National Signing Day is two weeks away, and several college football coaches from the Power Five conferences will be eagerly anticipating which hat the likes of Caleb Kelly, Mique Juarez and Jack Jones will place over their head.
The three high school football stars are among the most wanted recruits in the land; with a combined 68 reported scholarship offers between them plus all three earning a 5-star ranking on various recruiting websites.
Which schools face the most legitimate chance of landing one of these Golden State studs? Time to weigh in.
The Clovis West High School linebacker/tight end has been a wanted player on the recruiting trail since his sophomore year – with the likes of Oklahoma, USC and Washington emerging as the first schools to make a run at him.
Now, the 6-foot-3, 215-pound Kelly – who holds a reported 28 scholarship offers – has Oklahoma, Norte Dame and Oregon on his final short list and plans to make his final decision on National Signing Day. Kelly took official visits to all three campuses and was left impressed by the surroundings and overall visit. One of the ultimate deciding factors for Kelly? Going to a place where he has a strong chance to start as a true freshman.
The pick: Oklahoma
The Sooners were the first to offer Kelly and have stayed on him since. There’s two other scenarios that help OU: Kelly already has a mutual connection with current Sooners Michiah Quick and Hatari Byrd through their club 7-on-7 team in Fresno plus Oklahoma has to replace top pass rushing linebacker Eric Striker, who is graduating.
The former USC commit is down to UCLA, Ole Miss and Alabama.
He’s set to take his official visit to Tuscaloosa this weekend, writes Bleacher Report’s Damon Sayles. The 6-foot-1, 230-pound Juarez may be a game changing defender and possible defensive cornerstone for a four-year university, but he tells Sayles that he’s not just looking at playing time or getting on the field.
“To be honest, I’m not really looking for a team that always wants to win,” Juarez told Sayles on Jan. 18. “I’m looking for a place with the type of character that always wants to improve on and off the field—not just football. School and education is important, too.
“I’m trying to be coached in the proper way, but I’m also looking out for my future with my family,” he added. “…If football doesn’t work out, I’ll have a good education out of it.”
Juarez, who starred at North Torrance High School in Los Angeles County, did his most damage at outside linebacker. But his current physique says he’s built to move inside.
The pick: Alabama
The Crimson Tide currently has just one outside linebacker commit in the ’16 class. They’re also losing starters Reggie Ragland and Denzel Devall to graduation. Irrespective of where he lines up, Juarez can give the national champions another big, versatile linebacker that Nick Saban loves to employ.
Like Juarez, Jones has Alabama on his short list – a list that includes USC, UCLA, Oklahoma and Texas A&M.
The versatile 5-foot-11, 175 pound Jones, who shined at cornerback during the U.S. Army All-American Bowl on Jan. 9, has already visited Alabama and told scout.com’s Greg Biggins on Jan. 19 that he can definitely see himself playing for the Tide.
The school that lands the Long Beach Poly star could get another Adoree Jackson. Jones has doubled as a big play wide receiver and aggressive shut down corner, something that Jackson has done for USC.
The pick: UCLA
Cornerback might be more in Jones’ future, especially after his impressive performance in the Alamodome recently. Plus, the Bruins surrendered too many yards and points on defense last season. Jones can give UCLA an instant upgrade in the secondary. But, with his versatility, Jones can also be another Myles Jack for Jim Mora – a player who goes both ways.
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