-foot-11 and 220 pounds, he forms a heck of a one-two punch with fellow backfield commit Nicholas Singleton. Franklin also added a pledge from three-star Louisiana cornerback Jordan Allen. The 20th commitment in the PSU class, Allen has a number of SEC offers to go along with teams like Miami and Louisville. 

Perhaps the biggest bit of Nittany Lion news actually came in the Class of 2023. The first commitment of the class came last week when Penn State beat out Notre Dame and several other programs for four-star Virginia guard Alex Birchmeier. Rated as a top-50 prospect in the class, he's got offers from just about every team in America; including Ohio State.

Elsewhere in the Big Ten, Illinois and Northwestern put together solid weeks. Three-star IMG Academy wideout Shawn Miller sided with the Illini over finalists Indiana, Michigan State, Arizona, and West Virginia. Pat Fitzgerald had an even bigger addition with a top-400 prospect in Maryland edge rusher Anto Saka. He sided with the Wildcats over USC and Penn State. 

A Wild Scarlet Troll Appears

It wasn't all sunshine and rainbows for the Penn State faithful. Greg Schiano scored a commitment from a top Nittany Lion target in four-star linebacker Moses Walker out of Brooklyn's Erasmus Hall High School. Schiano now has six four-star commitments; four of which are ranked inside the national top 250. For those keeping track at home, that's twice as many as the Wolverines currently have. 

Shoutout to Mr. Walker for putting together a nice little troll job in his commitment video. Tagging James Franklin and other PSU staff members took it to another level.

Alabama Lands Another Buckeye O-Line Target

Ohio State losing coveted tackle targets to the Crimson Tide has become a troubling trend. But the commitment from IMG Academy's Tyler Booker wasn't as devastating as what we've seen in the past with a guy like J.C. Latham. The latest Saban wizardry was more of a blow to Florida and Georgia since Booker wasn't ever viewed as a Buckeye lean. 

It was commitment No. 11 for an Alabama class that's now ranked sixth in the country after being outside of the top 10 just a week ago. It's also worth noting that speedy Calera, Alabama wideout Kobe Prentice decommitted from Maryland last week after earning an offer from the Tide. The three-star ranks as the nation's No. 116 receiver and No. 858 overall prospect. We all know his ranking is about to skyrocket since he's likely Bama bound.

2022 Class Rankings, 7/20
1 OHIO STATE 17 286.83 94.36
2 PENN STATE 20 256.80 90.32
3 NOTRE DAME 19 254.13 91.06
4 LSU 15 252.27 92.19
5 OKLAHOMA 15 240.57 92.21
6 ALABAMA 11 232.24 95.00
7 TEXAS 15 230.74 90.13
8 OREGON 16 226.81 89.90
9 FLORIDA STATE 15 223.53 89.85
10 GEORGIA 11 218.63 93.28

Updated Look at the 2022 Team Rankings

The top three spots in the team rankings are still controlled by a trio of Midwest powers. It's probably only a matter of time until the Crimson Tide jump Penn State and Notre Dame, however. Alabama's absurd 95.00 commitment average is tops in America. Ryan Day's 94.36 isn't too shabby either. 

Nick Saban's rise has pushed Michigan out of the top 10. The Scarlet Knights are still sitting pretty at No. 12; just ahead of Clemson and Texas A&M. Northwestern and Indiana are the only other Big Ten programs in the top 25; ranked No. 22 and 24, respectively.  

There's also some news on the horizon that could further shake things up. Maryland edge rusher Dani Dennis-Sutton is set to announce on July 22. Rated as the country's No. 52 prospect, Penn State and Georgia are viewed as the favorites. A pair of top tailbacks are also coming off the board that day. Mississippi's Branson Robinson is expected to side with Kirby Smart. Omarion Hampton holds a Buckeye offer but has been a North Carolina lean for the last few months.

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