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Race for No. 1: Dream class would put Sooners in the mix

Not since 2008 has a non-SEC program finished No. 1 in the 247Sports Composite Team Recruiting Rankings.

If you guessed Miami, you’re today’s lucky winner.

Here in the 2021 cycle, Ohio State has looked like the one to end that streak for much of the cycle. And if Ryan Day and his Buckeyes staff ultimately land five-star defensive lineman J.T. Tuimoloau and top-ranked receiver Emeka Egbuka — two more blue-chippers they lead for on the 247Sports Crystal Ball — they’ll do just that.

But the Buckeyes aren’t the only non-SEC school that can get this done. Clemson sits at No. 3 in the standings, recently adding Top247 defensive tackle Payton Page and Top247 offensive lineman Dietrick Pennington to the fold. We highlighted Oregon’s changes in last month’s edition of this Race for No. 1 article; the Ducks continue to hold strong at No. 4. Maybe USC at No. 7 has an outside shot as well, with Clay Helton putting together a great class after last year’s letdown.

Beyond those programs, Oklahoma has suddenly emerged as one to keep an eye on. If things break right for the Sooners, they’ll be right in the thick of it — despite not currently holding a top-10 class.

The Sooners sit at No. 14 right now with just 13 commits, tied for the least most pledges in the Top 20. The potential buffet of who’s still in play makes the Big 12 power one to watch as summer comes to a close.

For Oklahoma to make this run, it needs to land those two previously mentioned five-stars Ohio State is working to close. Both Tuimoloaua and Egbuka could potentially visit Norman later this month. Because of the NCAA dead period in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, Lincoln Riley and his staff won’t be able to entertain any prospects on campus but it sounds like some of Oklahoma’s commits are planning to be in town the weekend of Aug. 21, including class jewel five-star quarterback Caleb Williams, who has been particularly pushing hard for Egbuka. Oklahoma and the Buckeyes are two of the seven programs Tuimoloaua has had the most contact with according to 247Sports’ Brandon Huffman, with Alabama, Michigan, Oregon, USC and Washington also in play. Oklahoma is considered the biggest threat to beat the Buckeyes for Egbuka.

The Sooners are in a good position for several others. Five-star running back Camar Wheaton has Oklahoma near the top of his list alongside the likes of Alabama, LSU and Texas. Perhaps the Sooners are the biggest threat to Michigan for the No. 3 running back in the land, Donovan Edwards.

Oklahoma has been trending on the 247Sports Crystal Ball for Top247 defensive lineman Kelvin Gilliam and Top247 receiver Jalil Farooq and they maintain the 247Sports Crystal Ball lead for Top247 offensive lineman Bryce Foster and Top247 defensive linemen Marcus Burris and David Abiari, the latter of whom they’re trying to flip from Notre Dame.

In addition to Foster on the offensive line, OU is in the thick of it for five-star offensive tackle Tristan Leigh and Top247 offensive tackle Savion Byrd. The Sooners will continue to swing at guys like four-star outside linebacker Jeremiah Williams, four-star linebacker Prince Kollie and four-star safeties Terrion Arnold and Jardin Gilbert. Gilbert just announced his top schools, which included Oklahoma, Alabama, Texas A&M and Mississippi State.

Using the 247Sports Class Calculator and tossing in Egubuka, Tuimoloau, Wheaton, Gilliam, Burris, Foster, Abiara and Farooq, that shoots OU’s score up to 298.79 which typically gives you a top-five finish. Win out for Leigh and Byrd and you’re at 311.30 right there in the middle of it to bring it home. It’s a dream scenario, but crazier things have happened.

SEC RIVALS BATTLING TO KNOCK OFF BUCKEYES

It still looks like Alabama and LSU are the two with the best opportunity to unseat the Buckeyes and keep the SEC streak going.

The Tide soared up to No. 2 with a big July that included pledges from five-star offensive tackle Tommy Brockermeyer, his twin brother James Brockermeyer who is the No. 1 center, the No. 1 defensive tackle Damon Payne and the No. 2 offensive guard Terrance Ferguson. Moving forward they’re trending on the 247Sports Crystal Ball heading into Top247 defensive lineman Monkell Goodwin’s college decision on Aug. 15. You figure Alabama will land another ballyhooed receiver whether that’s Brian Thomas Jr. or Malcolm Johnson Jr. The running back board includes Wheaton, they’re in the top two or three for five-star offensive tackle Amarius Mims. Same story for five-star cornerbacks GaQuincy McKinstry and Jason Marshall.

Top247 defensive tackle Shemar Turner, four-star athlete Xavian Sorey, Arnold, Gilbert, JUCO cornerback Khyree Jackson and tight end Robbie Ouzts are among the others with a keen eye on a potential future in Tuscaloosa.

It’s been a quiet month for LSU sitting back at No. 6 but there are plenty of potential fireworks down the road. Top247 cornerback Nathaniel Wiggins could be the next in the fold as the Tigers battle USC and Florida. There are several five-stars still in play from the No. 1 prospect overall in Korey Foreman to Leigh, to Wheaton, to defensive tackle Maason Smith, to McKinstry. LSU is the 247Sports Crystal Ball favorite for top-ranked safety Sage Ryan and they are in the middle of it for Byrd, Thomas (they lead on the 247Sports Crystal Ball), Turner and top-ranked tight end Thomas Fidone.

SURVEYING THE FIELD 

For Clemson to finish with the No. 1 class, it has to get Foreman back in the fold and win out for Leigh and or possibly five-star offensive tackle Nolan Rucci. The Tigers are in it for touted cornerback Nyland Green as well.

For Oregon it’s all about Foreman and Tuimoloau and continuing to make a move with those two if they’re going to become a serious contender for No. 1. They’ll keep chipping away at Oklahoma for Foster, and they’re considered the one to beat for offensive tackle Kingsley Suamataia and Top247 receiver Dont’e Thornton.

Georgia is back at No. 15 with only 11 commits (the least amount of pledges in the Top 50) but the Bulldogs have claimed the No. 1 spot in two of the last three cycles and have finished in the top three in the last four. We know they’re going to make a move. As far as average ranking per commit goes, Georgia is tied with LSU at No. 4 behind the Buckeyes, Tide and Clemson. We also know Kirby Smart is swinging at Foreman and Smith, they’re the 247Sports Crystal Ball favorite for Mims, five-star linebacker Smael Mondon and coveted tight end Brock Bowers. Beyond those prospects, Green is a possibility; so are Turner, Sorey, Johnson and Tyrion Ingram-Dawkins. Georgia is going to make some noise at some point. How high the Dawgs climb remains to be seen.

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