This week, Rivals.com will release the initial 2026 top 100 and there are already a group of teams that have a big boost over the others when it comes to player interest within the top 50. Here’s a look at 10 programs that they stand out. Early.
MORE 2026 RATINGS: Get to know the initial five stars | Gorney’s thoughts on class | Top 10 Countdown | Who should be number one? | Who is number one in each position?
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Among the top prospects in the country, Alabama will be involved with many of them and that’s no surprise as the Crimson Tide has recruited extraordinarily well since coach Nick Saban He arrived in Tuscaloosa.
Alabama is in the race for five-star DL Jahkeem Stewart, likely the starting lead for four-star linebacker Anthony Jones and then DL Bryce Perry-Wright, LB Tyler Atkinson, DB Zech Fort, TE Brock Harris and DL James Carrington. Crimson Tide on their initial roster.
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STATE OF FLORIDA
The Seminoles have excellent momentum in recruiting and on the football field, and top 2026 prospects are taking notice. From OL Keenyi Pepe to WR Jabari Brady to Atkinson, Fort, DE Camron Brooks, WR Calvin Russell, OL Maxwell Riley and Carrington, so many of the top prospects in 2026 are talking about the Seminoles it’s hard to believe that will not have a top. recruiting class of that cycle.
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Big surprise: Georgia will continue to recruit well. More than a dozen top-50 prospects spoke highly of the Bulldogs, and not only that, Georgia could be considered the favorite for many of them heading into the second half of their sophomore seasons.
Stewart, lineman Lamar Brown, Jones, tight end Kendre’ Harrison, Atkinson, Fort, Brooks, OL Ekene Ogboko, RB Savion Hiter and many more are interested in playing for the back-to-back national champions.
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While there were only a handful of players who named LSU among their early favorites, the good news for the Tigers is that many of them are state or regional prospects and there’s a good chance LSU can land them all.
Stewart is the five-star defensive end for New Orleans (La.) St. Augustine; Brown lives down the street and goes to the lab at Baton Rouge (La.) University. Aiden Hall is one of New Orleans (La.) Edna Karr’s top cornerbacks; It may be difficult to pry Jones away from Alabama, but LSU is making progress in recruiting her; and Tupelo, Mississippi defensive end JaReylan McCoy has LSU, Mississippi State and Auburn high on his list.
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Mario Cristobal and his staff are coming off a major win over Texas A&M, which can only help with recruiting, and a number of elite prospects – mostly in-state but also some nationally – are taking the Hurricanes more seriously. Pepe is one of them along with WR Malachi Toney, who is already committed, and WR Jabari Brady, a local prospect who also has Ohio State and others on his list.
Quarterback Dia Bell said the Hurricanes are recruiting him as hard as anyone and so did fellow QB Noah Grubbs. Local WR Calvin Russell and Los Angeles Loyola CB Brandon Lockhart are others who are also very interested.
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The Buckeyes already scored big in the 2026 class by signing five-star receiver Chris Henry, but Ohio State is far from done with elite talent. Another big WR, Jabari Brady, is also very interested in the Buckeyes, lineman Maxwell Riley has them among his top options, DL Bryce Perry-Wright mentioned Ohio State first when asked about his favorites, and DB Zech Fort and ATH Corey Sadley are also very interested from the beginning. in.
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Dan Lanning is bringing an SEC focus to the Pacific Northwest and it’s paying off, as the Ducks are winning on the field and in recruiting, too. The 2026 class shouldn’t slow down at all, as there are definitely some intriguing names to keep an eye on.
If Pepe decides to return West (he’s originally from Southern California), then Oregon could be in the mix. Tight end Brock Harris grew up in Oregon as a Ducks fan. It’s a two-team race between Oregon and USC for four-star CB Davon Benjamin. Other names to watch include RB DeZephen Walker and CB Hall and Lockhart.
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Penn State started off strong by landing its running back of the future in Camp Hill (Pa.) Trinity’s Messiah Mickens in August. Quarterback Dia Bell is being heavily pursued by the Nittany Lions, while Ekene Ogboko, Calvin Russell, RB Savion Hiter and Riley are four others to watch early on.
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SMU isn’t usually a team that makes these lists, but three top-50 elite players said the Mustangs are among their favorites all along. Rhett Lashlee and his staff doesn’t back down from the big guys, and according to one source, “believe it or not,” five-star Stewart has really liked SMU from the get-go.
Duncanville, Texas, defensive end Kevin Ford Jr. said SMU and Texas A&M are recruiting him the most, and University of Waco (Texas) standout London Smith also has SMU among his top schools.
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When the number one prospect in a recruiting class is committed to your program, others will follow because they want to play for him. Five-star quarterback Julian Lewis committed early to USC and several others are interested, including Pepe, who is from the area before transferring to Bradenton (Florida) IMG Academy, local cornerbacks Davon Benjamin and Brandon Lockhart and Santa Anna (Calif.) Mater. Dei linebacker Shaun Scott, who wore a USC headband in his season opener.
There is no doubt that many elite offensive playmakers will also be interested in the Trojans, as Lewis is committed and USC is averaging nearly 60 points per game this season.
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