Ranking Top Landing Spots for 2020 5-Star CB Kelee Ringo
This is one of the best years in recent memory for Arizona prospects, and nobody's recruitment is going to be hotter in the desert than Saguaro High School's Kelee Ringo.
The 5-star Scottsdale cornerback is a 6'2", 205-pound lockdown force, and everybody in the nation wants him. He's also the nation's top uncommitted defensive back, trailing only California's Elias Ricks, who already pledged to LSU.
Ringo's name has that superstar ring to it, and his game does, too. But where is he going to wind up?
It would be a massive coup for Herm Edwards' Arizona State Sun Devils or Kevin Sumlin's Arizona Wildcats to keep him at home, but Ringo has hardly mentioned either of his home state schools very often in interviews.
That's not really a surprise, either. Back in November, Arizona Republic reporter Richard Obert noted Ringo didn't have the Wildcats or Sun Devils in his top 15.
Also, it doesn't seem like distance is a factor for him. USCFootball.com's Gerard Martinez dropped a unique tidbit about his recruitment when he wrote, "Ringo's mother works for an airline and he has the ability to fly free, which means he will likely have a busy spring and summer touring college campuses."
With his attention currently focused away from Arizona, it's fair to wonder if his home state even has a shot. Let's take a look at the top landing spots for the dynamic, versatile defensive back who is going to make a coordinator very happy.
7. Georgia Bulldogs
It's never a bad idea to pick Georgia or Alabama in one of these because it seems those two SEC programs have the ear of pretty much every elite prospect across the country.
Ringo hasn't mentioned the Crimson Tide too much, but UGA coach Kirby Smart is going after him hard, and it seems he's listening. Though it would be stunning to see Ringo go that far away from home, the Bulldogs are one of the hot recruiting names, and a lot of kids are feeling Smart's program.
Georgia was in the top 15 Ringo mentioned back in November, and UGA actually received an unofficial visit from the prospect back in January.
He told Dawgs247, according to Kipp Adams: "It was a great experience, spending time with Coach Smart and the rest of the staff. The players treated me very well. It was an overall great atmosphere."
That may seem like a pedestrian comment from a prospect that could occur after any visit, but UGA has a history of doing what it takes to keep prospects' attention, and if Ringo wants to play in the SEC, this looks like the best bet right now.
It doesn't hurt that the Bulldogs are placing DBs in the NFL, and Deandre Baker is going to join that group this year. Is that enough of a pipeline to get Ringo's signature?
Smart has pulled players from as far north as New York and Pennsylvania and down into Texas and California, but he hasn't pulled an Arizona prospect yet. He'd love for Ringo to be his first.
6. USC Trojans
If USC were the Southern Cal Trojans of old, it'd be a major player to watch in the battle to win Ringo's signature.
The prospect has mentioned on multiple occasions how much he digs Los Angeles (like in the article below), and Ringo is the kind of prospect who would thrive as a big fish in a big pond in an environment like USC's. But does an embattled coach in Clay Helton still have the swag to bring in a prospect of his ilk?
The Trojans are going to take their swings in this one, but they have to be considered a long shot right now.
In a recent article by USCFootball's Gerard Martinez, Ringo mentioned defensive backs coach Greg Burns as somebody with which he's built a relationship. It also doesn't sound like he's worried about Helton, either.
"Coach Clay Helton," said Ringo. "We've built a great relationship together."
Regardless of the struggles and coming off a 5-7 season, the name USC still carries a lot of weight with kids out West. It hasn't been enough for the Trojans to maintain an elite recruiting edge recently, but it's a safe bet they are going to be in the thick of this race as long as they keep pushing.
There still has been a steady trickle of defensive backs coming out of the program despite the recent lull, and if USC can have a resurgent season on the gridiron, a lot of prospects who grew up watching Pac-12 football are going to take notice.
Ringo may just be one of them, especially if he's lured by the bright lights.
5. UCLA Bruins
It may be a mistake to put UCLA higher on this list to win Ringo's scholarship papers over rival USC, but the defensive back recently visited Westwood and really speaks glowingly of the program.
Coach Chip Kelly's recruiting struggles so far in his first year-plus as the new head coach of the Bruins are well-documented. It certainly didn't come as easily in his first full cycle with the 2019 class as it did back in the day when dynamic playmakers were lining up to join his Oregon Ducks.
UCLA is one of those programs that should recruit itself to kids out West, but why hasn't it?
Ringo could change things. He's an almost certain instant-impact starter with the Bruins, who could use their share of defensive difference-makers. Ringo's comments to BruinReport's Blair Angulo sound like UCLA definitely has a puncher's chance:
"I visited UCLA on Saturday and I was also down there a couple weeks ago, and it was great talking with coach Chip Kelly. I like UCLA a lot. They are about business. If you want to work hard and focus on what you've got to do, then it's a great place. I like coach Kelly's attitude a lot. They offered kind of late but that doesn't matter at all. They really go deep into their evaluations, a lot more than other schools. I have big interest in them."
Again, Ringo likes L.A., and he's made that evident in multiple interviews, but it also is a chance to go to a major program and help it rebuild while not being too far away from home.
That begs the question, why wouldn't he do that at Arizona or Arizona State instead? And that's something worth noting for sure. For whatever reason, though, the Bruins and Trojans are in the mix, and it doesn't seem like the home schools are.
He'd be a game-changer for the Bruins.
4. Washington Huskies
The Washington Huskies have staked their claim as the western version of DBU. Coach Chris Petersen's program continues to churn out multiple high-profile secondary-roamers each year, and this season is no different.
Byron Murphy and Taylor Rapp are leaving Seattle, and they will almost assuredly be high-round draft picks.
While the Huskies are loaded with young defensive backs like Keith Taylor, Elijah Molden, Brandon McKinney, Dominique Hampton, Julius Irvin and Kyler Gordon, you can never have too many. Defensive coordinator Jimmy Lake is a rising star in the industry, and kids gravitate toward him.
All those things have to be huge boosts for Ringo, who likes the Huskies a lot and even has one 247Sports Crystal Ball projection to them.
Still, it isn't like Washington is close to Scottsdale, so why are the Huskies deep in this race? You may not know this, but Ringo is a Seattle transplant, so he has familiarity with his former home city. He also likely still has family in the area.
When you factor in Ringo's ties to the Pacific Northwest, Washington's Pac-12 prowess and the school's ability to produce dynamic defensive backs who sign big paychecks in the NFL, it's not hard to see the allure for a guy like Ringo.
Lake is a great recruiter who will be pushing hard for Ringo's signature, and it's going to be interesting to see if a program like Washington or perhaps Oregon can convince him to spend his college days up there. It would be an ideal fit for both.
3. Ohio State Buckeyes
There were no boundaries when it came to Ohio State recruiting under Urban Meyer, and though he has a lot to prove as a coach, there's no reason to believe Ryan Day will do anything different than continue to build on that legacy.
The Buckeyes are already major players in Texas, and they're trying to extend their brand into Arizona.
Day and his staff keep almost daily contact with Ringo and elite safety Lathan Ransom, according to Ohio State blog Lettermen Row. New passing game coordinator Mike Yurcich recruits the area for OSU, and if he can land one or both of those guys, it'll be a huge coup.
Yes, Columbus is a long way away from Arizona, but Ringo's mother's airline job makes it a much more manageable situation. Also, there's no denying the NFL pipeline at the school when it comes to elite DBs.
Kendall Sheffield is going to be the latest, and the Buckeyes have a few guys on this year's roster who are can't-miss pro prospects. Marshon Lattimore, Denzel Ward, Gareon Conley, Malik Hooker and Eli Apple are just a few of the recent examples.
It also doesn't hurt OSU that Buckeyes 2020 quarterback commitment Jack Miller is from Scottsdale and has a relationship with Ringo, according to Eleven Warriors' Andrew Ellis.
When a player of Miller's prowess from Arizona commits to the Buckeyes, other elite players from the area take notice. Of course, a program like Ohio State speaks for itself, but when your peers are heading that way, it makes you take another look.
Ringo has visited Columbus before, and he probably will again. The Buckeyes will roll out the scarlet carpet when he does.
2. Oklahoma Sooners
Oklahoma needs defensive help, big-time help.
The Sooners took a major leap toward addressing that need when coach Lincoln Riley went out and plucked Ohio State assistant Alex Grinch to be his new coordinator. Oklahoma may be coming off back-to-back national titles if it'd had a passable defense the past couple of years.
But it didn't. It probably will before long.
Landing an impact defensive back like Ringo would go a long way toward helping the Sooners shore up a porous back end of the defense. Grinch will aid in that endeavor because he has a great relationship with the Arizona prospect, and the assistant's departure from Ohio State will hurt the Buckeyes, too.
That's a win-win for the Sooners.
"At Oklahoma, I talk with the whole defensive staff," Ringo told SBNation's Bud Elliott. "I talk with [defensive coordinator Alex] Grinch a lot; I knew him from my visit to Ohio State. When I figured out he moved to Oklahoma, we chopped it up and continued where we started from at O-State."
In that same article, Ringo mentions Ohio State and Texas, but just because the Sooners have been so bad on defense recently doesn't mean you should count them out.
It may actually help them because Ringo knows he can go in and play right away for a team that is going to be battling for the College Football Playoff every season.
Riley and Co. grabbed an elite player from Arizona in this cycle when 5-star quarterback Spencer Rattler decided to head to Norman, and just like with Jack Miller and Ohio State, that helps open the pipeline.
The Sooners would welcome Ringo through that pipeline with open arms.
1. Texas Longhorns
There's no question Kelee Ringo is really feeling the Texas Longhorns.
Last year, coach Tom Herman pulled an elite, versatile recruiting class that was mostly full of kids from outside the Lone Star State. While the 2020 group will have more of an instate flavor, Herman and Co. are going after some out-of-state stars. Ringo would be a centerpiece.
So far, 80 percent of his 247Sports Crystal Ball projections are for the 'Horns, and there are several reasons.
First of all, he just seems to be a fit with defensive coordinator Todd Orlando, Herman and the staff.
Also, according to Burnt Orange Nation's Cody Daniel:
"Longhorns offensive coordinator Tim Beck was once the head coach at Saguaro from 1993-95 before moving on to Missouri State, and furthermore, Ringo's current position coach, Bryant Westbrook, is a former Longhorns—Westbrook played cornerback at Texas before becoming the fifth overall pick in the 1997 NFL Draft."
That's a lot of reasons why Ringo is a fit for the 'Horns.
Ringo also told Elliott he likes Texas' aggressive style of DB play.
It's been well-documented how bad Texas' defensive backs were a year ago, but they improved throughout the year. Also, there are tons of young, talented potential playmakers back there like Caden Sterns, B.J. Foster, DeMarvion Overshown, Jalen Green and incoming guys like Kenyatta Watson and Tyler Owens.
Ringo, at least right now, looks like a strong bet to continue that recruiting prowess in the Longhorns secondary in 2020.
All recruiting information is from 247Sports, and rankings are from the 247Sports composite.
Brad Shepard covers college football for Bleacher Report. You can follow him on Twitter, @Brad_Shepard.