College football recruiting notebook: Inside Miami's surge, future commitments and more

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Mar 6, 2018

College football recruiting notebook: Inside Miami's surge, future commitments and more​


Arch Manning's commitment to Texas was the start of the Longhorns rising in ESPN's college football recruiting class rankings.

Since Manning -- the nephew of former NFL quarterbacks Peyton and Eli -- announced for the Longhorns on June 23, 10 prospects have joined him at Texas, four of whom are 2023 ESPN 300 recruits: wide receiver Johntay Cook II (No. 43), safety Derek Williams (No. 76), defensive tackle Sydir Mitchell (No. 148) and wide receiver Jonah Wilson (No. 278).

In turn, Texas has gone from No. 16 on June 17 to No. 3. And its 2023 success could have an impact on the 2024 class as well.

Prized in-state wide receiver Micah Hudson is keeping an eye on what's going on in Austin. The 6-foot, 186-pound Hudson, from Lake Belton High School in Temple, is ranked 15th overall in the 2024 ESPN Junior 300. In the span of eight days in January, he received offers from both Texas and Texas A&M.

Hudson said so far, he feels a stronger connection to the Aggies because of more consistent conversations with coach Jimbo Fisher and his staff but that the Longhorns aren't far behind.

"Arch is a really good quarterback, and Johntay, me and him have the same trainer," Hudson told ESPN. "But seeing [the flood of commitments], it's not really going to change anything for me. I'm going to go where it's best for me."

Texas isn't the only team to make a drastic climb up the rankings over the past couple weeks.

Below, we'll touch on how Miami and LSU have gone from unranked to competing for top-10 classes, which ESPN 300 prospects will commit to over the next couple of weeks, and even look at where 2024 recruits are visiting.

Miami jumping up in recruiting rankings​

The floodgates have started to open a bit in Coral Gables since quarterback Jaden Rashada's commitment on June 26.

Rashada (No. 22), from Pittsburg, California, became the first of six ESPN 300 prospects to announce for coach Mario Cristobal and the Hurricanes within the past three weeks.

Miami sits at No. 11 in ESPN's class rankings after not being in the top 25 as recently as late June.

Cristobal inherited a 2022 class that was ranked outside the top 50 upon his hiring on Dec. 6. From there, he was able to hit the trail hard enough to improve last year's class to No. 19 after the late signing period.

With Rashada and offensive lineman Francis Mauigoa (No. 5) headlining the 2023 class and 2024 cornerback Antoine Jackson (No. 109) flipping from Georgia to Miami, Cristobal certainly is building momentum.

LSU focusing on defensive line​

LSU went from being unranked to No. 10 in the latest class rankings, and new defensive line coach Jamar Cain might be the biggest reason why.

Cain, who joined Brian Kelly's staff in Baton Rouge after spending the past two seasons on Lincoln Riley's staff at Oklahoma, helped the Tigers bring in four new defensive line recruits in early July.

Jaxon Howard (No. 118) is listed as a tight end but also plays defensive end for Robbinsdale Cooper High School (Minnesota), and his commitment on July 1 was the start. Joshua Mickens (No. 283), a 6-4, 225-pound defensive end who had 12 sacks and 23 tackles for a loss as a junior for Lawrence Central High School (Indiana), committed on July 3.

The next day, Da'Shawn Womack (No. 93), who had 11 sacks and 19 tackles for loss for St. Frances Academy (Maryland), and four-star Darron Reed, a 6-5, 260-pound defensive end who had 19 sacks as a junior for Carver High School (Georgia), both committed to the Tigers.

But the Tigers' highest-ranked commit is wide receiver Jalen Brown (No. 53). Brown, a 6-1, 170-pound wideout, hauled in 56 passes for 1,033 yards and 14 touchdowns as a junior for Gulliver Prep High School (Florida).

What does he do best?

"Probably [being] a playmaker, being able to move around, take the top off a defense," he told ESPN. "Basically make the big plays, open up plays for my teammates."

Four-star linebacker Troy Bowles committing Saturday​

Bowles (No. 26), from Jesuit High School in Tampa, Florida, narrowed his choices to Georgia, Ohio State and Oklahoma.

Bowles, the son of Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Todd Bowles, took official visits to each school in June.

The 6-1, 210-pound linebacker had 110 tackles, seven tackles for loss and seven sacks for Jesuit as a junior in 2021.

Top-25 prospect committing July 23​

Joenel Aguero (No. 21), a 5-11, 195-pound safety, is down to Georgia, Ohio State, Miami and Florida.

Aguero visited each school in June, with Miami being the final visit June 24-26.

Aguero is the No. 1-ranked prospect in Massachusetts. He transferred back to St. John's Prep from IMG Academy (Florida) for his senior season.

Four-star linebacker committing July 23​

Malik Bryant (No. 58), a 6-2, 235-pound linebacker, is considering Alabama, Florida, Miami and Maryland.

Bryant took an official visit to Florida June 10, traveled to Maryland on June 17 and saw Miami on June 24.

He had 98 tackles, 14 tackles for loss, 12 sacks, one interception and one touchdown return as a junior for Jones High School (Florida) in 2021.

Four-star ESPN 300 teammates committing together​

Defensive linemen Derrick LeBlanc and John Walker, who are Osceola High School (Florida) teammates, moved up their commitment dates from Oct. 22 to July 28.

LeBlanc, ranked No. 31, will pick from Penn State, Oklahoma and Florida. The defensive end visited Gainesville from June 10 to June 12 and followed with an official visit to Happy Valley from June 17 to June 19.

As a junior, LeBlanc had 38 tackles, 12 tackles for loss and eight sacks in 2021.

Meanwhile, Walker (No. 88), a 6-2, 300-pound defensive tackle, went on official visits to UCF, Michigan, Miami and Ohio State in June.

Walker had 77 tackles, 17 tackles for loss and 13 sacks as a junior in 2021.

Early look at 2024 recruits​

Several top prospects in next year's class have been taking unofficial visits and landing offers.

Colin Simmons (No. 9), a defensive end from Duncanville High School (Texas), took a visit to LSU in late June. Offers from Florida, Jackson State and Mississippi State came his way last month. Alabama, Florida State, Oregon, Michigan and USC all offered over the course of April and May.

Jeremiah Smith (No. 12), a wide receiver from Chaminade-Madonna Prep (Florida), recently received an offer from Jackson State. Smith has been making his rounds and has visited Alabama, USC, Miami, Ohio State, Texas, Oklahoma, Texas A&M and Georgia.

KingJoseph Edwards (No. 16), a defensive end from Buford High School (Georgia), has taken trips to Florida, Miami, Oklahoma and Georgia. He has plans to go to Michigan and Oregon later this summer. Georgia, Alabama, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Miami, USC and Texas are the schools Edwards is looking hard at.

Elijah Rushing (No. 19), a defensive end from Salpointe Catholic High School in Arizona, picked up an offer from Oklahoma this week. He received offers from Pittsburgh, Clemson and Tennessee in June.

Jefferson High School (Georgia) linebacker Sammy Brown (No. 20) has been to Georgia, Tennessee and Clemson multiple times.

Willis High School (Texas) quarterback D.J. Lagway (No. 21) received offers from Florida and Oklahoma over the past few weeks. He holds offers to play both football and baseball from Florida, Oklahoma, Texas A&M, LSU, Arkansas, Baylor and Houston.
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