CFB News of the Week: 6/18/2021

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Arizona State being investigated over recruiting violations

Arizona State’s reported violations are directly related to some of the COVID-19 restrictions set on recruiting over the past year or so. Due to the pandemic, recruiting dead periods were extended all the way through this June, at least with regards to in-person and on-campus meetings. Neither official or unofficial visits to schools were to be held during this extended dead period.

The Sun Devils did not seem to care. Per reports from The Athletic, Arizona State was hosting players during this dead period, even doing so during game weekends. The Athletic reports that the Sun Devils were “hiding” some recruits in a suite during a home game last year, though it’s unclear if this was a one-time deal or something that was recurring. It’s not like there were many games in the PAC-12 to begin with last year, so it may have been just the one time, but that’s still a clear violation of NCAA rules, if it were to be true.

There’s no telling how quickly these allegations will be resolved. If it’s anything like the Tennessee and Jeremy Pruitt case, it will not be very long, but each case is different and this is not about bagmen the way Pruitt’s case was. Having recruiting violations directly related to COVID protocols, which had never been a thing before this past season, is also unique territory, though I suppose it may just be lumped in as any other “dead period” violation.

Uncommitted five-star 2022 DT Travis Shaw narrows down top-four

Only three of 247 Sports’ top-10 recruits (per composite ranking) for the 2022 class have committed thus far. Travis Shaw, a 6-foot-5, 310-pound DT out of North Carolina, may soon be the fourth after recently releasing his top-four potential schools.

Two of Shaw’s top schools are the usual suspects, while the other two are some intriguing in-state options. Clemson and Georgia make up the first category. Clemson, while also a local school for Shaw, certainly has more appeal than just being close to home. The Tigers are not only one of the best programs in the country period, but have historically been quite successful in developing defensive linemen and pushing them to the NFL. Georgia is in a similar boat as a historically great defensive program, especially with Kirby Smart currently overseeing the program as HC.

Shaw’s other two options are less than powerhouses. The least surprising of the two is North Carolina. While the Tar Heels are certainly a tier behind Clemson and Georgia, they are a rising program over the last couple years, thanks in large part to their high-powered offense. Shaw could be a conduit for change on the other side of the ball.

Shaw’s real curveball is North Carolina A&T, an HBCU at the sub-FBS level. A&T is another hometown pick for Shaw, but would certainly be a drop down in competition, which is not something we see much of from elite recruits. That’s exactly what makes Shaw’s interest so intriguing, though. Something similar happened not too long ago with five-star basketball recruit Makur Maker, who passed up the opportunity to play for a powerhouse in Kentucky to instead attend Howard.

While Shaw has yet to announce a commitment date, one has to imagine it will follow not long after a top-four announcement like this.

Five-star DL Mykel Williams sides with USC

On the topic of five-star 2022 DL recruits, Mykel Williams announced his commitment to USC during the week. Williams’ commitment is huge by itself, but also puts USC in elite territory right now with respect to the 2022 class. The Trojans are now just one of four schools with two or more top-30 commits (composite rankings) for the 2022 class, joining Ohio State, Florida State, and LSU.

Williams is a different player from the previously mentioned Shaw, though. Williams is a much lighter 6-foot-5, 265-pounds and projects more as a big defensive end or someone who can bulk up a bit to play three-technique. Either way, Williams has long arms and a crazy explosive first step, giving him an easy jump on just about any offensive linemen he will see at the next level. Sprinkle that on top of more than adequate power for someone his size and it’s not very difficult to see how someone like Williams ends up with a five-star rating.

Williams joins CB Domani Jackson as USC’s second five-star of this class. Williams brings the class to a total of seven commits, pulling them up into the top-20 per 247 Sports’ composite ratings. With a couple of elite recruits like Williams and Jackson already in the bag, do not be surprised if they snag another one or two.

Nebraska HC Scott Frost catches flack from Carolina Panthers RB Christian McCaffrey

Frost was asked about the transfer of QB Luke McCaffrey from the Nebraska program earlier this offseason, prompting Frost to say, "Buckle up, because this isn't the last time you're going to see this happening.” Frost believes McCaffrey, like some other players in the past and future, got bad advice that led to his transfer to Louisville (and ultimately another transfer to Rice). Luke’s older brother, Christian, was not having any of it.

Christian McCaffrey went on a minor Twitter rant in relation to Frost. After rightfully noting Frost himself was a transfer in college, McCaffrey added, "PSA to all recruits: take note on how a coach treats his players once they’re no longer useful to him." Though not quite the same thing, McCaffrey is very familiar with things related to player empowerment, seeing as he is more or less the man who kicked off the trend of future NFL draftees skipping out on postseason bowl games.

This little squabble does not materially change anything for Frost or Nebraska, but it’s certainly not the best look for a program that has not done anything of note during the Frost era.

Former Tulsa CB Akayleb Evans transferred to Missouri

Save for now-Georgia CB Derion Kendrick, there is a good case that Akayleb Evans was the best transfer cornerback on the market this offseason. Or at least the one most capable of contributing right away as a veteran.

Evans has great size for the position and should have no issue holding up in the SEC. At 6-foot-2 and 188-pounds, Evans has all the length necessary to keep a hand on opposing WRs at all times and get into their chest in press coverage before he can get beat off the line.

Evans started 23 games for Tulsa, proving to be one of their best players on a surprisingly strong unit. He would have surely started around 30 if not for a season-ending shoulder injury in 2019, too. Either way, Evans shined in a weird 2020 season, posting racking up 29 tackles, three passes defended, and a forced fumble while regularly blanketing his opposing WRs out of the game. It may be a stretch to say Evans will be a lockdown cornerback in the SEC, but he should be a serviceable starter.