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Southeast Spotlight: Five notable visits for top prospects

Nick Lucero/Rivals.com

Visit season is clicking on all cylinders right now and prospects from every corner of the country are taking trips to get a closer look at some of their top programs. We take a look at five of the most surprising and interesting upcoming visits this week, continuing today in the Southeast region.

RELATED: Five notable visits for top East Coast prospects | Mid-South

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TARVOS ALFORD'S OHIO STATE VISIT

The versatile Sunshine State linebacker is planning on coming off the board on March 30, yet since releasing that plan he has also set an official visit to Ohio State for the weekend of May 31. It means that two months after his college announcement is made, he’ll be in Columbus to either celebrate a Buckeye commitment or Ryan Day’s program will get the first in-depth chance to change his mind.

While not the most rare sight in college football recruiting, and Alford isn’t alone in this pattern within the 2025 class, it does lighten the impact of the commitment when the winning program’s hat is put on at the end of March. This recruitment has been framed as an Ohio State versus Miami battle, and now we can probably safety assume the battle won’t officially come to an end on commitment day.

SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS WITH OHIO STATE FANS AT DOTTINGTHEEYES.COM

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JAIME FFRENCH'S VISIT TO TEXAS

The one-time Alabama commitment has carried his recruiting in a ‘wide open’ fashion since Nick Saban’s retirement, though there have been a trio of front-runners emerging from the pack. Ffrench has admitted Ohio State, Florida State and Miami were the programs originally challenging Alabama for him and remained as the primary contenders into the New Year. Sure, LSU, Texas A&M and many others have jumped into the race, and who could blame them for one of the nation’s highest-floor receiver recruits.

Coming into the week, heads turned when Ffrench set his first of what is to be assumed to be many official visits in his recruitment. The destination was none other than Austin, Texas, where Steve Sarkisian and company have things on the up-and-up following a College Football Playoff berth. Furthermore, it didn’t take much research to see what the pair of Longhorn receivers did at the NFL combine, especially Xavier Worthy’s all-time 40-yard dash record.

That stuff matters to prospects long recruited, with NFL aspirations like Ffrench has long had. So while Texas has been far from the top of the list in tracking the Floridian’s contenders, he isn’t expected to come off the board any time soon so the June 21 official visit ensures Texas has time to make the long play.

SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS WITH TEXAS FANS AT ORANGEBLOODS.COM

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ALVIN HENDERSON'S VISIT TO MIAMI

The Elba (Ala.) High School star has a long list of suitors, and why not coming off of a gaudy 3,000-yard, 60-touchdown 2023 season. Henderson has some 70-plus scholarship offers to his name, too, so the list of contenders within that volume isn’t very small at this time. Still, there has been clear buzz for a few programs close to home. Auburn, especially when Cadillac Williams was the running backs coach, has long been considered a favorite. Florida State has been right there with the Tigers and may have overtaken the program after its assistant coaching change. Alabama, Georgia and others have also been frequently mentioned.

Those a bit further from home are almost in their own group of dark-horses in this recruitment. Oregon, Penn State and especially Miami come to mind on this front. The difference between Mario Cristobal’s program and the two others, though, is that the official visit set for the summer is all but booked for Henderson – who has yet to release specific dates. We also know the productive back wants to come off the board before the 2024 season begins, so a summer trip to Coral Gables seemingly weeks before a decision could become the early stages of an upset over the perceived top group. Miami has shown a willingness to run with the big dogs on the trail, even out of state, so don’t sleep on The U as Henderson’s decision draws near.

SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS WITH MIAMI FANS AT CANESCOUNTY.COM

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DJ PICKETT'S VISIT TO GEORGIA

The top-ranked athlete has a loaded June slate with heavy hitters up and down the visit list, with Georgia in the thick of it. Normally, especially with a defensive prospect, the Bulldogs’ standing wouldn’t be as surprising or intriguing compared to others, but Pickett has built buzz with several programs not-named Georgia in recent weeks and even months. We’ve heard Oregon trending, Miami with a real shot to keep him within state lines and of course LSU – which may be the team to beat as of this writing.

Georgia, at least in this recruitment, has been viewed ‘in the mix’ at best as its defensive staff has transitioned under Kirby Smart. But here’s the thing, Pickett is a secondary target of a head coach known for secondary recruiting and development. Not to mention two of his new assistants, Travaris Robinson and Donte Williams, have each recruited Pickett individually for quite some time. The optics of the personnel combined with the program’s consistent raid of elite Florida talent under Smart makes the June trek to Athens one of the last chances for the program to make their move.

SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS WITH GEORGIA FANS AT UGASPORTS.COM

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MANTREZ WALKER'S VISIT TO STANFORD

This one is very straightforward. Walker will make a verbal commitment in the month of April and it is very likely to be to a program not named Stanford. He admits the program has been high on his list but it did not make his top five of late. However, the Cardinal were the first program to lock in an official visit date with Walker for the summer months – of course well beyond the April commitment timeline.

Now, Colorado, Miami, Ole Miss and others are clearly higher on the pecking order for Walker’s commitment next month despite Stanford setting the June 6 date with him. A Stanford degree speaks for itself, so even as a prospect committed primarily for football elsewhere, few would blame Walker for considering making the move to northern California when all is said and done. If he takes the trip as a commitment elsewhere, game on.

SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS WITH STANFORD FANS AT CARDINALSPORTSREPORT.COM