Rivals national recruiting analyst Cole Patterson is joined by national recruiting director Adam Gorney, Daniel Fair of HawgBeat.com and Brandon Howard of TideIllustrated.com to tackle three recruiting topics in the Mid-South Region and determine whether each is FACT or FICTION.
1. Florida QB commit DJ Lagway needs to be in the five-star conversation with how he is playing as a senior.
Patterson: FACT. There was some analyzing – maybe over analyzing – about how DJ Lagway performed in camp settings like the Elite 11 during the offseason. But Lagway has always been a gamer and player that really shines when the lights are on and the games are played. The Florida commit has been on absolute tear already during his senior season, as he’s accounted for 41 total touchdowns through just seven outings this fall. When you also factor in the dual-threat movement at the quarterback position in the NFL, there’s definitely a first-round potential for Lagway when thinking long-term, making him a real five-star candidate as the cycle continues.
Gorney: FACT. DJ Lagway is putting up unreal numbers in his senior season but he should be considered for a five-star ranking for more than just his stats. He’s proving to be a gamer, someone who steps it up most when the lights come on and a lot of times those are the players who excel most going into college and in the NFL. Yes, Lagway has a quirky delivery but it’s fixable and it’s not that bad so I’ve become less concerned about it over time. He has the physical tools to be special and what he’s doing in his senior season warrants a look at a five-star ranking.
Arkansas should be concerned about losing four-star commit Julius Pope as programs like Mississippi State turn up the heat.
Patterson: FACT. Julius Pope saw his recruitment take off a bit after his junior season at Mississippi power South Panola. Alabama was first to offer and Arkansas, Michigan and others quickly followed suit. Pope committed to the Razorbacks in the spring, but that has not led to other programs letting up. Mississippi State is especially the program to watch as head coach Zach Arnett has made Pope a priority on the trail, largely thanks to the positional versatility and flexibility that he could provide on defense. Nothing is imminent and Pope, who holds a low profile, is happy with his decision. However, it’s always worth keeping a close eye on the in-state programs in these kinds of recruitments.
Fair: FACT. Arkansas has held a commitment from Pope since April 8, but that hasn’t stopped Mississippi State from pursuing the athlete. One source told me Thursday a flip to the Bulldogs was close for Pope. Zach Arnett’s staff has been in constant contact with Pope about staying in-state. Mississippi State has a massive haul of in-state prospects this class. It’s going to be a close battle between the two SEC West schools for Pope’s signature on signing day.
3. Alabama is in the driver’s seat to land Rivals250 APB Daniel Hill despite a big push from South Carolina.
Patterson: FACT. Rivals250 running back Daniel Hill is a Mississippi State legacy but has always held Alabama in high regard. Out of Meridian, Hill is an easy drive away from Tuscaloosa and has taken multiple trips to see the Crimson Tide. South Carolina made a big push in the spring and into the summer. Hill was set to make a commitment in August but opted to push things back and reevaluate things. That timing, along with a recent game visit for Hill to T-Town, seems to indicate good things for the Crimson Tide.
Howard: FACT. As things stand today. I do see Alabama still currently in the drivers seat for Daniel Hill. There has been some new smoke around Tennessee outside of South Carolina but speaking with sources close to Hill, it would take quite the “conversation” for Hill to end up at either school.
In August, there was a great amount of buzz around Hill to South Carolina but since he changed his commitment date, the rumors have slowed down a bit. As things stand today Alabama is the favorite and remains my FutureCast.