With roughly three months left until national signing day, college football recruiting is starting to see more and more storylines develop. Targets are becoming commits, and elite athletes who were silent about their processes are starting to make tracks.
For two athletes in particular, recruiting news was a major buzz over the weekend. Devon Hunter, the nation’s top-ranked safety in the 2017 class, and Donovan Peoples-Jones, a top-five wide receiver nationally in the class, both announced their top five schools Sunday (warning: some NSFW lyrics in Hunter video):
— Devon Hunter (@devonhunter11) October 31, 2016
Thanks For Everyone Who Has Supported Me Throughout This Journey !!! #Top5 🔥🙏 pic.twitter.com/YwJ2jQhrXD
— Donovan P. Jones (@dpeoplesjones) October 30, 2016
The SEC/ACC battle for Hunter will be one to watch. Alabama, Auburn, Florida and North Carolina all would make great homes for him, but with him residing in Chesapeake, Virginia, can proximity be an advantage for Virginia Tech? The Hokies are hoping to score an important in-state target—and their first 5-star pledge of the class.
Peoples-Jones has been a household name in recruiting since his efforts at The Opening in 2015, when he became the first underclassman to win the the Nike Football Ratings Championship in Beaverton, Oregon. With him announcing his top five of Florida State, Ohio State, Florida and in-state schools Michigan and Michigan State, the pending official visit schedule will be intriguing. Peoples-Jones visited Ohio State earlier this month, and his official visit in September to Nebraska means at least one of his four other finalists will not get an official.
As the aforementioned schools wait for Hunter and Peoples-Jones to make their decisions, Utah scored a major recruiting win over the weekend. Fresno, California, 4-star cornerback Jaylon Johnson picked the Utes over offers from USC and Oklahoma, according to Ryan Bartow of 247Sports. Johnson is the nation’s No. 6 cornerback.
Here are some recruiting updates from a few athletes around the country.
5-star LB Hines set for fifth official visit
Anthony Hines III
A big question Ohio State fans wondered: Will Anthony Hines III take an official visit to Columbus? There were reports that the 5-star linebacker from Plano, Texas, was planning on visiting the campus this past weekend. Instead, he stayed home, as his high school participated in senior night.
Sunday afternoon, Bleacher Report confirmed with Hines, the nation’s top-ranked inside linebacker, that he will visit Ohio State this weekend, notching his fifth and final official visit. Hines has made previous stops to Texas A&M, Penn State, Florida and UCLA.
"I know there was a rumor going around that I was going [last weekend]," Hines said. "That wasn’t the case at all, but I knew I wanted to go to Ohio State. It’s a place with a great winning tradition, and they also have a good business school. Plus, I have really good relationships with [co-offensive coordinator] Coach [Tim] Beck, [defensive coordinator/linebackers coach] Coach [Luke] Fickell and Coach [Urban] Meyer."
Hines, who has 90 offers, said he’s excited about getting his family out to Ohio State, and following his trip, he’s looking to finalize his college plans sometime soon. He originally set a tentative commitment date for Nov. 29, but Hines on Sunday said that date may change.
Of the five schools that made his official visit schedule, one will get an athlete who has been a tackling machine throughout his high school career. Hines has 584 tackles for his career, including 189 this season for Plano East Senior High.
Hines has researched all five of his finalists, and after his Ohio State trip, he said he will weigh his options one final time. The Buckeyes are hoping Meyer and his staff can be closers.
"Besides having a strong feeling of family and close-knit relationships, I’m looking for a place where I can see myself succeeding in the classroom and socially," he said. "There has to be a vision there. It’s like they say: A decision is not four years, but 40 years. I have to see myself a part of that vision."
3 visits to come for 4-star Calvin…later
Los Angeles 4-star wide receiver Jamire Calvin has made two official visits since September, and before he makes his final decision, he said he will take the remaining three.
Right now, however, just isn’t the time to do so.
"I’m pretty much focused on the season right now," Calvin said, "but I’m coming close to a decision."
Calvin is a leader for an undefeated Cathedral High School preparing for postseason play next week. He is averaging 118.9 receiving yards per game, according to MaxPreps, and he has nearly 1,100 yards for the season. Additionally, he is tied for the team lead in receptions with 66.
Nebraska and Oregon State were Calvin’s first two official visits, with Oregon State being the latest visit the weekend of Oct. 8. No future visits have been set, but Calvin said a few schools that could receive visits include Notre Dame, Alabama, Washington State, Cal and Arizona State.
A final decision, he said, is expected to come during the U.S. Army All-American Bowl.
"I’m looking at the best fit for me and the most opportunities," he said. "I want to be where I feel at home and where I feel I can make the best impact."
OU commit Barnes targeting versatile 5-star
Oklahoma 4-star safety commit Robert Barnes broke the fibula in his right leg during a game on Oct. 21. The Southlake, Texas, standout is expected to be out of action anywhere from four to six months, according to Greg Riddle of the Dallas Morning News.
Don’t expect Barnes to sit and sulk, however. In fact, look for him to extensively play the role of player-recruiter.
Barnes, the nation’s No. 4 safety in the 2017 class, said he has a few players he’s targeting as national signing day rapidly approaches. One of those athletes, he said, would be a tremendous addition to the Sooners class.
"Jeff Okudah," Barnes said, referring to the nation’s top-ranked athlete and a 5-star player who can effectively line up at cornerback, safety and wide receiver and also perform well as a return specialist.
"Jeff is family to me," Barnes continued. "During this year, he has become a brother to me, and at OU, I think he would make an immediate impact and fit in perfectly with the scheme. Having me and Jeff in the back end as tall, athletic DBs would be a nightmare for quarterbacks."
Okudah was on an official visit to Florida State this past weekend. He also has taken visits to Oklahoma and Georgia. Barnes said he would love to call the fellow Texan a teammate at the college level.
As for Barnes, look for him to prepare for rehabilitation soon.
"God has a plan," he said. "I’ll bounce back stronger than ever."
Alabama fans should not forget 4-star Robinson
Alabama has been dominant on the field this season, and the team’s work on the recruiting trail has been just as impressive. The Crimson Tide currently rank No. 2 behind Ohio State in the team recruiting rankings.
Alabama has the nation’s top-ranked player committed in running back Najee Harris, but there have been rumblings about Harris wavering over his commitment. His mother, Tianna Hicks, told Hank South of 247Sports that he is still committed despite missing a flight last week to Alabama.
The Crimson Tide are keying on adding another stud running back to the class in Cam Akers. The 5-star standout also was a no-show at Alabama last week, per South, as his mother, Conni Akers, confirmed he kept from traveling to rest and focus on school work.
There’s always the "what if" of Alabama not landing either 5-star running back, but with the play of 4-star hometown commit Brian Robinson, there is no reason to panic for Crimson Tide fans. Robinson, a standout for Hillcrest High School minutes away from the Alabama campus, has been solid throughout the year and is coming off a three-touchdown performance last Thursday.
At 6’2" and 218 pounds, Robinson fits the mold of Alabama’s big running backs. And with him being a local athlete, he has the potential of being an immediate fan favorite. Robinson has been a catalyst for a Hillcrest team that is undefeated on the season.