What’s your biggest takeaway from this class so far?
Boyle: The intrastate battles are back, particularly between Miami and Florida. I think by and large this has been one of the better head-to-head cycles in recent memory between state schools. I think I read Miami and Florida went head-to-head for 10 guys. Miami won six and Florida won four. Miami won most recently with Mark Fletcher and Samson Okunlola. Obviously, there have been rumors about Miami with NIL. Miami and Florida maybe offering different things, but you also have two new head coaches who are trying to build their programs.
Santucci: Let me pause you and ask a question here. How much of Miami’s recruiting success in your guesstimate is NIL related and how much of it is that we’re talking a guy in Mario Cristobal who traditionally has been known as one of the premier recruiters in the nation and brought in good recruiters as position coaches. Are we giving them no credit at all? Do you give them some credit?
Boyle: I think it’s a little unfair to say that Mario Cristobal doesn’t have a substantial role in appealing to players, particularly OL. Look at their class — Francis Mauigoa, Samson Okunlola, Tommy Kinsler. Offensive line has always been Mario Cristobal’s bread and butter. That’s the group he’s coached and recruited the hardest for more than a decade. I don’t think we’ll know how much is based on NIL for some of these recruits and how much is guys want to stay in South Florida and restore tradition at Miami.
Santucci: My biggest takeaway is the lack of a coaching carousel has made it a relatively quiet December. We haven’t seen nearly the amount of movement we saw last year. A couple guys made decisions late but last year we had a major number of guys decommitting and flipping late because we had so many coaches moving around. We haven’t had that this year and it’s been a quieter cycle. Cincinnati lost a couple guys, but they lost a coach. But for as many fans say that players don’t commit to the coach, they commit to the program, I think the reality is those relationships are huge.
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Who has the most to gain during the early signing period?
Santucci: I’m going to say Florida State. The reason why is because even if Miami closes well, you’d say they added players and continued their momentum. Their class still is going to be top five, probably top three. Georgia, same thing. If Florida State comes out of the early signing period with say, Jordan Hall, Damari Brown and Edwin Joseph, that’s a really nice addition to that class. Just from a number’s standpoint, FSU can really help itself if they get those three.
Boyle: My gut is Colorado. Deion is going to be in on someone. They already got Asaad Waseem. They’ve made big splash offers to 2024 kids. They’re going to be super active in the portal or high school ranks. It might be too soon for how they’re going to do in December, but that was my gut instinct.
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Whose early signing period announcement are you most looking forward to?
Boyle: Jordan Hall. There are really good options for him no matter where he chooses and he’s a unique player in terms of his size, athleticism and character. There’s a lot to like about him. It’s not only going to be a huge moment for him but also for Westside High. His announcement is one of the biggest mysteries because it seems like one of the most wide-open recruitments.
Santucci: Damari Brown. I’ve said so many times, few guys in the state impressed me and had their stock go in my eyes like he did this year. Edwin Joseph is in that conversation, too. I think Damari can come in and make an impact sooner than later. And he has good options. Alabama has churned out elite DBs. His dad went to Miami. FSU has been a consistent presence. And his brother, who committed to Miami on Monday night, could be a factor, too. I would say Miami is the team to beat now, but you never know.
Heading into the early signing period, who has done the best job recruiting Florida?
Boyle: Miami. The Cormani McClain thing was fairly shocking to most of us. I think it was assumed it would be Alabama or Florida, but it set off a chain reaction. I like Robert Stafford from Eau Gallie. I like the guys from IMG — Francis Mauigoa, Jayden Wayne and Riley Williams. I like Emory Williams’ tape. I know they lost out on Jaden Rashada, but Emory Williams is a good consolation. Rueben Bain, I think, is one of the best in the state regardless of position. They got some high-level talent and beat out some marquee schools to get those guys.
Santucci: I feel like we’ve seen some out of state schools come in and do a nice job, but it seems like it’s at position groups. Ohio State with receivers and Penn State with defensive backs. Georgia, overall, has done a really nice job. Pearce Spurlin, Raylen Wilson, Troy Bowles, Samuel M’Pemba, Tyler Willaims, they have a really good class. They won’t have the sheer numbers of a Miami, Florida or Florida State, but they’ll have seven or eight names that look as good as anybody.
Who is quietly putting together a nice class in Florida?
Santucci: I’m going say West Virginia, but a lot of it is personal preference. I really like Chrisdasson Saint-Jean. Big frame, he’s still raw but his film improved a lot from last year to this year. He’ll probably have to sit a year, but I think he’s going to be good for them. I’m a big fan of Traylon Ray out of North Florida Christian. They also have a legacy in Corey McIntyre Jr., who I’ve seen show those dominant spurts you want to see from a defensive tackle. It’s kind of small class in Florida for West Virginia, but I kind of like what they’ve done.
Boyle: South Carolina. They’ve got Grayson Howard. They’ve got Kelton Henderson. They’ve got Connor Cox. They all committed right around the same time, and they’ve held on to everybody they wanted out of Florida. It’s been a pretty good year for Shane Beamer and his program as a whole.