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Rivals Rankings Week: Updates on uncommitted defensive prospects

Denver Harris
Denver Harris (Sam Spiegelman)

The updated 2022 Rivals250 has been released and there is still plenty of recruiting news out there heading into the Early Signing Period next week. Here is a recruiting breakdown of each uncommitted defensive player in the new Rivals250.

RELATED: Updates on uncommitted offensive prospects

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RIVALS RANKINGS WEEK

Saturday: Who should be awarded fifth star?

Sunday: Who should be No. 1?

Monday: Five-Star Countdown | Meet the new five-stars

Tuesday: New Rivals250 revealed | Gorney's thoughts | Who will we regret dropping? | 10 biggest movers

Wednesday: Offensive position rankings | Recruiting updates on all uncommitted offensive players in Rivals250 | Five schools that received boost from new rankings | QB Rankings Spotlight | RB Rankings Spotlight | WR/TE Rankings Spotlight | OL Rankings Spotlight

Thursday: Defensive position rankings | DL Rankings Spotlight

Friday: State rankings

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Alabama, LSU and Texas A&M are battling it out for the five-star cornerback, and the recent feeling is that the Aggies have taken a slight lead. There are still a lot of cornerback dominoes to fall and there is a rumor Alabama has not been talking to Harris as much, but those three seem to be the ones in contention right now.

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There has been a lot going on with James. After decommitting from Florida, it looked like Alabama and Georgia had emerged as the two frontrunners. A new coaching staff in Florida has sparked James’ interest again, and last weekend he took a visit to Texas A&M. The Aggies might be a stretch right now, but the Gators are not. Those three SEC schools are battling hard for him.

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The Florida State legacy definitely has the Seminoles high on his list, along with Alabama and Georgia, but over the last couple days the five-star defensive end visited USC as well. Oklahoma was high on the list, and when Lincoln Riley and defensive coordinator Alex Grinch went over to USC, Jones gained a lot more interest in the Trojans. The feeling is that he stays somewhere in the Southeast, but USC isn’t going down without a fight.

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Alabama and USC are the two finalists, and they are battling for the five-star cornerback. After his decommitment from the Trojans in mid-November, it looked like the Crimson Tide were cruising to the finish line for the Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei recruit. But when USC hired Lincoln Riley and the program’s direction turned on a dime, Jackson got really interested again, visited with other elite recruits Sunday night and now it’s gotten interesting again.

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Texas A&M, LSU and Texas are the top three for Perkins, but it feels like the Aggies and the Tigers have a slight edge heading into the final week. It makes a lot of sense that Perkins will end up in College Station and be part of that incredible defensive haul for Jimbo Fisher, but the new LSU staff is making things even more interesting and he has family connections to the area, plus the five-star linebacker always dreamed of playing for the Tigers.

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Mathews was committed to LSU for about three months, but backed off that pledge in the summer. He could still very well end up picking the Tigers but will almost definitely wait until the late signing period in February. At this point, the battle for the five-star safety will come down to LSU and Texas A&M.

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Georgia has been the team to beat for a long time in Wilson’s recruitment and the Bulldogs still have to like their chances a whole lot, even with Texas A&M trying to make serious inroads over the past few months. It could be something to watch, and it will be interesting to see if new coaches at Florida and Miami make Wilson priority No. 1, but Georgia has been the mainstay here.

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After the hiring of Mario Cristobal at Miami, Stewart said he was making his pick based on the school and not a particular coach. There are two ways to read that, meaning Miami has always been of interest and Cristobal reinforces that, or no changes have been made and the Hurricanes remain a contender but others could be higher. Texas A&M and Georgia are the other schools to watch right now, and he’s shown significant interest in both. All three remain under watch.

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The new Florida staff is making Wiggins a top priority, and the high four-star defensive end has shown a lot of interest in the Gators as well. Florida is definitely a school to watch, but so is LSU since it’s in his hometown, the new coaching staff is now in place and there’s still the fact that most of the elite talent in Louisiana stays home and plays for the Tigers. Others are poking around, but those two in particular should be watched.

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Alabama coach Nick Saban and new Notre Dame coach Marcus Freeman did in-home visits with Lucas in the last few days, and that's a sign that both programs are still being seriously considered by the Scottsdale (Ariz.) Chaparral standout. It will be interesting to see if Miami picks up steam, since he’s a legacy and the new coaching staff could intrigue him, but Texas A&M also needs to be watched closely for sure. The Aggies have always been high on Lucas’ list, and should remain there.

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Unless there is a major surprise in store, all signs point to Ohio State being the team to beat for Curry, and it’s been that way for some time. There are others involved - with a top five of the Buckeyes, Alabama, Clemson, Indiana and Oregon - but the Big Ten power could be leading here by a wide margin.

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Branch’s recruitment feels like it boils down to USC and Ohio State at this point. The Buckeyes have long been considered the team to beat, especially as USC faltered through this season. But the hiring of Lincoln Riley could really be changing things here. This one could still go either way, and it has bigger ramifications because Branch’s brother, Zachariah, is a top 2023 receiver.

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There has been a lot of change among Thomas’ top teams recently. Oklahoma has been a contender but now Lincoln Riley is off to USC. LSU was a contender, but now Brian Kelly is in charge. It’s unclear how new Florida coach Billy Napier feels about the four-star athlete from Niceville, Fla. Georgia Tech has been a serious player because that staff has recruited well but also because his brothers are there, but now one has declared for the NFL. This weekend Thomas plans to visit Florida State, and after all the back and forth there’s a chance he doesn’t sign during the early period.

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Alabama has been the frontrunner for some time for Little and that might not change as the Crimson Tide are targeting some elite cornerbacks to close out their class. But Miami cannot be counted out now. New coach Mario Cristobal has made him a top priority and the Plantation (Fla.) American Heritage standout said the Canes could be inching back in his recruitment. He’s a legacy there. That hasn’t helped so far, but it might be an intriguing situation to watch now.

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Ohio State coach Ryan Day did an in-home with Miller on Tuesday night, but the feeling here is that Georgia is by far the frontrunner for his commitment. After Mykel Williams backed off his pledge from USC and picked Georgia (the two visited the Trojans together this summer), it looked like the Bulldogs would be tough to beat.

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Texas A&M could be far and away the leader now. White is visiting College Station this weekend, the Aggies’ coaching staff has made him a top priority to join an elite haul for this recruiting class and he has some Philadelphia connections to players already on the team. Georgia and others have made the list, but it would be shocking if he didn’t end up at Texas A&M now.

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Ohio State is a school that has been pegged to Abor since early in his recruitment, but Texas A&M is also battling for him and it could be coming down to a two-team battle for the four-star defensive end from Duncanville, Texas. Still, Abor is coy about his recruitment at times, so Alabama, Texas and others could be in the mix.


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One of the top priorities for new Miami coach Mario Cristobal was to visit with Kelly as a sign that the Hurricanes are going to be a top contender for the four-star DE from Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) Dillard. Florida is also a school to watch as new coach Billy Napier has also targeted the South Florida prospect. As this gets later in Kelly’s recruitment, it looks like an in-state battle is brewing for him.

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Alabama, Auburn, Florida and Michigan have been the schools tied to Ausberry the most, but the Gators might have just taken a significant leap forward. It’s still unclear if Florida is now the team to beat, but the hiring of assistant coach Corey Raymond from LSU could make the Gators very attractive to Ausberry.


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Barham has stayed incredibly quiet throughout his recruitment, but in the final weeks before signing day three schools especially started to stand out: South Carolina, Penn State and Maryland. All three still have a chance with the Baltimore St. Frances standout, but the Gamecocks could have a slight edge.

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Alabama and LSU could be duking it out for the four-star athlete from Shreveport (La.) Captain Shreve, but it was big earlier in the week that Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban visited Law’s school. Florida State and Texas, among others, could be right in the mix as well. Law doesn’t say much, so it’s hard to know for sure, but this could be a heavyweight SEC battle.

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The four-star safety from Bradenton (Fla.) IMG Academy almost didn’t make this list because he was committed to Clemson since mid-July, but he backed off his pledge in recent days. That decision came shortly after a big visit to Michigan, and the Wolverines are definitely a major contender in his recruitment. But Clemson and others are also pursuing the four-star who remains open in his recruitment.

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Arizona State, Alabama and Oregon were the three favorites Moss announced on Nov. 19, but since that time so much has changed. He recently had a meeting with then-Oregon coach Mario Cristobal, but he’s off to Miami so Moss is watching closely to see who gets that job. Arizona State continues to be a serious option, and new USC coach Lincoln Riley and assistant Alex Grinch met with him and now the Trojans are a contender.


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The four-star defensive end from Baltimore St. Frances had been committed to Oklahoma since July 4, but after the Lincoln Riley news hit Moore reopened his recruitment and now some new teams have emerged. He’s expected to visit Ole Miss over the next few days and then Michigan over the weekend, although he is also a priority target for Riley at USC now as well.

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Auburn could be a real contender here after Perry had some really positive things to say about the Tigers recently, but the feeling is that Alabama still holds the edge for the Montgomery (Ala.) Pike Road four-star defensive tackle. Clemson recently had an in-home with Perry as well, but this looks like a situation where Alabama now really wants the four-star and is probably still the favored school.

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Ohio State has been a school pegged to Kanu for some time, and the Buckeyes remain a major contender along with Oklahoma, Notre Dame and Georgia. But there is potentially some change here, because USC is trying to convince the Rancho Santa Margarita (Calif.) Santa Margarita Catholic standout to stay close to home. Originally from Germany, Kanu does not have deep roots in California, but Lincoln Riley and his staff are making the pitch, although the Buckeyes and Sooners seem to have the edge right now.

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A Notre Dame commitment from July 4 to the end of November, the Irish remain in the picture here with the Brian Kelly news settling down and former defensive coordinator Marcus Freeman getting the job. But Florida is the team to watch here as the in-home visit was expected and the Naples, Fla., four-star cornerback is planning an official visit to Gainesville this weekend.

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Mississippi State is emerging as the frontrunner for the four-star defensive end from Crystal Springs, Miss., especially after a recent visit to Starkville, and now the Bulldogs might be tough to beat. Ole Miss is also there, along with others, but after decommitting from a four-month commitment to Florida State the word was Williams wanted to be closer to home, so Mississippi State makes a lot of sense.

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An Oregon commit since late June, Dudley backed off that pledge when Mario Cristobal left for Miami, but his relationship with position coach Ken Wilson was the strongest, so if Wilson stays in Eugene then the Ducks aren’t out of it. However, a lot of Southeast schools have come in focus, with Alabama, Auburn, Tennessee, Florida and Texas leading the way. A Miami coach has also reached out since Cristobal got the job. With so much happening, it’s expected Dudley waits to announce until February.

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There are some prospects that like to talk about their recruitment. And then there are some who almost never talk, and Pearce falls into the latter category as the Charlotte (N.C.) Chambers standout likes to keep things very close to the vest. But South Carolina, Tennessee, Georgia, Louisville and others have been in the mix, and in this case a surprise school popping up wouldn’t be shocking.

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Miami, Indiana, South Carolina, Ohio State and Texas A&M were the top five for James in mid-November, and while there are some fluid situations there, those have been the main teams the Bradenton (Fla.) IMG Academy standout mentioned throughout his recruitment. There is not a really good read on what James is thinking at this point in his recruitment.