Alabama adds to ’23 lead, LSU penalized, plus more

USA TODAY High School Sports‘ Friday Night Notes is a weekly high school football recruiting recap that looks at the latest news from around the country—from the Class of 2023 to ’24 and beyond.

Alabama has dominated the college football scene for years now. While Nick Saban’s coaching has undoubtedly been a major factor, you can’t underplay their ability to consistently attract the top high school football prospects from around the country.

The Tide already had the lead in the 2023 recruiting rankings, and they extended that advantage this week by picking up two more significant commitments…

On Monday, Alabama bolstered its front line by earning a commitment from Tyler Legacy (Texas) defensive tackle Jordan Renaud. He is ranked seventh among all defensive linemen in his class and No. 13 overall in the state. Renaud (6-foot-3, 245 pounds) is a violent rusher with a proven ability to get into the backfield. Last season he totaled 61 tackles, including six for a loss. He also had offers from Oklahoma, Auburn and Florida, among others.

Two days later, the Rolling Tide added a weapon on the other side of the ball with Longview (Texas) four-star wide receiver Jalen Hale. Hale (6-foot-1, 185 pounds) has also played basketball and track. Last season he posted 37 catches, 652 yards and nine touchdowns, and he’s already caught four this year in four games. Hale is ranked No. 9 at wide receiver in his class at No. 51 nationally.

Together, these two additions boosted Alabama’s recruiting score to 309.14, a substantial lead over second-place Texas. They now have commitments from 16 of ESPN’s top 300 prospects – the most in the country.

LSU penalized for recruiting violations

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

The endless race to catch up with the Rolling Tide can tempt some recruiters to cut corners. One of their chief rivals is now facing some consequences…

Yesterday, the NCAA announced the following penalties for LSU for former assistant coach James Cregg violating the rules during the COVID-19 recruiting dead period.

One year of probation.
A $5,000 fine (self-imposed).
A limit of official visits for football to 55 during the 2022-23 academic year (self-imposed).
A one-week prohibition against unofficial visits in the football program prior to the beginning of the 2022-23 academic year (self-imposed).
A one-week prohibition against recruiting communications in the football program prior to the start of the 2022-23 academic year (self-imposed).
A reduction of seven evaluation days in the football program during the fall 2021 evaluation period (self-imposed).
A three-year show-cause order for the former assistant coach. During that period, any NCAA member school employing him must restrict him from any off-campus recruiting activities unless it shows cause why the restrictions should not apply.

Cregg was fired in June of 2021 for impermissibly meeting with a recruit and offering team gear. He filed a lawsuit for wrongful termination two months later, and last month a Baton Rouge judge ruled in his favor. Cregg is set to receive $492,945.20 from the school. LSU intends to appeal. He is currently serving as an assistant offensive line coach for the 49ers.

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Damari Brown to Miami among big visits this week

Gabby Urrutia, 247 Sports

Several high-profile prospects are set to make official visits to prospective schools this weekend. The biggest might be American Heritage (Fla.) cornerback Damari Brown visiting Miami – which has become a hub for special DB talent. Brown (6-foot-1, 180 pounds) is ranked No. 29 at his position and has offers from 28 other schools.

Other notable visits this weekend include Archbishop Carroll (Washington, D.C.) five-star athlete Nykoles Harbor going to Michigan. Meanwhile, Michigan State is hosting five-star OLB TJ Capers from Columbus (Fla.) and Ohio State is getting another visit from DE Keon Keeley. The hustle never stops for Alabama, who are hosting Carver (Ala.) four-star DT James Smith.

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