Will Penn State bounce back?
There are multiple storylines in the East Region worth following in the 2022 recruiting cycle, but the one that will probably draw the most attention has to do with how Penn State will try to bounce back after a subpar 2021 recruiting class. The Nittany Lions missed on a number of instant impact in-state prospects in the 2021 cycle, like legacy five-star Nolan Rucci, elite quarterback Kyle McCord and many others. The 2022 class in Pennsylvania is again very talented and Penn State needs to rebound in a big way this year or risk falling further off the pace set by the nation’s top programs. How South Carolina builds recruiting momentum and whether North Carolina can continue its upward trend without an elite in-state crop of talent are just a couple other important storylines to track in the 2022 cycle. – Adam Friedman, East analyst
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Trojans have momentum
USC landed California’s top 2021 player in five-star defensive end Korey Foreman, then beat Ohio State for four-star linebacker Raesjon Davis on signing day. The Trojans signed three of the top six and five of the top nine players in the state. That’s a far cry from the 2020 recruiting cycle, when USC finished dead last in the Pac-12 team rankings. The 2022 group is off to a very strong start with four commitments, including five-star Domani Jackson from Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei. Losing four-star LB Niuafe Tuihalamaka after an early commitment hurts, but the Trojans are on the right track again. – Adam Gorney, National/West Coast analyst
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Midwest loaded with five-stars
Luther Burden (Josh Helmholdt / Rivals)
There are currently 18 five-star prospects in the class of 2022, and four of them come from the Midwest. The last time the Midwest produced this many five-stars was 10 years earlier, in 2012. That group finished with five total five-stars, but there are several more Midwest prospects knocking on the door of five-star status in 2022, players like Indiana defensive end Caden Curry and Ohio State linebacker commit Gabe Powers.Although the Midwest is known for producing linemen, all four of the current 2022 five-stars are skill-position players, led by St. Louis wide receiver Luther Burden. – Josh Helmholdt, Midwest analyst
Will Quinn Ewers come back home?
Can Ohio State hold off Texas for five-star Quinn Ewers? Ewers was committed to the Longhorns and was a major get for Tom Herman when he landed the nation’s No. 1 quarterback in 2022, but now it’s up to coach Steve Sarkisian and his new staff to see if they can keep the No. 1 player in the country home. Ohio State has a star-studded 2022 haul already and Ewers is a key foundational piece in Columbus. There are also other really talented quarterbacks in Texas for 2022. Besides Ewers, there’s Cabe Klubnik and Conner Weigman and both hold offers from the Horns, but Ewers will continue to be a major conversation-starter in and around the Lone Star State. – Sam Spiegleman, South Central analyst
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Can Georgia de-throne Alabama?
Nick Saban and the University of Alabama made it look so easy this cycle. Not only did they win a national championship on the field Jan. 11, but they wrapped up a historic class and finished on top of the Rivals team rankings. And it wasn’t even close. As we close out this class, we look ahead to 2022. Again, Alabama will sign an elite class, but can anyone challenge the Tide? Early on, it looks like Georgia, which has signed top classes under Kirby Smart, could make a run at the Crimson Tide in 2022. The Bulldogs are off to a very strong start with seven commits, all from in-state prospects, with more likely coming in the near future. The Bulldogs are ahead of Alabama very early, and Georgia sits with the No. 2 class behind Ohio State, but looking ahead, it looks like another classic head-to-head recruiting war could be brewing between Alabama and Georgia this cycle. – Chad Simmons, Southeast analyst
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