By: Cole “The Curtain Guy” Schuette
Recruiting is the gift that keeps on giving. Is it a tad strange to concern ourselves with the life choices of 17 year olds? Maybe… but recruiting is the life blood of programs and today’s high schoolers are tomorrow’s superstars.
We’re only about a month and a half into 2021, so like the impatient Millennial that I am, I’m already looking ahead to 2022. More specifically, the top ten recruits of the 2022 class according to 247 Sport’s composite rankings. Below I will briefly examine each recruit, which schools they are currently committed to (or who is pursuing them the hardest), and who looks to have the inside track to landing their commitment before the early signing day in 10 months.
Quinn Ewers (#1 PRO QB, #1 in Texas, #1 Overall): Ewers is number one on everyone’s list. The current Buckeye commit is only the sixth recruit to have a perfect 1.0000 composite score on 247’s page and the second QB to receive the honor (Vince Young was the first in the 2002 class). The gunslinger out of Southlake, Texas has a fluid throwing motion combined with a quick release that allows him to deliver balls with accuracy and timing, especially down the field.
Up until this last weekend, I was confident that the hometown Longhorns were going to battle Ohio State up until signing day to try and flip Ewers. With the commitment of fellow five star Maalik Murphy (#2 PRO QB), Texas has seemingly ended their pursuit. This one is far from over though, as other blue bloods such as Alabama and Clemson (no offer yet) will surely try to lure the highest ranked prospect in 2022 away from the Buckeyes.
Walter Nolen (#1 DT, #1 in Tennessee, #2 Overall): The second ranked recruit in the 2022 class is certainly an imposing player. Standing 6’4″ and 300 lbs, Nolen posses a college-ready body, high motor, and physical nature that makes him an absolute nightmare for opposing offenses. His size translates well to an interior defensive line position in the future but his speed and reaction time off the snap could allow him time as an end in the right scheme.
This recruiting battle is just heating up with Nolen releasing his top ten of LSU, Alabama, Clemson, Michigan, Florida, Oregon, Ohio State, Tennessee, Auburn, and USC on February 12th. At this point, I’m not confident that any schools have an inside track for the #1 DT, and with the dead period most likely being extended by the NCAA for the foreseeable future, don’t expect a decision any time soon.
Domani Jackson (#1 CB, #1 in California, #3 Overall): The Mater Dei to USC pipeline keeps on flowing with Jackson choosing to play for the hometown Trojans. While he is still new to the position, his athleticism and ball skills from his receiving days have allowed him to make a smooth transition. As Jackson grows in to the position he could become an elite, lock-down corner at USC. Paired with the likes of Korey Foreman and Raesjon Davis, the Trojans could be looking at some of their best defenses since the Pete Carroll years.
While Domani Jackson and Will Johnson (listed below) had tossed the idea around of being a package deal, rarely does that ever actually pan out. Several schools will continue to push for the #1 CB in the country, including Ohio State, Michigan, Arizona State and Alabama. When it is all said and done, I think Domani remains with the men of Troy.
Travis Hunter (#2 CB, #1 in Georgia, #4 Overall): One of longest committed recruits of the 2022 cycle, the native Georgian has been committed to Florida State for almost a year now. Hunter is a little light in the weight department (currently listed at 165 lbs) but possesses a frame to easily add mass in a collegiate strength program. The two sport athlete at Collins Hill High School has incredible ball skills and is easily able to run with anyone he lines up against with his speed and length.
While Travis has offers from programs such as Clemson, Alabama, and Auburn, a commitment for this long points to great relationships and comfort with the Seminole staff. Barring something catastrophic happening in Tallahassee, I anticipate Hunter staying true to his commitment and signing with FSU in December.
Shemar Stewart (#1 SDE, #1 in Florida, #5 Overall): The first edge rusher makes an appearance at the midpoint of our list. At 6’5″, 240 lbs, Stewart posses long arms, a lean frame, and elite speed that allows him to beat offensive lineman in a multitude of ways. What really jumps out on film is the motor that this kid has. Even when is seemingly out of plays, he is able to run down receivers, running backs, and quarterbacks alike.
In December, the Opa Locka, FL native gave a top ten of Florida, Miami FL, Georgia, LSU, Clemson, Ohio State, Alabama, Texas A&M, Penn State and Arizona State. The crystal balls currently show LSU in the driver’s seat for this recruitment, but Clemson, Georgia, and Miami FL are all in the car with them.
Denver Harris (#3 CB, #2 in Texas, #6 Overall): Much like the altitude of the city who shares his namesake, Denver Harris’ potential is mile high. The Houston, Texas native has elite size and length that allows him to be one of the best jam defenders in the country. While he shows the ability to turn and run with receivers, his frame and physical nature allow him to come up and make hits as well.
About a year ago, Harris’ had release a top eight that included schools such as Texas, Georgia, Texas A&M, and Miami FL. His intention was to commit after the end of his junior year but Covid seems to have derailed that. I still like the Longhorns as the team to beat here but with programs like Ohio State, Clemson and Notre Dame jumping into the fray, this one could get interesting.
Travis Shaw (#2 DT, #1 in North Carolina, #7 Overall): Some of the most underappreciated players in football are the guys in the trenches. This is not the case for the 2022 class as both of the top two DT in the class crack the top ten. Coming in right behind Walter Nolen is Travis Shaw, the 6’5″ 310 pounder from Greensboro, NC is imposing in his own right. He uses his large frame, quickness and impressive footwork to push offensive lineman into the backfield. He has also shown flashes of potential as an edge rusher although he most certainly projects as an interior lineman at the next level.
The Junior at Grimsley high provided a Top 13 back in September that included schools such as Auburn, Georgia, LSU, Oregon, Clemson, NC A&T, Ohio State, North Carolina and Florida. After the first crystal ball to Clemson has been cast, Shaw had initially tweeted out that if it doesn’t come from him, don’t believe it. However, with three more rolling in on February 17th, it looks to be the Fighting Dabos who have the lead for his services.
Will Johnson (#4 CB, #1 in Michigan, #8 Overall): A Michigan legacy, Will Johnson is exactly what teams look for in an outside corner. Another dual sport athlete who uses those transferable skills to excel in ball hawking and man-to-man coverage. He is a smooth runner and is able to flip his hips with ease. The only concern is if he will outgrow (literally) his current CB projection. Regardless, the number eight recruit in the country has the ability to make an immense impact at the next level.
The Grosse Point product has had several of his questions answered for him. He now knows who Michigan’s CB coach will be (Maurice Linguist), and where his close friend Domani Jackson has chosen to play his collegiate football (USC). There is also the acknowledged consistency and development he would receive at Ohio State. While the NCAA continues to kick the can down the road in terms of official visits, I anticipated this recruitment to play out for a while regardless. As of this point, I think the hometown Wolverines end up with his commitment.
Devon Campbell (#1 OG, #3 in Texas, #9 Overall): The only other player from the offensive side of the ball and third Texan to appear on this list, Campbell is an extremely athletic lineman who utilizes his quickness in a variety of ways. He can be seen decimating second-level defenders on pulls, tunnel screens, and while running downfield on long plays.
LSU, Oklahoma, and Texas are all in the thick of this recruitment. As of Wednesday morning, however, the newest wave of crystal balls in favor of the Longhorns has me thinking that the number one guard in the country will be taking his talents to Austin very soon.
Jaheim Singletary (#5 CB, #2 in Florida, #10 Overall): No, your eyes are not deceiving you. Half of the current top ten recruits in the country are corners. This class is absolutely loaded with secondary players, with 21 out the top 100 players being corners or safeties (not including those players listed as athletes who could very well end up in the back end of the defense).
The 6’1 170 lbs corner bookends our top ten with another Ohio State commit. Hailing from Jacksonville, Florida, Singletary is from the same hometown as former Buckeye, Shaun Wade. The Ohio State similarities don’t end there there though, as film shows us a long, physical corner who’s playing style mimics 2020 3rd Overall pick, Jeff Okudah. His overall size and aggressive play fit what DC Kerry Coombs and coach Matt Barnes look for in their corners and could be next up for what has been a long line of 1st round NFL DBs to come from Columbus.