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South Carolina lost this weekend, but had the country's biggest recruiting win

Welcome to The Crootletter (sign up to get this in your inbox!). I'm Bud Elliott, SB Nation's National Recruiting Analyst, and in this space I'll be sharing news, rumors and musings on the world of college football recruiting as well as the occasional gambling column.

South Carolina landed a commitment from OrTre Smith, of Mount Pleasant (SC) Wando High School. Smith is a four-star receiver recruit who stands in at 6’3 and 215 pounds. He also happens to be the No. 1 player in the state and claims additional offers from Alabama, Clemson, Florida State, Georgia North Carolina, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Tennessee and others. I wrote about how certain recruits can help influence others to come to South Carolina, and like Jamyest Williams, I believe some recruits will see the Smith commitment and give South Carolina a longer look. The Gamecocks now have six four- and five-star recruits and 22 commitments overall.


Texas A&M pulled off a flip this weekend, as three-star offensive tackle Jared Hocker switched his commitment from Texas Tech to the Aggies. Hocker is the fourth offensive line commitment of A&M’s 2017 class. I’ve previously said that many of the state’s elite recruits are waiting to see what happens with the Aggies (and the Longhorns) this year. Both programs are off to strong starts, though Texas A&M is an underdog this weekend of roughly a field goal at Auburn. If the Aggies want to have a big season that game is a must win, though the same can be said for Auburn.

Washington took a helicopter to see five-star offensive tackle Foster Sarell in nearby Tacoma. The Huskies are battling Nebraska, Notre Dame, Stanford and Alabama. Sarell has incredible body control for his age and his 6’7, 310-pound frame. Sarell might be the best player in the country at any position.

Alabama recruits had a big weekend as QB Tua Tagovailoa threw for nine (9!) touchdowns and Najee Harris, the No. 1 RB nationally ran for 250 yards in a half.

Things are going South in a Hurry at Kentucky. Jason Kirk has the rundown here of the Wildcats losing their more prominent voice, Matt Jones of KSR. This stat, which encompasses the final two quarters of the home loss to Southern Miss and the first two against Florida is staggering.

The issue is the offense. In that span, the defense allowed 6 yards per play, which isn’t terrible. The offense gaining 3.5 yards per play, however, is putrid. Seven turnovers in four quarters doesn’t help, either.

I thoroughly enjoyed this piece from Alex Kirshner on how Penn State and Pitt are perfect rivals. But Penn State’s defense really looks to be missing defensive coordinator John Shoop, who left for Tennessee in the offseason. Pitt scored 42 points on Penn State despite throwing the football just 15 times (with many being passes behind the line of scrimmage like screens and shovel passes). Pitt did this by running the ball 56 times for 341 yards.

That’s problematic considering the Nittany Lions still must face teams who are good to elite at running the football including Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio State, Iowa and Michigan State. I wrote last week about how Penn State really needed to win the game.

If the Nittany Lions do not beat Pitt, it is hard to see them taking the next step in recruiting needed to catch the Wolverines, Buckeyes and Spartans on the field, and it would open up the possibility of losing five or six games. Penn State needs to pull the upset. A win for Pitt would also really help recruiting in Pennsylvania.

Is there something wrong with Clemson? If so, what is it? Bill Connelly breaks it down, saying it’s probably fine, but ...

The struggle of the run game is an absolute concern, and it will hold the passing game back until it is rectified. Gallman’s per-carry average is 1.4 yards lower than it was a year ago, and Watson’s passer rating is a dreadful 113.3. Those two things are connected, and they are a concern.

He uses many stats to reach that conclusion and the whole piece is worth reading.

SB Nation’s Selection Committee has Alabama, FSU, Clemson and Houston. My ballot had Ohio State instead of Houston.