Louisville’s 2023 recruiting class already had some big pieces heading into the week, but the Cardinals made a huge move Monday evening when five-star running back Rueben Owens of El Campo (Texas) High announced his commitment.
That isn’t a commitment. That is a statement.
Rated the No. 16 overall player and the No. 1 running back in the 2023 class in the 247Sports Composite, Owens took an official visit to Louisville the weekend before his commitment. After he committed, he posted on Twitter that he won’t be taking any more visits — other than to Louisville.
Before the weekend, Owens was thought to be most strongly considering in-state schools like Texas (where he was once committed), Texas A&M and TCU. There seems to be this prevailing thought that this commitment will lead to drama down the road — you know, visits to more top-tier programs during the season — but for now, Owens seems steadfast in his commitment that shocked the world.
If he remains committed, Owens will be the second-highest-rated player to sign with Louisville in the modern recruiting era, behind former NFL running back Michael Bush (Class of 2003).
Louisville has done a tremendous job with its official visits in the last year. In a world in which elaborate photo shoots have taken center stage, Louisville has mastered the art of showing prospects a good time. This weekend, the Cardinals used expensive cars and private jets as props for the visiting prospects.
Louisville football is hosting its biggest recruiting weekend ever and it has gone all-in on impressing recruits.
The visits began Friday with a deep-dive into UofL, followed by a trip to Bowman Field where players ate dinner with private jets and insane cars pic.twitter.com/XYW5PGkn0b
— State of Louisville (@thestateoflou) June 18, 2022
One of the centerpieces of Louisville’s class is four-star Pierce Clarkson of Bellflower (Calif.) St. John Bosco, the No. 199 overall player and the No. 10 quarterback in the country. Clarkson, the son of well-known quarterbacks coach Steve Clarkson, has been doing everything in his power to bring top talent to Louisville and has helped the staff earn commitments from Owens and four-star receiver DeAndre Moore Jr. of Los Alamitos (Calif.) High.
Louisville’s 2023 class includes four top-200 players and 10 commitments overall. It ranks No. 11 nationally.
Ohio State, Brian Hartline at it again
Brian Hartline is an alien. There is no other way to put it.
This week, Hartline landed commitments on back-to-back days from five-star receivers. Carnell Tate of Bradenton (Fla.) IMG committed to the Buckeyes on Monday. The next day, Brandon Inniss of Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) American Heritage joined Ohio State’s class.
The run of elite-level receivers headed to play for Hartline has been nothing short of astonishing. Since the 2019 recruiting class (and including Tate and Inniss in 2023), Ohio State has either signed or received commitments from 13 top-100 receivers. During that same time, the rest of the Big Ten has a total of two top-100 receivers.
It certainly helps that Ohio State had three former signees selected back-to-back-to-back in the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft in Garrett Wilson, Chris Olave and Jameson Williams. Wilson and Olave played their entire careers for Hartline at Ohio State while Williams, a part of the Buckeyes’ 2019 class, became one of the best receivers in the country for Alabama last year. That’s quite the sales pitch.
Hartline has basically signed the best players at the position every season since becoming the wide receivers coach at his alma mater in 2018. His success — both in recruiting and development — has led to inevitable speculation that other schools will target him for a job as an offensive coordinator. Hartline, for now, seems very happy in Columbus.
Ohio State’s 2023 class now has 12 commitments, four from top-100 players. Its average player rating is 93.86, the second-highest nationally behind only Alabama (96.09). The Crimson Tide, though, have only five commitments in the cycle.
Will Randle commits to Texas
Three-star tight end Will Randle of New Orleans (La.) Isidore Newman took an official visit to Texas over the weekend and committed to the Longhorns.
Typically, a commitment from a three-star prospect who rates as the No. 670 overall player and the No. 34 tight end in the country wouldn’t be big news. But this is different. Why? Because Randle is a teammate of five-star quarterback Arch Manning, the No. 1 overall player in the 2023 cycle. You may have heard of him.
Randle is a nice pickup for the Longhorns, but his commitment immediately resulted in speculation that this could help the Longhorns in the race to land Manning.
Manning has taken official visits to Alabama, Georgia and, most recently, Texas. He was on campus over the weekend when his teammate committed to the Longhorns.
There has been endless talk about where Manning is leaning, and after taking official visits to the three teams that are widely considered to be the front-runners, it may seem to some as though Manning could be close to a decision. Nobody knows for sure. But Randle’s commitment seems like another thing that’s playing in Texas’ favor. That’s notable when discussing one of the most coveted prospects in the history of recruiting.
Kadyn Proctor down to Iowa and Alabama
Xavier Nwankpa, a four-star Class of 2022 safety of Des Moines (Iowa) Southeast Polk, was the second-highest-rated prospect from Iowa in the modern recruiting era. At the end of his recruitment, Nwankpa was down to Iowa, Ohio State and Notre Dame. He ultimately decided to spurn the two traditional national powers and sign with the in-state program.
Can Kirk Ferentz pull it off again?
Five-star offensive tackle Kadyn Proctor — who also plays at Southeast Polk — is the No. 10 overall player in the 2023 class. He’s the highest-rated player in Iowa’s history. On Friday, Proctor announced he was down to Iowa and Alabama. You don’t hear that often, but the situation is very similar to the way Nwankpa’s recruitment played out.
Now Proctor has to make his own decision about how he wants his story to end. Does he want to stay loyal to the in-state school and follow his former teammate to the Hawkeyes? Or does he want to be the latest five-star offensive tackle to bite on Alabama’s promise of winning national titles and becoming a first-round NFL Draft pick?
Proctor canceled official visits to Penn State, Oregon and Michigan and scheduled an official visit to Iowa for this coming weekend. He has already taken an official visit to Alabama, so it seems it’s now up to Iowa to knock it out of the park.
Georgia lands five-star CB out of Alabama
First, Georgia beat Alabama to capture its first national title since 1980. Now, the Bulldogs dipped into the state of Alabama to land a player who could help them remain among the nation’s elite.
Five-star cornerback AJ Harris of Phenix City (Ala.) Central announced his commitment to Georgia last Thursday, choosing the Bulldogs over offers from Alabama, Clemson, Florida, Florida State, Ohio State, LSU, Miami, Michigan, Michigan State and just about everywhere else.
Though Phenix City is technically in the state of Alabama, it is on the Georgia border right across the river from Columbus. Harris had an offer from the Crimson Tide, but Clemson and Florida seemed to be the two other schools he was most strongly considering.
Later in the week, Georgia also landed four-star linebacker CJ Allen of Barnesville (Ga.) Lamar County Comprehensive, who ranks as the No. 167 overall player and the No. 10 linebacker in the nation.
Kirby Smart’s 2023 class now has 13 commitments, three of whom are top-100 players and a fourth — four-star receiver Raymond Cottrell of Milton (Fla.) High — who ranks No. 101. Georgia’s class ranks No. 5 nationally.
Jaden Rashada pushes back commitment date
Four-star prospect Jaden Rashada of Pittsburg (Calif.) High, the No. 45 overall player and the No. 7 quarterback in the 2023 class, was scheduled to announce his decision on June 18. Florida was trending in his recruitment when his original announcement date was set.
But in recruiting, things change fast. Not only did Rashada push his announcement back eight days to June. 26 — which he said was to give himself more time and to honor his grandmother on her birthday — but now he’s taking an official visit to Miami this week.
Though Miami recently picked up a commitment from three-star quarterback Emory Williams of Milton (Fla.) High, there is no question that Mario Cristobal would take a pledge from Rashada. And that would make for quite the twist in this emerging Florida-Miami recruiting rivalry starring Cristobal and first-year Florida coach Billy Napier.
Rashada’s other announced finalists are Texas A&M, Ole Miss and LSU. He has taken official visits to Florida, LSU, Mississippi and Oregon.
Odds & Ends
• Five-star defensive lineman Peter Woods of Alabaster (Ala.) Thompson, the No. 23 overall player and the No. 3 defensive lineman in the 2023 class, will announce his decision on July 8. He’s down to Clemson, Alabama and Florida. You can guess where he’s trending.
• Four-star defensive lineman Jamaal Jarrett of Greensboro (N.C.) Grimsley, the No. 176 overall player and the No. 26 defensive lineman in the 2023 class, is down to Auburn, Georgia and North Carolina. He’ll announce his college decision on July 19.
• Four-star linebacker Raul “Popo” Aguirre of Fayetteville (Ga.) Whitewater, the No. 118 overall player and the No. 8 linebacker in the 2023 class, is down to six schools: Ohio State, Georgia, Miami, Alabama, Florida and Arkansas. He’ll announce his decision on July 16.
• Three-star tight end Deakon Tonielli of Oswego (Ill.) High committed to Michigan on Sunday. Rated the No. 430 overall player and the No. 22 tight end in the 2023 class, Tonielli joins a class that has seven commitments and ranks No. 40 nationally. The Wolverines are also trending in the recruitment of four-star Enow Etta of Colleyville (Texas) Covenant Christian, who ranks as the No. 124 overall player and the No. 19 defensive lineman in the 2023 class, and four-star Amir Herring of West Bloomfield (Mich.) High, the No. 284 overall player and the No. 14 interior offensive lineman.
• Penn State picked up a huge commitment from four-star defensive lineman Tomarrion Parker of Phenix City (Ala.) Central on Monday. Rated the No. 80 overall player and the No. 8 defensive lineman in the 2023 class, Parker chose the Nittany Lions over offers from Florida, Tennessee, Alabama and others. Penn State’s class has 14 commitments — including three top-100 players — and ranks No. 3 nationally.
• Four-star offensive tackle Wilkin Formby of Tuscaloosa (Ala.) Northridge, the No. 83 overall player and the No. 10 offensive tackle in the 2023 class, committed to Alabama on Monday. Each of Alabama’s five commitments ranks in the top 165 nationally.
• Clemson picked up commitments from two four-star defenders from Georgia this week in linebacker Dee Crayton of Alpharetta Denmark and defensive lineman AJ Hoffler of Atlanta Woodward Academy. Both players are ranked in the top 320 nationally. Clemson’s 2023 class has 13 commitments and ranks No. 4 in the country.
• Florida flipped four-star edge rusher Isaiah Nixon of St. Petersburg (Fla.) Lakewood from UCF on Tuesday. Earlier in the week, Florida landed three-star offensive tackle Tommy Kinsler of Ocala (Fla.) Trinity Catholic. Rated the No. 194 overall player and the No. 26 edge in the 2023 class, Nixon joins a Gators’ class that has seven commitments and ranks No. 41 nationally.
• Four-star 2024 safety Maurice Williams of Pearland (Texas) Shadow Creek committed to LSU on Saturday. Rated the No. 62 overall player and the No. 8 safety in his class, Williams is LSU’s first commitment in 2024.
• USC added two three-star defensive linemen to its 2023 class this week in Amos Talalele of Santa Clara (Calif.) High — who flipped from Cal — and Grant Buckley of Bakersfield (Calif.) Liberty. USC’s class has 10 commitments and ranks No. 10 nationally.
• Boston College landed three-star receiver Montrell Wade of Tyler (Texas) High on Tuesday. Rated the No. 550 overall player and the No. 72 receiver in the 2023 class, Wade joins a class that has 14 commitments and ranks No. 18 overall.
• Three-star running back Will Stallings of Las Vegas (Nev.) Bishop Gorman committed to Tennessee on Sunday. Rated the No. 1,006 overall player in the 2023 class, Stallings joins a class that has 10 commitments and ranks No. 14 nationally.
(Photo of Scott Satterfield: Jerome Miron / USA Today)