football Edit

Fact or Fiction: The wrong DEs got their fifth stars

Matayo Uiagalelei
Matayo Uiagalelei

There are always debates when it comes to rankings and there were three specific ones during this week’s release. Rival Views, Rivals national recruiting analysts Adam Friedman and Ryan Wright take sides on three topics.



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Sunday: Who should be No. 1?

Monday: Five-Star Countdown | Meet the new five-stars | Latest recruiting news on five-stars

Tuesday: Rivals250 released | Biggest Risers | Gorney's thoughts | Teams that should be pleased

Wednesday: Offensive position rankings released | Five-stars on flip watch | Three big offensive position rankings debates | Top player at each offensive position

Thursday: Defensive position rankings released | Top player at each defensive position

Friday: State rankings released

Saturday: Roundtable



1. The wrong defensive ends got their fifth stars.

UPDATED RANKINGS: Strongside defensive end | Weakside defensive end

Friedman’s take: FICTION. I wouldn’t say the wrong defensive ends got elevated to five-star status because I do really like what Damon Wilson and Matayo Uiagalelei bring to the table. Both of them have five-star ceilings, but I do think a few other defensive ends deserve another look to potentially earn their fifth star. Jaquavious Russaw, Kelby Collins and Gabriel Harris all have unique abilities that make them a really difficult matchup and their skills do translate to the next level. It will be interesting to see how all five of these players perform during all-star season and whether or not we’re able to add another one or two more five-star defensive ends, or if one or two may drop from the prestigious ranking.

Wright’s take: FICTION. The two new five-stars at defensive end are Florida’s Damon Wilson and California’s Matayo Uiagalelei. Both players are impact talents for their squads, week after week taking on some of the best teams in the country. Uiagalelei is a pass rushing force with great athletic ability for his size. Wilson is long with a burst off the snap getting inside offensive tackles before they set. Wilson and Uiagalelei are players collegiate offensive coordinators will have to scheme against with potential of being first-round NFL Draft picks.


2. James Smith should be the No. 1 defensive tackle.

UPDATED RANKINGS: Defensive tackle

Friedman’s take: FACT. James Smith moved up to No. 1 at defensive tackle in this rankings update but the debate is not over. Smith is a unique talent that can play all across the defensive line. He has the power to beat nearly any interior offensive lineman and the technique to get by any almost any offensive tackle he comes across. That being said, guys like Peter Woods, Jason Moore and Jordan Hall all have special talents that could push them to the top of this position ranking. All-star season will again be extremely important to help figure out this position battle. It will be interesting to see how the more athletic interior defensive lineman like Moore and Hall stack up against some of the bigger, stronger offensive linemen they’ll face. The same can be said for Smith and Woods, who may find their quickness and athleticism negated by the extremely talented offensive lineman they will be matched up with.

Wright’s take: FICTION. I'd go with Peter Woods. Putting the whole package together, Woods stands out as the top prospect at his position. What Woods has above the others is versatility, speed, and multiple polished moves off the line of scrimmage. Because Woods is ahead of the curve, if initially stunted, he has secondary moves to keep working to the quarterback to impact the play. The pressure he applies is relentless and he can chase down plays. When he lines up for Clemson, the Tigers can move him around from tackle to end creating mismatches.



3. There will be another five-star defensive back.

UPDATED RANKINGS: Cornerback | Safety

Friedman’s take: FACT. There probably will be another five-star defensive back before the end of this ranking cycle. There are just too many highly ranked cornerbacks for there not to be one that ends up really standing out and showing development during the all-star season. AJ Harris has the inside track as the highest-ranked cornerback at this point, but there are plenty of other candidates that could make that move. I’ve been a fan of Bravion Rogers throughout the process but prospects such as Malik Muhammad and Jermaine Mathews have been impressive on film as well.

Wright’s take: FACT. Georgia corner commit AJ Harris has all the makings of a five-star talent. One thing Harris does unlike most corners, he will hit. Harris plays corner like a hard-nosed safety ready to bring the pain on contact. His speed and burst are on par with his peers, and he makes plays. Some of the small details to his game, like getting caught flat-footed reading a play, will improve at the next level. Factoring in the athleticism, speed and playmaking skills, Harris is a strong contender for a fifth star.