Final Rivals250 for 2019 class released
The final Rivals250 for the 2019 has been released and our analysts weigh in about some of the biggest debates they faced throughout the process.
RIVALS RANKINGS WEEK
Monday: Top 10 revealed
Wednesday: Rivals250 released
Thursday: Position rankings released
1. Who did you personally go to bat for in the latest rankings that will make you look very wise down the road?
Rob Cassidy (Southeast/Florida): I finally made some headway when it comes to fighting the case of Florida signee Keon Zipperer, who moved into the Rivals250 after falling out. I understand that Zipperer lacks speed and length, but he knows how to use his body and it’s not as though he’s strikingly slow. Zipperer is a well-rounded weapon that could be dangerous if used correctly.
Mike Farrell (National): Ohio State wide receiver signee Jameson Williams is going to be a good one down the line once he adds some weight and strength. He can run excellent routes, has elite speed and has very reliable hands. Watch for him to be a star.
Adam Friedman (Mid-Atlantic): After their performances at the Under Armour All-America Game, I was really pushing for Texas signee Marcus Washington and Ohio State signee Jameson Williams to make significant pushes up the rankings. Washington proved to be extremely productive and very reliable. He should have an immediate impact in Texas' offense. Williams is a versatile and electric receiver that will be a major scoring threat every time he touches the ball.
Adam Gorney (National/West Coast): When I watched Charles Cross over a week of practices at the All-American Bowl, I was convinced this kid has the potential to be special – like first-round NFL Draft good. The Mississippi State signee is already 6-foot-5 and 270 pounds with a frame that could easily get him to 300 in the SEC. He has excellent feet, he's more physical than he looks and he's incredibly athletic. I'd be surprised if Cross does not go to Starkville and get developed into a special player by coach Joe Moorhead and that staff.
Josh Helmholdt (Midwest): It was a big jump for future wide receiver Puka Nacua that is absolutely deserved. Nacua is not going to make the flashy plays at the same rate as someone like Jadon Haselwood, but the more you watch him the more you appreciate just how consistently excellent he is at his craft. I expect he heads to USC and lights up the stat sheet for several years with the Trojans.
Chad Simmons (Southeast): Charles Moore, a defensive end out of Mississippi has been stock up for me for the last six weeks. After missing his junior season with a knee injury, he came back very strong as a senior. I saw him win a state title, play in the Alabama vs. Mississippi All-Star Game, then compete as an Under Armour All-American. A lot of times, when I see a player that much in a short amount of time, I pick out flaws and seem not to like a player as much, but Moore is different. He plays with such energy and drive, he competes every play and he still has so much room to develop. I see him being very successful on the next level.
Woody Wommack (Southeast): There have several different prospects I've gone to bat for this cycle, including most notably Derek Stingley and George Pickens. This go-round, however, I was driving the bandwagon on a pair of Texas prospects in DeMarvin Leal and Marcel Brooks. Both players had a ton of rankings momentum over the past six months and paired with excellent weeks at the All-American Game, it was an easy sell to get both to five-star status.
2. What was the most interesting/difficult debate to sort out in this final rankings update?
Rob Cassidy (Southeast/Florida): I’m not completely sure we have the order at wide receiver correct. Maybe we do. Maybe we don’t. That’s not a knock on No. 1 wideout Jaden Haselwood, who is an incredible player. I just think George Pickens has higher pro potential. Haselwood is an incredible talent, but I would rank the more-versatile Pickens above him. Obviously Haselwood will post enormous numbers in Oklahoma’s offense, but Pickens may get the nod on draft day. We’ll see.
Mike Farrell (National): Linebacker Nakobe Dean was a tough one. The Georgia signee is a terrific player and makes a ton of plays but his lack of size was really evident down the stretch. People compare him to Roquan Smith but he's not nearly as tall or long as Smith was out of high school and we worry about that lack of length. Dropping him to a four-star was a tough decision.
Adam Friedman (Mid-Atlantic): Figuring out the top group at wide receiver was a lengthy discussion. It is easily the best single position in this class and the three at the top, Haselwood, Pickens and Theo Wease, are unquestionably among the nation's elite. All three are in the top 11 of the Rivals100 and, with so little separating them, the debate over who should be first, second, and third took longer than any single sticking point throughout the entire meeting.
Adam Gorney (National/West Coast): The debate over wide receiver rankings took a long time but it was an interesting talk because the question posed was how do we drop Wease from the No. 1 spot at the position after he did so incredibly well in the Under Armour Game? It's a fair point, but Haselwood showed more signs of brilliance during the All-American Bowl week and Pickens is a physical and athletic specimen that cannot be denied, either. In some ways, this is a no-lose argument since all three are special and it will be interesting to see if we're proven right in the coming years.
Josh Helmholdt (Midwest): There were plenty of interesting and difficult debates that were had in this rankings update, but one of the most compelling in my opinion was whether or not to drop Nakobe Dean from five stars. I was largely on the sideline for that debate, but there were strong arguments on both sides and it was not an easy call to make.
Chad Simmons (Southeast): The discussion for the No. 1 wide receiver was very interesting. You have three of the best in the country, regardless of position in Haselwood, Pickens and Wease all in the discussion, so we had to sort through a lot to figure out in what order they would fall. It ended up Haselwood, Pickens and Wease at receiver with all three finishing in the top 11 in the country. It was interesting to compare and break down that trio.
Woody Wommack (Southeast): This was probably one of the most debated final rankings since 2014, with several five-stars moving up and down over the past two cycles. We saw guys such as our former No. 1 overall, Quavaris Crouch, drop all the way out of the top 50 and then had guys such as Leal go from outside the Rivals100 to top 10 in a matter of a month. Hopefully we didn't second guess ourselves too much when we look back on things a few years down the road.
3. Who do you think we might have too high?
Rob Cassidy (Southeast/Florida): Darnell Wright has incredible strength and looked solid in the Under Armour All-America Game, but I’m not totally convinced he’s a five-star prospect. He has some bad weight to remove and doesn’t move as fluidly as you’d like. That’s not to say he’s not an elite player. He certainly is. He’s a no-doubt Rivals100 talent. I just think we have him a tad too high.
Mike Farrell (National): Ohio State defensive end signee Zach Harrison is a great-looking prospect but he's so raw and plays so upright you have to worry about his long-term effectiveness. I'm sure he will get strong coaching at Ohio State and has a chance to be a great one, but he has a big bust factor as well because he's so raw.
Adam Friedman (Mid-Atlantic): I've been saying this for the last few rankings updates. I don't believe there are any five-star quarterbacks in this recruiting class. I do think we have the right order with Spencer Rattler first followed by Bo Nix, Graham Mertz and Ryan Hilinski. Of course, this will look silly if one of them gets taken in the first round of the NFL Draft or wins a Heisman Trophy but, at this point, none of them seem to measure up to some five-star quarterbacks of the past.
Adam Gorney (National/West Coast): Zach Harrison is pure potential right now and he's going to a place in Ohio State that can develop him to be an outstanding defensive end, but I also think there are some question marks. He looks like a million bucks but he didn't dominate at the All-American Bowl the way a five-star should – the way Antonio Alfano, Christopher Hinton and DeMarvin Leal did – and he has very skinny legs like a basketball player. Harrison has length and speed that are specia,l but there is some work to be done.
Josh Helmholdt (Midwest): I could talk about the five-star quarterbacks again, but that horse has been beaten long enough. A prospect who concerns me more coming out of the All-American Bowl is five-star defensive end Zach Harrison. The physical tools are undeniable, but he has a long way to go as a football player. What's concerning is we have been saying that for some time now, but the strides in his development have not been significant.
Chad Simmons (Southeast): Auburn signee Derrik Hall inside the top 200 is a risky call. Yes, he looks good on the hoof, and yes, he is athletic, but he has not played to that ranking over the past year. There is definite upside and we are banking on Auburn developing Hall as an elite pass rusher in the SEC. He has a lot of tools, but the production hasn't really matched the look.
Woody Wommack (Southeast): I'm not sold on either five-star tackle Darnell Wright or Kenyon Green and wonder if one or both might actually end up playing inside at the next level. I still think both are very talented, but I'm not sure either would have finished as five-stars if it were my call.
4. Who do you think we might have too low?
Rob Cassidy (Southeast/Florida): I really like Clemson commit Frank Ladson and think he could be even higher than he is now, with a case to be made for five-stars. That said, those of us that saw him at the All-America Bowl said he had a quiet week, which I totally get. That said, the South Dade (Fla.) High School product has the size and athleticism to make us pay for not considering him for five-star status.
Mike Farrell (National): Jake Smith, a Texas signee, could end up being an amazing player at the next level and might be too low. He can do it all and if he doesn't work out at one position, he's so versatile he can play another.
Adam Friedman (Mid-Atlantic): There are a few players I think we shorted, but three I want to highlight. Marcus Banks and Jordan Battle are tall, long defensive backs heading to Alabama with great ball skills. Both fit the profile of players that have excelled in Nick Saban's defense and have all the physical ability in the world. I also want to highlight Quavaris Crouch. Admittedly, I'm more confident in Crouch than the rest of the analyst team and I believe that, if he can stay healthy, the Tennessee signee should end up an impact player that outperforms his ranking.
Adam Gorney (National/West Coast): I hate repeating myself but Wandale Robinson is basically a mirror image of Rondale Moore, except Robinson had an even better week at the All-American Bowl and he picked a perfect school for his abilities. Yes, he is undersized and that's going to be a concern. But Robinson can get open against anybody and he catches everything, so coach Scott Frost should feature him in Nebraska's offense prominently starting on Day 1. Moore put up huge numbers at Purdue this past season and outplayed his ranking for sure. Robinson is No. 61 in the country so we like him a lot but he could have been even higher.
Josh Helmholdt (Midwest): Admittedly I was not at the Under Armour All-America Game and did not get to see Bryton Constantin's latest effort, but I saw plenty of him previously, including at the Rivals100 Five-Star Challenge presented by adidas last summer, and have a hard time believing there are 200 prospects in this class better than the future Clemson Tiger.
Chad Simmons (Southeast): Ishmael Sopsher is one that could fall under this category. He was a five-star, but now a four-star at No. 72 in the country. Did he play up to the five-star level this season, maybe not, but he has flashed that type of ability. He is at defensive tackle, a premium position, and likely headed to Alabama or LSU, who are known to develop defensive linemen, so he will be one I really track closely in the years to come.
Woody Wommack (Southeast): I campaigned for Nakobe Dean to keep his fifth star and lost out, and also wonder if guys such as Garrett Wilson and Kaiir Elam might come back to haunt us later on. Wilson is a playmaking wide receiver who finished just on the cusp of five-star status. I've always been a very big fan of Elam's game and could see him developing into a first-round talent down the road.