The first whole week of the college football season is complete and there were plenty of storylines that happened from a recruiting standpoint. Here are 10 that stood out to Rivals national recruiting director Adam Gorney in this week’s Tuesdays With Gorney:
COLORADO’S WIN OVER TCU WILL ONLY HELP RECRUITING
No one really knew what to expect from Colorado in the season opener but the Buffaloes played incredibly well. It was really fun to watch, whether it was QB Shedeur Sanders, RB Dylan Edwards or star two-way player Travis Hunter as Colorado beat TCU, 45-42, in Fort Worth.
I don’t know if Colorado “shocked the college football world” since the Buffs do have an extraordinary collection of talent like Fox analyst Gus Johnson said and coach Deion Sanders was pretty braggadocious after the game but he deserved to be a little bit.
Top prospects are raving about Colorado’s season opener, everybody across college football is talking about it and the Buffaloes look well-coached on both sides of the ball. Dynamic playmakers were everywhere.
The next few weeks should be feel-good games against Nebraska and Colorado State and then reality might hit against Oregon and USC. But either way this was a phenomenal start and it should only boost recruiting – in the high school ranks and the portal.
USC’S OFFENSE MIGHT BE UNSTOPPABLE
I don’t want to sound hyperbolic because USC pounced on two weaklings in San Jose State and Nevada but the Trojans’ offense might have so many weapons all over the field that not many defenses will have much success slowing it down.
In two games, USC has scored 122 points. Last season, for the entire season, UMass had 150. Northwestern had 165. Colorado totaled 185.
Heisman front-runner and probable No. 1 NFL Draft pick Caleb Williams has already thrown for 597 yards and nine touchdowns. Eleven receivers have multiple catches in two games. Five-stars Zachariah Branch and Duce Robinson are coming into form and many others are almost as electric.
The Trojans have flooded the zone with elite playmakers and recruits have noticed. Who wouldn’t want to be next in coach Lincoln Riley’s offense. The bigger question: Does anyone on USC’s schedule have the horses to keep up with the offensive firepower? There are some legit defenses on the schedule but this offense could be really special.
FLORIDA FALLS FLAT
Billy Napier and his staff deserve a lot of credit for their recruiting efforts so far with the third-ranked class in the country behind Georgia and Ohio State. But one wonders if he’ll be around long enough to coach the elite players he has committed at this point.
People in Gainesville turn on coaches quickly and after back-to-back 6-7 seasons (only one under Napier) the fans there are very, very restless. Florida’s dreary performance in a 24-11 loss at Utah to open the season won’t help to calm any nerves.
The Gators have many problems: Not enough playmakers, not enough tweaked-up athletes on the defensive line, DBU gave up a 70-yard touchdown bomb on Utah’s first offensive play to a third-string quarterback. It was ugly.
There is a lot of young talent on the roster and a phenomenal 2024 class is being put together. Napier is incredibly competent and has had success wherever he goes but things didn’t look great in the opener. There are many problems to solve – one of them is to keep this group of recruits locked in.
FLORIDA STATE COULD BE HEADED TO THE PLAYOFF
Four-star quarterback commit Luke Kromenhoek said he’s been telling people to get on the train because it takes off. Five-star defensive lineman Armondo Blount said FSU’s energy was off the charts. Many others had really positive things to say as coach Mike Norvell has this thing going the right way and with the right momentum.
LSU coach Brian Kelly said before the game, “We’re going to go beat the heck out of Florida State.” The heck you will.
HUNTER SHOWS WHY HE WAS NO. 1
Travis Hunter was such a phenomenal and unique athlete in high school that we chose to make him No. 1 in the 2022 class but there was some debate late in the process because he was sort of positionless. That has turned into a strength because he proved in the Colorado season opener that he’s elite at cornerback and receiver.
It was also a class without another clear No. 1 and if there was a learning lesson from Hunter it’s to take the elite athlete, someone who looks like he plays the game on a Pogo stick and hope for the best. I don’t know if Hunter is going to win the Heisman like coach Deion Sanders is talking about but being an early first-round pick looks like more of a reality.
LOSING TO WYOMING MIGHT NOT HELP WITH HUDSON
It was only one game (with Oregon next) but Texas Tech had no business losing to Wyoming on Saturday night – and honestly the Red Raiders had no business even scheduling that game. Laramie is a tough place to play at elevation and it was a trap the whole way.
Five-star receiver Micah Hudson was expected to commit to Texas Tech months ago and while it still hasn’t happened (as Texas A&M and to an extent Texas have tried to stay involved) the Red Raiders still look to be in great shape. After all, even in a loss, the Red Raiders threw for 338 yards and three touchdowns and the fast-paced offense fits Hudson perfectly.
But in losing to Wyoming, Texas Tech did itself no favors. Oregon is next. If Hudson starts getting the sense Texas Tech isn’t turning the corner – or opposing coaches are planting that bug – then what looked like nearly a sure thing getting the five-star on board could become a whole lot more challenging.
UIAGALELEI: MAYBE IT WAS THE CLEMSON OFFENSE
This offseason, D.J. Uiagalelei, who transferred from Clemson to Oregon State, called the Tigers’ offense “very basic” and told The Athletic he didn’t like what they were doing scheme-wise there, part of an explanation as to why he struggled in that offense and hadn’t lived up to his five-star billing.
Maybe he was right.
Yes, it was against San Jose State but Uiagalelei just looked more comfortable in the Oregon State system, completing 20 of 25 passes for 239 yards and three touchdowns over the weekend. He should put up gaudy numbers against UC Davis before the schedule gets a little tougher along the way.
Uiagalelei has the size and the arm talent to be special. It’s why he was a five-star quarterback. So maybe a fresh start in a revamped offensive system is just what he needed.
And did anyone catch that Clemson offense on Monday night?
IS NOLAND THE ANSWER AT OHIO STATE?
Maybe Ryan Day didn’t want to show all his cards and knows there are much bigger fish to fry coming up on the schedule but, I don’t know, Ohio State’s offense looked out of sync in its boring 23-3 win over Indiana on Saturday.
And it starts with the quarterback play.
Kyle McCord went 20 of 33 for 239 yards and an interception and Devin Brown was 1 of 3 for minus-2 yards. Marvin Harrison had two catches for 18 yards. Emeka Egbuka had three for 16. Potential NFL first-round locks like Harrison and Egbuka want the ball and they want big stats. Five-star freshman Carnell Tate had one catch for 12 yards.
It was one game so I’m not jumping to any major conclusions yet. Day could have been keeping his leash on the big dogs until he needs to let them go. But this quarterback spot looks wide open for disruption with five-star lefty Air Noland coming to Columbus after this season.
The most popular guy on the team is the backup quarterback, but how about the five-star high school kid who’s about to arrive on campus?
THE SHOCK OF WHAT’S HAPPENED TO JT DANIELS
After following his entire high school career (and before that even) and now seeing what’s happened to JT Daniels is almost shocking in some ways. After Trevor Lawrence, Justin Fields and Amon-Ra St. Brown in the 2018 recruiting class, the former Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei five-star quarterback looked destined for greatness.
Instead, it has been anything but in his college career.
What’s strange is that every single obstacle has been placed in front of him. He won the starting job at USC as only the second true freshman ever but then after an injury lost the position to Kedon Slovis.
Daniels transferred to Georgia where Dwan Mathis earned the starting spot but after he struggled and Stetson Bennett got hurt, Daniels came in and threw for 401 yards and four touchdowns against Mississippi State to earn the starting position. But then an injury sidelined him the next season, Bennett got the job and the rest is history.
Then Daniels transferred to West Virginia but got benched by midseason. Now he’s the Rice quarterback and just doesn’t look himself anymore going 14 of 26 for a touchdown and two picks. Here and there are flashes of the five-star brilliance but injuries, the COVID year and just downright bad luck sidetracked his career immensely.
EWERS COULD BACK UP FIVE-STAR RANKING WITH SO MANY WEAPONS
USC quarterback Caleb Williams should have been the No. 1 player in the 2021 class – not sixth overall – and North Carolina QB Drake Maye at No. 147 overall was a miss. But Texas QB Quinn Ewers could prove his five-star ranking was not a miss, especially with so many weapons in this Texas offense.
This weekend is going to be a huge step for Ewers and the Longhorns as they head to Alabama. This won’t be Rice anymore. Ewers was strong in the opener, completing 19 of 30 passes for 260 yards and three touchdowns.
The Longhorns can throw it, run it and coach Steve Sarkisian has weapons all over the field including Ewers, who has the ability to be special. Now he has the platform to prove it.