In his weekly series, Rivals National Recruiting Director Adam Gorney offers his thoughts on recruiting topics and storylines that impact the national landscape.
The final days of July will be filled with the last gasp of visits for prospects from around the country as programs hold barbecues and recruiting events before everyone’s seasons get underway. It is going to be a crazy time reminiscent of the entire month of June as recruits were unleashed to visit all over the country.
But this past weekend was also a busy time for some schools that chose to have their big recruiting shindigs ahead of others – and it could have paid off in a big way.
Auburn was one program that took advantage for its Big Cat Weekend and the reviews were very strong.
Caden Story is definitely a top target who visited and things went well. Joshua Josephs has a lot of interest in Auburn and the Tigers could be moving up although others have his attention as well. Troy Ford Jr. was offered during the trip and loved his experience. Omari Kelly said Auburn is definitely one of his favorites after the visit.
Top 2023 interior offensive lineman Bradyn Joiner raved about his time at Auburn and said he loves the vision of the program. But the 2023 Auburn, Ala., prospect has not been offered by the Tigers yet and the coaching staff said they want to see him in a game first. An offer should come as soon as possible though so the Tigers can stay high in his recruitment. He’s definitely good enough.
Florida State was another school that had another tremendous recruiting weekend. There might not be a school in the country that has done more from a public relations and social media standpoint to hype up their events and, in turn, that brings out all the top prospects.
Watching five-star Travis Hunter and high four-star Sam McCall working out at Florida State makes me believe the corner has been turned and the Seminoles are absolutely on the right track to becoming a national power again. Of course, quarterback play needs to get much better and the offensive line needs to improve dramatically but that is being addressed this recruiting cycle as well with commitments from Daughtry Richardson, Qaeshon Sapp and Aliou Bah among others.
Florida State will need to win games to make all these big recruiting weekends matter but the right players are coming on board to get that done. Norvell is doing a phenomenal job with the hand he’s been dealt so far.
Iowa was another school that had a very productive weekend. Four-star running back Jaziun Patterson from Deerfield Beach, Fla., told me the Hawkeyes are now the front-runner in his recruitment. High four-star offensive tackles in the 2023 class Kadyn Proctor and Cayden Green were both there and had great times and Green said, “I loved every bit of my time at Iowa.”
So many other Midwest prospects including Leighton Jones, Dylan Senda, Kaden Feagin, JJ Kohl, Trevor Lauck and Cam Buffington all had really positive things to say about their time at Iowa and we could be looking at many top prospects who could be future Hawkeyes.
I go back and look at those 2017 dual-threat quarterback rankings and I want to slam my head into a wall for deciding to put Tate Martell, who’s now transferring to UNLV and has had a nomadic existence in college football, right ahead of Tua Tagovailoa, who’s the starting quarterback for the Miami Dolphins.
I still wonder what Martell’s career would have been, could have been if he just stayed committed to Texas A&M. I wonder what would have happened to him if Justin Fields didn’t transfer to Ohio State. I always thought Martell’s transfer to Miami was a bad decision both from a football perspective and for off-the-field reasons as there are just too many distractions for him.
This might be foolhardy or naïve but I still think Martell can salvage his career and a place like UNLV might be the best spot for him. A source close to him told me Monday that Martell has grown up a lot over the last two years and there could be an understanding that this is his last chance at rebuilding his career. Martell is too talented, and he’s had some bad luck along the way, to not make an impact on the field.
UNLV is a small school out of the spotlight. It’s home where he has a support system. His talent should make him one of the best players in the league and he could immediately compete for the starting job. And the Rebels’ offense was really not a threat at all last season.
Maybe Martell implodes. But if he can get things together, maximize his potential and return to the leadership and playmaking ability we saw when he led Las Vegas Bishop Gorman, then a resurgence for Martell is very possible.