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Recruiting Classes and Players to Watch, Part 1

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Intro

Since pre-covid, the summer recruiting cycle has been back to normal for the first time in nearly three years. Normal, in this case, means football facilities on college campuses nationwide are filled with high school recruits on visits. Of course, kids visiting schools also means that it is the prime time of year for the coaching staff to push and secure commitments from their top targets in the 2023 recruiting class. Many big-time recruits have decided to pull the trigger in recent weeks, resulting in a wave of commitments throughout the last week.

In this article, we will look at some of the recent commitments to a handful of major programs around the country, how said commits fit with their new teams, and what it means for the programs moving forward. Throughout the summer, we will continue to look at schools and classes as they come together, but for now, let's begin with...

Notre Dame

In the first offseason under head coach Marcus Freeman, Notre Dame has elevated its recruiting to a level. Coach Freeman brings youthful energy and a sense of excitement to the Notre Dame coaching staff. This energy is something that recruits gravitate towards. Also worth noting, most recruits all speak very highly of the offensive coordinator Tommy Rees and his vision for the future of the Irish offense. All of the positive changes within the Notre Dame program have also translated to success on the recruiting trail. Currently, the Irish have 15 commits in the class of 2023 and have the top-ranked recruiting class nationally, according to 247Sports. Some notable commits in the last month include four stars Sullivan Absher (OT), Devan Houston (DL), Jayden Limar (RB), and Elijah Paige (OT). They also added three-star Joe Otting (IOL).

Despite a strong run with kids in the 2023 class, the most notable recent commitment is in the 2024 class. This commit is, of course, five-star quarterback CJ Carr who committed to ND earlier last week. The grandson of former Michigan head coach Lloyd Carr committed to ND over his dad's alma mater in Michigan. Not only is this a massive steal for Notre Dame, but if you're a Fighting Irish fan, this commitment feels extra special knowing the bitter rivals who also vied for his services came up short. I have heard rumblings that Carr could reclassify to the 2023 class depending on who else Notre Dame adds to the current class.

A few blue-chip recruits that I feel good about Notre Dame landing include four-stars Charles Jagusah (OT), Jason Moore (DL), and Christian Gray (CB).

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UNC

Following up on a strong 2022 recruiting class, the Tar Heels have also continued that success by landing high-impact players in the 2023 class. Head coach Mack Brown has a track record of being a recruiter capable of winning head-to-head recruiting battles against anybody when he wants to. Based on the recent additions North Carolina has made, it is safe to say he wants to.

In the last month, UNC has added commitments from four-star Joel Starlings (DL), as well as three-star players Nolan McConnell (OT), Kaleb Cost (CB), Julien Randolph (TE), and Caleb LaVallee (LB). All of these commits fall in the top 850 in the nation according to 247Sports.

In addition to the recent commits, I feel North Carolina has a legit chance to land several of the following prospects. Names include Jamaal Jarrett (DL), Joshua Mickens (EDGE), Paul Billups (WR), Rico Walker (EDGE), and Daevin Hobbs (DL). UNC is likely in the top 2 or 3 for each of these recruits, the ones I feel they outright lead with are Mickens, Walker, and Hobbs. They will have to push to close soon with the others as well. There are many other highly rated prospects that UNC is in on, but they have a lot of work to do to have a real shot at closing with many of them. We will have to wait and see where they stand after they take official visits.

Oklahoma

In the first year under new head coach Brent Venables, the Sooners have not received much attention on the recruiting front compared to the past year. That hasn't stopped them from quietly putting together an excellent recruiting class this offseason. With some of their additions, I wouldn't be surprised if Oklahoma continues to recruit at a similar level to what they had under the previous administration.

So far, the Sooners have seven commits in the class of 2023. The headliner is five-star quarterback Jackson Arnold out of Guyer High School in Denton, Texas. In the last month, Oklahoma has received commitments from four-star Kalib Hicks (RB) and three-star Keyon Brown (WR), Kaleb Spencer (S), and Kabe McIntyre (ATH). They also secured a commitment from PWO Chapman McKown (RB). Currently, the recruiting class ranks 28th nationally according to 247 sports. This will likely go up as Oklahoma has a real chance at landing commitments from several high-profile recruits in the coming weeks and months.

Names I'll be watching to see if they pull the trigger include four-stars Tausili Akana (EDGE), Cole Adams (WR), Makari Vickers (S), Jacobe Johnson (ATH), Cayden Green (OT), Adepoju Adebawore (EDGE), and Samuel Omosigho (LB). Right now, the Sooners have a solid base of committed players, but the next month of the visit will be crucial for them to close on several top 250-ranked recruits. If they could land on most of these players, I wouldn't be surprised to see Oklahoma finish with a class that is near the top ten nationally.