Fact or Fiction: Ohio State fears Sunshine State flips

Rivals national recruiting analyst Ryan Wright along with TheOsceola.com recruiting analyst Charles Fishbein, AuburnSports.com senior editor Bryan Matthews and DottingTheEyes.com recruiting analyst Jeremy Birmingham tackle three current topics.

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1. Florida State needs the head-to-head win vs. Florida more for recruiting purposes.

Mike Norvell

Mike Norvell (Courtesy of FSU Sports Information)

Wright’s take: FICTION. Any prospect that has watched Florida State this season has to be sold on the future with head coach Mike Norvell. Outside of the mid-season three-game ACC stumble, the Seminoles have been impressive working to an 8-3 record. A win over Florida further enhances Norvell’s rise in Tallahassee, but it is not a must-win to attract recruits.

Over in Gainesville, Florida is coming off a stunning 31-24 loss to Vanderbilt on the road that raised eyebrows. The loss in Nashville may have set UF back in the minds of recruits. Florida is still in play for several elite four-star prospects that will be watching how the team bounces back after an upset loss.

The feel is, Florida needs this win more for recruiting purposes, especially since FSU beat Miami already, to “own” the state on the gridiron in hopes of owning it along the recruiting trail.

Fishbein’s take: FACT. FSU has had a very successful season on the field. A win against Florida may sway some kids who were not originally looking at FSU. The game is huge inside the state of Florida. Many players have chosen the winning side come National Signing Day. A win for FSU would solidify it as a top 10-15 program again. It would also show recruits that everything the coaches said would happen has happened.

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2. Ohio State is in caution mode over potential Southeast recruiting flips.

Brandon Inniss

Brandon Inniss

Wright’s take: FACT. After the noon ET kickoff for “The Game”, come 8 p.m. ET, Ohio State fans should put on the Pitt gear and take interest in what’s happening at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami. The Hurricanes (5-6) are a win shy of earning a bowl berth in head coach Mario Cristobal’s first season. A win for Miami on Saturday could be that extra push an in-state recruit like Brandon Inniss needs to believe in the Canes’ future.

Birmingham’s take: FICTION. Honestly this one could be viewed from either lens. Ohio State is always concerned with the strength of their commitments from Florida and areas around it but as far as the 2023 class goes the biggest concerns have already worked themselves out.

Dijon Johnson and Mark Fletcher opted out of the Buckeyes’ class in recent months and that duo always felt like the less solid commitments of the group. While Miami, Tennessee and others continue to push for players such as Brandon Inniss and Carnell Tate, there’s not any panic within the Ohio State program about keeping them committed. The Buckeyes are confident that they’ve built good enough relationships with each — and that they present enough NIL opportunity in both cases — to withstand the onslaught.

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3. The current Auburn staff is setting the next one up for 2023 recruiting success.

Tony Mitchell

Tony Mitchell

Wright’s take: FACT. Fans on The Plains may be doom and gloom about the current state of affairs but really should be rejoicing over how hard the staff has worked to keep a positive spin on the program. Top prospects are visiting the campus raving about Auburn, the staff, and especially interim head coach Cadillac Williams.

Regardless of who takes over as the new head coach, the current staff has kept the committed 2023 players intact and worked diligently to add more top prospects. It has also successfully brought 2024 players on campus, laying the groundwork for success in the next recruiting cycle.

Matthews’ take: FACT. The former staff couldn’t have been worse at recruiting with Bryan Harsin in charge so it’s certainly addition by subtraction in many ways. But Cadillac Williams and the remaining assistants have done a great job of getting top targets on campus the last two weeks and Auburn is positioned to potentially add or flip some highly recruited prospects if the right head coach is hired.

Some players to watch include Rivals100 safety Tony Mitchell (Alabama), four-star DE Reuben Bain, four-star DE Keldric Faulk (FSU), Rivals100 DE Qua Russaw, Rivals100 DT James Smith, four-star LB Lewis Carter (Oklahoma), four-star OL D.J. Chester (LSU), and a number of Langston Hughes prospects such as 4-star TE Jelani Thurman (Ohio State), 4-star OL Bo Hughley (UGA) and 3-star DL Josh Horton (UNC). The Tigers could potentially have one of the best finishes in the 2023 cycle.

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