football Edit

Comparing 2021 prospects to past stars: Nos. 41-50

The class of 2021 player rankings were recently released and it got us to thinking about who some of these high school stars remind us of. We break them down 10 at a time this week.

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CLASS OF 2021 RANKINGS: Rivals250 | Position | Team | State

CLASS OF 2022 RANKINGS: Rivals250 | Position | Team | State

COVERAGE: Rivals Transfer Tracker | Rivals Camp Series

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No. 50 - ILB Keith Brown

Overview: Brown committed to Oregon in November and while many programs offered, the Ducks were always considered the favorite. The four-star is a quintessential middle linebacker who hunts down plays, tracks the quarterback, breaks through the line of scrimmage to make tackles and loves to diagnose plays, attack the ball and get people to the ground. Brown’s athleticism and versatility are on display when he switches over to offense shining at running back and catching the ball out of the backfield, but he’s a linebacker the whole way.

Comparison: Blake Martinez, Stanford

Farrell’s take: Brown is a big prospect and reminds me of Martinez at the same stage although he’s even bigger. Martinez was always a heady player who diagnosed things well and Brown has those same instincts. If he can have a career similar to Martinez in college and beyond, he will have made it.

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No. 49 - WDE Ja'Tavion Sanders

Overview: In September of his junior season, Sanders committed to Texas over mainly Texas A&M but Alabama as well. The four-star has tremendous speed off the edge, does an excellent job of getting off blocks, getting his hands up, picking off passes and using his speed and athleticism to get to the edge. As he continues to gain weight and utilize that burst to the outside, Sanders could be a major force in Texas’ defense.

Comparison: Eli Harold, Virginia

Farrell’s take: Harold may not be a household name but he was an impressive pass rusher at the high school and college level. Sanders has a similar hybrid build and can rush the passer and run plays down. Harold has bounced around the NFL after being a third-round pick in 2015 and had 17.5 sacks in college and 9 in the NFL.

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No. 48 - DT Tywone Malone

Overview: Ohio State is considered the front-runner for Malone, who is also serious about Ole Miss, Texas A&M and others. The four-star is versatile as a defensive tackle since he can line up in the gaps, shoot them and live in the backfield. He can stunt, he can bull rush and overpower offensive linemen and he does an excellent job finishing plays as well. For someone his size, Malone’s athleticism is impressive and he’s used sparingly on offense and special teams, too.

Comparison: Caleb Brantley, Florida

Farrell’s take: Malone is a muscled-up tackle with a powerful build and Brantley was the same way out of high school. While Brantley was a tad wider but played with power and passion and was excellent at stuffing the run. Brantley left school a year too early and was a late-round NFL pick. He’s still with Washington.

No. 47 - OT Terrence Ferguson

Overview: Ferguson picked Alabama over Florida State and Georgia this summer and it could be another massive recruiting win for the Crimson Tide. There are some who believe Ferguson is actually underrated even ranked this high and that he could actually push to be the top-ranked offensive tackle in this class. His versatility sets him apart since Ferguson can shine at offensive tackle or guard and does everything well on the field.

Comparison: Greg Robinson, Auburn

Farrell’s take: Ferguson is a very agile and athletic offensive lineman who could play tackle or guard at the next level. Robinson was an elite and athletic guard prospect out of high school who could also play tackle and he went on to become the No. 2 overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft. He’s been considered a bust and has had legal issues, but he’s also shown flashes of greatness in college and the NFL.

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No. 46 - TE Thomas Fidone

Overview: Fidone committed to Nebraska on Wednesday in what could be one of the biggest recruiting victories for the Huskers in recent memory. The four-star tight end can split out and create mismatch problems, he has excellent speed, great hands and Fidone makes tough catches look easy. Growing up a Nebraska fan, Fidone turned down Iowa, LSU and many other programs to play an hour down the road and he has superstar potential in coach Scott Frost’s offense.

Comparison: Brycen Hopkins, Purdue

Farrell’s take: When comparing Fidone to Hopkins, it’s clearly the college version I’m talking about as Hopkins was a raw two-star out of high school. The route running, separation and ability to stretch the field are all there and Hopkins ended up as a fourth-round pick in the last NFL Draft. Fidone could do better than that.

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No. 45 - WR Beaux Collins

Overview: Like many of Clemson’s elite receivers over the years, Collins could be next in line as a tall, outside receiver who can make plays, stretch the field and he looks like a million bucks, too. Against some of the best competition high school football has to offer, Collins made a lot of plays and caught a lot of passes from former Bosco teammate D.J. Uiagalelei and the two should reunite at Clemson in the coming years.

Comparison: Martavis Bryant, Clemson

Farrell’s take: Collins is easy to compare with many receivers physically as a big, angular kid with room to fill out. It’s the ability to adjust to the ball and make plays in the middle of the field that reminds me of Bryant. Collins is bigger at the same stage and it doesn’t hurt they are both Clemson guys for comparison but Collins is a bit bigger at the same stage. Bryant is an amazing talent but off field issues hurt him. Collins could be even more successful.

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No. 44 - OL Micah Morris

Overview: In April, Morris committed to Georgia over Alabama, Florida, Florida State and South Carolina. The four-star is young for his grade, so at 6-foot-5 and 334 pounds there’s a chance that he could get even bigger and more dominant. That’s scary to think because Morris already dominates in run and pass blocking, he pushes people around at will and his versatility is impressive because he has the footwork to play outside and the size and toughness to move to offensive guard long term as well.

Comparison: Navaughn Donaldson, Miami

Farrell’s take: Morris is a big bodied tackle who could also play inside and is more of a road-grader at this stage. Donaldson has been the anchor of the Miami offensive line the last few seasons but decided to redshirt this season and focus on 2021. He could be a second- or third-round draft pick down the line and Morris has the same size and power.

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No. 43 - WR Christian Leary

Overview: Leary committed to Alabama over Auburn, Florida, Florida State, Oklahoma and others in June as the Crimson Tide continue to hit the state of Florida for elite playmakers and wide receivers. A track star as well, Leary is one of the fastest players in this class, a game-breaker with make-you-miss ability every time he touches the ball. Ranked as the seventh-best receiver in the class, arguably no one is more dynamic than Leary except for Oklahoma commit Mario Williams, and maybe not even him.

Comparison: Tyreek Hill, Oklahoma State

Farrell’s take: Leary is a speedster and track star and he’s a thick kid despite not being that tall. He’s not as fast as Hill was or is, but not many are. Each has the ability to score from anywhere and are dynamic downfield.

No. 42 - TE Hudson Wolfe

Overview: Tennessee beat out Ohio State for Wolfe, who was also considering Alabama, Ole Miss and others but this felt like a two-team battle in the closing weeks before he made his decision. It’s huge for the Vols since Wolfe is such a massive target, he has great hands and he has good-enough speed to create separation and run away from defensive backs. Wolfe splits out a lot, plays in space and is definitely going to be a terrific red-zone target in Knoxville.

Comparison: Jake Butt, Michigan

Farrell’s take: This was a tough comparison but Butt is a solid choice here. Butt was an elite talent out of high school who used his body well and went on to become first team All-Big Ten twice and a fifth-round NFL pick. Wolfe boxes out as well as Butt and can out-physical defenders.

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No. 41 - WR Lorenzo Styles, Jr.

Overview: This was a Notre Dame-Ohio State battle and the Irish won out in October of his junior season with Auburn, Florida and Michigan among the other schools involved. Styles has impressive athleticism and playmaking ability and he’s used all over the field in high school whether in the slot, outside, lining up in the backfield and even at cornerback. That speed and athletic ability should be welcomed in Notre Dame’s offense as coach Brian Kelly and offensive coordinator Tommy Rees figure out all kinds of ways to get him the ball.

Comparison: Chris Culliver, South Carolina

Farrell’s take: Styles is a smooth athlete who could play defense if he wanted to and he has a good frame to fill. Culliver was a five-star out of high school who focused on offense but ended up as a defender in the NFL. Styles will likely stay on offense but he reminds me of Culliver with his speed and shiftiness.

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