The University of Alabama showed off renovations to Bryant Denny Stadium Thursday, Oct. 1, 2020. A painter sprays the logo onto mid-field. [Staff Photo/Gary Cosby Jr.]

Bryant Denny Stadium Renovations

Blue-chip DE Jeremiah Alexander commits to Alabama

After decommitting from Alabama last fall, five-star defensive end Jeremiah Alexander announced Thursday he is once again committed to the Crimson Tide.

The Class of 2022 recruit is rated as a five star by ESPN and 247 Sports’ composite rankings, but is a four-star prospect according to Rivals. He is ESPN’s No. 11 overall recruit and 247’s No. 16 overall recruit.

Alexander first committed to Alabama in March 2020 and was the first player in the 2022 class to declare his intentions to head to Tuscaloosa.

He decommitted from the Crimson Tide in October. Other schools that were recruiting him included Georgia and Clemson.

The Alabaster, Alabama native has led Thompson High School to back-to-back state championships. He had 116 tackles this past season and 119 as a sophomore.

The Crimson Tide now have 10 commits in the Class of 2022.

–Field Level Media

Nov 7, 2020;  Los Angeles CA, USA; Arizona State Sun Devils head coach Herm Edwards walks off the field after the game against the Southern California Trojans  at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. USC defeated Arizona State 28-27.  Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Report: Evidence backs up allegations of recruiting violations at Arizona State

Evidence that could prove the Arizona State football program committed multiple recruiting violations includes a track record of plane tickets purchased for players’ travel to the Phoenix area, Yahoo Sports reported Thursday.

The report detailed the contents of a dossier of documents that an informant sent to officials at both the university and NCAA on May 31. One document lists numerous allegations of recruiting violations, along with the names of 10 Sun Devils staff members to investigate and 13 prospects who were on campus during the NCAA’s mandated COVID-19 dead period between last spring and June 1, 2021.

Head coach Herm Edwards is among those alleged to have broken the rules, and is purportedly shown in a photograph showing a recruit around the weight room in February, though the identities of the individuals in the photo couldn’t be verified immediately.

Yahoo Sports said “multiple former staff members” have agreed to cooperate with the NCAA in its investigation into the Sun Devils.

The dossier includes screen shots of emails allegedly sent by Regina Jackson, the mother of quarterback Jayden Daniels, to assistant coaches that detail the airline itineraries for three recruits from Florida and their chaperones for a trip to Arizona State. The airfare totaled more than $1,100, and the documentation shows that Jackson paid for the trips on her credit card, per Yahoo Sports.

Daniels is not accused of any wrongdoing.

His mother, in conversations with Yahoo Sports, denied paying for the recruits’ travel. She said she received a notice in March that her Google email account had been “compromised” and she canceled her credit card after learning flights had been charged to it.

“It’s unfortunate,” Jackson said. “My credit card company notified me of the charges and they sent me a new card. They charged everything back because they realized it wasn’t me.”

She added she does no recruiting on behalf of the university.

Other allegations in the dossier include a meeting in a “private office” between Edwards and two assistant coaches. That player signed with Arizona State.

Also highlighted in the Yahoo Sports report is the existence of a group text chat between almost a dozen staff members who “communicated regularly on group text about the allegedly illicit activities in the program,” adding “it was used as a real-time exclamation of the disbelief of what was happening in the program” and what they were able to do.

Arizona State finished 2-2 in the 2020 season amid cancellations due to a COVID-19 outbreak in the Sun Devils program and virus issues with some of their Pac-12 opponents.

The school hired Edwards before the 2018 season, and the former NFL head coach has a 17-13 record with the Sun Devils.

–Field Level Media

Oct 28, 2017; Tempe, AZ, USA; General view of an Arizona State Sun Devils helmet during the game against the USC Trojans at Sun Devil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

Report: NCAA probing possible Arizona State recruiting violations

The NCAA is investigating the Arizona State football program for reportedly hosting high school prospects during the recent COVID-19 dead period.

The precise number of recruits and the exact dates that they may have visited the Tempe, Ariz., campus are not known, per the report Wednesday by The Athletic.

The publication said the school’s athletic compliance department is now interviewing staff members and that some employees in the football program “are concerned about losing their jobs.”

The school did confirm that there is an ongoing investigation.

“ASU can confirm the NCAA is conducting an investigation regarding allegations related to our football program,” vice president of media relations Katie Paquet said in a statement to The Athletic. “In accordance with NCAA bylaws, the university cannot provide further comment at this time.”

The report said Sun Devils head coach Herm Edwards’ involvement in the investigation “is not clear.”

In March 2020, the NCAA halted in-person recruiting for 15 months due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Contact with prospects was limited to video calls and other electronic communication.

In April 2021, the NCAA announced that Division I programs can resume normal recruiting schedules on June 1.

–Field Level Media

Dec 29, 2017; Arlington, TX, USA; General overall view of the 2017 Cotton Bowl logo on the back of the helmet of Southern California Trojans long snapper Jake Olson at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Top recruit Domani Jackson commits to Southern Cal

Five-star cornerback Domani Jackson, the nation’s third-ranked prospect in the 2022 class, is staying close to home to play college football.

Jackson, a standout from Mater Dei High School in Santa Ana, Calif., said he will attend Southern California, marking the second straight year the Trojans have received a commitment from the state’s top prospect.

Jackson chose the Trojans over Ohio State, Clemson, Michigan and Arizona State, among others.

Earlier Saturday, however, Mission Hills, Calif., linebacker Niuafe Tuihalamaka decommitted from the Trojans. Tuihalamaka is the third-ranked ILB in the class of 2022, per 247Sports’ composite rankings.

Jackson’s commitment is a major boost for coach Clay Helton, who signed the nation’s 54th-ranked recruiting class this cycle, which included just one ESPN 300 commitment — receiver Gary Bryant.

Southern California initially had the commitment of Bryce Young, the nation’s top-ranked dual-threat quarterback in the 2020 class, but he decided to enroll at Alabama, where he just completed his freshman season.

However, USC signed nine ESPN 300 recruits in the 2021 class, including Korey Foreman, a five-star defensive end. The Trojans are also in the mix for highly-regarded linebacker Raesjon Davis, who is uncommitted.

Jackson’s commitment gives the Trojans two top players in the 2022 class, along with cornerback Fabian Ross. Jackson is rated No. 3 overall by 247Sports’ composite rankings.

–Field Level Media

Dec 5, 2020; Knoxville, Tennessee, USA; Tennessee Volunteers head coach Jeremy Pruitt walks down the sideline during the first half against the Florida Gators at Neyland Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports

Report: Tennessee football investigation pauses hiring

Officials at Tennessee have put hiring in the football program on hold as they investigate potential recruiting violations, ESPN reported Thursday.

The university said earlier this week that it was bringing in prominent outside attorneys Mike Glazier and Kyle Skillman to assist in the investigation about alleged rules violations, including improper benefits.

And now, Tennessee isn’t extending the contracts of assistant football coaches and isn’t hiring for vacancies on the staff of coach Jeremy Pruitt, ESPN said. Assistant coaches in limbo include inside linebackers coach Brian Niedermeyer and running backs coach Tee Martin.

The Volunteers also need to hire an offensive line coach after the departure of Will Friend and the firing of defensive line coach Jimmy Brumbaugh during the 2020 season.

There is growing speculation that Pruitt could be ousted by Tennessee as the investigation ramps us. The Volunteers were 3-7 in 2020, and Pruitt has a 16-19 record in three seasons.

ESPN said the investigation began in November and that one of the focuses is the recruitment of Amarius Mims, a five-star tackle in the Class of 2021 who signed with Georgia. The outlet also said that tailback Eric Gray didn’t play in the Volunteers’ season finale against Texas A&M because of the investigation.

Gray led the team with 772 rushing yards.

–Field Level Media

Jan 8, 2018; Atlanta, GA, USA; A view of the helmet of Alabama Crimson Tide after they beat the Georgia Bulldogs in the 2018 CFP national championship college football game at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

Five-star CB McKinstry commits to Alabama

Ga’Quincy McKinstry, the nation’s top-ranked cornerback in the Class of 2021, committed to Alabama on Sunday.

The five-star recruit from Pinson, Ala., chose the Crimson Tide over Auburn and LSU.

“That’s where I feel the most comfortable at,” said McKinstry, who announced his decision online at CBS Sports HQ. “It’s where I feel I can be developed the best at.”

McKinstry is rated as the No. 1 cornerback, the No. 1 prospect in Alabama and the No. 24 overall recruit nationally by the 247Sports Composite.

Alabama now has 22 commitments in a 2021 recruiting class that is currently ranked No. 1 overall by 247Sports.

–Field Level Media

Oct 19, 2019; Austin, TX, USA; Texas Longhorns live mascot Bevo introduced to crowd before game against Kansas Jayhawks at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports

Top recruit in 2022 commits to Texas

Quarterback Quinn Ewers, the top-rated high school recruit in the Class of 2022 according to most services, on Friday announced his commitment to Texas, giving the Longhorns the top player in their home state and one of their most significant recruiting wins in decades.

Ewers, who reportedly had Alabama, Auburn, Ohio State and Oklahoma among his finalists, is the top-rated incoming high school junior in the nation, per ESPN and 247Sports, with one analyst for the latter saying he may be slightly ahead in his development of where Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence was through his sophomore season.

The 6-foot-3, 195-pound Southlake Carroll star announced his decision on Twitter, simply posting the word “COMMITTED!!” and images of him in high school and Longhorns uniforms.

According to 247Sports, Ewers completed 72 percent of his passes for 4,003 yards, 45 touchdowns and three interceptions as a sophomore. He also ran for 568 yards and nine touchdowns in leading his team to a 13-1 record and spot in the state quarterfinals, where their season ended with a 49-35 loss to Duncanville.

The last No. 1 overall recruit in the 247Sports composite to sign with Texas was quarterback Vince Young in 2002. Young threw for 6,040 yards, 44 touchdowns and 28 interceptions in three seasons with the Longhorns, adding 3,127 yards and 37 touchdowns rushing.

He led Texas to a 13-0 record and the national championship in the 2005 season, finishing second in the Heisman Trophy balloting to USC running back Reggie Bush — who would later vacate the award during an investigation into whether Bush’s family received improper benefits.

–Field Level Media

Oct 26, 2019; Pittsburgh, PA, USA;   Miami Hurricanes helmets sit on the sidelines against the Pittsburgh Panthers during the fourth quarter at Heinz Field. Miami won 16-12. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Five-star DT Taylor chooses Miami over Florida

Miami won the recruiting battle for five-star defensive tackle Leonard Taylor, who chose the Hurricanes over the Florida Gators on Thursday afternoon.

“For the next three to four years of my college life, I’ll be attending the University of Miami,” Taylor said during a live stream on CBS Sports HQ as he pulled out a Hurricanes cap with family around him. “Go ‘Canes!”

Taylor, a 6-foot-4, 255-pound senior at Miami’s Palmetto High School, is rated the No. 1 defensive tackle and No. 4 overall player nationally by 247 Sports in the Class of 2021.

Taylor is the highest-ranked recruit to commit to the Hurricanes since offensive tackle Seantrel Henderson (No. 2 overall) in 2010.

He is the second five-star prospect in Miami’s 2021 class, along with safety James Williams of American Heritage HS in Plantation, Fla.

–Field Level Media