Iowa has to feel very thankful to have Epenesa committed. Since Scout began, the Hawkeyes have only signed a handful of five-star recruits and Epenesa brings major ability to the table. He was a legacy recruit, but schools from across the country came after him, so his commitment was not taken for granted.
Leatherwood has visited numerous schools since committing to Alabama including Florida, Georgia, LSU and Michigan. The Crimson Tide looks to be in a good place though. They receive an official visit this weekend, for the Iron Bowl, and Leatherwood is an early enrollee. The in-state Gators have made a hard push, but this five-star looks destined for T-Town.
Rutgers should be thankful it is welcoming in four-star receiver Bo Melton into the fold in 2017 because the Scarlet Knights have no play makers on the offensive side. Melton, whose parents both played sports at Rutgers, can line up in the slot, return kicks and also play running back. He is quick and elusive, and he possesses big-play ability. He becomes one of the Scarlet Knights' top skill players the moment he steps on campus.
It is hard enough to secure a commitment from a four-star Scout Top 300-rated prospect, but the Sooners were able to get the 6-foot-2, 172-pound wide receiver from Richmond (Texas) Foster on its commitment list on two separate occasions. He first committed back in December of 2015 and after making that decision he backed off the pledge to consider some other offers like LSU, Oklahoma State, Texas A&M and UCLA among others. OU stayed on him and he picked the Sooners a second time in late July.
Moses surprised many when he committed to Alabama over LSU. It came down to Les Miles being fired in Baton Rouge (La.), and just days after Miles was removed, Moses visited Tuscaloosa (Ala.), and just before he left, he committed. LSU did not give up, but with Moses being an early enrollee, it looks like the Tide will hang on here.
There were a lot of hometown/family ties advantages for UCLA but landing Phillips over several national programs like Alabama, Michigan and Notre Dame plus in-state rivals Stanford and USC was still a huge feather in their cap. Phillips grew up in a UCLA home with several family members attending the school but that doesn't always guarantee success. Demetrice Martin and Angus McClure, two of UCLA's very best recruiters took the lead on Phillips and were able to hold off a strong run from Stanford. In fact, two weeks before his decision, we got the feeling the Cardinal could pull this one out. Phillips then took one last unofficial visit to UCLA and the Bruins were able to lock up the nation's top defensive end recruit. Phillips is a major talent and could be the best defensive end the school has brought in, in over a decade.
In a time of re-building for Illinois under Lovie Smith, it is important for the Illini to bring in top talents and control their state borders. In that regard, Smalling was a huge get. He was their first commitment, he is a Chicago kid, a four-star, and one who can come in and contribute immediately.
When Tuipulotu committed to Washington in mid-April, it came as a major surprise. In-state Oregon had prioritized him early and he had national offers from Michigan and Notre Dame that stood out to him plus USC and UCLA had offered him and he was originally from Los Angeles. But an unofficial visit to Montlake in the spring swung things towards the Huskies and it's been a harbinger of things for the Dawgs. He would then go on to win the DL MVP honors at The Opening Oakland and then make the Final Five at The Opening Finals and become one of the premier defensive tackles in the country. And while schools have still been recruiting him, he's remained solid to the Huskies. The Huskies would then snag Oregon's No. 2 prospect in 2017, Duck legacy Elijah Molden, but it was Tuipulotu that was key during a huge April for the Huskies, where they landed four four-stars, three from out-of-state and showed that Chris Petersen's staff is one of the best recruiting staff's in the country.
Penn State got Micah Parsons on board in February, and the Nittany Lions should be thankful because they may be getting the best pound-for-pound player in the nation in the 2018 class. Yes, Parsons is visiting Ohio State, but it is part of the due-diligence and there is no reason to believe he will leave the Nittany Lions. How good and talented is Parsons? At 6-foot-3, 236 pounds, he is unblockable in high school, and he is now showcasing a lot of skills as a physical running back. He has the chance to be a dominant player in college very quickly.
Things have been in turmoil for the Texas Longhorns to end the 2016 season and on Friday when UT takes the field to square off against TCU it will be fighting for a chance at bowl game and head coach Charlie Strong will be coaching to keep his job. One constant throughout the year has been the presence of the Scout Top 100 quarterback. Behind the scenes he has been working hard on the Class of 2017 recruits to help insure that UT has the foundations for a strong future no matter what lies ahead. Last weekend Ehlinger made his first appearance in the playoffs helping to lead Austin (Texas) Westlake to the third round with a hard-fought victory over Converse (Texas) Judson.
National recruiting analysts Allen Trieu, Brandon Huffman, Brian Dohn, Chad Simmons, Greg Biggins and Greg Powers contributed to this feature.