football Edit

Fact or Fiction: Samuel M'Pemba is the most intriguing five-star

Rivals national recruiting director Adam Gorney along with national recruiting analysts Clint Cosgrove and Ryan Wright and Jed May of tackle three topics and determine whether they believe each statement is FACT or FICTION.



Previews: Who should be No. 1? | Which QB should be next to receive a fifth star? | Can Nico Iamaleava unseat Arch Manning as No. 1 QB? | Who is the best defensive lineman?

Monday: Five-Star Countdown | Meet the new five-stars

Tuesday: New Rivals250 released | Gorney's thoughts | Biggest movers

Wednesday: Offensive position rankings released | Five schools that should be pleased

Thursday: Defensive position rankings released

Friday: State rankings released

Saturday: Rival Views

Sunday: Who will move up most in the next Rivals250?


1. Samuel M'Pemba is the most intriguing five-star in the 2023 class.

Gorney’s take: FACT. Nyckoles Harbor is definitely one of the more intriguing players in this class but in many ways we know what he will be at the next level – a phenomenal athlete who will come off the edge and use his physical skills to be a special defensive player. When it comes to Samuel M’Pemba that’s a little less clear. M’Pemba could definitely be an edge rusher, an awesome outside linebacker and it wouldn’t be completely stunning to see him on offense at times as well.

Cosgrove’s take: FICTION. The only reason I say fiction here is due to the fact that I find both M'Pemba and Harbor to be the most intriguing five-stars in this class. They are both players capable of playing a number of positions, have incredible physical gifts and unlimited ceilings when it comes to how good they can eventually be.

M'Pemba is really intriguing because he is relatively new to football and has only played since seventh grade. He has great size, is twitched up, skilled and explosive. Then factor in that he has never focused on one position, and you begin to really wonder how good he can be once given the chance to fully develop. At 6-foot-5 and 235 pounds, Harbor has legit world-class speed and that alone makes him one of the most intriguing prospects there is. He is raw as a football player, but still managed to rack up 17 sacks off the edge and five touchdowns as a TE. When a player is that productive at the "raw" stage of their career and brings elite athleticism with great size, you cannot help but be intrigued about what the future holds.


2. Four of the top six receivers in the 2023 class are from Florida. Carnell Tate could end up being the best one.

Gorney’s take: FACT. No position is absolutely solidified this early in the rankings cycle and while it might be tough to overcome Brandon Inniss as the No. 1 receiver because he’s so good, maybe Carnell Tate would be the guy to do it. The Bradenton (Fla.) IMG Academy standout was excellent this past season and has been so consistent and unstoppable so far on the 7-on-7 circuit that he’s going to be in the conversation. He flashes all the time, has some of the best hands in the class and it could be a three-way race for that top spot with Inniss, Tate and Shelton Sampson from Baton Rouge (La.) Catholic.

Wright’s take: FACT. Tate is as talented with as much upside as any receiver in the country. The daily grind at IMG Academy will help his development along with playing on the 7-on-7 circuit with South Florida Express. Tate, 7-on-7 teammates with Inniss and Hykeem Williams, get to see the best of the best every weekend. Inniss is a superb athlete built like a running back. Williams has size, speed and hands; the game just comes naturally to him. Jalen Brown and Tate are similar in size and playmaking abilities. Brown has so many releases and glides down the field, getting separation with ease. Who will be the best will be heavily influenced by upcoming camps and senior year production.


3. RB Justice Haynes had a great recent visit to Clemson but Georgia is still the front-runner in his recruitment. 

Justice Haynes
Justice Haynes (

Gorney’s take: FACT. After his visit to Clemson where Dabo Swinney gave an impassioned speech about the program, his vision and how he got to reach the highest points of college football, Justice Haynes said it was the best speech he’s ever heard from a coach. It might be enough to convince the No. 1 running back to play for Swinney. But the Roswell (Ga.) Blessed Trinity standout also has a fantastic relationship with many Georgia coaches. He’s a legacy there and the Bulldogs have always been considered the team to beat in his recruitment. I don’t think that has changed yet.

May’s take: FACT. Haynes had a great visit to Clemson, and there’s no doubt the Tigers have closed the gap somewhat. But one visit can’t make up for the lead Georgia has held in this recruitment. There are the obvious legacy ties there. But Haynes also has a very strong relationship with Kirby Smart, Dell McGee and the rest of the Bulldog coaching staff. They are making him feel like a top priority in this class, as evidenced by his invite to the national championship celebration on Jan. 15. Other schools are still working to land Haynes, but Georgia has the lead as of now.