USA TODAY High School Sports‘ Friday Night Notes is a weekly high school recruiting recap that looks at the latest news from around the country—from the Class of 2023 to ’24 and beyond.
The top remaining undecided recruit in the class of 2023 has finally made his decision.
After months of speculation and anticipation, Pinnacle (Ariz.) five-star tight end prospect Duce Robinson announced his commitment to USC. Robinson did it by sharing a slick and touching video on social media.
#PLAY ✌🏾 pic.twitter.com/gI1zBLioiT
— Duce Robinson (@Ducerobinson2) March 31, 2023
Robinson (6-foot-6, 225 pounds) is a multi-sport athlete who has drawn comparisons to Ravens Pro Bowl tight end Mark Andrews and was an extremely popular recruit. He had offers from 28 other schools, with Georgia and Texas being the other top contenders for his commitment.
Robinson told ESPN that USC made the most sense for him.
“It kind of just felt like whichever one made the most sense, kind of came down to those three schools between Georgia, USC and Texas, I had great relationships with all those staffs and I’ve been talking to all those staffs for multiple years now. But at the end of the day, we kind of just had to sit down and discuss the school that was going to make the most the most sense to us.”
The already-loaded Trojans are getting a remarkable pass-catcher in Robinson. As a senior, he posted 84 catches, 1,614 yards, and 14 touchdowns.
Going by the composite rankings, he is No. 1 among tight ends in 2023 and No. 17 overall in his class. Robinson is the third five-star prospect in a USC class that ranks No. 7 in the country.
Tennessee adds another top-10 QB recruit
USC isn’t the only school that got a big recruit this week.
On Thursday, Calvary Day School (Ga.) four-star quarterback Jake Merklinger announced his commitment to Tennessee.
4 Star QB Jake Merklinger has just committed to the Vols over in state Georgia. 🍊🍊 pic.twitter.com/dO2CB2ppPv
— Hewitt Pruitt (@HewittPruitt) March 30, 2023
With current starter Hendon Hooker projected to be taken late in the first or early in the second round of the upcoming 2023 NFL draft, there will soon be an opening at the top of the depth chart here. However, Merklinger has some serious competition – most notably from Warren (Calif.) five-star QB Nico Iamaleava, the second-ranked QB in the class of 2023.
Going by the composite rankings, Merklinger (6-foot-3, 195 pounds) is No. 6 among quarterbacks in the class of 2024 and No. 55 overall. He had offers from 27 other programs, including Auburn, Florida, Georgia, Miami and Ole Miss.
You can read more about Merklinger at Vols Wire.
Colorado commit wins MVP at Rivals camp
Colorado has become the hottest recruiting hub in the nation since Coach Prime was hired in December. So far, the highest-ranked recruit that Deion Sanders has gotten is IMG Academy (Fla.) five-star wide receiver Winston Watkins Jr.
Watkins put himself on the map with a strong sophomore season, posting 25 catches, 393 yards and 10 touchdowns in nine games. This week his stock rose even further, as he earned rave reviews at Rivals camp and was named their wide receiver MVP.
Here’s a look at a spectacular one-handed catch he made for a touchdown.
Another view of the catch of the day made by Colorado commit Winston Watkins Jr.@winstonwatkins_ | @CUSportsNation | @adamgorney | 🎥: @KiddRyno_Rivals pic.twitter.com/Gr5zeM2rMO
— Rivals (@Rivals) March 27, 2023
The nephew of NFL wide receiver Sammy Watkins, Winston is ranked No. 6 among wide receivers in his class (2025) and No. 24 overall.
You can read more about Watkins Colorado Buffaloes Wire.
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