Rivals national recruiting director Adam Gorney and national recruiting analyst Adam Friedman along with Ryan O’Bleness of SpartansIllustrated.com and Sean Williams of PowerMizzou.com tackle three topics and determine whether they believe each statement is FACT or FICTION.
1. Julian Sayin should overtake Dylan Raiola as the No. 1 QB in the 2024 class.
Gorney’s take: FACT. Convincing me that Julian Sayin is the No. 1 quarterback in the class is getting easier. The Alabama commit just doesn’t make mistakes. He is playing easier competition but he’s also surrounded by fewer elite players whereas Dylan Raiola has five-star KJ Bolden, Jordan Allen and other playmakers in the Buford offense.
What’s so special about Sayin, though, is that he was just as good or better throughout the Elite 11 than Raiola and getting caught up in Raiola’s physical attributes might not be enough anymore to keep him No. 1. Nothing is settled and there is still a long way to go through the season and the all-star events to make changes but right now I’m slightly leaning toward Sayin.
Friedman’s take: FACT. The Raiola vs. Sayin discussion has been ongoing since the spring and it will continue to come up as the end of the rankings cycle nears. This is a really tough question to answer right now because both prospects are just a few games into their senior season so there’s a lot to still unfold throughout the rest of this year but, if I had to choose today, I’d pick Sayin.
Physically, Raiola is a bit bigger and stronger than Sayin, who certainly isn’t small. Raiola was considered the more athletic of the two early in the evaluation process but Sayin has improved dramatically in that area. Neither have glaring mechanical or footwork issues and each have the raw talent to make any throw asked of them. However, the edge in on-field performance goes to Sayin (just five games into this season). He’s completed nearly 80-percent of his passes this year which makes sense because it seems like he just never misses the easy pass. Sayin will feel pressure from a defender or get flushed out of the pocket and immediately deliver an accurate and catchable ball to his checkdown. His timing with his receivers is outstanding and it’s clear he understands how and when to throw with touch.
2. From a recruiting and team perspective, Brian Hartline is the best candidate at Michigan State.
Gorney’s take: FACT. I could get behind Mike Elko. He’s done a phenomenal job at Duke. And Jonathan Smith is a great coach who’s done wonders at Oregon State but that might be the perfect situation for him. You want a coach who’s going to bring excitement to Michigan State to compete with Michigan for some in-state kids and who has the reputation to go across the Midwest for skill players? Then bring in Brian Hartline.
He has stacked five-star upon five-star at Ohio State and his recruiting prowess is well-known. Current Ohio State commit Mylan Graham told me this summer that he would seriously consider following Hartline if he got a head coaching job and Michigan State is a big enough name to intrigue Graham and others.
Michigan is rolling. Ohio State is rolling. Penn State is among those highest-end programs now. Michigan State needs a jumpstart, not a run-of-the-mill recycled head coach from somewhere else. Hartline is from the Midwest, he played and coached in the Midwest, and he has NFL experience. It’s a risky choice but maybe the Spartans need to think a little differently here to get back to national prominence.
O’Bleness’ take: FICTION. I’m obligated to answer one of two ways here, so I went with fiction. Still, that wouldn’t be an entirely accurate depiction of my thoughts on Brian Hartline as Michigan State’s potential next head coach. So, if the question was strictly related to recruiting, I might have gone with fact. There is no denying what Hartline has done as a recruiter with the Buckeyes, and there is a reason why he is touted as one of the best recruiters in the country, if not the best. He has signed at least one five-star wide receiver in three of the past four classes and has another one committed in the 2024 cycle in Jeremiah Smith. That’s not even mentioning the plethora of four-star talent he’s brought in as well. And by all accounts, his players seem to play hard for him once they arrive on campus. Hartline appears to build strong bonds with his players on and off the field. In this regard, he would be an absolute home-run hire.
But, keep in mind that is just one positional group, and there are built-in advantages to recruiting to a national powerhouse like Ohio State versus a lesser program like Michigan State. With that said, I would expect Hartline to be able to recruit anywhere, but expecting him to keep that same level in East Lansing instead of Columbus would be foolish.
Many Michigan State fans would be thrilled if Hartline got the job as an exciting up-and-comer who is an extremely gifted recruiter and motivator. He is likely going to make an excellent head coach one day, but is he ready to lead a whole program now? I’m not sure. He’s only 36 years old and is a mere three games into his first season as an offensive coordinator (an offense in which head coach Ryan Day still largely seems to have control over). There is a lot more to being a head coach and running an entire program than recruiting and coaching wide receivers specifically.
Additionally, Hartline has also publicly expressed his desire to coach in the NFL. The college coaching game is a constant grind in an ever-changing landscape. Is that something Hartline sees his future in? Right now, Michigan State needs somebody who can stabilize the program. Somebody like Duke’s Mike Elko immediately comes to mind because he has already shown the ability to turn around a struggling program in a short amount of time.
3. Texas all but locked up five-star WR Ryan Wingo on his visit there last weekend.
Gorney’s take: FICTION. It might be a tad premature to say Texas has Ryan Wingo locked up but the reports coming out of Austin after the five-star receiver visited there last weekend were really, really positive for the Longhorns. The St. Louis (Mo.) University standout continues to show interest in Missouri though and that coaching staff has pulled out some major recruiting victories with Luther Burden, Williams Nwaneri and others. So I’m just not ready yet to count out the Tigers for Wingo’s commitment. The longer Wingo waits, though, the tougher it might be for Missouri since November starts with Georgia, Tennessee and Florida and reality might set in. There are plenty of recruitments that have shown wins and losses might not matter, unless coach Eli Drinkwitz is on the hot seat by late in the season.
Williams’ take: FICTION. While I do consider Texas the favorite to land Wingo at this point in time, “locked up” isn’t a phrase I would use just yet. The five-star wide receiver is expected to be on the sidelines for Missouri’s “home” game against Memphis in St. Louis at The Dome this upcoming weekend. So, the Tigers will get their chance to extend their wave of momentum after knocking off then-No. 15 Kansas State over the weekend. Former five-star wide receiver Luther Burden starred in Missouri’s big win, hauling in seven catches for 114 yards and two scores. If Burden continues to shine in Missouri’s offense and the Tigers continue to pile up wins, it will definitely give Wingo a lot more to think about.