football Edit

Gorney's spring cleaning: Five thoughts from the West region

CLASS OF 2020 RANKINGS: Rivals250 | State | Position | Team

Sav'ell Smalls
Sav'ell Smalls

The camp and 7-on-7 season is a busy time especially in the West region. Here are five thoughts as the spring continues with more tournaments coming up in the coming weeks.

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The first time I saw Sav’ell Smalls in person was at the adidas West Coast Invitational a few weeks ago, and he lived up to all the expectations and more. There was talk that the five-star defensive end from Burien (Wash.) Kennedy was the best prospect in the state of Washington in many years, and after watching Smalls in action there is definitely a good chance of that being true.

What struck me most about Smalls is his physical size and his ability to move. The five-star is a legitimate 6-foot-5 and 240 pounds and he was playing linebacker during the tournament, being physical with receivers in the slot and then running with them down the seam. It was incredible to see how well he moved for his size and his natural athletic ability. There is a very good chance we’re looking at the next Josh Allen or Montez Sweat if he continues to develop as a player but from a physical standpoint he’s already there.


The debate over who should be the top-rated cornerback in the 2020 class has only heated up through the offseason and is far from settled. LSU commit Elias Ricks from Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei leads the way, but five-star Kelee Ringo out of Scottsdale (Ariz.) Saguaro looks the part and has played the part at numerous events.

Ringo has been busier this offseason while Ricks has missed some camps and tournaments, and the Saguaro prospect has been sensational. He looks like a million bucks and he’s incredibly competitive. He has put up great numbers in track and seeing him at various events, Ringo has dominated each one. After those two players there is a slight drop-off, but Ricks and Ringo continue to battle it out for rankings supremacy at cornerback.


Last recruiting cycle, USC signed only two players in the state’s top 22, which is hard to believe because the Trojans used to have the ability to pick and choose who they wanted from the state of California. Those days have come and gone - at least until USC starts winning on a national level again - and it looks to be the same story in the 2020 class.

The nation’s No. 1 player is Bellflower (Calif.) St. John Bosco QB D.J. Uiagalelei, but he’s mostly focused on Clemson and Oregon. Five-star linebacker Justin Flowe recently visited USC, but everybody is involved with him and he raved about his recent trip to Georgia. Five-star Johnny Wilson doesn’t have USC in his top five. Clark Phillips is being pursued hard by Ohio State. Four-star Jermaine Burton has Southeast schools only in his top group. You get the point. The numbers breakdown might not be as bad as the 2019 class, but until USC shows a pulse on the field, many top California prospects are going to keep looking elsewhere.


Five-star linebacker Justin Flowe has been an absolute machine again this offseason and he continues to prove he’s one of the best players in the 2020 class. What impresses me so much about him is that the Upland, Calif., star could pack it in and stay home - he doesn’t really need to prove anything more at camps or 7-on-7 events - but he’s out every weekend playing with an edge and going after it all the time.

It’s somewhat comical watching him at these events because he’s so physically advanced and he wants to lay people out all the time across the middle, but without pads on he has to follow the rules so he’s not booted from tournaments. There have been comparisons made to Vontaze Burfict, but Flowe is much better-looking physically, he’s faster and he can cover ground. Also, the five-star is not looking to take cheap shots, only to have with a physical mindset on every play.


Johnny Wilson is the lone five-star receiver in the West so far this recruiting cycle and he’s had his moments this offseason, but many players at that position are going to push him for tops in the rankings, especially after some great showings recently.

Maybe no receiver in the region is playing better than Sammamish (Wash.) Eastside Catholic’s Gee Scott Jr., who was great at the Rivals 3 Stripe Camp presented by adidas and then again this past weekend at the adidas National Championship in Tampa. The Ohio State commit can play with anybody in the country.

Then there is four-star Gary Bryant, who is a dynamic speedster who is a playmaker all over the field, four-star Lavon Bunkley-Shelton, who has not been slowed down once this offseason, four-stars Jalen McMillan and John Humphreys and many others. Wilson leads the pack now, but many top receivers are in the West region this recruiting cycle.