MIRAMAR, Florida — More than 40 of the top 18U 7-on-7 club teams in the country traveled to South Florida for the first major Battle tournament of the year, and future college football stars were there almost every time.
Among the rosters that stretch from coast to coast, filled with recruits in the class of 2023, 2024 and even beyond, it didn’t take long to realize why so many are already coveted by the most recognizable coaches in the collegiate game.
Illustrated Sports was in attendance and provides an overview of the very latest hiring news on the top prospects present, with a focus on the emerging senior class of 2023.
QB Dante Moore, Detroit (Mich.) Martin Luther King
As you navigated through 10 playing fields at once, it was hard to miss the Midwest’s most well-known quarterback recruit. Moore admitted that the region’s programs are some he is most familiar with, including Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State, Penn State and Notre Dame, but admits that programs from outside the footprint are still very much alive in the race. . LSU, Tennessee and several other coaching staff try to court the righthander with an easy hit.
Moore says he is in no rush to make a verbal commitment, especially after some coaching changes from the end of the 2021 season. Brian Kelly’s move from South Bend to Baton Rouge, in particular, could have a strong effect on the favorites of Moore. Official spring visits are probably for one of the most coveted passers-by in the class.
DB Cormani McClain, Lakeland (Fla.) Lake Gibson
The Polk County two-way star was one of seemingly hundreds of potential clients to visit Mario Cristobal and Miami while in the area. It was the first impression of the new head coach’s tall cornerback and he reports a “cool” disposition with the head Hurricane. Oregon, Cristobal’s former program, could also get McClain on campus before the end of the month, though the date and travel are yet to be 100% confirmed. With offers from across the country, the top defensive recruit in the class of 2023 is likely hoping to continue making recruiting visits before making an in-season verbal commitment.
“Alabama, Michigan, Ohio State, Oklahoma, and Florida” were later listed as possible official visiting destinations.
RB Rueben Owens, El Campo (Texas) High School
Owens, a versatile Lone Star State back, spent a lot of time this weekend at wide receiver in Miami competing with the Louisiana Bootleggers. Showing off the well-rounded game, Owens is as focused on his development as he is looking forward to evaluating his top five options – Georgia, Alabama, Texas, Texas A&M and USC. The junior has already visited every finalist and has plans to return to most of them before the process is completed.
Working in the form of a Joe Mixon-type talent who was 6′, 200 pounds or so tall, Owens was once committed to Texas, but his first recruiting visit went to Lincoln Riley and Oklahoma (at the time). National champion Georgia will have him on campus next weekend and Alabama will receive him again in the spring, probably in March, he says. A decision could fall this summer.
“I think before the season starts,” Owens said.
QB Nico Iamaleava, Downey (Calif.) Warren
The longest passer to participate in the event was also one of the best and many college programs know it. Cristobal and Miami hosted the 6’6″ QB at multiple points over the weekend and the first impression of the new coach went well as Iamaleava spilled his energy during the encounter. Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee and Oregon were named as the most consistent of interest his way, but many more visits and experiences will become part of the recruiting story this off-season.There is no set timeline for a decision yet, although development will be the main factor in creating a pecking order.
WR Jalen Brown, Miami (Fla.) Gulliver Prep
A smooth wide-out with a national list of offers, Brown seems more focused on his game than where he might play next year. Track-and-field is also pretty tough on his mind these days, notably improving a strong 10.66-second 100m sprint time. When it comes to visiting plans, Brown is looking to get out of the region when he has the time this off-season, citing “Texas, Texas A&M, LSU, Oregon” as possible destinations. Some of those programs are among the programs that court the most juniors, although in-state programs Miami and Florida State, along with Alabama, also insist on face time. Brown didn’t focus on a time of year when asked about plans to make a verbal commitment.
WR Makai Lemon, Los Alamitos (Calif.) High School
Lemon is one of the smoothest and most athletic wide receivers in the country. The Southern California commitment went better than most while navigating the muddy and slippery field conditions over the weekend. Most importantly, Lemon showed a clear understanding of when and where to line up defensive backs with breaks in his routes, how to change speeds to add an advantage, and when to go for football at the right time. .
He once changed his mind while recruiting because he was initially committed to Oklahoma, but Lemon is determined. “Yeah, I’m fine with SC,” he said.
CB Ryan Robinson Jr., New Orleans (La.) Edna Karr
Another top performer who lived up to the recruitment hype, Robinson also saw Miami this weekend. The Hurricanes is one of several programs trying to rank higher on the defensive backs list than the public narrowing of favorites. Some of Robinson’s offerings include Florida State, Colorado, Kentucky, Nebraska, Indiana, Arkansas, Georgia Tech, Auburn, and Louisville.
“I really didn’t make a top five, I just weigh everything,” he said. “I am interested in all schools that are interested in me.”
DB Amare Snowden, Roseville (Mich.) High School
Snowden, a towering secondary talent at six feet, 190 pounds or so, showed range all weekend and it’s part of the reason he’s being recruited into different positions depending on the program. He prefers defense despite widespread interest from the receivers, so the debate can be all over safety and security. Snowden said he was in the early stages of his recruiting and that he was still considering “everyone” who has jumped on the scholarship offer list.
WR Aidan Mizell, Orlando (Fla.) Boone
One of the hottest recruits in Florida, Mizell’s speed and height flashed during the two-day Battle event. He is a budding prospect, and his ability to stretch the field would be his greatest asset. Not many 6’2″, 180-pound players cover ground like he does. That’s why Georgia, Kentucky, Alabama, UCF, West Virginia, Penn State, Wake Forest, and Utah are all comprehensive offerings.
When asked if he would be going to the Pylon tournament in Kissimmee, Florida next week, Mizell looked at his mother and said, “Maybe we’re going to Bama?” The Crimson Tide offered the junior last week.
WR Semaj Morgan, West Bloomfield (Mich.) High School
A December verbal bond with Michigan local, Morgan wore UM gloves and cleats as he worked on the lock this weekend. Keeping an eye on the Jim Harbaugh-to-the-NFL rumors, the junior says he’s committed to the program and not necessarily the head coach. Still, other programs continue to court the compact prospect, including Ole Miss, Missouri and Miami. The Rebels are arguably the biggest threat when things change, in terms of perseverance.
“They’re really trying to fool me, like in real life,” Morgan said.
Brian Smith contributed to this report.