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January 18, 2013

Visit weekend: Hitting the homestretch

MORE: Mind of Mike

Dallas Jackson is the National Columnist for Rivals.com. Email him your comments or story ideas to DallasJ@Yahoo-Inc.com and follow him on Twitter.

Headed down the homestretch of the recruiting season, the second weekend of official visits is loaded with impressive groups of players going to campuses far and wide as coaches make final impressions before National Signing Day.

Three programs will be hosting nearly all of the recruiting classes, and Colorado, North Carolina, Oklahoma State, Vanderbilt and Virginia have double-digit visitors on campus with nearly all of them committed but unsigned.

The staffs at each will be able to let the future teammates bond instead of selling prospective athletes on the campus.

Headed to Charlottesville this weekend will be 19 players, many of them commits. Three-star offensive tackle Sadiq Olanrewaju will travel south from Salisbury (Conn.) Salisbury School, and he said that this weekend is important in developing early chemistry.

"I'm excited to see my new teammates," he told Rivals.com. "There's something about meeting your fellow warriors for the first time."

He will not be the only player meeting future teammates this weekend. Here is the inside scoop on those story lines and more from the big weekend across the country.

Official Visit Weekend Previews: Jan. 19, 2013
A star-studded group of visitors will be in Tuscaloosa, and it is pretty certain that they will be seeing something that many have not -- snow. T-Town is blanketed by two inches of it. Five-star players Reuben Foster, Montravius Adams, Johnathan Allen and A'Shawn Robinson will be on campus, as well as four-stars Alvin Kamara, Jason Carr and Vonn Bell.
Vonn Bell welcomes Saban, ready for visit
Auburn has a much smaller visit weekend this time, but it will be hosting two players it would love to land. Batesville (Miss.) South Panola safety Antonio Conner and Tallahassee (Fla.) Lincoln athlete Taj Williams will be there. It also stole a visit weekend from Khari Harding, who was supposed to be visiting Arkansas but changed his plans. While Tuscaloosa was hit with snow, Auburn is covered with freezing rain, which does not make for ideal visit conditions.
Sticking with the trend of having players on campus who are already in the fold, Arkansas will have local players Alex Brignoni, Brooks Ellis and Austin Allen from nearby Fayetteville (Ark.) High on hand to help sell the few undecided players. Altee Tenpenny is a major player right now and could be one who flips from Alabama if he likes what he hears. Undecided Reeve Koehler and Sam Hill will be on hand and could be swayed to the Hogs.
Weekend visit preview
A baker's dozen of players will be coming to the Pac-12 campus. Seven of the visitors are committed to the Buffaloes, and one is a potential flip as New Mexico State commit James Ooten will be visiting. The remaining five players hearing the sales pitch are headlined by three-star Joshua Jones. Jones de-committed from Illinois on Thursday and is set to visit Colorado this weekend and N.C. State next weekend. He visited Pittsburgh last weekend and is giving the Panthers strong consideration. The safety from Walled Lake (Mich.) Western has never been to the western side of the country, so this will be a new experience for him.
Big recruiting weekend for Colorado
After saying at the Under Armour All-America Game that he was down to Ole Miss and LSU, Robert Nkemdiche said he would visit Florida. He will do so this weekend. It still appears that he is an Ole Miss lock, but the nation's No. 1 player is going to see what else is available to him. Rumors are circling that he may add Kentucky to his visit list, but for now the attention will be on the Gators to sell the talented defensive end from Loganville (Ga.) Grayson.
Nkemdiche to visit Gators
InsideTheGators: Weekend visit preview
FLORIDA STATE: Warchant.com | Visit Dates | Commit List
The Seminoles welcome five players onto campus, and of the group only one is an FSU pledge. The staff will get to work on four-star receiver Stacy Coley of Oakland Park (Fla.) Northeast, who is currently open. The coaches will also look to flip Syracuse pledge Augustus Edwards, UCF verbal Wilson Bell, and Minnesota commit Nate Andrews. Andrews appears to be the most likely to flip, but it wouldn't shock if all are lured by the prospect of coming to FSU over the current options if Florida State really presses.
Official visitor preview
Georgia does not have a big visit list coming in, but the one visitor it has lined up is huge. Columbia (Fla.) Lake City offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil will be in Athens to meet with coaches and see the campus -- again. The Dawgs staff has been involved with Tunsil for two years and feels with him. The coaches spent Tuesday at an in-home visit with the tackle.
UGASports.com message board
After a busy weekend full of official visits last week, Georgia Tech's staff plans to bring in a pair of commits this weekend, kicker Harrison Butker and wide receiver Jumichael Ramos. Butker is a solid commitment, but Ramos is the lone Jacket still considering visits, so this weekend's trip to Atlanta could lock up the last player in question for the 2013 recruiting class.
Illinois has one of the most improved recruiting classes this year compared to what the Illini did in 2012, and this weekend could land a couple more players. Five prospects will be on campus. Merrick Jackson and Miguel Hermosillo are the two already in the class. Toledo commit DeJuan Rogers will be on campus, and undecided players Jaylen Dunlap of Crete-Montee (Ill.) High and Paul James of Miami (Fla.) Norland being in Champaign.
The Hoosiers' recruiting has been well above expectations, and three of the main reasons will all be on campus. U.S. Army All-American safety Antonio Allen will be joined by fellow four-stars David Kenney and Darius Latham. The trio will try to swing Maurice Swain, who is said to be down to Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee and Washington. Swain went to Washington last week with Reuben Foster, so he will continue to be surrounded by high-profile prospects trying to swing his favor.
Louisville still has a shot to have the No. 1 class in the Big East, even with just 13 commits at this point. This weekend needs to produce commits for that to happen. The list of weekend visitors includes six current commitments, four recruits who aren't committed anywhere and three who are committed to other schools. The highest-ranked uncommitted player on campus will be four-star linebacker Jermaine Grace from Miramar (Fla.) High. The hope for Charlie Strong and staff is that Grace can build a bond with fellow four-stars Derrick Calloway and De'Asian Richardson and the three Floridians will all move north.
U of L hosting huge visit weekend
This is a big weekend for Miami recruiting because there are several uncommitted but very interested prospects on campus. One of the highest-priority players has to be defensive tackle Jaynard Bostwick of Port St. Lucie (Fla.) West Centennial. The Hurricanes are in desperate need of more talented defensive linemen in this class, and he fits the bill. Also on the defensive line is Keith Bryant of Delray Beach (Fla.) Atlanta. Bryant was a former commit who backed off his pledge. His on-again off-again relationship with Miami continues as he nearly backed out of his official this weekend. Another former pledge will be on campus as running back Alex Collins returns. If Collins makes the trip as planned, it could be a good sign that his interest has returned for Miami.
Big visit weekend for Canes
The Wolfpack will have nine players on campus, and seven of them are commits. The highest of the seven players is Kenton Gibbs -- a three-star defensive tackle from Detroit (Mich.) Cass Tech. Gibbs has one visit set to go, with Pittsburgh getting a last look next week, but for now he remains solid to N.C. State. Fellow three-stars on campus will be Pharoah McKever, Marcus Edmond, Dakwa Nichols, Artemis Robinson and Jack Tocho.
This is a smaller visit weekend for the Huskers. Only have five players are coming to campus, but four of them are not committed. Three offensive linemen, Matt Finnin, Dwayne Johnson and Chongo Kondolo, will be joined by defensive back Boaz Joseph to hear the recruiting pitch. Four-star linebacker Marcus Newby will share stories about what helped him choose Nebraska.
The breakdown: Important visit weekend
North Carolina is hosting all of its committed 2013 recruits who haven't enrolled. There's a total of 13 official visitors committed to the program: Mikey Bart, Lucas Crowley, Dajaun Drennon, Marquis Haynes, Nazair Jones, Johnathan Howard, Desmond Lawrence, T.J. Logan, Donnie Miles, Ryan Switzer, Greg Webb, Brian Walker and Korrin Wiggins, plus one commitment - Brad Henson -- who is coming for an unofficial visit just to return with all his future teammates. Combine that with the early enrollees, and every Tar Heel for 2013 will be on campus. That would be impressive enough, but adding to the excitement will be Rivals100 prospect Marquez North and junior college defensive tackle Jarran Reed. Reed is a soft commit to Ole Miss but is having issues with transferable hours and may flip.
OKLAHOMA STATE: OState.com | Visit Dates | Commit List
The Cowboys are following the trend of making this a major team-building weekend because 18 visitors are already committed to the program. The holdouts are defensive end Tyus Bowser and running back Rennie Childs. Devin Lauderdale was expected to be on campus, but he canceled his plans. The nearly two dozen players should spend most of the weekend building relationships and working on the two uncommitted three-stars.
Visit preview
Four-star Ateman excited for football
The Nittany Lions will welcome three players on official visits as well as a plethora of potential walk-on players. The headliners are U.S. Army All-Americans, and longtime friends, Brendan Mahon and Garrett Sickels. The two were nearly inseparable in San Antonio and have been part of the glue holding the class together during a very fragile period of recruiting. Joining those two will be Neiko Robinsonfrom Bratt (Fla.) Northview.
The Gamecocks will host nearly half of their commitment list, but they will also have three major prospects on campus: four-star players Skai Moore of Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) University, Yannick Ngakoue of Washington (D.C.) Friendship Collegiate and Na'Ty Rodgers of Pomfret (Md.) McDonough. Moore and Ngakoue are linebacker prospects and could fill a major position of need in the recruiting class because the team is listing four-star Larenz Bryant and three-stars Mohamed Camara, David Johnson and Gerald Turner as its linebacker class right now. Adding one (or both) visitors to that list would be a big victory.
Visit preview, part I
Visit preview, part II
Coach Butch Jones has been on full flip mode since getting on Rocky Top, and he will continue to recruit other programs' players. Tennessee is hosting West Virginia four-star receiver Shelton Gibson, Florida State three-star defensive end, David Bellamy, and Auburn five-star defensive end Carl Lawson. Also on the visit list this weekend are uncommitted defensive end Jaylen Miller and receiver Ryan Jenkins to go with the eight Vols commits who will be on campus.
Miller excited for Vols visit
Head coach Matt Campbell will welcome seven prospects to Toledo's campus. Defensive tackle Marquis Moore is committed to the Rockets and one of four visitors who is a three-star prospect. Three other visitors will make the trip from the state of Florida, including three-star wide receiver prospect Rodney Adams. The Florida visitors have a connection to the program because they are all from wide receiver Bernard Reedy's alma mater. One JUCO defensive back prospect looking for a Division I home is on the list. Marwin Evans of Highland CC in Kansas was committed to Utah State but reopened his recruitment after Aggies head coach Gary Anderson left for Wisconsin.
TheRocketNation.com message board
The Knights staff will be doing some recruiting this weekend because three of the program's four visitors are uncommitted. Three-star Seyvon Lowry will be the lone committed player in the group, and he will do his best to join the efforts in trying to land three-star defensive back Chequan Burkett and receiver Alex Montgomery. Unranked Dontravious Wilson will also be on campus. The 5-foot-11 220 pound bruiser of a running back is down to UCF, USF and Western Kentucky.
Alabama LB set for UCF visit
The Bruins will be doing major recruiting as the program welcomes six uncommitted players -- with the majority of them being four-star players. Defensive end Kylie Fitts, defensive end Tyler Foreman, defensive back Johnny Johnson and defensive back Priest Willis will be on hand to get last looks at Los Angeles. They will be met by four-star commits Kenneth Clark, Deon Hollins Jr., Myles Jack and Craig Lee. This could be a boon for Jim Mora to talk about his new contract and commitment to the program and land some major players.
This is a major recruiting weekend for the Trojans because six of the program's 14 commitments will be on campus and they will be joined by seven prospects who are uncommitted or committed to other schools. The current commits, five-star cornerback Jalen Ramsey, four-star defensive end Jason Hatcher, four-star offensive guard Khaliel Rodgers, four-star offensive tackle Nico Falah, four-star linebacker Michael Hutchings and four-star wideout Steven Mitchell, will all be on campus. This in itself is an impressive and important group for USC, but seven uncommitted players are expected to visit USC, too. That group includes Placer (Calif.) five-star defensive tackle Eddie Vanderdoes, Miami (Fla.) five-star linebacker Matthew Thomas, Delray (Fla.) four-star linebacker Quinton Powell, Moreno Valley (Calif.) four-star wideout Damore'ea Stringfellow, Mater Dei (Calif.) four-star athlete Thomas Duarte, San Diego (Calif.) four-star athlete Tyree Robinson and San Diego (Calif.) four-star linebacker Tyrell Robinson.
Presenting the War Room
The Commodores will welcome almost their entire class as 18 Dores will be making the visit. Current receiver Jordan Matthews took to Twitter to let everyone know how great this weekend was expected to be and start building excitement. With all of the players ready to Anchor Down, it could be a major selling point to the two uncommitted four-stars who will be on a visit. Coach James Franklin will look to land Ft. Lauderdale (Fla.) University School receiver Jordan Cunningham and Parker (Colo.) Chaparral tight end Mitchell Parsons.
With a loaded group of players in-state for the Class of 2014, it is easy to adjust sights there, but Virginia has a lot of work to do with the Class of 2013 and this could be the most important weekend before signing day for the program. All of the Cavaliers' commitments will be on the ground in Charlottesville, and having all the players interact will make for an interesting development. One of the most important pieces to the puzzle will be four-star cornerback Kirk Garner. The solid commit has taken on the role of recruiter and bonder as he has made a lot of the players already feel like a family.
CavsCorner.com War Room
WASHINGTON STATE: WazzuWatch.com | Visit Dates | Commit List
The Cougars will host 11 players. Six are Wazzu commits, two California pledges, one a Utah commit, and only two are uncommitted players who will hear the sales pitch. The highlight is Romoland (Calif.) Heritage cornerback Darius Allensworth. Allensworth is a four-star player who has been committed to Cal but is interested in seeing what else is out there. He will find out that Washington State may be the polar opposite of UCLA, and if that is what he wants he will certainly enjoy the trip to Pullman.
List grows to 11 on board



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