Fact or Fiction: Francis Mauigoa will stay in the Southeast

Rivals national recruiting analyst Ryan Wright Along with Rivals national recruiting director Adam Gorney, Kelly Quinlan from JacketsOnline.com and Zack Carpenter from ScarletAndGrayReport.com tackle three college football recruiting topics in the Southeast.

1. Francis Mauigoa will play college football in the Southeast.

Francis Mauigoa (Rivals.com)

Wright’s take: FACTS By the time Francis Mauigoa signs his National Letter of Intent he will have spent the last two years of his life in Florida. Each time I have talked to Mauigoa, he always mentions reaching out to his former IMG teammates about the culture of different teams with a big recurring one being Florida. Miami may be in contention with its staff doing a great job recruiting him since their time at Oregon, but the Gators are rolling. It helps that Mauigoa’s offensive line teammate Knijeah Harris just committed to Florida.

Gorney’s take: FICTION. Tennessee is making a serious run and there is no question the Vols have a lot of pull in recruiting right now. Florida could be interesting, and Miami is another school to watch but my guess is that Mauigoa heads back West for college. I’ve been told his family of him, who is from American Samoa, wants him closer so it’s easier to see him play. USC makes a lot of sense especially with a new coaching staff there but watch Oregon, too.

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2. Ohio State will land six or more Rivals250 players from the state of Florida in 2023 class.

Mark Fletcher

Mark Fletcher (Nick Lucero/Rivals.com)

Wright’s take: FICTION. Ohio State running amuck in the Sunshine State is a topic that sways from one week to the next. The thing that has changed in its dominance pulling any 2023 Florida talent it wants is the rise of the Gators and the always heavy influence of the Crimson Tide.

Keeping the rankings as is, there are 37 prospects from Florida ranked in the Rivals250; the Buckeyes have one in running back Mark Fletcher. The plus side, Brandon Inniss and Daemon Fagan may join American Heritage running back teammate Fletcher in Columbus giving three. Damon Wilson is liking Ohio State but has yet to set an official there. Troy Bowles is a good possibility. John Walker’s last official will be to Florida, and he could be joining some other in-state players making the move to Gainesville. Unless something happens otherwise, it feels like Lehigh running back Richard Young is a lean to Alabama.

Carpenter’s take: FACT: Some of this answer hinges on where Ohio State’s four current commits from Florida fall in the rankings by the time they sign. Mark Fletcher is the lone commit in the Rivals250 while Cedrick Hawkins lurks just on the fringe, and Bryson Rodgers and Dijon Johnson are deeper down the list. But if at least two of those three work their way into the top 250 then I feel fully confident here.

I range from great (Brandon Inniss) to really good (Carnell Tate) with where the Buckeyes stand with those five-star receivers, especially following Dylan Raiola’s commitment in the 2024 class. So that would give them five such players if two out of Hawkins, Rodgers and Johnson make a rise. That would leave the Buckeyes with just one more to sign out of the other six guys in the Rivals250 who they have been prioritizing: Richard Young, Damon Wilson, Troy Bowles, John Walker, Daemon Fagan and Keon Keeley (Notre Dame commit).

Bowles and Walker are the ones I feel best about among that group. Both will take official visits to Columbus on the last weekend of June. Young’s recruitment is an Ohio State-Alabama battle, and the Crimson Tide have swung momentum their way. He is tentatively scheduled for an official visit June 24-26. We will see if that visit happens. If it does, the Buckeyes will be fully in the game. Also want to mention: Daniel Harris is well outside the top 250, but he is a guy who hasn’t been talked about a ton who could absolutely end up in Ohio State’s class. He will take an official visit in June. I would not be shocked at all if he winds up as one of the Buckeyes’ three cornerbacks in the class to join Johnson and either Kayin Lee or Christian Gray.

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3. Time to panic for Georgia Tech fans looking at 2023 recruiting class.

Geoff Collins

Geoff Collins (USA Today Sports Images)

Wright’s take: FACTS There are 130 FBS teams and hundreds of top prospects throughout the Southeast, yet Georgia Tech does not have a single verbal commitment. Other programs in the area with at least one commit include South Alabama, Middle Tennessee State, Florida Atlantic (2), Florida A&M, Charlotte (2), and Coastal Carolina. Not in a Power Five conference yet, UCF has six including two four-stars.

Quinlan’s take: FACT: Last August Georgia Tech had a trio of commits already for the 2023 class led by running back Javin Simpkins and defensive end Zachariah Keith as well as safety Javion Clark. That was eight assistant coaches ago and numerous recruiting office staffers ago as well. Geoff Collins had to replace eight of his 10 on-the-field assistant coaches this offseason after firing three and seeing five others leave for other jobs. That clearly put them in a reset mode in recruiting as the new staffers had to both evaluate and build new relationships with recruits.

The football staff also has spent much of the spring and post-spring recruiting period adding players to the 2022 roster via the transfer portal after losing several starters to the transfer portal. Even that process has not been a smooth one with two of the inbound transfers Morris Joseph Jr. (Memphis) and Solomon Byrd (Wyoming) ending up back in the free agent market after initially committing to Tech.

Collins has embraced a hybrid recruiting model that will be a split between high school signees and transfers, but that still doesn’t excuse the lack of a single commitment at this time.

With all of that said, I expect Tech will be the likely landing spot for cornerback Quentin Ajiero, offensive lineman Ethan Mackenny, and safety Kamal Bonner in the near future, but until they are in the boat anything can happen.

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