Harris holds top spot, new five-stars emerge in last 2017 Rivals100 release
This is it. The last Rivals100 rankings update for the 2017 recruiting class has been released, and with it there are six new five-star prospects and two players who lost their fifth star right before the finish line.
And, for the first time since 2009, a running back finished No. 1 overall in the country as Najee Harris from Antioch (Calif.) Antioch Senior held on despite a strong push from uncommitted defensive tackle Marvin Wilson and Florida State running back commit Cam Akers.
Prior to that, in 2004, Adrian Peterson was No. 1 overall, so the results for running backs at the top has been a bit mixed.
Harris, an Alabama commitment, has a rare combination of size, speed and elusiveness and is the best running back I’ve scouted since Peterson. While Peterson was a more physical runner and more of a sure thing in my mind, Harris has better natural receiving skills and is well-rounded like Brown was. It will be interesting to see if he blossoms in college like Peterson did or struggles to gain consistency like Brown. Those are the inherent risks of having a running back at the top, but this year we felt Harris was worth the risk.
Wilson and Akers, a Florida State commitment, made a push, while there was a brief discussion regarding the nation's No. 4 prospect, offensive tackle Alex Leatherwood from Pensacola (Fla.) Washington, who's also an Alabama commitment. The top five is rounded out by Bradenton (Fla.) IMG Academy defensive end Josh Kaindoh, another Florida State commitment.
Rounding out the top 10 is No. 6 Jaelan Phillips from Redlands (Calif.) East Valley (UCLA defensive end commitment), No. 7 Walker Little also from Houston (Texas) Episcopal (Stanford offensive tackle commitment), No. 8 Chase Young from Hyattsville (Md.) DeMatha (Ohio State defensive end commitment), No. 9 Baron Browning from Kennedale, Texas (Ohio State linebacker commitment) and No. 10 Davis Mills from Norcross (Ga.) Greater Atlanta Christian (Stanford quarterback commitment).
Alabama, FSU, Stanford and Ohio State all boast two verbal commitments from prospects ranked in the top 10. In addition to Young, the new five-stars in this cycle include Georgia quarterback commitment Jake Fromm from Warner Robins (Ga.) Houston County at No. 20, FSU running back commitment Khalan Laborn from Virginia Beach (Va.) Bishop Sullivan at No. 23, Oklahoma linebacker commitment Jacob Phillips from Hendersonville (Tenn.) Beech Senior at No. 29, Iowa defensive end commitment A.J. Epenesa from Edwardsville, Iowa at No. 30 and Alabama linebacker commitment Dylan Moses from Bradenton (Fla.) IMG at No. 32.
The two players who dropped a fifth star are Los Angeles (Calif.) Augustus Hawkins wide receiver Joseph Lewis, who fell to No. 50, and Miamisburg, Ohio offensive lineman and Ohio State commitment Josh Myers, who moved from tackle to guard and checked in at No. 55.
Here’s a breakdown of the new five-stars and the two that lost their fifth star from the Rivals.com regional analysts.
“Young has steadily risen up the rankings over the past year, and he has developed into a versatile defensive end who can rush the passer and make plays in the open field. The Ohio State commit has outstanding athleticism, and his speed and balance make it hard for big offensive linemen to stay in front of him. The biggest question about Young was his strength at the point of attack. At the Army All-American Bowl, he proved he has the strength to make plays against the run as well.” – Adam Friedman, Rivals.com Mid-Atlantic Analyst.
"Fromm impressed the analysts at the Army Bowl during the week of practice and was awarded his fifth star for his performance. He's a great distributor of the ball and a guy other players tend to gravitate towards. He's already enrolled at Georgia." – Woody Wommack, Rivals.com Southeast Recruiting Analyst
“Laborn left a stressful offseason behind him and had a fantastic senior season. He ran with more power, speed and toughness, and those improvements were eye-popping at the Under Armour All-America Game. Laborn has great vision, is effortlessly athletic and his speed around the corner left some of the fastest players in the nation in his dust. He should fit in well in Florida State's loaded backfield.” - Friedman
"Phillips continued his rise in the Rivals rankings by excelling at the Army Bowl. He led his team in tackles despite missing most of the second half with a minor injury but did more than enough during the week and during the game to show he's one of the nation's best regardless of position. Phillips is committed to Oklahoma but will visit LSU this weekend."- Wommack
“Epenesa has been on the national scene since early in his high school career, but the opportunities for evaluation of the Iowa commit have been very rare because he has always stayed off the camp and combine circuit. The questions with Epenesa have never been about talent, but about development and likelihood of reaching his potential. The big Iowa commitment is uniquely athletic for his size and possesses rare physical gifts, and he flashed enough at the Army Bowl to convince us of his chances of reaching that potential.” – Josh Helmholdt, Rivals.com Midwest Recruiting Analyst
“Moses is close to as physically gifted a prospect as there is in the class. He led one of the top high schools in America in tackles this season and proved his ability in an all-star setting when the competition was at its best. There's little else anyone could ask from Moses, who spent his senior year dispelling the myth that he's playing on the wrong side of the ball.” – Rob Cassidy, Rivals.com Southeast Recruiting Analyst
LOST FIFTH STAR
“I still believe Lewis is one of the most gifted and talented receivers in this class, but after seeing stars from around the country at the Under Armour and Army games, a realignment was in order. Lewis still has excellent speed and route-running ability, and he can be a big-time playmaker, but he also has to prove he wants it badly and has that desire to dominate every time he steps on the field. USC and Nebraska are his top two, but don't count out Oregon and others.” – Adam Gorney, Rivals.com National Recruiting Analyst
“Physically, Myers was arguably the most impressive looking offensive lineman on the East squad at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl, but his performance in that event was arguably the worst, and it is hard to chalk it up to just a bad week. The Ohio State commit had issues with footwork and flexibility and was unable to stay engaged with defenders.” - Helmholdt