West Spotlight: Biggest remaining 2023 storylines
The Early Signing Period is six weeks away and the pressure is building. Highly ranked prospects around the country are closing in on their final decisions and the all-important final visits are coming.
Here is a look at the top remaining storylines in the West as the Early Signing Period looms large.
RELATED: Biggest remaining 2023 storylines on the East Coast | Southeast | Midwest
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So what does Duce do?
Maybe the biggest storyline out West is the question of what No. 1 tight end Duce Robinson is going to do. Talk to different people and you’re going to get different answers.
USC has remained in a very strong position throughout his recruitment. Coach Lincoln Riley’s inventive offense would get him the ball in a variety of ways, and the Phoenix Pinnacle standout would be close to home (he’s also going to play baseball in college) without being right down the road.
Then there is Georgia, which seems to be making up serious ground in his recruitment. When Robinson visited Athens, he loved the laid-back feel of a college town where football mattered so much, he loved the camaraderie of the team as they all stuck close together, he loves how much Georgia’s tight ends shine in that offense and he’s embracing – not rejecting – the fact that the Dawgs already have two tight ends committed in Pearce Spurlin and Lawson Luckie.
The third real option in Robinson’s recruitment is Texas, and while some might think it’s a two-horse race, the high four-star tight end has serious interest in the Longhorns, especially because he has a great relationship with QB commit Arch Manning. The two approach the recruiting process similarly (not getting caught up in the minutiae) and playing together is really appealing.
Is Matayo Uiagalelei headed to the Big 10?
Matayo Uiagalelei has proven this season that he’s one of the best defensive ends in the 2023 class. He was basically unstoppable for Bellflower (Calif.) St. John Bosco against Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei in their classic showdown earlier this season.
Ohio State has emerged as a very real contender in his recruitment – much like the Buckeyes came West for five-star DE JT Tuimoloau in the 2021 class – and Uiagalelei has been more than receptive to the overtures. Uiagalelei talks with position coach Larry Johnson regularly, Johnson knows the whole family and sources have said Uiagalelei is more than serious about going somewhere that he can be developed for the NFL.
Oregon is the other key player in his recruitment, and with his connections to coach Dan Lanning, assistant Tosh Lupoi and others that could be a real thing as well.
Georgia has been poking around, but that’s still in the earlier stages. If Uiagalelei schedules a visit to Athens, then this could get a lot more interesting.
Flip season is coming.
It’s inevitable that there will be numerous flips in the closing weeks before the Early Signing Period, and while there are always surprises, too, there are some names that are worth looking at who are still hearing from many schools.
Oregon defensive tackle commit A’Mauri Washington from Chandler, Ariz., is hearing a lot more from LSU and that should be one to watch, especially if it picks up even more. Four-star tight end Walker Lyons could have a big visit coming up to an SEC school as other Pac-12 programs give chase.
Four-star receiver Deandre Moore remains committed to Louisville, but Georgia and Texas are pushing. Louisville QB commit Pierce Clarkson is hearing more and more from UCLA. The list goes on and on and these are the ones we know about. It should be a wild few weeks leading into signing day.
Will the other QBs stick?
Top-notch quarterbacks are so common in California that sometimes it’s taken for granted just how talented they are – and the 2023 class has some really good ones. It will be interesting to see with some teams playing poorly this season and the possibility of coaching changes – especially at the assistant level – after the season whether they all stick.
There is no solid intel yet, but definitely things to watch. Five-star Malachi Nelson looks locked in with USC after flirting with Texas A&M this summer. There’s no sense that five-star Nico Iamaleava is thinking anything other than Tennessee but nothing can be counted out in the Wild West that recruiting has become.
Louisville commit Pierce Clarkson, who’s been the ringleader of the Cardinals’ class, is being pursued by UCLA and on Thursday night the big news came when four-star Jaden Rashada flipped from Miami to Florida.
Will the Louisville kids stay committed?
Out of Louisville’s 15 commitments five are from the state of California, including four from the same team at Bellflower (Calif.) St. John Bosco in quarterback Pierce Clarkson, receiver Deandre Moore, defensive back Aaron Williams and athlete Jahlil McClain. The fifth is Inglewood tight end Jamari Johnson.
The question is whether Louisville coach Scott Satterfield can keep his job and in turn keep the class of California recruits together? All of them are being pursued by other schools and those programs are trying to flip them. Louisville can take it as a compliment that so many of its commits are targets of other schools, but the Cardinals will have to thread a fine needle to keep them all. It’s absolutely possible, but it won’t be easy.