Patience is paying off for select class of 2022 college football recruits
There are always exceptions to the rule, even in college football recruiting.
Whether it be because of a coaching change, late development or that 2021 game tape taking a bit longer to be put together, there is a group of senior football prospects who have felt intensified recruiting pressure after electing not to sign during the Early Signing Period in December. The group isn't large, especially as programs navigate the ever-expanding transfer portal, but the senior-riser recruit still has a shot to see more interest with increased Friday night production and/or exposure.
As the NCAA's recruiting dead period comes to an end Friday morning, with many coaching staffs both out and about and prepared to host recruits again this weekend, Sports Illustrated updates the recruitment of some of the talent receiving more attention late in the game.
DB Miguel Mitchell
The definition of a late riser is one who breaks out as a senior, ala Jaxson Dart last cycle, en route to Power 5 opportunities. After a stellar campaign at Oxford (Ala.) High this fall, one of the most versatile and savvy defenders in Alabama has emerged in Mitchell. It came in the fall and even in December, earning MVP honors with a pick-six and much more at the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Game on a field with roves of SEC prospects. Since, Mitchell has added national offers and now the focus has become an SEC battle between Florida and Tennessee. He'll see each for official visits the next two weekends, beginning with a trip to Gainesville.
DB Kylon Griffin
A longtime Mississippi State commitment aligned in one of the top defenses in the south at Montgomery (Ala.) Catholic, Griffin took a step back in December and has been receiving plenty of attention since. Now, he'll play beyond the SEC footprint and hopes to make a decision after a round of upcoming official visits. Griffin released a top group of Clemson, USC and Nebraska on January 7 and will try to evaluate each down the home stretch. He'll see all three over the next two weeks, beginning with Nebraska this weekend, followed by Clemson next weekend and USC at the end of the month.
"Those are the top three," Griffin said Friday when asked of other programs getting involved late.
DL Jack Pyburn
Another under-the-radar recruit who was committed to one program for some time, Jacksonville (Fla.) Bolles defensive lineman Jack Pyburn picked Minnesota as a senior before doubling his sack production for one of the state's top prep programs. Since, coupled with not signing in December, droves of programs in the SEC and ACC have been heavy on his trail. On Friday, before heading to Auburn for an official visit, Miami, Florida State, West Virginia and Georgia Tech were each scheduled to see him at school. It's been a lot in a short time for the pass rusher fresh off of a 14-sack campaign.
"I have a bunch of teams at school today and then off to Auburn," Pyburn told Sports Illustrated Friday. "The time frames are overwhelming but I’m just great full to be in this position. It’s proof that hard work pays off. I’m glad my film finally got seen. We will take our visits to Auburn and Miami this weekend and then make a decision on where to visit next week. I will be doing officials and un-officials."
DL Ahmad Moten
Another Floridian fielding more interest due to a delay in signing is Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) Cardinal Gibbons' Ahmad Moten. A two-time state champion on the defensive front, he added double digit scholarship offers in November and December. Now, the senior is focused on five programs, including Oklahoma, Miami, North Carolina, Iowa State and Tennessee. He saw ISU in December and has plans to see the remaining top contenders on a busy January official visit slate, beginning with the Vols this weekend.
"It was crazy," Moten recently told SI. "At first, I wasn't really worried about the offers and stars and stuff, but of course, I wanted them. I just wanted to play. With coaches seeing me going 100% each play, I knew it was going to pay off. I thank God for that. That my whole October, my phone went from zero to one-hundred, really quick, it was every week in October that I got an offer. I think I got fifteen that month, then November came along, and I got 23 offers in those two months."
DL Jayson Jenkins
As more programs look for talent up front, New Jersey's Jayson Jenkins has risen up several recruiting boards. Without Power 5 attention into his senior season, it changed in October with Boston College's pursuit. Visits to BC and Pitt went down in December and the rest are slated for January. West Virginia will get the first one but SEC programs Florida and Missouri are on the docket as well.
"I feel like on tape, I really exerted myself and all of my explosiveness with how fast I can get off the ball," Jenkins said. "I showed how I could continue to use my hands and make it known that I could rush the passer and make an impact. I also showed off a lot of versatility."
TE Danny Lewis Jr.
After a fall commitment to Luke Fickell and Cincinnati, the New Iberia (La.) native backed off of the UC commitment on Wednesday morning. Before that point, Lewis had continued to receive interest from Power 5 programs. He announced the big in-state offer from LSU after posting the decommitment and the Tigers immediately become a player for the 6'4" tight end via Brian Kelly. Florida is another SEC program in consistent contact here and Lewis has an official visit to Gainesville on deck before the end of the month, too.
This story was originally published January 14, 2022 9:51 AM.