FOX Sports College Football Analyst
Welcome to “Run Smash with RJ Young,” a weekly notes column filled with nuggets, anecdotes and statistics from FOX Sports’ lead national college football analyst. Let’s go deep.
1. oklahoma i Texas are charging ahead of their final season of big 12 play and pushing towards the SEC.
Oklahoma and Texas landed a top-five recruiting class, a five-star QB, a five-star LB and more top-tier recruits than Ohio State. In fact, only Alabama and UGA put together better 2023 classes than Texas, and only those three put together better classes than Oklahoma (per 247 sports).
Oklahoma’s 2023 recruiting class ranks fourth in the nation, ahead of Ohio State, LSU, USC, Tennessee and others. And this is after a losing season. Texas followed up its 2021 season with a top-three recruiting class, giving the Longhorns five consecutive top-five recruiting classes.
That also means all Texas has to show to get Bijan Robinson, Jordan Whittington, Casey Thompson, Jake Smith, Xavier Worthy and Quinn Ewers is an Alamo Bowl win against Colorado and a close game against Alabama against a sold out crowd at the Forty. Acres. So if you’re here to make the annual joke about the return of Texas, or Oklahoma, you are, you are on time.
As for me? I will raise two quotes attributed to America’s favorite rancher, John Dutton:
“This is America. We don’t share land.” And the Big 12 has belonged to Oklahoma since its inception.
“Everyone has forgotten who runs this valley.” Time for Oklahoma to remind people that there is only one Oklahoma.
The 5 Most Influential Perspectives
RJ Young includes Texas’ Arch Manning, Colorado’s Cormani McClain and Oklahoma’s Jackson Arnold among his most influential signees.
2. The most influential high school prospects in the Class of 2023 are:
- Nebraska WR Malachi Coleman
He’s 6-foot-4, 190 pounds, runs the 100 meters in 10.46 seconds and was on the podium in the 100, 200 and triple jump at the Nebraska state championships. There is a video circulating of him hitting his head on the backboard while running for a block in the middle of a basketball game for Lincoln East.
That’s not all.
Nearly 60 percent of his catches ended with six scores, and he averaged 33 yards per catch as a junior. He also recorded 57 tackles, 7.5 sacks and four forced fumbles that same season.
The craziest thing about all of this is that he entered a Nebraska summer camp as an unknown in 2021 and left without an offer from Scott Frost’s staff. Matt Rhule had to work overtime to get him, especially after Coach Prime confronted him, as the No. 1 player in the state.
he he said 247 Sports Saying no to Coach Prime “was like saying no to God.” Score one for Rhule in Nebraska.
- South Carolina Edge/TE Nyckole Harbour
He ran the 200 meters in 20.79 and the 100 in 10.28, at 6-foot-5, 225. His father played for the United States men’s national soccer team. He comes off the line of scrimmage like a shot gun, hunts the quarterback like a hungry lion and hits and hits, like Clubber Lang.
Comp? Rashan Gary. He is so good.
- Five-star tight end Duce Robinson
The race to sign him isn’t over yet, as he announced on National Signing Day that he was delaying his decision. The nation’s top tight end made in-home visits with USC coach Lincoln Riley and Georgia coach Kirby Smart.
Riley is certainly trying to sell him on being Arizona’s next great tight end since Mark Andrews, the Pro Bowler he turned from big to Mackey Award-winning tight end. Smart can sell him to be the next great West Coast tight end since Brock Bowers, who was the best receiver on the best team in the country last season. Robinson, a native of Phoenix, is also a top professional baseball prospect and could hear his name called in the upcoming MLB Draft this year.
The Los Angeles Dodgers liked him enough to ask him to participate in a private workout along with other prospects last month. His makeup is Aaron Judge, if Aaron Judge had caught 84 passes for 1,614 yards and 14 TDs en route to a state title appearance at Pinnacle, the same high school that produced Spencer Rattler.
- Five-star Oklahoma QB Jackson Arnold
2022 Elite 11 MVP, MaxPreps Player of the Year, National Gatorade Player of the Year. He started 31 games. He won 28 of those games. As a senior, he threw for 3,476 yards, rushed for 921 and totaled 57 TDs.
He’s the most decorated quarterback to sign with Oklahoma since Kyler Murray, and he could be the change agent the Sooners desperately need in the Brent Venables era.
- Five-star Colorado CB Cormani McClain
Along with Travis Hunter, secondary guru and defensive coordinator Charles Kelly, and the best cornerback to ever live in Coach Prime, we look forward to the formation of Voltron on defense in Boulder.
He has the speed and length to take away your #1 WR the second he steps on campus. And it will only get better.
McClain’s compensation? Tariq Woolen of the Seattle Seahawks.
- Five-star Texas QB Arch Manning
He’s the biggest name in recruiting this year and has a battle ahead of him with starter Quinn Ewers. His game will have to be strong to reach his first overall ranking, given that people will still be skeptical because he didn’t play football in high school, and his father, uncles and grandfather, for whom is. called — form the first family of football. But don’t get it wrong. The bow can throw it.
3. Who will Nick Saban hire to run his offense and defense?
It’s not uncommon for Saban to lose assistants to other jobs. In fact, Tuscaloosa is one of the best incubators of college football coaches in modern history.
His offensive coordinator was Lane Kiffin, who is the head coach at Ole Miss. His defensive coordinator was Kirby Smart, who has won two national titles at Georgia. Their offensive coach was Mario Cristobal, who is the head coach of Miami. His wide receivers coach was Billy Napier, who is the head coach at Florida. His defensive coach was Mel Tucker, who is the head coach at Michigan State. And Dan Lanning was a grad assistant on that staff, and he’s the head coach at Oregon.
There’s a reason people like Butch Jones, Derek Dooley, Todd Grantham, Charlie Strong and Steve Sarkisian have worked for Saban as analysts, which is a job similar to a grad assistant with a better stipend.
With former offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien returning to New England to fill the same role with the Patriots, and former defensive coordinator Pete Golding filling the same role at Ole Miss, there is no small number of suitors for to any of the jobs.
And while there are names that include Jim Leonhard, Joe Brady, Charles Kelly, Freddie Kitchens and even Jeremy Pruitt as potential candidates, the real question is what Saban’s future plan is with another recruiting class top tier and heading into a season that features a bona fide QB derby?
Whether Saban hires from the inside or outside for both or neither position will tell us a lot about the future of the Tide in the coming years, especially who might be in the best position to succeed him when the time comes.
4. It is Jalen hurts a student from Oklahoma or Alabama?
Who do you think should claim Hurts for the Super Bowl: Oklahoma or Alabama?
I asked that question on Twitter after Hurts led the Philadelphia Eagles to the Super Bowl, where he will join Patrick Mahomes in the first Super Bowl to feature two black quarterbacks. That’s a far cry from when then-Alabama OC Brian Daboll benched Hurts at halftime of the 2017 national title game in favor of Tua Tagovailoa.
Hurts also brought the Tide back with less than five to play in an SEC title game they would lose to UGA a year later after riding the bench as a senior. And Saban loved him enough to tell him to go where they had the best offense, and that was OU.
At OU in 2019, Hurts had the biggest comeback win of my life in a win at Baylor, led that team to the College Football Playoff and finished as the Heisman runner-up. While in Norman, Hurts made it clear he liked OU, but his heart is in Alabama.
Alabama or Oklahoma: Who Can Claim Jalen Hurts?
RJ Young shares his thoughts on Jalen Hurts’ history with both the Crimson Tide and Sooners.
OU fans might say they should have more of a claim on him because OU (Lincoln Riley) never benched him. That meant a lot more after Riley benched Spencer Rattler in the middle of a shootout against Texas in 2021 for the player who would win the 2022 Heisman Trophy: Caleb Williams.
Fans might rather want to believe that Hurts played angry to hurt Alabama, but in reality, he just wanted to play. And he honored both programs when he wore both schools’ insignias to the Senior Bowl.
But the privilege of claiming it goes to Alabama because he graduated there and is therefore an alum. He enrolled and took classes for a master’s degree at OU, but did not finish.
That’s par for the course when prospects prepare for the NFL Draft each April. For example, Stetson Bennett, who turns 26 in what would be his rookie season in the NFL, has yet to graduate from Georgia, though he is in schedule do it with a degree in economics in May.
RJ Young is a national college football writer and analyst for FOX Sports and the host of “The Number One College Football Show” podcast. Follow him on Twitter at @RJ_Young and subscribe to “The RJ Young Show” on YouTube.
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