The home stretch of the 2021 college football season has arrived. Programs are positioning themselves for strong finishes, conference title game slots and positive perception over the last few weeks of the regular season.
Nick Saban, Jimbo Fisher, Jim Harbaugh and others are also of course looking ahead to the future of their respective roster, as the recruiting cycle is also inching towards its close.
Sports Illustrated looks at the 10 biggest recruiting visits set to take place over the weekend.
IDL Walter Nolen – Texas A&M
Not a typo. The top uncommitted recruit in America is headed to College Station yet again. Even the casual observer can realize the type of surge A&M has had in this recruitment since the late summer months. Nolen will make his third trip to campus for a game in the last four weeks, having attended the Alabama upset and the South Carolina rout. Local Tennessee has its work cut out for it with the Powell (Tenn.) High School product, who has been focused on the Aggies and Vols more of late. Georgia, Alabama, Florida and Michigan will still factor into the race in the end, something to consider following plenty of fluctuation on Nolen’s list of favorites over the last year or so. So much for shutting down the visits like he talked about of late.
WR Evan Stewart – Texas A&M
Fisher’s program has been in the thick of the battle for the nation’s No. 2 slot receiver, and the type of in-state talent expected on hand Saturday won’t hurt its chances. Stewart has elected to sit out the back half of his senior season in order to focus on his skill set and of course recruiting, where the Aggies are battling Florida, Alabama, LSU and Texas, where he was once verbally committed. Like with Nolen, Stewart took an official visit in October so a return trip in such short order says a lot about where A&M is trending in this one.
DB Domani Jackson – Alabama
It’s been relatively quiet with Jackson since an injury ended his senior season, but the clock is ticking with the Early Signing Period just over one month away. The longtime USC commitment has said his allegiance remains with the Trojans despite the coaching change, but cornerbacks targeted by Saban are prime flip targets this time of year. UA has been on Jackson since before he picked USC, as has Michigan, the other program to get the speedy secondary prospect on campus this fall.
DB Jaheim Singletary – Georgia
The one-time Ohio State commitment won’t likely jump back in the Buckeye boat, and as time wares on it looks like Kirby Smart and Georgia are positioning to pick up the big cornerback. In-state programs Florida and Miami have also long been in the race for Singletary, but there has been a UGA feel here for some time. Can the Bulldog staff extend a thin lead with the Jacksonville native back in town?
DB Earl Little, Jr. – Alabama
Like with Singletary, the race for Little has strong contenders but the feel is that he is visiting the program in best position at this time. Little and Plantation (Fla.) American Heritage teammate Marvin Jones, Jr. were able to take the trip beginning on Friday because they have a playoff bye, so the extended time on campus won’t hurt, especially with another contending school for Little in LSU on the schedule (or more likely menu) Saturday. Florida State, Oregon and others are in the mix but the Crimson Tide gap may be too big for others to overcome after this weekend.
WR Chris Marshall – Texas A&M
Marshall’s A&M visit will likely be ongoing when he makes his collegiate decision, so this one is not hard to explain in terms of importance and timing. The tall Texan has wrapped up his senior season on the field so he is clearly shifting his focus to making a final call between A&M, Alabama, USC and others this weekend. If not on Saturday, while on campus in College Station, it could come Sunday, his birthday. Either way, without having made it back to Tuscaloosa for a closer look at Alabama, it feels like Fisher will land at least one of his top remaining in-state wide receiver targets.
WR Shazz Preston – Alabama
Should Marshall pick A&M Saturday it only intensifies the Crimson Tide’s need to land Louisiana’s Shazz Preston. As one would assume, the uncertainty in Baton Rouge will allow for other programs to dip into the state with a higher chance at landing perceptive LSU leans late in the cycle. Preston will see his in-state school take on Alabama in Tuscaloosa, in the program’s biggest recruiting weekend of the season. Texas and USC are also involved, having already hosted Preston for official visits in the summer.
DE Khurtiss Perry – Alabama
The top pass rusher in the state of Alabama among the uncommitted, Perry has been dominant in 2021 and his recruitment has hit the highest level in the process. The Tide, Auburn, Clemson, Texas and UCF make up Perry’s top five and a decision timeline is somewhat up for debate at this stretch, likely good news for Saban’s squad. UA leads the nation with nine SI99 recruits on board already and it will almost certainly hit 10 soon. Will Perry be next?
OL Kiyaunta Goodwin – Kentucky
The big and longtime UK pledge has been on the road elsewhere the last few weeks, to Alabama and Michigan State, so Mark Stoops getting him back on campus will likely ease some of the potential flip conversation for the class headliner. Goodwin publicly stating that his recruitment is shut down, somewhat possible after this weekend, would prove perception of the upward trend of the Wildcat program.
WR Kaleb Webb – Michigan
A sneaky flip candidate after a head-turning start to the 2021 season could go down soon with Webb, who is currently a verbal commitment to East Carolina. It’s not just Michigan after him, though, as Tennessee is beginning to press in the same light. If he returns to the Atlanta area without having picked the Maize and Blue, this will be a wide open recruiting battle down the home stretch. Webb’s profile has risen with nearly 1,200 yards and 14 touchdowns in just nine games this fall. Michigan offered Webb’s quarterback and Coastal Carolina pledge Bryce Archie, a week ago, for good measure.
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