Most Important College Football Recruiting Visits of Week 3September 15, 2016
Most Important College Football Recruiting Visits of Week 3
Similar to the opening weekend of the 2016 season, Week 3 features a bevy of matchups that will command the attention of fans around the country.
The nation's top three teams—Alabama, Florida State and Ohio State—all hit the road to play ranked opponents. But, there are a handful of other games that will also provide intrigue over the weekend.
The excitement over this weekend's slate of action will transfer to the recruiting trail, as a handful of elite players will take important visits that could alter the course of their recruitment.
Which visits should fans be monitoring this weekend?
Let's take a look at the most important recruiting visits for Week 3 of the college football season.
Auburn: 5-Star OL Alex Leatherwood
High School: Washington High School (Pensacola, Florida)
Size: 6'6", 327 lbs
247Sports Composite Ranking: No. 2 offensive tackle; No. 5 overall
The Iron Bowl is always one of the most anticipated games on the college football schedule. While Alabama and Auburn won't meet until November, the two SEC powers have plenty of recruiting battles to wage until then.
This weekend, the Tigers will host 5-star offensive lineman and current Crimson Tide pledge Alex Leatherwood on an unofficial visit, according to ESPN's Derek Tyson.
Although Leatherwood has been committed to the Tide for more than a year, he's been consistent with his desire to take visits. He has visited Miami and USC unofficially and has an official visit to see Michigan at the end of the month.
While he's left the door slightly open, it would be an upset to see him land anywhere other than Tuscaloosa when he enrolls at his school of choice in January.
The Tigers should have a raucous atmosphere on Saturday when they open conference play against Texas A&M. Head coach Gus Malzahn and his staff will take a swing at making an impression on one of the nation’s elite 2017 linemen over the weekend.
Louisville: 4-Star RB A.J. Davis
High School: Lakeland High School (Lakeland, Florida)
Size: 5'11", 190 lbs
247Sports Composite Ranking: No. 15 running back; No. 202 overall
One of the weekend’s marquee matchups is the ACC Atlantic Division showdown between Florida State and Louisville.
In addition to hosting ESPN's College GameDay, the Cardinals and head coach Bobby Petrino will welcome a few elite recruits to watch the pivotal tilt.
One such recruit is 4-star running back A.J. Davis. The Cardinals have made a living recruiting the state of Florida over the years, and the 5'11", 190-pound Davis is one of their top priorities in the 2017 cycle.
Davis has close to 40 offers to his credit—including tenders from the Sunshine State's Big Three of Florida, Florida State and Miami.
However, the Cardinals are hoping to make a statement on the field that could pay dividends with talented targets such as Davis down the road.
Michigan: 5-Star CB Darnay Holmes
High School: Calabasas High School (Calabasas, California)
Size: 5'10", 190 lbs
247Sports Composite Ranking: No. 2 corner; No. 11 overall
Since Jim Harbaugh has taken over the Michigan program, the Wolverines have re-established themselves as a national brand capable of recruiting elite players from all over the country.
This weekend as they play host to Pac-12 foe Colorado, Harbaugh and his staff will welcome in 5-star corner Darnay Holmes for an official visit.
The California native will be making his second trip to Ann Arbor in the last two months, as detailed by Steve Lorenz of Wolverine247.
Nebraska, Notre Dame, Ohio State and UCLA are among the other schools in the mix for the nation’s No. 2 corner.
However, the fact that he’s returning to Ann Arbor this soon after an unofficial visit is a sign in the level of interest he has in the Wolverines program. His latest visit could strengthen Harbaugh’s chances to pull another elite talent from the West Coast if all goes well.
Notre Dame: 5-Star CB Shaun Wade
High School: Trinity Christian Academy (Jacksonville, Florida)
Size: 6'1", 177 lbs
247Sports Composite Ranking: No. 3 corner; No. 18 overall
With a duel with Big Ten heavyweight Michigan State on tap this weekend, it makes sense for Notre Dame to bring in a number of elite recruits to fill the stands.
The highest-rated prospect in attendance will be 5-star corner and current Ohio State pledge Shaun Wade.
As Tom Loy of 247Sports notes, flipping Wade—who has been committed to the Buckeyes since Jan. 2015—is a long shot.
However, it will be the second time he's made his way to South Bend, with his latest trip serving as one of his five official visits.
The Irish have a need at corner in this class, so it makes sense for them to swing for the fences this weekend in hopes of flipping Wade later in the process.
Oklahoma: 5-Star CB Jeffrey Okudah
High School: South Grand Prairie High School (Grand Prairie, Texas)
Size: 6'1 ½", 190 lbs
247Sports Composite Ranking: No. 1 corner; No. 6 overall
By the third week of the season, we rarely see a touted nonconference showdown the likes of which will take place in Norman, Oklahoma, on Saturday.
Oklahoma welcomes Big Ten titan Ohio State to town, and Sooners head coach Bob Stoops and his staff will use the opportunity to try to add to a class that is rated No. 5 nationally.
That class features eight players from the state of Texas, and the Sooners' visit list this weekend will include the Lone Star State's top two overall prospects, 5-star defensive tackle Marvin Wilson and 5-star corner Jeffrey Okudah.
Landing Okudah would round out a secondary class already boasting a trio of 4-star talents in safety Robert Barnes and corners Justin Broiles and Tre Brown.
The Buckeyes are currently the favorites to land Okudah. However, the Sooners could take a big step forward in helping their chances to turn the momentum in Okudah's recruitment if his visit goes well.
Ole Miss: 5-Star RB Cam Akers
High School: Clinton High School (Clinton, Mississippi)
Size: 5'11", 213 lbs
247Sports Composite Ranking: No. 2 running back; No. 8 overall
It’s not every year you get to see a team try to defeat reigning national champion Alabama for the third consecutive year.
That’s the task at hand this weekend for the Ole Miss Rebels.
While they will have their hands full trying to make that happen, the atmosphere inside Vaught-Hemingway Stadium in Oxford should be rocking.
Arguably the top overall prospect on the Rebels' board is 5-star running back Cam Akers—who was once committed to the Crimson Tide. According to Steve Wiltfong of 247Sports, Akers will be in Oxford this weekend for the showdown between SEC West foes.
The Rebels are trying to keep the top overall prospect from the Magnolia State from leaving the state's borders in favor of schools such as Alabama, Florida State, Georgia, LSU and Ohio State.
Getting him on campus for this weekend’s game is a positive sign for Rebels head coach Hugh Freeze and his staff in hopes of keeping the nation’s No. 2 running back close to home for the next four years.
Stanford: 4-Star CB Elijah Molden
High School: West Linn High School (West Linn, Oregon)
Size: 5'11", 185 lbs
247Sports Composite Ranking: No. 22 corner; No. 183 overall
A heavyweight tilt in the Pac-12 between Stanford and USC is also on tap for this weekend.
While Stanford head coach David Shaw and his staff are off to a slow start, the Cardinal's class is light on quantity with just seven commitments to date. However, their group is filled with quality when you consider four of the seven pledges rate among the nation's top 200 players overall in the 2017 cycle.
This weekend, Shaw and his staff will host another player who fits that criteria in 4-star corner Elijah Molden.
The Cardinal get the first official visit for Molden—who will also visit fellow Pac-12 members Oregon and Washington next month.
As noted by Ruth Robbins of 247Sports, Molden has acknowledged that his official visits and academics will play a critical role in his decision-making process.
That could prove favorable for Stanford's chances to land the Oregon native if he likes what he sees in Palo Alto this weekend.
Sanjay Kirpalani is a National Recruiting Analyst for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes obtained firsthand and all recruiting information courtesy of 247Sports.