Rivals.com - Fact or Fiction: Gunner Stockton has locked up his five-star ranking
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Fact or Fiction: Gunner Stockton has locked up his five-star ranking

Rivals national recruiting director Adam Gorney along with national recruiting analysts Adam Friedman and Sam Spiegelman and social media lead Woody Wommack tackle three topics and determine whether they believe each statement.


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1. After another big performance this past weekend, Georgia QB commit Gunner Stockton has locked up his ranking as a five-star.

Gunner Stockton
Gunner Stockton (Chad Simmons / Rivals.com)

Gorney’s take: FICTION. Only a few prospects in the 2022 class have locked up their five-star status as rankings will remain very fluid through their important senior seasons and even more important all-star events where it’s best-on-best at every position. I love a lot about Gunner Stockton’s game from his leadership abilities to his skill reading defenses and reacting off it, his dual-threat abilities as not only a runner but a thrower on the run and his never-say-die attitude. But I have not seen an elite passer up to this point compared to other quarterbacks in this class. Being ranked below five-star status is hardly a knock on anyone’s abilities and Stockton is still one of the best quarterbacks in this class. Do I see a future first-rounder though? I still need to see more to determine one way or another.

Friedman’s take: FICTION. Stockton lit up the scoreboard this past weekend and Georgia fans should be really excited about getting him in uniform next year. He's going to finish his high school career with one of the best stat lines in the storied history of Georgia high school football but his five-star status as a prospect is up in the air. Stockton has plenty of arm talent but what really stands out is how he's able to quickly see what the defense is trying to do and deliver the ball to the correct receiver. Watching the tape, the large majority of Stockton's passes are quick screens or deep routes off of play action. In games he hasn't thrown the short or intermediate crossing routes, the deep timing routes, or those very difficult second-level passes very often. Five-star quarterbacks need to be able to throw those passes with ease and a high completion percentage. Stockton's athleticism adds a special wrinkle to his game and defenders have had a very hard time keeping him from big chunks of yards with his legs. In terms of Stockton's ranking, nothing will be finalized until after the postseason all-star games so there is a lot more to evaluate between now and then.



2. Cormani McClain could make an argument as the top 2023 cornerback.

Cormani McClain
Cormani McClain (Rivals.com)

Gorney’s take: FICTION. I definitely think Cormani McClain is one of the best cornerbacks in the 2023 class and that he could be a five-star over the long term as we see everyone in this class but I still prefer AJ Harris because of his physical abilities. There is no doubt McClain is off to a phenomenal start in his junior season and he’s a playmaker at the cornerback spot. I really love his game and his length. Harris, though, is already physically dominant, he can push receivers off their routes, he can run with anybody, he closes and can jump to knock away or pick off passes. I like McClain a whole lot; I just think Harris edges him out right now.

Wommack’s take: FACT. After getting a chance to watch McClain play in person you can see why so many schools are high on him. He's essentially brand new to the cornerback position but already has the type of instincts you can't coach. Through his first two games of the season, he's forced five turnovers and he has several pass breakups. His ability to read and react without taking unnecessary risks is the stuff that defensive backs coaches love to see from a prospect. Add in his height, length and athleticism and he has the makings of an elite prospect.


3. Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei is the best team in the country - and that includes IMG.

Raleek Brown
Raleek Brown

Gorney’s take: FACT. I understand that Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei is a private school and so it has built-in recruiting advantages that public schools don’t have but this question is about whether it is the best team in the country and I would say yes. Not only does Mater Dei have elite players at nearly every position but it is so well-coached, so closely intertwined throughout the program that it almost never makes big mistakes and plays fantastic football together. IMG has more high-level players across the board but many of those players have only played together for just weeks, not years. This might not be a discussion of Mater Dei or IMG as there are many other quality programs in the country including conference foe Bellflower (Calif.) St. John Bosco but my guess is if Mater Dei and IMG lined up on Friday night, Mater Dei would come out victorious.

Spiegelman’s take: FACT. It certainly has a case, and after each of its blue-chip recruits made plays en route to a lopsided road defeat of Duncanville, it's hard to imagine a more talented team in the country. Offensively, it is equipped with home-run threat Raleek Brown and CJ Williams able to move the sticks in the passing game. Defensively, there's a handful of players in the front seven, including Malaki Te'o who can cover a ton of ground at linebacker and David Bailey, who's a force off the edge, as well as a pair of Pac-12 commitments in the secondary, including five-star Domani Jackson, who had a pick-six to open this game up. That was as convincing a win in one of these national tilts in recent memory.