In today’s edition of the Inside Word, we have the inside scoop on where many of the four and five-star prospects from the Classes of 2014 and 2015 in California could be leaning. Plus, some SEC recruiting battles, Alabama’s chances with some top remaining targets and new names to watch in California for the coming cycles.
Wisconsin is a school to watch with five-star RB Joe Mixon.
Five-Stars Leaving Cali?
Looking at the recruitment of the top 2014 prospects in California and as things stand today, several could end up heading east.
-The feel in the recruitment of five-star running back Joe Mixon is that Cal leads with Oklahoma No. 2. The team to watch out for is Wisconsin. The five-star running back has told some other recruits he’s closely monitoring Melvin Gordon’s status for the Badgers. Gordon, a redshirt sophomore, is currently second in the nation in rushing and could leave early for the NFL draft. If so, according to contacts close to Mixon, the opportunity to possibly start as a true freshman for the traditionally ground-driven Badgers has major appeal for the nation’s No. 1 all-purpose back.
-Five-star athlete John ‘JuJu’ Smith of Long Beach (Calif.) Poly took his first official visit, to Ohio State, this past weekend. He’ll head to Notre Dame and Oregon in October and then go to Alabama and Michigan in November. Smith, who prefers playing wide receiver, could make his decision in early January at an All-American game. Smith told 247Sports that he will base his decision on most of all the Christian life on campus as well as academics and the program’s tradition. Notre Dame, along with Alabama, are the front-runners going into the official visits according to sources.
-Florida is the current team to beat for Adoree’ Jackson. Florida State, with its recent push, is in the lead group along with USC, which remains in the mix but obviously has the uncertainty of a coaching change. The five-star cornerback has a very good rapport with most of the Gator commits and stays in frequent contact with them. Jackson wants to take official visits to places he hasn’t been to like Oregon, Florida State, maybe Oklahoma, Notre Dame and LSU. Florida will wind up getting an official visit for Jackson, likely in January. This recruitment will go the distance, per Jackson, as Florida State and USC try to tighten the gap with the Gators. Florida’s track program has not only pushed the Gators to the top but kept them there.
-Jackson’s teammate, four-star outside linebacker Dwight Williams, is a huge lean to Florida. Williams only has one official visit lined up, to Florida on Nov. 30, and lists Georgia and Clemson as his the other teams in his lead group along with his in-state favorite: UCLA. Watch out for the Bruins for this reason- Florida will continue to push for five-star linebacker Raekwon McMillan first and foremost, where they are fourth at best behind Ohio State, Alabama and Clemson. McMillan, an early enrollee, figures to have his decision in hand and that will take place before Williams would be a take on the pecking order for the Gators.
-Four-star offensive lineman Damien Mama, the nation’s No. 2 guard, will take official visits to Wisconsin, Notre Dame and Alabama over the next six weeks. Distance is a major factor in this recruitment which helps USC and UCLA. This could be a recruit the new staff at USC is able to keep home come this winter.
Top tight ends coming off the board?
Tyler Luatua might not be joining his brother in Tuscaloosa.
Two of the nation’s Top 3 tight ends could be off the board before Thanksgiving. Look for Tyler Luatua of La Mirada (Calif.) High to opt for Notre Dame over Alabama, where his brother Issac Luatua plays. He has upcoming official visits to both schools.
The nation’s No. 1 tight end prospect, Bryce Dixon, has upcoming official visits to Oregon and Texas A&M. He’s in the process of scheduling one to Miami as well. But it’s UCLA that holds the lead as distance is a big factor. Dixon hopes to make his decision before his team’s playoffs begin in mid-November.
Five-star 2015 cornerback Kevin Toliver II of Jacksonville (FL) Trinity Christian Academy committed to LSU last fall. This month alone he visited Miami and Florida for home games. He plans on going to the Florida-LSU game on October 11 and will hit up the FSU-Florida and Florida-Georgia games later this fall. Toliver, who says he’s 100-percent committed to LSU, lists Florida and Ohio State as his No. 2 and 3 schools. He plans to visit Ohio State next spring. “Florida’s coaches are coming at me hard. They want me to come in and start right away and be a Gator,” Toliver said.
Alabama currently has the nation’s No. 1 recruiting class. The already loaded group could get even stronger as crystal ball projections to Alabama were made Sunday for four of their top targets: C.J. Hampton, Charles Mosley, Laurence Jones and Abu Lamin.
Loaded for 2015
247Sports saw eight of the top 10 juniors in California (it’s flat-out loaded in California for that cycle) this past week and gathered the early buzz and word on each
1- Ricky Town, 5-star QB, Ventura (Calif.) St. Bonaventure
Don't look for Josh Rosen to leave the state of California.
Early, solid commit to Alabama. Andrew Luck meets John Elway with a splash of Justin Timberlake. Nation’s top QB prospect.
2- Josh Rosen, 5-star QB, Bellflower (Calif.) John Bosco
Cal leads UCLA and USC. Would be on Stanford’s commit board already if the Cardinal had offered but they opted not to.
3- Kevin Dillman, 5-star QB, La Mirada (Calif.)
Michigan and Nebraska are his Top 2. If Michigan offers, the Wolverines could likely land a commitment this winter or spring.
5- Rasheem Green, 4-star DT, Gardena (Calif.) Junipero Serra
Florida leads USC, UCLA and Washington. Could wind up a Gator if Jackson and Williams follow through on their leans to Florida.
6- Iman Marshall, 4-star CB, Long Beach (Calif.) Poly
Look for QB Sheriron Jones' offer list to grow.
Ohio State leads LSU and Alabama. He has 17 offers now but favors three schools that haven’t quite offered just yet. All three likely will after his junior season, if not sooner.
7- John Houston, 4-star LB, Gardena (Calif.) Junipero Serra
Smelling a Gators trend at Serra? Florida leads FSU, UCLA and USC.
9- Brady White, 4-star QB, Santa Clarita (Calif.) Hart
Top 3: Oklahoma State, Cal, Oregon. He currently only has a San Jose State offer. Look for that to increase by 10-15 before next spring.
10- Cordell Broadus, 4-star WR, Diamond Bar (Calif.)
USC leads Cal, UCLA and Oregon. USC also leads for his teammate, four-star athlete Kanya Bell, over UCLA, Oregon and Texas A&M.
2015 Quick Hits
UCLA is in good shape with Darick Holmes Jr.
-Arizona, which has three 2014 commits from Los Angeles (Calif.) Salesian, holds a lead for the school’s four-star junior outside backer Kyahva Tezino over Miami and UCLA.
-Texas A&M, Arizona State, Washington and Notre Dame comprise the lead group for four-star quarterback Sheriron Jones of Moreno Valley (Calif.) Rancho Verde. Arizona, Arizona State, Akron and Colorado have offered. Look for that total to increase big-time as Jones is one of the nation’s top junior dual-threat QBs.
-Jones’ teammate, four-star offensive lineman Trevita Halalilo, lists UCLA on top of Arizona State, Washington and Alabama. Only Colorado has offered so far. That will change after his junior season.
-Colorado has also offered Rancho Verde 2015 cornerback Cedric Peterson. Oregon, Arizona State, Texas A&M and Michigan are the schools he likes.
-Another one of southern California’s best offensive linemen for 2015, St. John Bosco four-star guard Zack Robertson, favors UCLA over USC and Michigan.
-Robertson’s teammate, 2016 safety DJ Morgan, a likely four-star recruit, has an early offer from Vanderbilt and lists the Commodores as his early favorite over USC and Alabama.
-White’s go-to target at Hart, junior wide receiver Trent Irwin, has a Cal offer and lists the Golden Bears on top over Stanford and Boise State.
-UCLA has offered Oaks Christian (Calif.) running back Darick Holmes, Jr., the son of former NFL back Darick Holmes who played for the Packers, Bills and Colts, favors the Bruins over Oregon and Arizona. His teammate, four-star offensive tackle Reno Rosene has Notre Dame on top of USC.
-Williams and Houston are part of possibly the nation’s most loaded high school linebacking corps at Junipero Serra. His teammate, 2014 prospect Olajuwon Tucker, is getting high interest from USC and has six offers. Washington State is making the biggest for him now as the current team to beat. More offers could be coming his way once his test scores come back. Blake Wells, a 2016 backer Florida State has offered, lists the Seminoles on top over Michigan and Oregon.
-Four-star defensive tackle Joseph Wicker of Long Beach (Calif.) Poly grew up liking Florida State and wants an offer from his favorite team. Miami, Arizona and Washington (where he committed for a short time following camp in Seattle this summer) have offered. UCLA and Oregon round out his lead group.
-Utah has offered Poly’s next stud recruit, 2016 defensive back Micah Croom. Stanford, Utah and UCLA comprise his early lead group.
-The Bruins hold an early lead for four-star wide receiver Equanimeous St. Brown of Anaheim (Calif.) Servite over Oregon, Alabama and Michigan. They are also positioned in the lead group, along with USC, Texas and Washington for four-star defensive end Keisean Lucier-South of Orange (Calif.) Lutheran.
“USC is my favorite because of the education, history and I want to major in cinema. That’s one of the best programs. I want to go to school and then play football,” - Cordell Broadus, 4-star WR, Diamond Bar
“I like UCLA. They’ve been showing me interest since I was a freshman. That’s why I like them.” - Kanya Bell, 4-star ATH, Diamond Bar
“Three of my friends are committed to Arizona. I haven’t been there yet but I’m hyped to go there. I’m super-hyped to see it. That makes a big impact on me that they are going there,” - Kyahva Tezino, 4-star LB, Salesian
“I like the new coaching staff at UCLA. They have some really good coaches. They’ve brought UCLA back,” - Trevita Halalilo, 4-star OL, Rancho Verde
“Washington has a little advantage…Their offense is improving to fit me more. I like their coaching staff,” - Sheriron Jones, 4-star QB, Rancho Verde
“Wisconsin plays hard-nosed football. I love run blocking. So you put two and two together. They expect to win. I relate well with the coaching recruiting me for them (Chad Kauha'aha'a) as we are both Polynesian,” - Damien Mama, 4-star OL, John Bosco
“I like the area at Cal. There’s credibility in getting a degree from Berkeley. They have a great staff. They are putting up great numbers,” - Josh Rosen, 5-star QB, John Bosco
“UCLA has a great staff. I like the chemistry of the players and the academics,” - Zack Robertson, 4-star OL, John Bosco
“I like the coaching staff at Vanderbilt. I like how their offense and defense work. Playing in the SEC is a big plus,” - D.J. Morgan, athlete, John Bosco
“Oregon has a great football program. I like their fast-paced offense and campus,” - Equanimeous St. Brown, 4-star WR, Servite
“That was a huge honor when Texas offered me. They haven’t offered any other kids in California,” - Keisean Lucier-South, 4-star DE, Orange - Lutheran
“I grew up watching Tom Brady. If there was one offer I could wish for it would be Michigan. I really like their coaching staff,” - 5-star QB Kevin Dillman, La Mirada
“All of the coaches at Notre Dame are good to me. I’d be a good player there and play as a true freshman,” - 4-star TE Tyler Luatua, La Mirada
“I just like how Florida State beats up on people. They win. I want to be part of that. I like their tradition,” - Joseph Wicker, 4-star DT, Long Beach Poly
“I’m looking for a school with good academics and a place that has a very strong tradition. The main thing I’m looking for is the Christian life on campus,” - JuJu Smith, 5-star ATH, Long Beach Poly
“I like Florida’s defensive line. They send out good defensive ends and defensive tackles to the pros. I’ve always liked them since I was young,” - Rasheem Green, 4-star DT, Junipero Serra
“The academics are good at USC. They have good coaching as well. Its close to home. I’m hoping to go to college close to home if I could,” - John Houston, 4-star LB, Junipero Serra
“There’s so many good things at Washington State. My brother, Tim Tucker, went to Washington and told me a lot of good things about Washington,” - Olajuwon Tucker, LB, Junipero Serra
“I like the way Florida uses their defensive personnel and the way they use their linebackers. They have a super environment and prepare you for the NFL,” - Dwight Williams, 4-star LB, Junipero Serra
“Oklahoma State slings it a lot. I love their system. They run the Air Raid. The Oklahoma State staff is awesome. They have great academics and facilities,” - Brady White, 4-star QB, Hart
“Cal has a real good academic program. I like the area and community around it. The coaches are cool and personable,” - Trent Irwin, WR, Hart
“Alabama has a business-like mentality. They have an outstanding atmosphere to be part of and play in. I feel like its the perfect fit for me,” - Ricky Town, 5-star QB, Ventura - St. Bonaventure
“I love Notre Dame’s networking. They graduate their players early. If you have any NFL aspirations you can still graduate in three years and get a degree from there. It’s far away but it feels like home. They have an awesome atmosphere,” - Reno Rosene, 4-star OL, Oaks Christian
Several prospects/sleepers are just starting to gather major Division I interest in southern California. Some names to keep an eye on include:
Brian Lamb, 2016, ATH, Diamond Bar, 5-8, 175
Christian Rector, 2015, TE, Loyola, 6-5, 220
Chris Brown, 2014, OL, Loyola, 6-4, 290
Payton Sanders, 2014, DE, Loyola, 6-2, 220
Kevin Scott, 2015, DT, Salesian, 6-4, 265
Matt Katnik, 2016, OL, John Bosco, 6-4, 290
Aisea Tongilava, 2014, OLB, Orange - Lutheran, 6-1, 220
Brady Petersen, 2014, FS, Orange - Lutheran, 6-0, 180
Nick Capella, 2015, OL, Ventura - St. Bonaventure, 6-6, 275
John McGill, 2015, TE, Ventura - St. Bonaventure, 6-3, 215
Ben Holmes, 2017, OL, Ventura - St. Bonaventure, 6-3, 275
Darnay Holmes, 2017, ATH, Westlake Village - Oaks Christian, 5-8, 160
Blaka Maimoa, 2015, QB, Westlake Village - Oaks Christian, 6-7, 220
Jaylen Larry, 2016, OL, Westlake Village - Oaks Christian, 6-4, 265
Richard Cabrera, 2015, OL, Westlake Village - Oaks Christian, 6-5, 285
Stay tuned to 247Sports all week for full length onsite interviews with Broadus, Bell, Tezino, Halalilo, Jones, Mama, Peterson, Rosen, Robertson, Morgan, St. Brown, Lucier-South, Dillman, Luatua, Croom, Marshall, Wicker, Smith, Green, Houston, Tucker, Walls, Williams, White, Irwin, Town, Rosene and Holmes.