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Alabama Creating Distance With No. 1 Recruiting Class

September not only represents the turn from summer to fall, but of course it signals the official kickoff of the new football season, particularly at the highest level and in college. 

On the recruiting front, with high schools well underway since August, it could slow decision-making momentum, though prospects making game visits can inch closer to their final commitment. A mix of the two scenarios went down over the last five weeks or so, resulting in key verbal commitments and some shuffle in the updated Sports Illustrated Top 25. 

In the meantime, downturns are to be expected more and more relative to current commitment lists, especially with five college football head coaches already receiving the axe early in the 2022 season. More coaching changes are probably on the way, so the follow-up rankings are likely to feature more fluctuation. 

For now, Nick Saban and company are running away with the top class with top challengers just as busy on the trail. Alabama, Georgia, Florida State and Texas A&M added an SI99 recruit to the fold since the last update. Just 13 members of the preseason list remain undeclared as of the morning of October 5. 

1. Alabama (Ranked No. 1 in September)

Verbal Commitments: 23

SI99 Recruits: 8

The Crimson Tide have been atop these rankings for months and it has begun to create more separation at the top of the list after a big month of September on the trail. Not only did it edge Lone Star State programs for its top uncommitted wide receiver in SI99 selection Jalen Hale, but it bolstered the defensive line with another Texan in emerging talent Jordan Renaud.

2. Ohio State (4)

Verbal Commitments: 20

SI99 Recruits: 7

The Buckeyes stayed put on the verbal commitment list but boost up a couple of spots thanks to the de-commitment bug biting Texas and Notre Dame ahead of it. 

3. Texas (2)

Verbal Commitments: 21

SI99 Recruits: 7

UT lost out on senior-riser and wide receiver commitment Jonah Wilson, while other programs continue to court several Longhorn commitments. The summer boom in Austin will be challenged aplenty down the home stretch.

4. Georgia (5)

Verbal Commitments: 20

SI99 Recruits: 7

The Bulldogs boast another strong class, with clear balance, and it hit on its top need area of late in SI99 wide receiver Tyler Williams despite a late charge from Miami before the Lakeland (Fla.) High School star came off the board in late September. 

5. Notre Dame (3)

Verbal Commitments: 22

SI99 Recruits: 7

The Irish still boast a top-five haul in the nation but losing out on another trench talent once committed, Elijah Paige, pegs the program down from third to fifth overall. 

6. LSU (6)

Verbal Commitments: 22

SI99 Recruits: 4

7. Clemson (7)

Verbal Commitments: 20

SI99 Recruits: 4

8. Oklahoma (8)

Verbal Commitments: 22

SI99 Recruits: 3

9. Miami (9)

Verbal Commitments: 17

SI99 Recruits: 6

10. Tennessee (9)

Verbal Commitments: 21

SI99 Recruits: 5

11. USC (12)

Verbal Commitments: 19

SI99 Recruits: 4

The Trojans have been busy on both ends of the spectrum since the September update, adding plenty in the trenches and losing out on a longtime secondary pledge in Braxton Myers (now committed to Ole Miss). Among the most notable additions is former Notre Dame pledge and offensive tackle Elijah Paige. The line of scrimmage has long been the biggest need for Lincoln Riley’s class of 2023, so addressing it moves USC up near the top 10. 

12. Florida (11)

Verbal Commitments: 20 

SI99 Recruits: 5

13. Oregon (13)

Verbal Commitments: 18

SI99 Recruits: 3

14. Penn State (15)

Verbal Commitments: 20

SI99 Recruits: 2

The Nittany Lions added to the future secondary, a strong need area, in New Yorker Zion Tracy. Penn State holds one of the nation’s biggest defensive back hauls on the verbal commitment list, with a half-dozen prospects on board projected at corner or safety (or both). 

15. South Carolina (14)

Verbal Commitments: 20 

SI99 Recruits: 1

16. Baylor (16)

Verbal Commitments: 25

SI99 Recruits: 1

17. Arkansas (17)

Verbal Commitments: 23

SI99 Recruits: 0

18. North Carolina (18)

Verbal Commitments: 19

SI99 Recruits: 0

The Tar Heels have missed on some top defensive back targets since the spring months, but rebounded in September in the addition of Peach State standout Ty Adams right after his official visit to Chapel Hill.  

19. Florida State (25)

Verbal Commitments: 16

SI99 Recruits: 3

Only 11 programs have more SI99 recruits on board than Mike Norvell’s program, fresh off of that somewhat surprising 4-0 start on the field. The latest win among the nation’s elite came in south Florida, where the Noles won out for big and physical wide receiver Hykeem Williams over the last two national champs as well as the local Miami Hurricanes, among others. To add to the win, the Stranahan High School star announced for FSU with a pair of wide receivers who starred in Tallahassee in Peter Warrick and Snoop Minnis. 

20. Louisville (19)

Verbal Commitments: 15

SI99 Recruits: 1

The Cardinals are struggling on the field, winless in three ACC games right out of the gate, but Scott Satterfield is recruiting above his weight class in the 2023 cycle. UofL features a coast to coast group of pledges and added south Florida wide receiver Cataurus Hicks in September. 10 future Cardinals currently reside in talent-rich Florida or California.

21. Texas Tech (20)

Verbal Commitments: 26

SI99 Recruits: 0

The biggest class on this list got a bit bigger, at a priority position no less, with the Red Raiders dipping outside of state lines for towering Louisiana offensive tackle recruit Tyler Johnson. 

22. Texas A&M (NR)

Verbal Commitments: 12

SI99 Recruits: 3

The Aggies, who of course took the college football world by storm with a runaway No. 1 class last cycle, got out of the gates slow in 2023 but have rebounded well as the season kicked off. Three new pledges are on board, including SI99 in-state star David Hicks, as well as a rare re-commitment in defensive back Bravion Rogers making a second pledge to Jimbo Fisher’s program. 

23. Cincinnati (15)

Verbal Commitments: 21

SI99 Recruits: 0

24. Washington (22)

Verbal Commitments: 19

SI99 Recruits: 0

25. Pitt (23)

Verbal Commitments: 19

SI99 Recruits: 1

The Panthers missed on white whale target Hykeem Williams, and call this great planning, landed fellow wide receiver Daidren Zipperer the very next day. The lengthy pass-catcher is a late riser up the recruiting rankings and it puts a nice bow on one of the stronger wide receiver hauls in the ACC.

Next Five: Duke, Michigan State, Ole Miss, Michigan, Iowa

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