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.

SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS WITH VANDERBILT FANS AT VANDYSPORTS.COM


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Commitment breakdown: Corey Collier chooses Florida

Five-star defensive back Corey Collier committed to Florida on Monday afternoon, giving the Gators their second massive recruiting victory in the last few days. Below, Rivals.com has a look at what UF is getting and also what Collier’s commitment means for the big picture.

WHAT FLORIDA IS GETTING: Collier is long, physical and is capable of playing multiple positions in the secondary in a pinch even though he’s best suited to stay at safety. The Miami Palmetto High School star knows how to use his incredibly long arms to make up for a lack of truly elite top-end speed and should become better in run support as he adds size at the next level. He may not be as developed or polished as other safeties in this class but his ceiling remains as high as anyone’s. Collier is the kind or prospect that could emerge as a national-level star later in his career, as he has the frame and athleticism to be a pro prospect. How quickly he’s ready to make an impact on the SEC will hinge on his physical development and the coaching he gets in Gainesville. His NFL upside, however, is undeniable.

WHAT IT MEANS FOR THE GATORS: Florida came into last weekend needing a recruiting victory, as in-state rival Miami has become red hot on the trail in recent weeks and seemed to be out-recruiting UF despite a major disparity in on-field results. The Gators didn’t just get one win, however, they stole two. Collier’s Rivals100 high school teammate Jason Marshall committed to UF a few days before Collier made the call. With Florida State a non-factor in the state for the most part, the Canes-Gators recruiting rivalry is one of the more intriguing storylines of the offseason and could continue to pack major intrigue next cycle regardless of whether or not a 2020 season is played.

2022 4-star RB Nick Singleton hearing from Big Ten, Midwest powers

Nick Singleton
Rivals.com

Running back Nick Singleton has caught every team’s eye around the country and college coaches at some top programs are prioritizing him. The 2022 four-star out of Shillington (Pa.) Governor Mifflin Senior was able to take a couple visits before the dead period this year but still has more schools he wants to visit.

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

CLASS OF 2022: Top 100

MORE: Rivals Transfer Tracker | Rivals Camp Series

IN HIS OWN WORDS…

“Right now Ohio State, Penn State, Notre Dame, Wisconsin, and Northwestern are staying in touch with me a lot,” Singleton said. “Before the pandemic I made it to Penn State, Notre Dame, Michigan, and Wisconsin.

“I’m building some strong relationships with all these schools, especially Ohio State,” he said. “Coach Tony Alford and I talk about two times a week. It’s been really good. He’s just checking in about football, what they’re doing down there, and how I’m doing. I see how they’ve got those two guys now but that doesn’t effect me. Wherever I go, I like to compete.

RIVALS' REACTION…

Singleton has all the measurables you look for in a Big Ten running back. He has the size, strength, and burst to be a successful player at any school he ends up at. Ohio State has clearly done a good job making an early impression and showing him how much they actually want him. Penn State is also very much involved in his recruitment and the Nittany Lions will surely be among Singleton’s favorites for a long time. Singleton has already taken some visits but clearly wanted to take more before the recruiting dead period popped up. Expect him to take his time with his recruitment and try to take more of those visits once the pandemic is over.

Mind of Mike: Liability the driving force behind possible 2020 cancellation

AP

I guess even those of us in denial knew this was coming. And it’s downright depressing.

The college football season, at one point on Monday, looked like it was over before it ever began. The Big Ten allegedly had canceled the 2020 season and the other Power Five conferences were expected to follow. Even though the official cancellation never happened, Monday’s roller-coaster proved if anything that college football this fall is teetering on the ledge.

And the reasons are similar to the reasons for everything in this world — money. But wait, don’t colleges lose a ton of money with no season? Yes they do, but they would lose more based on potential liability if players get ill or, God forbid, die from COVID-19 playing football.

THAMEL: Players deserve answers

The chances of a healthy player in the age range of 18-22 dying from COVID-19 are astronomically small. But what about a player with an undiagnosed health issue who contracts the virus from playing? The potential liability outweighs the benefits of playing a season with diminishing returns (no fan or concession money, likely reduced TV deal for 2020 with many star players sitting out and the TV atmosphere of college football akin to a spring game).

Trust me, lawyers have done risk assessment over and over again and it came out the wrong way. Playing the season could cost colleges more than not playing it. That’s the bottom line. That’s why the pecking order for the decision to cancel (and I say cancel because who knows if a postponement to the spring will ever happen) is as follows:

1. Liability

2. Optics

3. Politics

4. Player safety

I put player safety on there to emphasize the fact that this isn’t about players being safe and okay. Of course protocols and systems are put in place to protect players, but the decision to cancel is about potential lawsuits. And to me, that’s not a worry about player safety. It’s a worry about the bottom line. You might as well put player safety at No. 10 and make liability the first seven reasons. Because that’s what this is about.

There is a theory that this is about union busting and that’s why the Big Ten had supposedly moved so quickly from releasing a schedule to shutting it down (four days). Maybe it was the last straw, I don’t know. But cancelling a season isn’t going to stop what will eventually happen and the powers that be know that. Players will eventually unionize and/or come up with a way to be compensated more. That’s just inevitable.

Trevor Lawrence has been outspoken about having players' voices heard.
AP

Why not get players to sign a waiver to play? Optics. Players get scholarships and training facilities and coaching and meal programs and all that jazz as well as a stipend, but they are still looked at as uncompensated employees by the general public and are obviously the cash cows the colleges use to make millions. So asking them to sign a waiver does not look good at all. Some schools have tried, but there has been pushback from some players and parents and it has not been universal across college football.

I initially thought of the waiver idea and it was pointed out to me how the perception of that would go over, and then it became so clear to me. This is why optics are key here. If professional leagues are shutting things down when an outbreak occurs, imagine the response from the public if it happens with amateur student athletes? No bueno.

So how about the argument that the Power Fives actually don’t have to all do the same thing? If the Big Ten and Pac-12 shut down, perhaps the Big 12, SEC and ACC should still play. Talk about a recruiting advantage (or disadvantage if things go sideways) being the leagues that listen to players and let them play. Big Ten and Pac-12 recruiting would take a step back (something the Pac-12 can’t afford) and overall recruiting would be more interesting than ever.

And would star players like Justin Fields who are part of the #wewanttopplay movement try to transfer with immediate eligibility into one of these conferences? How about Fields back in the SEC, but at Tennessee instead of Georgia? Sort of makes the head spin, no? I could go on and on. It’s a pipe dream and it’s not going to happen but it is interesting. If some of the Power Five leagues shut it down, eventually all of them will.

Final thought for today. Roster management is going to be insane with a shutdown. Do 2020 recruits get a waiver year if nothing is played in the spring? Will early enrollees for 2021 be immediately eligible to play if there is football in the spring? How do colleges fill out their rosters as players opt-out if they don’t want to play spring football?

What happens to the 85-man scholarship limit if we miss an entire football season but at the same time teams have to slash budgets? You can’t extend scholarship numbers if schools can’t afford to put 110 kids on scholarship. What a mess. All I know is that this sucks and there are still more questions than answers, but this season appears to be doomed.