Three-Point Stance: Dante Moore, QB questions, Billy Napier
All the quarterback commits and dominoes have Rivals national recruiting director Adam Gorney thinking a lot about the position. That, and some questions about the top guys and more in this today’s Three-Point Stance.
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1. READING THE MOORE TEA LEAVES
Arch Manning’s decision to pick Texas is not a surprise since it was down to the Longhorns, Georgia and Alabama, but it’s still huge news for many reasons. First among those is, Steve Sarkisian beat Nick Saban and Kirby Smart for the nation’s No. 1 player.
Texas had a losing season in Sarkisian’s first year while Georgia won the national title. But Manning loved his relationships with Sarkisian and position coach AJ Milwee. There was just a different comfort level in Austin than anywhere else.
With Manning off the board, the only five-star quarterback left to make his decision is Detroit (Mich.) Martin Luther King’s Dante Moore. Reading the tea leaves might give a really healthy indication where that recruitment is headed as well.
Moore visited Oregon this past weekend and by all indications is very serious about the Ducks. He’s also now very serious about Michigan after another recent visit there where he had more in-depth conversations with co-OC/QB coach Matt Weiss.
Let’s look at some of the other programs connected to Moore. Notre Dame doesn’t make as much sense anymore after the commitment of 2024 high four-star CJ Carr. If Texas A&M thought it had a chance then why are the Aggies going so hard after Baylor commit Austin Novosad? If LSU did, then why did the Tigers just offer four-star Brock Glenn?
This feels like it’s coming down to Michigan and Oregon. The safe bet would be the Wolverines since it’s up the road and he could be the hometown hero. But Moore seems really intrigued by the Ducks and what coach Dan Lanning is building there. A two-team race looks likely now.
2. ONE QUESTION ABOUT TOP QB COMMITS
Watching the craziness of the transfer portal, especially at the quarterback position since last season – Spencer Rattler to South Carolina, Caleb Williams to USC, Jayden Daniels to LSU and on and on and on – has me thinking about this 2022 recruiting class.
Not to be Debbie Downer but the reality is some of these quarterback commits – perhaps many of them – will not end their careers at the school they’ve now chosen for any number of reasons from playing time, to coach fit, to NIL deals, to whatever else.
With the quarterback position top of mind this week following Arch Manning’s commitment to Texas, I want to take a look at the high-level quarterback commits in this class and offer one question about each as they enter their senior seasons ahead of going to college.
Arch Manning: This all comes down to expectations. There was insane hype around Quinn Ewers but for Manning it’s off the charts. First, Manning might have to wait behind Ewers in Austin but then what happens if Texas is struggling a little bit or Ewers isn’t as sharp as expected and there’s tons of pressure to put Manning in the game? The question of how Sarkisian handles his five-star quarterbacks is a good problem to have but might not have a perfect solution.
Malachi Nelson: The recent history of highly rated USC quarterbacks is not good. Yes, that was under a different coaching staff that might have been in way over their heads and Lincoln Riley has a phenomenal track record at the position. But it’s still something to consider. Jaxson Dart - gone. JT Daniels - gone. Kedon Slovis - gone. Jack Sears - gone. Other than a few names over the years, high-profile USC quarterbacks have not panned out. By no means does that mean Nelson is following that path but it’s something to watch.
Nico Iamaleava: If Hendon Hooker could throw for 31 touchdowns and three interceptions last season at Tennessee then Iamaleava could be in store for incredible numbers. But can the Vols put enough talented playmakers around him to make themselves SEC East contenders? I was completely wrong about Cedric Tillman coming out of high school but in my defense so was everybody else as the Tennessee coaches made the right call and every other Power Five program passed on him. But after missing on five-star Carnell Tate there’s a decent-to-good chance the Vols might not land any of the current top-25 receivers nationally. Iamaleava is great and TE Ethan Davis is special but can Tennessee load up like others in the SEC?
Christopher Vizzina: Clemson’s offense was in a funk last season. Quarterback D.J. Uiagalelei threw nine touchdowns and 10 picks. No receiver had more than three TDs. The Tigers resorted to running the ball far more often than would be ideal. What if Clemson doesn’t come out of that malaise this season? That’s probably unlikely but the Tigers need a slot weapon and they don’t have one yet in this class after the de-commitment of Nathaniel Joseph. Vizzina is a talented pocket passer but Clemson’s weaponry needs a little retooling.
Jaden Rashada: Since joining the ACC, Miami has one 10-win season. That is 18 tries and one double-digit campaign and while the Hurricanes have not been bad most seasons they also have not been elite. How long does it take to change that, if ever, under first-year coach Mario Cristobal? Rashada is also entering a quarterback room not barren of talent as Tyler Van Dyke could leave after this season but Jake Garcia is very talented and Jacurri Brown is no slouch. The Hurricanes also have a commitment from Emory Williams. Rashada could have the highest ceiling of any QB at Miami after this season but will he be surrounded by playmakers of his caliber?
Jackson Arnold: The Denton (Texas) Guyer four-star had a phenomenal junior season and has tons of talent but the question for him is whether the new Oklahoma under coach Brent Venables looks like the old one under Lincoln Riley. There is no way to know exactly until we see the Sooners on the field but with OC Jeff Lebby running the show, Oklahoma probably won’t miss a beat.
Eli Holstein: It’s easy to believe Bryce Young will head off to the NFL after this season but Jalen Milroe looks like a million bucks and Ty Simpson also went to Tuscaloosa to compete so the path for Holstein isn’t as easy as some others. But to be the Alabama quarterback is a massive responsibility so no one expected it to be easy. The former Texas A&M commit found what he wanted in Tuscaloosa and has a tough road ahead but he’s also very talented and very, very competitive so it will be interesting to watch play out.
Austin Novosad: The four-star quarterback from Dripping Springs, Texas, finds himself in perhaps the most interesting situation of any QB in this class now. A Baylor commit since December, Ohio State is making a big-time run at him and over the weekend he landed a new offer from Texas A&M. There is really a no-lose situation here but it’s still a tough call for Novosad as to where he ends up.
3. THOUGHTS ON BILLY NAPIER’S OPEN LETTER
Florida fans are antsy. Big surprise. They always are.
The pressure is mounting on coach Billy Napier before he’s had the opportunity to build his first full recruiting class or even coach a game in Gainesville that late last week he wrote an open letter to Florida fans explaining the plan forward.
Have the Gators landed every top recruit they’re going after? No. And yes there have been some disappointments. But Florida is in big-boy recruiting against Alabama, Georgia and others and the Gators aren’t going to win them all.
Following three straight losing seasons under Mark Hudspeth, Napier went 7-7 in his first season at Louisiana. After that, his record was 34-5 in three years. To think he’s getting pressure already and fans are questioning his ability is letting the inmates run the asylum.
I lived in Gainesville for three years during the height of Florida sports - Billy Donovan was taking the Gators to Final Fours and Urban Meyer was hoisting national championship trophies. People still complained all the time on sports talk radio.
It’s so early in the 2023 recruiting class but Florida has the fourth-best class in the SEC. There are plenty of players still on the radar from five-star cornerback Cormani McClain on down.
All across the country, fans are hopeful especially after a wild coaching carousel. Florida fans are guarded at best and despondent at worst. And Napier could end up as the best hire of the entire bunch.