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Recruiting Rumor Mill: Standouts return from holiday visits

The weekend was busy across the country despite it being a holiday and so a second Recruiting Rumor Mill was needed this week. Here’s the latest from Rivals national recruiting director Adam Gorney.

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RELATED: Five-star QB Julian Lewis returns from multi-day USC trip

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A visit to Michigan went really well for the 2026 three-star running back from Painesville (Ohio) Harvey especially with position coach Tony Alford there now as the two have hit it off talking football but about off-the-field things as well.

The Wolverines will be one to watch if they offer but right now Wisconsin has an edge in Alston’s recruitment as the staff and the facilities along with the vibe from the new coaching staff there all appeal to him.

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Miami thoroughly impressed the three-star cornerback from Ruston, La., told him he’d be a great fit in the program and he loved the “peaceful” - a word Anding used twice to describe the place - campus so the Hurricanes will be one of the teams to watch.

Miami, Arkansas, Texas, TCU and Houston are standing out most right now but more offers could be coming Anding’s way.

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Alabama could be surging to the top for Barney as he had another phenomenal visit there and the new coaching staff in Tuscaloosa is making it clear to him that he’s not only wanted there but needed in the 2026 class.

The four-star cornerback from Suwanee (Ga.) Peachtree Ridge has Alabama, Ohio State, USC and Clemson as his front-runners but watch the Crimson Tide here.

“It feels like home the more and more I go,” Barney said.

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During his weekend visit to Georgia, the former Ohio State commit was told how the Bulldogs would move him all around the offense from the slot to the outside and focus on ways to get the ball in his hands.

Watching the spring scrimmage definitely left a major impression on the very productive four-star receiver from Cocoa, Fla., who is also being pushed heavily now by Notre Dame and USC.

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A visit to Ohio State definitely stood out as the Buckeyes and the Florida programs are the ones to watch most in Brown’s recruitment moving forward.

An official list has not been released yet by the four-star athlete from Orlando (Fla.) Jones but the Buckeyes are high on the list because of how much of a priority Brown felt like he was in Columbus and because the visit went so well.

“I liked everything about it,” Brown said.

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After Florida was not much in the picture months ago, the Gators are definitely a serious contender now especially after a recent visit to Gainesville where Charles felt like the No. 1 priority on the board and it was made clear to him by the defensive line staff how much they want to coach him. A final seven is supposed to drop soon and while Florida State has figured to be the team to beat for the Port Charlotte, Fla., standout because of his relationship with position coach Odell Haggins, Florida has been making up some serious ground here.

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Ohio State’s hiring of former Oregon running backs coach Carlos Locklyn is good news to the five-star running back who’s had the Buckeyes at the top of his recruitment but concerns grew when Tony Alford left the Buckeyes for Michigan.

The word is Locklyn might even be an upgrade for the Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei standout since he had such a strong relationship when Locklyn was recruiting Davison to Eugene and so Ohio State still looks like the team to beat in Davison’s recruitment with a big visit coming up this weekend to Texas.

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Georgia and Texas had been the two standouts early on for the 2026 four-star receiver from Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei but after a recent visit to Ohio State there has been a change at the top in his recruitment.

The Buckeyes and the Longhorns are now the two top teams for Dixon-Wyatt who loves the people in Columbus and that could be a driving factor moving forward.

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Texas A&M is making a major push for the 2026 high three-star linebacker and after a recent visit, Dominguez loves the mindset that the Aggies are coming into the SEC this season with as coach Mike Elko takes over in College Station.

That has pushed the Aggies really high for the Missouri City (Texas) Fort Bend Marshall standout as LSU, Florida, Baylor, Notre Dame and Oregon also stand out.

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Michigan State has “no doubt” risen up to one of Exinor’s top programs especially after a visit to East Lansing where the four-star receiver had a great talk with position coach Courtney Hawkins about being developed with the Spartans and then playing in the NFL.

Penn State, Michigan State, Maryland, Virginia Tech and Syracuse are the five front-runners for the Owings Mills (Md.) McDonogh standout now.

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The four-star linebacker from Highland Home, Ala., has been committed to Auburn since August (where his brother plays as well) but Faulk is coming off a visit to Alabama and a return trip to Tuscaloosa will happen for the spring game.

Faulk’s plan is to take a round of visits - to Alabama and Auburn for the spring games - and then Florida State and Florida later on as he wants to see more schools to reinforce whether or not Auburn is the right spot.

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There have been a lot of changes in Grubbs’ recruitment as offers have come in and things take shape across the 2026 quarterback spectrum but as it stands now Notre Dame is still the front-runner followed by Miami and Ohio State.

The Lake Mary, Fla., four-star was at Florida on Monday and Tuesday, goes to Alabama this weekend and then will see North Carolina before figuring everything out. The Irish are still at the top but a recent visit to Miami definitely went really well as he loved the coaching staff and the gravitas of the program and its history.

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Florida State could be really tough to beat but a recent visit to Alabama went really well as he loved the campus and the intensity in the scrimmage especially because the new staff is getting buy-in from the players.

It’s early but the 2026 four-star safety from Milton, Fla., now has Alabama, Florida State, Florida and Mississippi State out front.

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During a visit to Arkansas, the scrimmage stood out and how fast and physical everything is in the SEC but the Razorbacks haven’t offered yet so the 2026 high three-star defensive back cannot get too serious about them yet even with a teammate (Tay Lockett) committed.

So far, Holland is watching Florida State, Washington and Oklahoma the closest.

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The facilities impressed Hudson but the people at Iowa are even better and that’s what stood out to the three-star defensive tackle from Daytona Beach (Fla.) Mainland. The Iowa coaches made it clear that Hudson is a top priority and things picked up even more after the Hawkeyes offered.

Iowa is up there with UCF, Iowa State, Louisville, Maryland, West Virginia, Tulane, Temple, Indiana and Marshall as the list remains long.

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Some recent visits especially to Michigan and Tennessee have opened the eyes of Jackson even more but a return trip to Ohio State might have centered the Buckeyes back to the top of his recruitment. The four-star running back from Cleveland (Ohio) Villa Angela-St. Joseph spent a lot of time with new offensive coordinator Chip Kelly and the message from coach Ryan Day is that he’s wanted Jackson to become a Buckeyes commit since his freshman season.

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The high four-star defensive end from Chicago (Ill.) Fenwick is working from his top 12 so there could still be a long way to go in his recruitment but Alabama could be dramatically shooting up his list after a weekend visit to Tuscaloosa.

Marshall loved seeing the new faces at Alabama while they kept the “great tradition” of the program going and how much they pour love into the players definitely made a big impression.

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A visit early in the week to Mississippi State “didn’t disappoint” and the new coaching staff in Starkville “made sure” to express that May was a top priority in the 2025 class. Still, the word is that Ole Miss is definitely high on May’s board after an earlier commitment to Notre Dame didn’t work out.

His friend and Highland Home, Ala., teammate Jakaleb Faulk is committed to Auburn so the Tigers are in it with Tennessee and others but the Rebels could now be the team to watch.

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The Bushnell (Fla.) South Sumter cornerback has 20 offers but four are standing out with UCF, South Florida, Michigan State and Mississippi State making the biggest impression. A recent visit to Starkville definitely made a big impact as he loved how hyped the defense got and was impressed by the defensive backs’ length.

The message from coach Jeff Lebby is that “whatever I could ask for is right here in Starkvegas” and that left Mullins thinking.

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There are still a lot of programs involved but Pay loved his recent visit to Florida and the Gators have made a major impression on him as the four-star got a thorough look at the program. The Highland (Utah) Lone Peak standout spent a bunch of time with coach Billy Napier (the message was bringing in high-character players and building a certain culture) and then with position coaches Rob Sale and Jonathan Decoster, both who have NFL experience.

This week Pay was at Texas and Texas A&M on Monday and Tuesday and then Auburn and Missouri to close out the week.

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Alabama, Georgia, Auburn and Florida State are the four programs that stand out most to the new four-star tight end in the 2026 class and a recent visit to Athens definitely made an impression since the coaching staff told him they really like his game and that he’s good enough to play at Georgia.

Location might not play a big role in Prothro’s decision as Tuscaloosa, Athens and Auburn are pretty equidistant and the word is the Crimson Tide could have a slight edge.

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Georgia is making a major push for the Alabama running back commit and a recent visit to Athens has definitely kept Rogers interested in the Bulldogs. The new Montgomery (Ala.) Carver standout loves how much Georgia uses its running backs and that the Dawgs can also throw to them coming out of the backfield.

No more visits are planned right now but Rogers is taking visits to make sure he made the best decision when he picked the Crimson Tide in June when coach Nick Saban was still in charge.

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Alabama, Notre Dame, Michigan and Penn State have been the four standout programs for the 2026 four-star offensive tackle from Leesburg (Va.) Loudoun County and now Georgia could be entering that list as well.

Scruggs had a great recent visit to Athens where he loved the energy of practice and the message from position coach Stacy Searels was that Scruggs would “fit perfectly” with what Georgia was trying to do across the offensive line.

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Visits are just getting started for the 2026 QB from Conroe (Texas) Grand Oaks with stops at Kansas State and Texas Tech and his trip to Lubbock went really well as Smith loves the history of offensive coordinator Zach Kittley and recognizes that coach Joey McGuire “is a Texas high school coaching legend.”

Houston, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Baylor and TCU will get visits before spring ball starts at the end of April but the Red Raiders have set the bar high.

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The second Smith walked in the door at Auburn he “felt the energy” from coach Hugh Freeze, offensive coordinator Derrick Nix and position coach Marcus Davis as the Tigers have made it clear to the four-star receiver that he’s a “top priority” in this class.

It’s going to be a tough SEC battle for the Atlanta (Ga.) Westlake standout, though, as Alabama, Georgia and Tennessee are also seriously involved.

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Another visit to Texas A&M went well for the high three-star defensive tackle from Denton (Texas) Guyer as he loved seeing the intense practice and the new coaching staff was emphasizing just how much they want him in this recruiting class.

The Aggies “are up there” with LSU, Oregon and Missouri right now.

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The Naples (Fla.) First Baptist Academy five-star prospect had a very interesting visit to Syracuse over the weekend where the message was for Watkins to “come here and be a legend.” That could be a compelling case for Watkins, who backed off earlier pledges to Texas A&M and Colorado, and has done a full reset of his recruitment.

The pitch was also to start his own way at Syracuse and to go there to create something special.

Florida, Clemson, Pitt, Indiana, Ohio State, Tennessee, Florida State, Texas and Oregon among others are involved.

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Auburn has been the main front-runner for the four-star linebacker from Enterprise, Ala., and the Tigers still have a very good shot at Winters but now Miami and Florida have joined that top list.

The Hurricanes could especially be the team to watch as he “clicked instantly” with all the coaches and felt like everyone around the program was a good person who could help develop him on and off the field.

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Ole Miss and Mississippi State along with Alabama and others are going to play a big role in Womack’s recruitment and a recent visit to Starkville could have pushed the Bulldogs right to the top.

The 2026 four-star safety from Brandon (Miss.) Hartfield Academy loves what coach Jeff Lebby and his staff are doing, the entire defensive staff was involved with Womack during his visit and they made it clear he’s a top 2026 target for them.

“Coach Lebby and his staff are them dudes,” Womack said.