Foster Sarell, the No. 2 player overall in the Class of 2017, committed to Stanford during Saturday’s U.S. Army All-American Bowl in San Antonio.
Sarell, an offfensive tackle, had finalists of Nebraska, Notre Dame, Stanford, USC and Washington. He had taken official visits to all of them, except Stanford, but visited Palo Alto numerous times unofficially.
“It was really tough, it was a lot of deciding and meeting with my family, rethinking everything,” Sarell said this week. “It comes down to best fit, where you want to be and that’s where it came down for me.”
WHAT WE LEARNED: Five observations from the Army Bowl
At 6-6 and 311, Sarell is massive, but shows great athleticism for his size in pass blocking and opening holes in the run game.
“It was amazing this whole process, and it’s been incredible,” he said Saturday. “It’s been my dream school since I was a little kid. Just follow your heart and I think it led me to the right place.”
Stanford also has a commitment from offensive tackle Walker Little, who is ranked No. 19 overall and as the No. 4 offensive tackle, according to the 247Sports Composite rankings. Stanford also has commitments from No. 1 pro style quarterback Davis Mills and top tight end Colby Parkinson.
Sarell, from Graham-Kapowsin (Graham, Wash.), was named the winner of the Anthony Munoz Lineman of the Year during the U.S. Army All-American Bowl Award Show on Friday night, presented to the top senior offensive or defensive lineman.
The award is named for the Hall of Fame offensive lineman who spent 13 seasons with the Cincinnati Bengals.
WR Jamire Calvin to Oregon State
Wide receiver Jamire Calvin became the first player to commit during the U.S. Army All-American Bowl when he selected Oregon State in an emotional moment with his family.
Calvin, from Cathedral (Los Angeles), is ranked as the No. 36 wide receiver by the 247Sports Composite.
His finalists had been Alabama, Nebraska, Notre Dame, Oregon State and Washington State with many analysts thinking he would be heading to Nebraska. He also received a New Year’s Day offer from Baylor.
“Originally my mind was set on another school, but in the past few days talking with everybody, talking with my dad and the other guys, I had a heart change,” he said. “Being able to play with my best friend is just a blessing.”
The Beavers also have a commitment from Jeffrey Manning, a Cathedral defensive back.
Calvin had 86 catches for more than 1,300 yards with 17 touchdowns.Eno Benjamin to Arizona State
Eno Benjamin, from Wylie East (Wylie, Texas), selected Arizona State during the broadcast.
Ranked as the No. 8 running back, he had a final five of Arizona State, Baylor, Texas, Utah and Michigan.
Benjamin visited Arizona State in October and said he made his decision in November, although he kept it quiet until Saturday.
A finalist for Army Player of the Year, he was an Iowa commit who was among the players who decommitted after defying Iowa’s policy by taking other official visits. He is ranked as the No. 8 running back and will be the highest-ranked running back commit of the Todd Graham era at Arizona State.“I will be committed to Arizona State University,” Benjamin said. “They really had what I was looking for in a program as far as academics. If I wasn’t playing football that wold be a school that I would love to attend.”
Benjamin, who has a 3.94 GPA, is planning to student business law. “That was a huge factor, knowing how many connections you can have coming out of that program.”
Benjamin could potentially redshirt, given Arizona State’s senior depth at the position. He will report in January.
Chuck Filiaga to Michigan
The 6-6, 335-pound Filiaga moved from California to Aledo (Texas) before his senior year of high school after living in American Samoa, but he isn’t heading west for college. Filiaga picked Michigan at the Army Bowl.
“It feels great,” he said after his commitment. “It takes a lot of pressure off me and I can’t wait to get up there.”
He chose Michigan over Oklahoma and Nebraska. He is listed as the No. 14 offensive tackle.
Offensive tackle was a huge priority for Michigan in this class, and head coach Jim Harbaugh handled Filiaga’s recruitment in the last month.
“Coach Harbaugh has made me a huge priority,” Filiaga told 247Sports this week. “He’s wanted to know if I am a team guy and not a ‘fame and fortune’ type of player, and that fits me perfectly. I have stayed quiet during my recruitment because I’m not big into the attention and would prefer to help my team, focus on my goals and hone my craft as an offensive lineman.”
Bubba Bolden returns to USC
Bolden committed to USC for a second time at the Army Bowl.
The safety from Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas) committed to the Trojans in December 2015 and then decommitted in July 2016 before his senior season.
Ranked as the No. 6 safety, Bolden was being pursued by Ohio State, where high school teammates Tate Martell, Haskell Garrett and Tyjon Lindsey have committed.
Arizona State remained in the mix because Bolden’s teammate and fellow defensive back Alex Perry had committed to the Sun Devils.
“I will be taking my talents to the University of Southern California,” he said. “My family has supported me throughout this whole thing and they love USC. Got great coaches out there and I feel like I can go in and make a great impact.”
Darnay Holmes to UCLA
Ranked as the No. 12 player overall, cornerback Darnay Holmes choose UCLA.
“At the end of the day, you’ve got go where family is at and make sure that you’re going to be taken care of,” said Holmes from Calabasas (Calif.). “Some college coaches might tell you things that might be true or might be true, but you’ve always got to stay to close to family and always keep God first.”
The reference to family is to Demetrice Martin, UCLA’s assistant head coach and defensive backs coach. Holmes has said Martin has been “like family” to his family for years.
He chose from among Nebraska, Ohio State, USC and UCLA and made a last-minute decision after his family arrived in San Antonio for the Army Bowl on Thursday.
At one point, the Bruins were seemingly the favorite, but he visited Ohio State for the Michigan game and got an in-home visit from Ohio State coaches before the dead period began in mid-December. USC also was a strong contender late in the process. He was leaning toward USC earlier in the week.
Holmes is an early enrollee.Jeffrey Okudah to Ohio State
Ranked as the No. 7 player overall, the cornerback from South Grand Prairie (Grand Prairie, Texas) selected Ohio State over Oklahoma and Florida. Ohio State has long been considered the favorite and was the choice at the Army Bowl.
“When I got there, I was just comfortable with the coaching staff and the plan they set up for me,” he said when asked why Ohio State, “They’re put a lot of defensive backs in the NFL. Also, because of life outside of football. They had the whole nine yards.”
He also cited the reputation of the Fisher College of Business at Ohio State.
“When I researched all the schools, the best program was the Fisher College of Business,” he said. “I was a little taken aback by that.”