Counter Intel: Ohio State Targets Commit Elsewhere, Crimson Tide Surging, and More Big News in Happy Valley

By Andrew Ellis on July 27, 2021 at 10:10 am
Penn State landed edge rusher Dani Dennis-Sutton last week.
Dani Dennis-Sutton 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 most recent dead period is now behind us, but the window for on-campus visits will be short-lived. Ohio State is set to host several visitors this week as Thursday's event has been dubbed the "Buckeye Bash BBQ." Just yesterday Garrick had the news that the list will include one of Larry Johnson's top edge targets in Hollywood, Florida's Kenyatta Jackson. August 1 will bring with it yet another dead period.

We had initially planned on taking a look at the national recruiting scene just a few times throughout the month. But July has delivered a seemingly never-ending stream of news on the trail – as well as the recent realignment bombshell – so we've adjusted our plans accordingly. 

Familiar Names Off the Board

If you've been following Ohio State's recruiting efforts at all, then perhaps you have an idea as to what the pecking order looks like at various positions. We've talked a lot about a number of prospects, and four of those names from the past committed elsewhere over the last week. 

Four-star Virginia linebacker Shawn Murphy camped in Columbus and built up a relationship with both C.J. Hicks and Dasan McCullough. It wasn't the finest of camp showings – though it's really not an ideal setting for any linebacker – and things seemed to fizzle between the Buckeyes and Murphy. He's also seen a steady drop in the rankings, but he's still listed as the country's No. 66 overall prospect. Nick Saban has been busy of late and his class is now up to No. 5

There was a point in time when we thought Atlanta tailback Damari Alston could be the RB2 in the Buckeyes' 2022 class. It turns out that Tony Alford will likely just take one (Dallan Hayden), and Alston is now off the board to the Auburn Tigers. North Carolina tailback Omarion Hampton pledged to the Tar Heels last week. He too held a Buckeye offer but that one didn't gain much traction either. 

Texas linebacker Justin Medlock was on the Ohio State radar about a year ago, but that one just never really took off. He announced his commitment to the Hurricanes last Friday. Oklahoma was also a serious player in the Medlock sweepstakes. 

PSU Still Leading the Recent B1G Charge

Ohio State still has a pretty big lead atop the recruiting rankings, but Penn State is slowly inching closer to the top. James Franklin added two more commitments to bring his 2022 class total all the way up to 22.

The biggest addition is now the top-rated pledge in the class, and the Nittany Lions beat two of the SEC's best for four-star defensive lineman Dani Dennis-Sutton. Georgia and Alabama were right in the thick of it for the Maryland pass rusher, and the Dawgs may have actually surged ahead at one point. But it was Penn State who landed the nation's No. 50 prospect last Thursday. 

Another four-star was added to the commitment column just yesterday when Jacksonville cornerback Cam Miller made the call. Virginia Tech was the other major player in his recruitment. Miller hails from the same Trinity Catholic program that delivered Shaun Wade and Marcus Crowley to Columbus. 

The bad news for Penn State? James Franklin signed just one of Pennsylvania's top-10 prospects back in the 2021 class. Four-star athlete Lonnie White Jr. chose the in-state Nittany Lions over offers from Michigan, Tennessee, and others. White Jr. instead signed with the Pittsburgh Pirates just yesterday, picking the big leagues over the Big Ten. He reportedly signed for $1.5 million, so I don't think anyone can blame the kid. 

There was plenty of other news across the Midwest. Indiana stayed busy as Tom Allen added three-star Miami safety Phillip Dunnam and Cincinnati La Salle tailback Gi'Bran Payne. The ninth-best player in Ohio, Payne holds offers from Notre Dame, Michigan, Penn State, and yes even Alabama. That's a very nice pickup for a Hoosier class that's up to No. 5 in the Big Ten and No. 18 in the country. 

How about Jeff Brohm and the Boilers? Purdue beat out Indiana for four-star defensive lineman Joe Strickland. Michigan State's top-rated commitment is now Dearborn wideout Antonio Gates Jr. The 6-foot-1, 185-pounder announced his pledge just yesterday. Sparty fans have to love the genetics with that one. 

Georgia Lands Supposed Teenage Running Back

Are there any programs that recruit running backs as well as Georgia? I suppose the answer to that is maybe Alabama, but the latest Dawg commitment looks older than any one of my five uncles. And he probably bench-presses more than all of them combined. 

Mississippi's Branson Robinson is the nation's fourth-best tailback (Rivals has him at No.1) and ranks in the top 50 regardless of position. Dawand Jones weighs 360 pounds. Robinson can apparently deadlift two of him. I saw someone quoted the above tweet and suggested that Oklahoma and Texas may want to head back to the Big 12. I can't say that I'd blame them as I feel bad for anyone trying to tackle this 220-pound, 17-year-old freakshow.

The Robinson addition lifted Kirby Smart's class back up to No. 7 in the team rankings. That's good enough for third in the SEC behind LSU and Alabama.

2022 Class Rankings, 7/27
1 OHIO STATE 17 286.97 94.37
2 PENN STATE 22 269.45 90.72
3 NOTRE DAME 19 254.00 91.09
4 LSU 15 252.75 92.22
5 ALABAMA 12 246.91 95.16
6 OKLAHOMA 15 239.21 92.12
7 GEORGIA 12 235.33 93.68
8 FLORIDA STATE 17 233.60 89.70
9 OREGON 16 227.70 90.02
10 TEXAS 14 216.71 89.64

Horns, Sun Devils Suffer Four-Star Decommits

Texas fans are beyond excited to be making the move to the SEC even though the Longhorns have been struggling to beat teams like TCU in the Big 12. Why is anyone expecting things to get better in the toughest conference in America? I have absolutely no idea, but there's seems to be a weird sense of optimism coming out of Austin. Or maybe they're just happy to get out of the Big 12. 

Either way, the Longhorns' 2022 recruiting class has fallen to No. 10 in the team rankings after checking in at No. 7 last week. Four-star cornerback Jaylon Guilbeau had been one of the top commits in Steve Sarkisian's class. The Port Arthur, Texas native decided to back off his pledge last week, and he now appears to be trending toward the Horned Frogs. He's the Horns' third 2022 decommit. Quinn Ewers is obviously still the most devastating of the bunch. Thanks again, Tom Herman. 

While Texas fans are excited, Arizona State fans have no idea what's going to happen with their program. The Sun Devils are being investigated for potential recruiting violations during the COVID-19 dead period. Associate head coach and recruiting coordinator Antonio Pierce is one of the names mentioned in the allegations. This could spell bad news for Herm Edwards as well. 

Four-star Miami safety Jaylin Marshall had been an Arizona State commit for over five months heading into yesterday. His recruitment has now been re-opened. The 6-foot-3, 190-pounder holds offers from Michigan, Miami, and all of the SEC powers. The Sun Devils' class now has just six commitments and ranks No. 68 nationally; one spot behind Appalachian State. This is probably just the start of some ugly times in Tempe. 

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