Commitment breakdown: Jason Marshall chooses Florida

Jason Marshall
Jason Marshall

Four-star cornerback Jason Marshall committed to Florida on Sunday, giving UF a Rivals100 talent in the 2021 class. Below, Rivals.com has a look at what the Gators are getting and what the program’s swell of momentum may mean for the future.

WHAT FLOIDA IS GETTING: Marshall is an elite athlete that anchored a star-studded Miami Palmetto High secondary last season. The Rivals100 prospect played a number of positions early in his career but recently settled into his role as a cornerback and has started to develop technically. He’s gotten stronger over the last calendar year and has the frame to add even more size in the year ahead. So while Marshall is not the fastest corner in the class, his length and athleticism allow him to play even bigger than his 6-foot-1 frame. Marshall has functioned as a kick returner in the past and could do the same in college. He needs to become more polished when it comes to technique and his backpedal, but his combination of size and athleticism will give him the opportunity to be an All-American-type prospect and possibly play on Sundays.

WHAT IT MEANS FOR UF: Florida desperately needed a victory over Miami to quell the Hurricanes’ momentum on the trail. Extracting a South Florida-based prospect from the legion in the midst of a Pandemic is obviously no easy task, so this is an extra impressive recruiting victory for Dan Mullen and company. UF is the most stable major program in the state, so it is expected to win its share of high-profile recruiting tussles. That said, success tends to compound. So if Florida is permitted to play this season and takes another step forward, these are the types of battles it can expect to win regularly.

Transfer Tracker: Villanova WR Changa Hodge headed to Virginia Tech

Changa Hodge

The Transfer Portal has changed the landscape of college football. So at Rivals we bring you the Transfer Tracker, where we analyze players entering the portal and rate them on what kind of impact they could make at their new home.

Next up in the tracker: Villanova transfer Changa Hodge, who is now headed to Virginia Tech.

TRANSFER TRACKER CENTRAL

CLASS OF 2020 RANKINGS: Rivals250 | Position | Team | State

CLASS OF 2021 RANKINGS: Rivals250 | Position | Team | State

*****

TRANSFER RANKINGS: Quarterback | Running back | Tight End | Wide Receiver

AS A RECRUIT

A member of the Class of 2016, Hodge didn’t even have a Rivals.com profile or a ranking and landed at FCS program VIllanova.

AT VILLANOVA

After being mostly a reserve for his first three years at Villanova, Hodge had a break out season in 2019, catching 65 passes for 1,118 yards and 13 touchdowns. He was expected to be one of the stars of FCS, but with his season pushed back to the spring he quickly entered the portal and landed at Virginia Tech all in the same week.

FARRELL'S TAKE

“Hodge wasn’t on our radar at all coming out of high school but he’s been a big, physical impact guy who can get downfield and also block at the FCS level. Virginia Tech is getting a sure handed kid who is dangerous in the red zone and he will add depth immediately.” — National Recruiting Director Mike Farrell

Impact Rating: 6.4 out of 10

IMPACT METER


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Ten coordinator hires that stood out over the offseason

Bo Pelini
AP Images

The college football season faces dramatic uncertainties heading into the fall because of the coronavirus pandemic. But there were plenty of offseason coordinator hires on both offense and defense and across the Power Five conferences that will have an impact once the sport gets going again. Here our 10 that especially stood out to us:

FACT OR FICTION: Jim Harbaugh should keep quiet about Ohio State

CLASS OF 2021 RANKINGS: Rivals250 | Position | Team | State

CLASS OF 2022: Top 100

MORE: Rivals Transfer Tracker | Rivals Camp Series

1. KERRY COOMBS, OHIO
STATE DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR

Overview: Ohio State lost DE Chase Young and DB Jeffrey Okudah along with DB Damon Arnette and DL Davon Hamilton, but the Buckeyes are still loaded across the board even if some players are unproven. Bringing Coombs back to Ohio State from the Tennessee Titans should be the perfect solution since he has excelled at every job he’s ever had and he’s directed some of the best defenses in college football.

This could be another one, led by cornerback Shaun Wade, as Ohio State looks to return to the College Football Playoff. Also, Coombs’ short stint in the NFL will not hurt from a recruiting perspective.

Farrell’s take: Coombs was our national recruiter of the year in 2017, so he can recruit players and obviously coach them up. Jeff Hafley was great, but getting Coombs back at Ohio State makes it stronger than ever and he’s one of the best coaches regardless of position in college football.

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2. TODD MONKEN, GEORGIA
OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR

Overview: Georgia has talent all over the field for Monken to work with, but much of it is unproven and a unique offense where cohesion and familiarity were important was not possible to occur during a pandemic.

Georgia’s new offensive coordinator has some interesting questions to answer in the coming weeks like will Wake Forest transfer Jamie Newman or USC transfer JT Daniels, a former five-star who recently became eligible, be the starting quarterback? Which receivers will step up among a group that was lackluster at best last season after phenom George Pickens? Will an offensive line with some youth and inexperience but also incredible talent come together?

Monken spent the last few seasons bouncing around the NFL – and that won’t hurt recruiting – and if the Bulldogs can utilize their tight ends, that could be a big bonus, too.

Farrell’s take: Monken has plenty of experience and can’t be worse than his predecessor James Coley, who really struggled last season especially in boosting the passing game. Monken likes to throw downfield and that will be set up nicely by a strong running game. And his NFL experience will help recruiting.

SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS WITH GEORGIA FANS AT UGASPORTS.COM

3. JOE MOORHEAD, OREGON OFFENSIVE
COORDINATOR


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Fact or Fiction: MAC shutdown is first step toward canceled season

National recruiting director Mike Farrell and national recruiting analyst Adam Gorney tackle three topics daily and determine whether they believe the statements or not.

MORE FACT OR FICTION: Jim Harbaugh should keep quiet about Ohio State

CLASS OF 2021 RANKINGS: Rivals250 | Position | Team | State

CLASS OF 2022: Top 100

MORE: Rivals Transfer Tracker | Rivals Camp Series

3. The MAC shutdown is just a step towards the inevitable of shutting down
the season.

Thomas Hammock
AP Images

Farrell’s take: FACT. Yes, I know the MAC relies financially on non-conference games against Power Five programs, so things would be tough for those teams without those out-of-conference games. And maybe it makes sense to shut it down, but it won’t affect the big schools right? Wrong.

We live in a world of optics and one league shutting it down for health concerns will put pressure on others to do the same. I just feel this is a bad, bad sign for the rest of college football and I’ve been one of the more positive people about a season so far.

Gorney’s take: FACT. In a world where everyone thinks their opinion is the only right one, I have to be honest and say I have no idea where college football is headed right now. After the MAC canceled on Saturday and the Big Ten had a meeting Sunday, it felt like that conference was going to postpone or cancel, too, and then the floodgates would be opened for every other Power Five conference to follow suit.

I believe college athletes are best served on campus, surrounded by world-class medical professionals, engaged outdoors and in rigorous exercise, eating healthy food options and maintaining a routine that involves a tremendous amount of physical activity. I just don’t know if universities or conferences are going to take the risks inherently involved during a health pandemic. I’m leaning toward them not doing that and so I agree with Farrell that the MAC’s decision could lead others to not playing in the fall unfortunately.

2. Notre Dame does the best job recruiting OL in the nation.

Rocco Spindler
Josh Helmholdt / Rivals

Farrell’s take: FICTION. But it’s close. The addition of Rocco Spindler is another sign of how well the Irish recruit the position and how they have been capitalizing on the success of Ronnie Stanley, Quenton Nelson and Mike McGlinchey in recent drafts. But I have to say Alabama still has the edge with the way the Crimson Tide consistently recruits five-star offensive linemen like crazy with Tommy Brockermeyer as the latest example and the likelihood of JC Latham ending up as with a fifth star.

Gorney’s take: FACT. Notre Dame and Alabama have the same number of offensive linemen in the NFL at nine, although the Irish have just 40 total players and Alabama has 65. That is a huge credit to the coaching staff in South Bend in terms of recruiting and then developing elite offensive linemen and taking guys like Nelson, McGlinchey and others and maximizing their ability.

Notre Dame’s offensive line is loaded once again this season and then recruiting has gone really well with Spindler being the latest example. Indiana’s top player is Avon offensive tackle Blake Fisher, an ND commit pushing for five-star status.

Of course, Alabama recruits well along the offensive line but Notre Dame does it best.

SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS WITH NOTRE DAME FANS AT BLUEANDGOLD.COM

3. Leonard Taylor is underranked.


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2023 DL Stantavious Smith’s picking up offers

Rivals.com

Stantavious Smith is a 6-foot-3, 250 pound sophomore defensive lineman at Dougherty High in Albany (Ga.). He had planned to make a big splash in the spring in front of college coaches, but that didn’t happen.

This off-season has been so different for football players, and for everyone across the world, but it has not slowed Smith down. He has put in a lot of work and the word has gotten out about the talent he has.

He has picked up offers from Florida Atlantic, Florida International, Florida State, Georgia, Maryland, South Carolina, Tennessee and Vanderbilt. Those offers have come in over the last couple of months and it is just going to motivate him this fall.

“Getting these offers are big, but it just keeps me humble and working hard for more,” said Smith. “I expected to get offers, but not this soon, and it is just pushing me to work harder and not to let up.

“I am excited about the offers and I am ready for the season to start so I can get out there and show the work I have been putting in. I am going to stay hungry and show everyone why these schools offered me early.”

He has been excited each time he received an offer, but the one from the Seminoles may have meant a little more. Smith grew up a Florida State fan and has attended a handful of games in Tallahassee already.

“This offer was a big surprise. It was great to get the Florida State offer. It is early and it really means a lot. I have been there for three games and I love the hype, the fans and how they have had good defensive linemen.

“I have been watching Florida State on TV my whole life, so to have this offer means a lot to me.”

The offer from Georgia stood out too. He was in Athens last spring for the Bulldog’s spring game and although it wasn’t a real contest, the UGA fans caught his attention.

“Georgia is a home-state school and it a great fan base,” said Smith. “I was there and it was loud. They have fans everywhere and I like Georgia too.”

Not only is this 2023 prospect looking forward to getting on the field this season to play football again, but he is excited about getting out to visit different programs. He missed out on that this spring and summer so seeing what all is out there is something on his mind.

Smith is expected to start his sophomore year in August, so he still has plenty of time to evaluate colleges, but the communication has already started.

“I have talked to at least one coach from every school that has offered me and they tell me they like the player I am and the talent I have, but it is mostly about grades and taking care of those at my age.

“They want me to work hard on my grades, take care of those first and that is what I have talked most about with the different coaches so far.”

RB Kenji Christian’s closing in on a decision

Rivals.com

PINSON, Ala. — The end looks to be in sight for Pinson Valley running back Kenji Christian. No spring practice, no summer visits, but a lot of virtual tours, many phone calls each week, and a decision looks to be nearing.

It is the ACC vs. SEC for the three-star.

“It is coming down to two schools, Ole Miss and Virginia Tech,” said Christian. “A decision will likely come towards the end of this month, but I do not have anything set yet. I know I am getting close, I am talking things over with my mom, I am talking a lot with the coaches and I think I will be ready soon.”

Christian has been talking with Rebel and Hokie coaches “on a daily basis” the last few months. He visited Oxford right before recruiting visits were banned in March, but he has yet to visit Blacksburg.

“I like both schools a lot. With Ole Miss, I like the overall school, coach Lane Kiffin and how the team looks.

“I haven’t visited Virginia Tech, but I have done virtual tours with them and talked to coach Lechtenberg and coach Fuente a lot. I like the coaches, I like what I have seen around the college town and and I like the school.”

A decision is nearing and Christian is not alone.

“My mom is a big part of this with me, so she is talking to the coaches too, and she is talking to me about all of this,” said Christian. “It is going to come down to where I feel most wanted.

“I am getting very close. The process slowed down some with the coronavirus, so I have had more time to talk to coaches, think about this decision and talk with my mother about it, so I know I will be ready soon.

“I am breaking things down now, talking a little more about it, then I think I will be ready.”

The latest with 2022 4-star DE Derrick Moore

Derrick Moore
Rivals.com

Four-star defensive end Derrick Moore hasn’t been overly focused on his recruitment like some others in the 2022 class. The Baltimore (Md.) St. Frances Academy standout has plenty of big time offers to sift through and he recently picked up a few more major offers.

CLASS OF 2021 RANKINGS: Rivals250 | Position | Team | State

CLASS OF 2022: Top 100

MORE: Rivals Transfer Tracker | Rivals Camp Series

IN HIS OWN WORDS…

“Getting that Notre Dame offer felt great,” Moore said. “I’m still learning about their program. I talked to their defensive line coach and we had a good conversation over the phone.

“I know a lot about Ohio State,” he said. “They have one hell of a defensive line program. Coach Johnson is a good guy. He’s a cool guy. We talked about the school, the defensive line program, and how they work. I haven’t been there but I’m hoping to visit.

“Oklahoma has been talking to me a lot,” said Moore. “They’re trying to get to know me. They’re not really talking a lot about football stuff.”

RIVALS' REACTION…

Moore is an outstanding defensive end prospect that plays the run very well but also has the hand techniques to get into the backfield. Physically imposing and naturally strong, Moore gives college coaches a lot to work with. Oklahoma and Ohio State seem to be in the best position at this point but Moore has plenty of research that he wants to do before really identifying any favorites. Expect Moore to take many visits once this pandemic is over and the recruiting dead period is lifted.

Weston Franklin stays in state with Georgia Tech

THE SITUATION: In the perfect world, Jesup (Ga.) Wayne County offensive lineman Weston Franklin would have still committed around this time, but he would have taken numerous visits in the spring and summer to help him get to this point. Since visits were banned early in March due to Covid-19, it turned all virtual for Franklin, and in the end, Georgia Tech beat out Mississippi State, North Carolina and Virginia for his commitment.

IN HIS OWN WORDS: “I decided it was Georgia Tech a while back and gave them a silent commitment July 19,” said Franklin. “Coach Brent Key really helped Georgia Tech separate from the other schools. How he recruited me really stood out to me. He recruits everyone differently, and he got to know me, he recruited me the way I wanted to be recruited, and he is a great coach.

“He knows I am not one that likes the hype and all that, so he would call me or text me one or two times a week. That is how I liked it. I had talked to him July 18, so when I called him back July 19, he was very surprised. I got on FaceTime with him and he saw me and my family all in Georgia Tech gear, and that is when I told him about my commitment. He was speechless. I think I really surprised him. I talked to coach Geoff Collins later that day and made it official with him too. It was a great day.

“I have only visited Georgia Tech once and that was the summer before my junior year. I was able to take that visit, see the school and that really made a big difference. I felt at home, I felt comfortable, and with the virus holding me back from seeing other schools this spring and summer, that visit made a big difference for me.

“With the coaches, how they are recruiting, and what coach Collins is doing with the program just makes this right for me. I feel completely comfortable with everything Georgia Tech has going on and what the coaching staff is doing.

“My plan all along was to commit going into my senior year, but it did not really happen the way I thought it would. The virus made things tougher, so it wasn’t easy, and I didn’t get to take visits, but we are getting through it, and I have committed to Georgia Tech. A group of about four schools were always right there for me on my list, but Georgia Tech just feels right for me. I feel so comfortable with them and I am excited about playing in Atlanta.”

RIVALS REACTION: Coach Key played a huge role in this commitment, and he again looks to be a home run hire for Collins. Key has a very strong resume, he really knows how to recruit kid to kid and he has helped land one of the most versatile linemen in the state. Franklin could be equally effective at guard or center, and in a desperate situation, he could help out at tackle. He is physical, he is aggressive and he has good feet. He has shown good punch, and he is that mold of an old-school lineman that just wants to work hard every day. This is a very good pick up for the Jackets, and Franklin is a lineman that could provide help early on the Flats.

SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS WITH GEORGIA TECH FANS AT JACKETSONLINE.COM

Midwest Spotlight: Five prospects who are tough to rate

Kiyaunta Goodwin
Nick Lucero/Rivals.com

The Rivals Rankings for the 2021 and 2022 classes will be updated over the next two weeks after an offseason that offered fewer opportunities for evaluations than any previous year. Questions we hoped to get answered about many top players were left largely unanswered. Here are five prospects from the Midwest who were among those most difficult to rate in the 2021 and 2022 classes.

CLASS OF 2021 RANKINGS: Rivals250 | Position | Team | State

CLASS OF 2022: Top 100

MORE: Rivals Transfer Tracker | Rivals Camp Series

Notre Dame is taking three-star Joe Alt as an offensive tackle prospect, but his experience thus far in high school has primarily been at tight end. We initially rated Alt as a tight end because he is difficult to project to tackle without more information. Alt’s offer list suggests that, by in large, college coaches had difficulty projecting him as well, with several strong regional offers but a total offer list that numbers in the single digits.

As a junior, Alt played at 230 pounds and showed decent foot speed as it would translate to offensive tackle. How much athleticism and foot speed does he lose when he adds the 70-plus pounds he needs to play tackle at Notre Dame, though? There are a lot of questions still to answer to accurately project Alt to tackle, and unfortunately the state of Minnesota will not be playing high school football this fall.

SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS WITH NOTRE DAME FANS AT BLUEANDGOLD.COM

Vanderbilt landed a commitment from Ohio three-star Antoine Campbell Jr. last week, and plans to use him as an outside linebacker in their 4-3 defense. Campbell is rated as a tight end on Rivals, and also played defensive end at 6-foot-4 and 225 pounds during his junior season.

Usually prospects who are that size as juniors in high school are not projected to move back in the defense, and considering how Campbell will play in space after having his hand in the ground all last season is a puzzle. We currently rate Campbell as a tight end and he showed outstanding ball skills on offense as a junior. It is just more difficult, though, to project a player moving from the defensive line to linebacker, than it is moving from linebacker to defensive line.

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