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Recruiting Notes: SoCal Shootout

LYNWOOD, Calif. – The SoCal Shootout presented by Premium Sports was held Saturday and many top 7-on-7 teams were in attendance. Here is the latest recruiting news and notes from the event.

MORE: What if West stars picked other schools?

PLEDGER BACK IN CALIFORNIA

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T.J. Pledger transferred from West Hills (Calif.) Chaminade to Bradenton (Fla.) IMG Academy this offseason and the four-star running back has a top list that’s not so heavy on Pac-12 teams.

Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Clemson, Tennessee, Georgia, UCLA and Oregon made the cut for Pledger, who said moving to the South for his senior season has definitely influenced his recruitment as well.

“Just seeing what the South is like, playing on the East Coast is definitely intriguing,” Pledger said. “I really only have two West Coast schools that I’m talking to and considering so it’s definitely changed my outlook.”

Ranked as the fifth-best running back in the class, Pledger has been to Tennessee, Georgia and Clemson recently. He’s planning a return trip to Oklahoma soon and he’ll go to Nebraska for the first time for the Huskers’ spring game.

MCKEE PLANNING VISITS

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A round of unofficial visits in the coming weeks will be important for four-star quarterback Tanner McKee, who expects to see North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama and Texas soon.

The Longhorns offered the Corona (Calif.) Centennial recently.

“I’m really excited,” McKee said. “I’ve been texting with (Tom) Herman a lot to see how they’re going to get things going over there. I’m going to take a visit down there and see how things are going.”

A devout Mormon, McKee is planning to take a two-year LDS mission directly after high school. BYU and Stanford had been early front-runners but McKee said he remains open to all programs. LSU is showing more interest.

RADLEY-HILES UPDATES STATUS

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Another Bradenton (Fla.) IMG Academy transfer from California, four-star Brendan Radley-Hiles said UCLA and Nebraska are the leaders in his recruitment.

“It’s Nebraska and UCLA right now,” Radley-Hiles said. “They have the edge for me right now.”

The former Calabasas, Calif., standout said he’s going to try to visit UCLA again during his spring break in California and he’ll make another trip to Nebraska for its spring game.

Former Calabasas teammates Tristan Gebbia and Keyshawn Johnson Jr., signed with the Huskers last recruiting cycle and that, among other things, could really playing in Nebraska’s favor.

Notre Dame, Michigan and Texas have been talking much more with Radley-Hiles, who said he’s also now getting closer with schools in the South ever since transferring to IMG Academy.

“It’s gotten me involved with the South a lot and I’ve been able to see schools I hadn’t been able to reach,” Radley-Hiles said. “Going to Florida State for the second time, it was a good vibe being able to talk to the coaches and seeing what they think of me.”

THOMAS HAS SOME FAVORITES

Arizona State, Washington State and Colorado are the early frontrunners for three-star wide receiver Dylan Thomas, who is really looking at programs where he can be heavily utilized in the passing game.

The Santa Fe Springs, Calif., standout said he’s been hearing more from UCLA and definitely wants to get more involved with Oregon soon. Thomas would also be open to pass-heavy Big 12 programs getting involved in his recruitment.

RISING TALKS RECENT TRIP

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Four-star quarterback and Oklahoma commit Cameron Rising recently took a trip to Oregon and he was impressed by what the Ducks had to offer but he said he remains fully committed to the Sooners.

The Newbury Park, Calif., recruit who’s rated as the third-best pro-style quarterback said he was hoping Oregon would offer teammate Josh Madison on the trip but it didn’t happen yet.

As for meeting first-year coach Willie Taggart, Rising said “he’s a very good guy” and the four-star seemed to really like how he connected with the Oregon players but still the Sooners have him locked up.

WARE-HUDSON TALKS RECRUITING

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Oregon has been a favorite of 2019 defensive end Keyon Ware-Hudson for a long time and so when the Ducks recently offered it was definitely a big deal. Tennessee and Louisville were the others to offer in the last couple weeks.

“Oregon was a dream school since I played with the I.E. Ducks so we’re going to visit sometime in May,” Ware-Hudson said. “They’ll be a top school.”

As it stands now, Oregon, USC, UCLA, Alabama and Ole Miss are looking strong early in Ware-Hudson’s recruitment. Florida State and Ohio State have been showing the most new interest.

STEELE SOLID TO UCLA

Chris Steele is a top 2019 prospect so he still has a lot of time left in the recruiting process but the Bellflower (Calif.) St. John Bosco recruit made an early pledge to UCLA that sure sounds like it will stick.

“UCLA was my dream school so I just felt like it was the best fit for me,” Steele said. “That’s where I’ve always wanted to go since I was a little kid.”

Steele met former UCLA coach Rick Neuheisel and then has developed a strong relationship with coach Jim Mora and especially defensive backs coach Demetrice Martin. His uncle was former UCLA player, the late Bruce Walker.

Other visits could happen though. Steele said Ohio State commit Jaiden Woodbey is pushing him to visit the Buckeyes with him this spring and he also wants to see LSU, Michigan and Notre Dame soon.

BLAYLOCK HAS FAVORITES

Oregon, UCLA and Nebraska have emerged as the three early favorites for four-star cornerback Stephan Blaylock and he could visit all three schools soon.

The Bellflower (Calif.) St. John Bosco standout is heading up to Oregon, he could return to UCLA for spring practice and there’s a good chance Blaylock will go out to Lincoln for Nebraska’s spring game.

Getting a better feel for all those schools will be important to Blaylock, who continues to develop a strong bond with UCLA defensive backs coach Demetrice Martin.

“We talk a lot,” Blaylock said. “He never leaves me out on anything. We’re getting closer and closer.”

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