February Recruiting Winners: Tennessee, Georgia lead the way
The month of February is one of the lightest in the recruiting cycle when it comes to commitments. Coaches are unable to visit prospects — and even their schools — and players aren’t allowed to take any campus visits during the month after doing them in January.
All of that combined leads to one of the slower months of the calendar, but this February wasn’t completely lacking in decisions. In fact, one of the country’s 20 current On3 Industry five-stars made his choice, as did a handful of other top-300 prospects.
Here are a few programs heading into the third month of the year with a little wind at their backs.
Josh Heupel and Co. were able to build off of their on-field momentum some during the 2023 cycle with a handful of late commitments, but 2024 looks to be where they’ll be able to take the next step. The additions of in-state On300 safety Marcus Goree and four-star wideout JJ Harrell, who was being pursued by what seemed like the entire SEC, boosted the Vols up to No. 9 in the On3 Industry Team Recruiting Rankings.
After finishing with the No. 12 class in 2023, a top-10 cycle for the Vols is very much in sight.
After a January that netted three commitments for Georgia, February only netted one. But there are few bigger pledges than five-star cornerback Ellis Robinson IV, who chose the Bulldogs over Alabama and a number of others.
The No. 4 overall prospect in the class, Robinson only adds to the elite class that Georgia is building. The ‘Dawgs are in great shape to go wire-to-wire with the top class in the land.
One of the biggest priorities — maybe the biggest period — for Hugh Freeze at Auburn was finding a quarterback in the 2024 cycle. He did exactly that by landing dynamic four-star passer Walker White out of Little Rock (Ark.) Christian Academy.
Clemson appeared to be the favorite heading into his decision, but White ultimately went with the (other) Tigers and Freeze. He is only one commitment, but getting White on board early is a good sign for Freeze can build this cycle after closing 2023 strong.
White’s decision was the second win for Freeze during the month, with the first coming on Feb. 1 when four-star cornerback Jayden Lewis gave his verbal pledge to the Tigers over Colorado, Tennessee, South Carolina, Ole Miss and more.
2023 wasn’t what you’d call a banner cycle for Michigan, especially considering its two-year run of major on-field success. But with Jim Harbaugh‘s name out of the NFL coaching carousel (for now), the Wolverines picked up a key 2024 commitment with in-state four-star safety Jacob Oden.
The Wolverines remain in strong position for the state’s top prospect, tight end Brady Prieskorn, and should return to their top-10 level recruiting.
Deion Sanders made plenty of statements during his introductory press conference at Colorado and in the days following. But like he said he would, the man dubbed ‘Coach Prime’ has backed it up early on the recruiting trail.
After securing a pair of four-star defensive line commitments out of Georgia in January, Sanders followed that up by snagging four-star athlete Ju’Juan Johnson out of Louisiana and away from LSU.
The Buffaloes have hosted more elite recruits on campus in the past two months than they did in the past five years before Sanders, and the luggage coming to Boulder is indeed Louis.
6. South Carolina
If there’s a team other than Georgia who could contend for the hottest start to the 2024 cycle, it’s Shane Beamer and South Carolina. The Gamecocks dominated in the month of January with three top-150 commits, and they added to it in February.
Beamer continued his roll in the state of South Carolina by landing top-20 wide receiver Mazeo Bennett, a former Tennessee commit.
The Gamecocks are also in very strong standing with elite offensive tackle Josiah Thompson and On3’s new No. 1 overall prospect Dylan Stewart out of Washington D.C.