Fact or Fiction: There could be five Alabama five-stars in 2023
Rivals national recruiting director Adam Gorney along with national recruiting analysts Sam Spiegelman and Adam Friedman tackle three recruiting or rankings topics and determine whether they believe each statement.
RIVALS RANKINGS WEEK
Wednesday: Offensive position rankings released
Thursday: Defensive position rankings released
Friday: State rankings
Saturday: Rivals Roundtable
CLASS OF 2023 RANKINGS: Rivals250
RIVALS CAMP SERIES: Info/coverage on 2021 camp series
1. Lebbeus Overton should still be the top-ranked defensive end in the 2023 class.
Gorney’s take: FICTION. I like Lebbeus Overton very much. He had a strong performance at the Rivals Five-Star Challenge this summer and he has an explosiveness that’s special at the defensive end spot. I definitely think he’s still a legitimate five-star prospect. But the field at defensive end is so good in the 2023 class that I don’t think Overton has completely separated himself from those players. David Hicks is excellent and then Brenan Vernon, James Smith, Jayden Wayne, Kelby Collins and Jordan Renaud could all be in that conversation. Overton is a fantastic player but that position is so loaded I wouldn’t have him right at the top but close to it.
Friedman’s take: FACT. Let me preface what I'm about to say with this: The 2023 defensive end class looks like the deepest in recent memory. There are 13 of them in the Rivals100 right now and 41 in the Rivals250. I'm a big fan of Hicks and he appears to be a surefire five-star but I'm still in the LT Overton camp. Overton did not have the best showings during camp season but he isn't a pass rusher that relies totally on his speed and that setting isn't where he thrives. His game is based on his special combination of strength, quickness, athleticism and advanced technique. Everything Overton does during the season should and does carry more weight than what happens in a camp setting and what makes him a special prospect is what he's been able to do on the field in the fall. Let's not forget that Overton did have 21.5 sacks as a sophomore, 20 sacks as a freshman, is an impressive basketball prospect and will take some handoffs as a running back this fall in certain situations.
2. Arch Manning is clearly the No. 1 prospect in the 2023 class.
Gorney’s take: FACT. Right now, I would say yes Arch Manning is clearly the No. 1 prospect in the 2023 class but it’s still very early and nothing can be for sure yet. Malachi Nelson is really talented and he’s going to a perfect situation for his skillset. There are also guys a little further down the list who could emerge for that No. 1 spot. But Manning has incredible talent, he is already well-seasoned at the position and the pedigree definitely doesn’t hurt. Manning is a super-gifted quarterback and I’m very comfortable with Manning at No. 1.
Spiegelman’s take: FACT. There might have been some hesitation at first glance with this 2023 class about not only the quarterback pecking order, but how the first few spots would line up. Overall, in terms of position importance and looking at the entire body of work so far, Manning has a very strong claim to the top spot. He is the top quarterback in a very talented coup of passers with a borderline obsession for understanding and mastering the position, not to mention all of the physical skills along with his family's background at the position. By the time Thanksgiving arrives, there's a strong chance that we feel very good about where Manning sits in the rankings.
3. There could be at least five five-stars from the state of Alabama in 2023.
Gorney’s take: FACT. Over the last decade, there was only one time that there were five five-stars in the state of Alabama and it was in 2014 when Marlon Humphrey, Racean Thomas, Rashaan Evans, Bo Scarbrough and Tre Williams earned that distinction. This 2023 group could be even better and there is a legitimate chance that there could be five - or possibly more - five-stars there again. James Smith and AJ Harris are the top candidates right now and then Kelby Collins has some of the best sophomore film in the country. I also wouldn’t count out Tony Mitchell, Jahlil Hurley and Peter Woods as well since the state is completely loaded with top players.
Spiegelman’s take: FICTION. I was torn trying to conjure up a response because Alabama is loaded with talent -- especially at the top -- in this 2023 class. Players like Smith, Harris and Mitchell are all at or close to the top of their position groups and inside the top-30 nationally. There's also uber-talented players like Hurley, who could continue to ascend these ranks, or edge defenders like Collins or Keldric Faulk, who could also enter this discussion. After the season, we'll have a better grasp on the state of Alabama and who is and who isn't in the five-star conversation. Right now there are some qualified contenders, but that's all.