Breaking down the top uncommitted prospects in the 2025 class

On3 imageby:Collin Ginnan04/01/24

GinnanCollin

5-Star Recruiting Info with Steve Wiltfong and Chad Simmons

The 2025 recruiting cycle is heating up as we hit the peak of spring, but many of the nation’s top prospects have yet to make their college decisions.

On3’s Chad Simmons and Steve Wiltfong break down some of these top uncommitted recruits and where their recruitments stand.

Clemson, UGA and Tennessee leading the way for David Sanders

Charlotte (N.C.) Providence Day Five-Star Plus+ offensive tackle David Sanders ranks No. 2 overall in the On3 Industry Ranking. Currently, Georgia holds the lead in the On3 Recruiting Prediction Machine, but the ‘Dawgs are certainly not alone in this battle.

“It does not tell the whole story,” Wiltfong said on The Inside Scoop. “You also have Alabama in the mix, you also have Tennessee in the mix, South Carolina and Ohio State. Those are the final six. He’s going to take six official visits before he makes his college decision.

“Now if you would have asked 8- or 9-year-old David Sanders where he was going to go to college, he would’ve said the Clemson Tigers. He told me that his bathroom was decorated in Clemson gear. . . He grew up a Clemson Tigers fan and they’re certainly strongly in the mix. I think a lot of the reason is because of Matt Luke, offensive line coach over there, maybe the most pivotal offseason position coach hire in college football. A position where Clemson has kind of struggled to develop historically even though they’ve had such a great run on the field. Matt Luke gives them instant pedigree at the position that David Sanders can point to and say, ‘I can be developed into the best player that I can be under coach Luke.’

“But with that being said, I know they love Georgia,” Wiltfong continued. “They love what Georgia brings off the field certainly with coach [Stacy] Searels, coach Kirby Smart. The standard that they play at, the competition that you would get in practice. They’ve done a great job of making David and his entire family feel comfortable, and it’s going to be a family decision for David Sanders Jr. with how close he is with his family.

“Tennessee is another school that I think doesn’t get enough burn in this recruitment. I think that the Vols are a place that he can really see himself, has really connected with that coaching staff. He’s visiting there in April and will return again for his official visit, so two more visits in play for the Vols for David Sanders Jr. before he makes his college commitment.

“Ohio State is going to get the last visit. Buckeyes are going to be all-in on David Sanders Jr., he’s one of the most-coveted players on their board as they try and finish this up.”

According to Simmons — Clemson, Georgia and Tennessee currently make up that top tier in the fight for Sanders’ commitment.

“I wouldn’t say they have maybe so much ground to make up, but Ohio State to me is not quite in the same group yet as Clemson, Georgia and Tennessee,” Simmons said. “If you asked me right now, I think those three are pretty tight in that top group with Ohio State maybe running next to that group in the top six schools right now.

“Like you said, family is so important,” Simmons added. “Not just mom and dad, but his sister is involved as well. She goes on these trips, talks to these coaches as well. It’s about relationships, best opportunity and where he can be developed and where he can win long-term on and off the field. Clemson, he camped there as a kid, grew up following the Tigers. He met Matt Luke at Georgia when he was coaching there for Kirby Smart, now back at Clemson as the offensive line coach. Searels recruited him at North Carolina first and now he’s at Georgia. The relationships are kind of in place, I think the OVs will play a pivotal role in this decision.”

Georgia the team to beat for Elijah Griffin

Savannah (Ga.) Christian Five-Star Plus+ defensive lineman Elijah Griffin has continued to take trips as far away as Los Angeles, but the home-state Georgia Bulldogs will be tough to beat.

“He was there on campus in L.A., they’ll get an OV. USC is definitely in the mix,” Simmons said about Griffin’s latest visit to the opposite coast. “He’s been to Florida, he’s been to Miami, he’s been to Georgia. I still lean toward Georgia, being the in-state school. He’s been there 10-plus times and not just him — mom, family, grandma. We talk about David Sanders being a family guy, Elijah is the same way. He’s close with his people, they want him in the best position with people that they trust. Them driving up from Savannah to Athens is much easier than getting a flight from Savannah, probably to Atlanta, then to L.A. or even down to Miami.

“I just like where Georgia’s at. The relationships there with Tray Scott, with Kirby Smart, the player development. My RPM has been on Georgia for a while, I still like Georgia at this point.”

South Carolina is in the recruitment but will likely have a better shot at landing a different blue-chip defensive lineman.

“Obviously, my RPM for Elijah is new on Georgia. But I agree with you, I think the Bulldogs — they’re so strong in that Savannah area right now. The in-roads that the school has in that community, I like where Georgia stands,” Wiltfong said. “Clemson, South Carolina — we’ve seen South Carolina win some big battles each year under coach [Shane] Beamer. That might be for another defensive lineman, Jared Smith, this cycle. I think they’re all-in on him, Georgia is all-in on Jared.

“I don’t know if I can predict the Gamecocks for Elijah, but they’ve certainly been one of his favorites since the process began. Clemson got a visit from him in the spring, but for Georgia, he’s one of the most coveted guys on the board as they push for a No. 1-ranked recruiting class.”

LSU, Miami among those battling for DJ Pickett

While Elijah Griffin may appear to have one school at the top with others in the wings, the recruitment of Zephyrhills (Fla.) five-star cornerback DJ Pickett appears to be wide open.

“I agree with Elijah Griffin’s RPM rating to Georgia. I disagree with the Miami RPM trend here,” Simmons said of Pickett’s recruitment. “I like where LSU is at right now. He was there in January, first time there and loved it, went back early in March. I think the Corey Raymond move from Florida to LSU has kind of put them, I think, as the team to beat coming off that second trip to Baton Rouge.

“You’ve got Miami, you hear the last name Pickett, you’ve got to think about Miami there. His cousin just signed with them this past class, his uncle played there as a Hurricane.

“You have Oregon, they’re very much in the mix, too,” Simmons added. “He’ll take some OVs — mentioned Florida, Florida State, some other schools also. But I think right now, setting the pace in this race for me, because of Corey Raymond and the defensive staff now under Brian Kelly, I think it’s the LSU Tigers.”

But what if Miami makes a College Football Playoff run this season? The Canes finished 7-6 with a loss to Rutgers in the Pinstripe Bowl, but that was still an improvement over the year before. Continue that trajectory, and the Miami coaching staff could find quite a haul on the recruiting trail.

“If we look up at the end of the year and Miami is 10-2, 11-1 in the College Football Playoff, it’d be hard for me to think that he doesn’t end up with the Hurricanes if they continue on the trajectory that they’re looking to have under Mario Cristobal and company,” Wiltfong said of Pickett. “But no question that LSU is one of the teams with momentum in this recruitment.

“Two visits to Oregon already, took his mom the second time. Oregon — they’re one where we’re not mentioning them as the frontrunner for very many prospects right now, but we know that when it’s all said and done, Dan Lanning and that coaching staff are going to win some of these blue-chip battles down the stretch. We’ll see if DJ Pickett is one where they pick up steam as they re-shift their focus to recruiting.

“Miami, they’re kind of the one I’m watching,” Wiltfong continued. “What kind of season does Miami have? And if they find three more wins than they did the year before — like they did the year before, they were plus-three last year coming into this year — they’re going to be super fun. They had a top-five class last year anyway, and for DJ Pickett, it would be hard for him to say no, I think.”

Oklahoma leads for Jonah Williams

Oklahoma is currently the clear favorite in the RPM for Galveston (Texas) Ball five-star linebacker Jonah Williams. Other schools are in the mix, but it will be tough to overcome the Sooners.

“He recently visited LSU. Ohio State in the mix for him. You’ve got the in-state programs. Oregon is another contender,” Wiltfong said. “Oklahoma is knee-deep with prospects that they’re in a great position for, those guys already feel like they’re part of the program months before they even announce their commitment. They’ve done a really good job there and it’s up to everybody else to continue to try to make up ground.”

LSU, Texas A&M, FSU among those involved for Kaliq Lockett

Sachse (Texas) wide receiver Kaliq Lockett is the No. 2 wide receiver in the class, and there’s a chance he follows No. 1 WR Dakorien Moore to Baton Rouge.

“Well he’s got upcoming visits to LSU, Texas and Texas A&M,” Wiltfond said. “I’ve always kind of been intrigued by LSU in this recruitment, they were one of the first schools to get on him and do a good job there.

“Just took a recent visit to Ohio State, spending time with Ryan Day, Brian Hartline. That coaching staff the standard at the position, the track record. I think it was a very eye-opening experience for him. Penn State is one of his top schools as well.

“Those are kind of the schools that I’m looking at the most right now,” Wiltfong continued. “He loved his visit to Texas A&M in the winter, so we’ll see what happens when he gets back to the Aggies campus. But those are the upcoming visits: LSU, Texas and Texas A&M.”

Simmons said that Michigan is also involved for Lockett and that he thinks there’s a “real chance” that Lockett will go outside the state of Texas with his decision.

Florida State received a recent visit from Lockett as well.

“Florida State is another one that we need to mention there,” Wiltfong said. “Just had a fantastic visit to Florida State. Coach Mike Norvell and their staff, when they get prospects on campus they have a lot of energy around them. Players love being there. I think it’s one of the more unique visits with just the personal touch Florida State has.”