The Hurry-Up: Armani Winfield Commits to Texas, Gunner Stockton Decommits From South Carolina, Alabama and OSU Set Stage for More Recruiting Battles

By Zack Carpenter on January 12, 2021 at 6:30 pm
Armani Winfield
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The Hurry-Up is your nightly dose of updates from the Ohio State football recruiting trail, keeping tabs on the latest from commits and targets from around the country.

Winfield stays home

The Route Doctor is not coming to Columbus.

Instead, four-star Lewisville (Texas) receiver Armani Winfield is staying home, announcing on Tuesday that he has committed to the Longhorns and new head coach Steve Sarkisian. 

Winfield picked the Longhorns out of a top eight that also included Ohio State, USC, Arizona State, Penn State, Florida, LSU, Auburn and Texas A&M.

The most interesting item out of this commitment is that Winfield actually spoke with Sarkisian just before he left for Alabama's national championship game against Ohio State, Winfield told 247Sports' Steve Wiltfong.

At halftime, after seeing DeVonta Smith roast the Buckeyes' secondary and rack up 215 yards and three touchdowns on 12 catches, Winfield called up Texas receivers coach Andre Coleman to commit. He wanted to be a part of Sarkisian's offense after he saw him be the architect of one of the best performances from a Heisman Trophy winner post-ceremony.

“I saw what he did in the first half and I called (Longhorns receivers) Coach (Andre) Coleman and told him I wanted to commit," Winfield said. "He got back to Coach Sark and it was up from there."

...

“Just the offense, the type of offensive mind he has, how Coach Sark really uses his playmakers, he gets the matches he wants,” Winfield said.

On the official scoreboard, this will go down as a loss for Ohio State on the recruiting trail. But not in reality.

Winfield had wanted to commit to the Buckeyes in late November, shortly after fellow Texas receiver Caleb Burton and fellow Texan Quinn Ewers announced their Ohio State commitments. There were a few factors at play, though, and Winfield had to wait.

Ohio State was still waiting on word from 2021 receiver Emeka Egbuka, and there are two more receivers in the 2022 class in Kyion Grayes and Kojo Antwi that I believe the Buckeyes are higher on than Winfield. Antwi was actually offered a scholarship by Brian Hartline the week before Winfield had wanted to make his initial commitment.

Following Winfield's commitment to Texas, we can now see the hierarchy a bit better in regards to Ohio State receiver targets in the class with Grayes and Antwi emerging as the Buckeyes' top-two targets in the cycle. And even Chicago's Kaleb Brown has been emerging as a top target.

I'm fully confident the Buckeyes will land Grayes, and I feel good about their shot with Antwi, though that is shaping up to be an Ohio State-Georgia battle.

Ohio State is recruiting at the highest clip in the country at receiver (alongside Alabama) as that continues to be the top room the program is bringing new talent into. It says all you need to know that the Buckeyes are not bringing in a player in Winfield (No. 79 overall, No. 12 WR) who would have been their ninth top-100 receiver commit in the past three cycles and it doesn't affect them that much.

Stockton decommits from South Carolina

Five-star quarterback Gunner Stockton is back on the market.

Ranked as the No. 1 dual-threat quarterback and No. 27 overall player in the 2022 class, Stockton had been committed to South Carolina since Aug. 20, but on Tuesday he announced his decision to reopen his recruitment.

"After much discussion and prayer with my family, I have decided to decommit from the University of South Carolina," Stockton wrote on Twitter. "Back in August, I made the decision to commit to the University, program and staff. A lot has changed since that time and I feel that I should reevaluate my situation. I want to thank Connor Shaw for all of his love, support and understanding."

Stockton was at one time one of the Buckeyes' top targets at quarterback in the cycle, but with Ewers being a solid commitment to Ryan Day and Co., there's no reason to expect them to pursue. Stockton is now trending toward Auburn now that he has decommitted from the Gamecocks.

Bama, OSU set stage for more recruiting wars

We talked about it throughout all of last week, but it bears repeating:

Alabama and Ohio State have been battling for years for many of the same players on the recruiting trail, and the two programs are set up to continue those same recruiting wars for years to come.

Monday night's national championship set the stage even further for that. Just as Alabama cruised to a runaway win in the title game over Ohio State, it is doing so on the recruiting trail by running away with the recruiting crown in the 2021 class.

As of now, the Buckeyes hold a substantial lead in the 2022 cycle for the nation's No. 1 class. They won't be upended in that ranking any time soon, but after Alabama exploded in recruiting last spring and summer, we won't at all be surprised if (see: when) Nick Saban and Co. storm onto the scene in the 2022 class.

It's extremely hard (unless you're Alabama, apparently) to reach the College Football Playoff. But with the way these two programs have been recruiting, we should expect (or at least not even be close to surprised) if we see more playoff matchups and possibly more national title games between the two blueblood programs over the next five years.


Header photo: Armani Winfield – Collin Kennedy/247Sports

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