Home Sports Recruiting: 5 quick takeaways from Wednesday’s signings

Recruiting: 5 quick takeaways from Wednesday’s signings

Recruiting: 5 quick takeaways from Wednesday’s signings

The early signing period is just a few hours old, but there have been a handful of surprises.

Here are a few takeaways from Wednesday morning.

Cormani McClain’s interesting recruitment is still going

Lakeland (7) Cormani McClain runs back an interception against Osceola during first half action in Lakeland Fl  Friday December 2,2022.
Ernst Peters/The Ledger

Just try to wrap you mind around this reality: The biggest news on Wednesday morning came from a 14-word tweet from Cormani McClain’s mother.

What it means is anyone’s guess. And, as expected, the rumors are rampant.

It took almost a few minutes until it was reported that new Colorado coach Deion Sanders had been in contact with McClain on Wednesday morning.

Alabama’s been dogged in its pursuit of McClain throughout the recruiting process and wasn’t deterred by McClain’s commitment to Miami in October. Florida hasn’t given up either.

The reality is that this won’t be over until McClain puts pen to paper. Maybe he just needed another day to think before making it official. Maybe he pushes it back to February. Maybe Deion actually pulls off the biggest recruiting coup in back-to-back years and poaches another top defensive back from a Florida school.

Maybe. Maybe. Maybe.

Here’s what we do know: The state’s premier defensive back hasn’t signed. Yet.

St. Thomas Aquinas safety Conrad Hussey, a Penn State commit, also opted not to sign on Wednesday. Hussey also is being recruited by Florida State and Miami.

UCF beats in-state rivals, puts together outstanding DL class

Osceola football star John Walker dons a UCF hat after selecting the Golden Knights as his collegiate destination on Thursday, July 28, 2022.

For the second consecutive year, Gus Malzahn has assembled an impressive recruiting class.

And while last year’s class was headlined by its defensive backs, the class of 2023 will be remembered for its defensive linemen.

Osceola offensive tackle John Walker arguably is the biggest signee in program history, with his only competition being former quarterback Daunte Culpepper. Flipping Lakewood edge rusher Isaiah Nixon from Florida on Wednesday morning was big. Add Apopka’s Kaven Call and Palmetto’s Andrew Rumph to the mix and you have a quartet of highly recruited, high-impact players coming to Orlando.

It also shouldn’t be minimized that UCF is beating out some of the state’s traditional powers for these players. Walker was being heavily recruited by Florida. Nixon obviously was a Florida commit for six months. Rumph had Miami in his final four.

That’s another positive trend for Malzahn as last year’s class included Nikai Martinez (offered by Florida and Florida State), twins Ja’Cari and Demari Henderson (also has Florida and Miami in their top three), Quan Lee (decommitted from Miami) and edge rusher Keahnist Thompson (took an official visit to Miami).

Georgia flexes muscle in Florida

Venice High defensive end Damon Wilson adjusts his cap after he announced he would attend the University of Georgia.

As expected, the Bulldogs had a really strong start to the early signing period, especially in Florida.

Georgia signed eight of the top 36 players in the state on the 247Sports composite rankings. That includes adding Venice five-star edge rusher Damon Wilson and Gulliver Prep four-star cornerback Daniel Harris. Harris, a 6-foot-2, 175-pounder, initially was a Bulldogs commit but decommitted in November before signing on Wednesday.

Georgia also signed edge rushers Samuel M’Pemba and Gabriel Harris, linebackers Raylen Wilson and Troy Bowles, wide receiver Tyler Williams and tight end Pearce Spurlin. They also have a commitment from wide receiver Raymond Cottrell.

And this could just be the beginning.

Jordan Hall, the top-rated defensive lineman on the USA Today Florida Network top 100, is scheduled to announce his decision Thursday and has Georgia in his top four.

It’s usually Alabama that hordes this type of to-level talent, but the Bulldogs were the clear out-of-state winners this year.

Florida State closes well with late risers

Chaminade-Madonna's Edwin Joseph (4) sprints down the field. Chaminade-Madonna leads Berkeley Prep 7-0 at the half of the 3A State Championship game at Gene Cox Stadium on Friday, Dec. 10, 2021.

Give Mike Norvell and his staff credit for landing a pair of talented, late-risers on Wednesday.

Chaminade-Madonna athlete Edwin Joseph and Key West offensive lineman Andre Otto both saw their recruitment pick up late in the season and both ended up picking the Seminoles over other Power 5 suitors.

Joseph, a 6-foot, 178-pounder, was a wide receiver and cornerback at Chaminade and could play either position at the next level. He has strong hands, isn’t afraid to be physical and is a true playmaker. Otto, a 6-foot-5, 295-pounder projects as a tackle at the next level.

Both of these players are listed as three-star recruits, but that’s primary a byproduct of them not getting focused on until later in the process.

It’s a good job by the Seminoles coaching staff to identify both of these players as being able to contribute and then securing their signatures.

Way to keep quiet Markus Strong

Every year, at least one player’s “announcement” comes without any fanfare but rather a standard tweet from the school they signed with. Last year, it was Berkeley Prep running back signing with UCF.

This year, the honor goes to Union County defensive lineman Markus Strong. Strong signed with Oklahoma. But it wasn’t known until the Sooners sent out their tweet shortly after 10 a.m.

Strong saw his recruitment take off late in the season; UCF, West Virginia, Rutgers, Louisville and Kansas were among the other schools to offer.

Part of the reason why fans tune in to announcements is for the drama. Where will he go? Will he flip? Will we get a surprise.

It’s refreshing to get this kind of a surprise.


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