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January 31, 2014

Weekend Visits: Florida hosting Prince

MORE: Roundtable: Most to gain from final visits?

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Less than a week from National Signing Day, battles for the top uncommitted prospects are coming down to the wire. Just as important, coaching staffs are working to make sure they hold on to their current commitments.

So closing the deal during late official visits is key, and there are plenty of big weekends on tap. Here is a look at some of the top storylines developing around visit weekends across the country.

Official Visit Weekend Preview: Jan. 31, 2014
It's down to Florida or Maryland for the state of Maryland's top prospect, Damian Prince. All signs point to this being a legitimate toss-up, with the folks in Gainesville benefitting from the five-star's final visit. Prince's best friend, Jalen Tabor, chose Florida over Randy Edsall's bunch but that doesn't necessarily discount the third-year head coach's chances. Maryland's top prepster a year ago, Stefon Diggs, surprised many when he decided to stay home.
If Ohio State is able to land Malik McDowell, Sparty may counter with Rivals100 offensive lineman Jamarco Jones. The four-star prospect has been committed to Ohio State since June but with Mike Vrabel departing for Texas, Jones may no longer be a shoe-in.

After snaking LSU's official visit last weekend, it may be Michigan State's turn to receive a late blow. Five-star Malik McDowell hails from Michigan, but there's something about playing for Urban Meyer that makes defecting palatable. Former Rutgers-commit and tight end prospect David Njoku is also rumored to be visiting.

Another casualty of the James Franklin departure, Michael Sawyers' decommitment from Vanderbilt has caused a frenzy among those looking for defensive line help. The 6-foot-2, 300-pound heavy from Nashville visited Georgia Tech on Jan. 17, Ole Miss last weekend, and had initially planned to tour Notre Dame on Friday. Those plans have changed, however, and Sawyers will instead travel to nearby Knoxville.
The Horned Frogs could put a lot of distance between themselves and last season's four-win season with a commitment from Braden Smith. The nation's No. 50 overall prospect, Smith has been largely mum on his recruitment to this point, saying only that it's down to Auburn, Texas A&M and TCU. Gary Patterson gets his chance to woo the offensive lineman this weekend and should receive a boost from Smith's sister, a member of the Horned Frogs' track and field team.

Things keep rolling along for UCLA. Already in the mix for stud linebacker Rashaan Evans, rumors are swirling that the Bruins may be able to sway another SEC-commit, Malachi Dupre. LSU still has the inside track, but with temperatures near 70 degrees in scenic Westwood this weekend and quarterback Brett Hundley opting to toss the pigskin for another year, conditions are ripe for a change of heart.

One year ago, Cavs' coach Mike London signed a pair of five-stars despite going 2-6 in ACC play. After going 0-8 this fall, London's making a late push for the nation's No. 4 defensive tackle, Derrick Nnadi. The Virginia Beach-native doesn't speak to the media but a Tuesday in-home reportedly couldn't have gone better, and Nnadi will trip to Charlottesville this weekend. Whether it's enough to supplant Florida State and Virginia Tech as favorites remains to be seen.

WEST VIRGINIA: WVSports.com | Visit Dates | Commit List
Four-star committed prospects Dravon Henry and William Crest headline the list of those headed to Morgantown this weekend. One player not in the Mountaineers camp is D'Cota Dixon. A 5-foot-11, defensive back from Florida, Dixon reportedly favors Wisconsin over West Virginia and Michigan State, but a strong final push could make the difference.

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