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Your weekly serving of college football roster acquisition thoughts -- recruiting, transfer portal, you name it -- from 247Sports Director of Scouting Andrew Ivins

Was USC's recruiting push into Georgia worth it?

Trojans lose 66% of Peach State 5-stars

With Lincoln Riley preparing for life in the new-look Big Ten, the Trojans have spent more and more time looking for difference-makers in the state of Georgia. Last recruiting cycle, USC pulled a pair of promising pass-rushers out of the Peach State in Kameryn Fountain and Lorenzo Cowan as well as jumbo tight end Walter Matthews

The early returns on Fountain, a top-60 recruit who participated in spring practices after a favorable showing at the annual All-American Bowl, have been rather promising for a program that's trying to rebuild a broken defense, but his addition might have given the Trojans a little false confidence in one of the most talent-rich regions of the country. 

Last week, USC's 2025 recruiting class suffered a pair of major defections when five-star defensive linemen Justus Terry and Isaiah Gibson both backed off verbal commitments to USC. The news came as a surprise to some, but not to those that eat, breathe and sleep recruiting. After all, both are considered major priorities for Georgia, and Kirby Smart tends to get what he wants, especially at the point of attack. In fact, Gibson committed to Georgia on Monday, six days after his USC decommitment. 

We won't turn this week's column into a soapbox and make any proclamations that Riley and his staff should blacklist any and all Peach State recruits, especially as their recruiting efforts are certainly better than the preceding staff's, but some self-awareness could go a long way, even in the Name, Image, Likeness era. Before Terry and Gibson, the Trojans tried to steal another blue-chip defensive lineman from the Bulldogs' backyard in five-star Mykel Williams. The result was no different as the No. 7 overall prospect in the class of 2022 flipped his pledge from USC to Georgia two months before the signing period.

But what about Fountain? One could make the case that he's the exact type of talent that the Trojans should be targeting in SEC country. UGA did its homework on Fountain and had him on campus, but he never appeared to be a tier one target for the Bulldogs, who finished with the nation's top-ranked class in 2024. Not everyone has the appetite for leftovers, but Plan B at Georgia can certainly be Plan A for others, especially when you are located in an area that's light on the big bodies. Just ask Dan Lanning.

Since Lanning arrived at Oregon, the Ducks have done an admirable job of scouring the country for potential high-impact trench players while at the same time avoiding a ton of head-to-head battles with the Bulldogs (Lanning, more than anybody, knows what he'd be up against head-to-head vs. Smart). Oregon certainly hasn't gotten everyone on the wish list, but 2024's defensive line haul for Oregon rivaled what many did in the SEC and it included prospects that called  California, Arizona, Oklahoma and Missouri home.

Will five-star QB Julian Lewis see his USC commitment through? USATSI

Of course, there's one other Peach State-based five-star that USC is heavily involved with and that's longtime quarterback commit Julian Lewis. Quarterback recruiting is its own animal (more on that later), but it's hard to fault Riley for courting the modern-day protege even if Lewis were to end up at Colorado, Auburn or Indiana, three schools he's visited since Memorial Day. A flip, somewhere, could absolutely be on the table

Lewis fits perfectly into what Riley wants to do on offense as he can manipulate defenses with his eyes while throwing with precision. Still, if the Trojans were to go 0-for-3 on five-stars in Georgia after striking out on Williams three years prior, it might be time for an intervention. There might be better way to spend their recruiting resources and energy. 

Race for Big 12's top recruiting class is wide-open

True pecking order unlikely to materialize 

With Texas and Oklahoma off to the SEC, the Big 12 is wide open for the taking. Opinions vary on who should be viewed as the conference favorite (or favorites) moving forward and a quick glance at the Big 12 recruiting class rankings doesn't provide much clarity, either. At least not right now.

As we approach the NCAA's summer dead period, it's TCU, West Virginia and Arizona State sitting 1-2-3 in the rankings. The Horned Frogs finished last cycle ranked No. 2 in the Big 12, but the Mountaineers and Wildcats slotted in behind plenty of others. And that's what should make things rather interesting over the next few weeks -- years? -- in the Big 12 as there should be no shortage of jockeying in the rankings.

Take Kansas State for example. The Wildcats' class currently ranks No. 15 in the Big 12 with 11 prospects committed, but could shoot up the board this upcoming Monday when five-star tight end Linkon Cure announces his decision live on the 247Sports' YouTube channel as Chris Klieman has his program in prime position to land what could be its highest-ranked recruit in school history.

 UCF is another school to keep an eye on. Gus Malzahn and the Knights rank No. 10 in the conference right now, but welcomed a ton of blue-chip talent to campus the first few weeks of June and are trying to flip multiple high-profile prospects from College Football Playoff regulars.

 From a talent evaluator's eye, there's a lot to get excited about when it comes to Houston and what Willie Fritz have done in such a short amount of time. The Cougars have the No. 7-ranked class in the Big 12 and it's full of high-upside prospects with NFL traits. Sources also indicate that they are nowhere close to being done.

Then there's Colorado, which sits last in the Big 12 rankings with five commits (its class ranks No. 78 nationally). Deion Sanders has pushed all his chips forward for Shedeur's senior season, but it's unclear what the long-term plan is in Boulder. The Buffs have hosted the aforementioned Julian Lewis multiple times, but Colorado's staff conducted just a handful of summer official visits otherwise. 'Coach Prime' is always good for a signing day splash or two, but he's got his work cut out for him if plans to replenish his roster with high schoolers.

QB recruiting hitting light speed 

Why that's not a good thing

You probably at some point have heard that quarterback recruiting has accelerated. That's true, but take whatever you thought that meant and strap it to a rocket ship because the timeline for quarterback recruiting is entering another galaxy.

At this time last year, just one of the 19 quarterbacks inside the current Top247 for the class of 2025 had made a public commitment: Tavien St. Clair to Ohio State. Fast forward to this year with the class of 2026 and it's a completely different story with eight of the 16 quarterbacks ranked inside the Top247 already committed. That includes six of the 10 best at the position (as 247Sports detailed recently in a QB dominoes series). 

"Enrolling early was a big factor in the timing," 2025 prospect Tavien St. Clair told CBS Sports at the Elite 11 Finals, speaking about his early commitment. "Obviously it was two full years before the start of my first college season, but it's big for the quarterback to jump in early and recruit the guys he wants around him."

A polling of college contacts didn't yield many answers as to what is different with this wave of signal-callers, but everyone seems to agree kids are trying to lock in spots and schools don't want to come up empty-handed. That sounds fine in theory, but taking quarterbacks that have yet to play their junior seasons of high school football seems like an extremely dangerous practice and one that will result in "drops" as many quarterbacks are naturally not going to develop how schools had hoped. 

Sneaky-good commit of the week 

WR Lebron Hill to Purdue

Fun fact: There are four 2025 prospects in the 247Sports' database with the first name Lebron. We don't work for the U.S. Census Bureau, but the LeBron James legacy movement appears to be here. Lebron Hill is the highest-ranked of the bunch and his decision to flip his commitment from Louisville to Purdue earlier this week is a big deal for the Boilermakers, who have relied heavily on the transfer portal the past two years to add depth at wide receiver. 

A basketball-focused athlete throughout his youth, Hill is a green outside wide receiver prospect with plenty of size that's just starting to figure things out. He impressed last month at an Overtime OT7 event down in Florida, making multiple 50-50 grabs in the end zone. He gives Purdue a potential cheat code in the red zone with his 6-foot-4 frame.

'Freak' of the week

QB Kamario Taylor (Mississippi State commit)

The Elite 11 Finals took place last week and it was an abnormally large and athletic group of quarterbacks. While a handful of them are going to make our annual Freaks List, we wanted to highlight Kamario Taylor because he has college recruiting departments buzzing behind the scenes. 

The four-sport athlete out of Mississippi's Noxubee County is built like a defensive end at a hulking 6-foot-3.5, 205 pounds, but moves like a running back. It took him a while to find his bearings in Los Angeles, but he ended the event on a high note, leading all participants with seven touchdown passes on the final day. New Mississippi State coach Jeff Lebby is known for his veer-and-shoot attack, but he's never really had a quarterback built like Taylor, nor one that's so raw at this stage as a passer. That makes for an interesting fit in Starkville.