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Initial 2020 Rivals250 released: Analysts debate the big decisions

The first Rivals250 for the 2020 class has now been released as part of #RivalsRankingsWeek for the juniors-to-be. As always, there were plenty of tough decisions and heated topics during the Rivals rankings meetings and here our analysts provide a glimpse into some of those.

MORE: New five-stars in 2020 Rivals100 | Mind of Mike: Farrell's thoughts on 2020 | Top 10 revealed

1. Who did you personally go to bat for in the meetings that you think will make you look smart down the road?

Fred Davis
Fred Davis (Nick Lucero/Rivals.com)

Rob Cassidy (Florida/Southeast): Making Jacksonville-based Fred Davis a five-star is the right call. Sure, he has some developing to do, but his size and upside are unmistakable. I think we’ll look smart by giving him his fifth star early.

Mike Farrell (National): I wasn’t alone in liking McKinnley Jackson as a five-star, not by any means, but I helped give him the nudge as he was originally discussed as a high four-star. I love the kid’s athleticism, agility, balance and motor, and he can pursue the quarterback, which is key. Mississippi prospects usually get discovered later and end up getting a late boost but we are on this kid early and it’s the smart move.

Adam Friedman (Mid-Atlantic): Bryan Bresee was the player I pushed for in the meetings. This is an extremely talented class but, after everything I've seen from him, I made it pretty clear he should be at or very near the top of the Rivals100. The other analysts agreed that a player of his talents should definitely be in the top five but there was a lot of discussion about who should be the top defensive lineman.

Adam Gorney (West): The 2020 class in the West is extraordinarily good especially on the top end and so I had no problem when quarterback D.J. Uiagalelei and linebacker Justin Flowe went first and second in the rankings. Uiagalelei already looks like a college quarterback and Flowe is one of the best linebackers in recent memory. If they flip-flopped rankings I wouldn’t be surprised either since both players are so talented.

Josh Helmholdt (Midwest): This early in the rankings cycle we did not get too heated about many prospects in our meetings, but one prospect I advocated for who is probably higher than frequent college football recruiting observers would expect is Minneapolis athlete Terry Lockett. So far it seems fellow four-stars Kaden Johnson and Jalen Suggs have drawn more attention on that Minnehaha Academy team, but Lockett's sophomore film is dynamic and I am completely comfortable with how high he starts in the Rivals250.

Nick Krueger (Texas): Even now, Ken Seals only holds one Power Five offer from Minnesota, so that raised some eyebrows as a guy to be placed in the first Rivals250, but after the past couple of years without an abundance of premier-level talent at quarterback in Texas, he's part of a 2020 group that will finally remedy that. I know that a couple of teams are just waiting to have a look at the first couple of games' worth of film from this season and the ball should get really rolling with him here soon. I feel like he's gotten a little taller by the end of this spring, and after two more seasons of high school football is going to be a legit prospect that teams will be wishing they got more serious about sooner.

Chad Simmons (Southeast): Demouy Kennedy is a prospect out of Theodore (Ala.) not many are talking about yet. He was at the Rivals 3 Stripe Camp presented by adidas in Mobile, where he stood out, then he has shined this summer on the camp circuit as well and he is one I stood up for in recent meetings. He is a very active linebacker who is explosive and can line up at different positions. He has added recent offers from Georgia, Louisville, Kentucky and Ole Miss. As he gets out, schools are starting to get a look at him and the offers are starting to arrive.

Woody Wommack (Southeast): One of the guys I really pushed for in this ranking was Florida defensive back Fred Davis. Obviously he ended up as a five-star and that was a very justified position. Davis has everything you look for in an elite-level defensive back and his combination of size, length and speed are exactly what coaches want at the college level and beyond. We are ahead of the curve here and others will follow our lead when it comes to Davis.

2. Who might we have too high in the 2020 Rivals250? 

Chad Johnson Jr.
Chad Johnson Jr. (Nick Lucero/Rivals.com)

Rob Cassidy (Florida/Southeast): Drew Pyne’s lack of elite size worries me. He’s a gifted player, but for every Russell Wilson, there are a thousand smaller quarterbacks that are, well, not Russell Wilson. I’m sure he’ll be a fine player, but we probably have him a touch too high.

Mike Farrell (National): It’s really hard to say because this is the first one and there are so many changes that will occur over the next many releases, but I’d say Chad Johnson Jr. might be a bit high. He has great size but I wonder about his overall speed and ability to separate. He’s a big name as the son of Ocho Cinco but perhaps we are giving him too much of a boost based on bloodlines.

Adam Friedman (Mid-Atlantic): Safety Jordan Toles is a player I took a bit of a chance on. He has all the athletic ability in the world and his football instincts are on point but he is raw and still relatively new to football. It's going to be a big season for him in terms of his ranking.

Adam Gorney (West): Leonard Manuel is one of the best-looking receivers in recent memory. He has great size and he’s physically developed but he did not dominate at the adidas National Championships like I expected and there is going to be a lot of debate in the coming years about whether he’s definitely the top receiver in this class. Don’t get me wrong: Manuel could be special. But I’d like to see him take over more, especially to confirm he’s a top-10 talent.

Josh Helmholdt (Midwest): It may have been a little early to go four-stars on Chicagoland offensive tackle Peter Skoronski without having seen him in-person first, but I came out of his film review feeling he would ultimately play up to that level. I think the physical tools will develop and he has that dog in him where he is going to give you everything he has.

Nick Krueger (Texas): It's hard for me to answer who is ranked too high in the Rivals250 about a guy that comes from outside of my region at this point, but the guy that I am going to be watching closely in Texas is Hudson Card. The only game that I would have had the chance to watch him really get legitimate reps at quarterback last season was in the 6A state championship game that he essentially started in unexpectedly. He played well in that game and is a heck of an athlete, but the sample size I personally have of seeing him throw is minimal at this point. I am looking forward to at least seeing him in the State 7-on-7 tournament immediately following the Rivals100 Five-Star Challenge, but also need to make sure I catch him in a big game this fall.

Chad Simmons (Southeast): Is Robby Ashford too high? He is a freak athlete and he is a two-sport star, but he missed spring with a shoulder injury and he has yet to start at quarterback on the high school level. He has great size, he is a dual-threat quarterback, but he still has a lot to prove. It is all about upside and the quick glimpses we have had of him in camps and in some games. He is a raw talent, but some may think it is too early for him to be in the Rivals250.

Woody Wommack (Southeast): One guy I want to see more from is Rivals100 prospect Dazalin Worsham. I feel like he struggled at the Rivals 3 Stripe Camp in Nashville during the spring and for him to be in the top 100 going forward he will need to show more consistency and dominance in those types of settings.

3. Who might we have too low in the 2020 Rivals250? 

JoJuan Collins
JoJuan Collins (Nick Lucero/Rivals.com)

Rob Cassidy (Florida/Southeast): Marcus Rosemy has potential to be up near the top of the receiver rankings before things are said and done. We’ll see, but his upside is tremendous.

Mike Farrell (National): Tre’ Williams has a lot of upside at defensive tackle. Yes, he has some things to work on and needs to play lower and be a bit more explosive, but as he develops he’s a kid who could shoot up the rankings a bit.

Adam Friedman (Mid-Atlantic): There are a few Mid-Atlantic players I think will move up the rankings in the future. Running back MarShawn Lloyd and wide receiver Rakim Jarrett are both nationally known prospects that have been on the recruiting scene for a long time. The third is tight end Lukas Ungar, who should start to pull in more major offers as the offseason progresses.

Adam Gorney (West): When I saw JoJuan Collins running the football during his sophomore season and dominating in those games, I thought he had five-star potential. He was pretty quiet during this offseason as he toyed with playing receiver. But it looks as if he’s focused again on staying at running back and he’s had a huge summer landing offers from USC, Tennessee, Florida, Auburn and others. He’s outstanding in the backfield and if he has a big junior season he could shoot up from No. 169 nationally.

Josh Helmholdt (Midwest): Tulsa safety Daxton Hill made the jump to five-stars in the most recent update of the 2019 class after debuting outside the Rivals100 last year at this time. If there is a prospect who could make that type of rise in the 2020 class, East St. Louis safety Antonio Johnson may be my pick. The Flyers have kicked out a lot of top talent over the years, and Johnson has a sky-high ceiling if he can reach his maximum potential.

Nick Krueger (Texas): Lejond Cavazos is a Texas-born player that is due to become a starter in the IMG Academy secondary this season and someone that belongs in the Rivals100. There are others that aren't as familiar with him and since he wasn't a starter last season, there isn't a wealth of tape to support my claim that he should be ranked higher than he is. Fortunately, he'll have a chance to show what he can do next week at the Rivals100 Five-Star Challenge and remove the uncertainty around his abilities. He's in the mold of a BJ Foster from last year's class with a higher ceiling, so I'm sure we'll see him continue to climb as time goes on.

Chad Simmons (Southeast): Quandarrius Robinson landed in the back half of the Rivals250, but he may be too low. He worked at linebacker in Atlanta at the Rivals 3 Stripe Camp presented by adidas and he shined. He has gained about 15-20 pounds since last season, he is extremely long and he is looking like a future weakside defensive end now. I expect his offer list to grow this fall once schools see his growth and development. He started out as a safety his freshman year and he will now be playing with his hand in the dirt as a junior. He is far from finished, too, in the growth department.

Woody Wommack (Southeast): Luke Doty is a guy from one of my states (South Carolina) that I really like, but he has limited film at quarterback at the varsity level so we were a little conservative when it came slotting him in the Rivals250. He will only go up in the future and if he does it's on me for taking the cautious route this time around.

4. Who has the most important summer ahead of them in terms of rankings heading into their 2018 high school season?

Drew Pyne
Drew Pyne (Nick Lucero/Rivals.com)

Rob Cassidy (Florida/Southeast): Leonard Manuel played through injury the last we saw him, so his workout at the Rivals100 Five-Star Challenge will be under a microscope. Manuel will be asked to defend his lofty five-star ranking against elite competition in Atlanta.

Mike Farrell (National): Notre Dame quarterback commitment Drew Pyne has a big summer ahead of him mainly because he will have to battle the size issue when all of our analysts get to see him in person. On the hoof he is not that impressive and is a small quarterback, but if he dominates at the Rivals100 Five-Star Challenge and some other events he can overcome that size issue and stay highly ranked.

Adam Friedman (Mid-Atlantic): Five-star Antoine Sampah has a really big summer coming up. Inside linebackers don't always shine in camp settings but he was very good at the Charlotte Rivals 3 Stripe Camp presented by adidas and earned an invite to the Rivals100 Five-Star Challenge. A solid performance in Atlanta next week could elevate him to the top 10 of the Rivals250.

Adam Gorney (West): Kelee Ringo is on the fringe of a five-star ranking after an impressive sophomore season plus he looked really good at the Rivals 3 Stripe Camp presented by adidas in Los Angeles. The Scottsdale (Ariz.) Saguaro prospect will compete at the Rivals100 Five-Star Challenge in Atlanta next week and it should become clear whether his ranking is appropriate or he should move even higher. Ringo is a long, athletic and intelligent defensive back. Those guys aren’t a dime a dozen so if Ringo is really special in Atlanta then he could move even further up the rankings.

Josh Helmholdt (Midwest): I get the sense Detroit (Mich.) King running back Peny Boone will be a polarizing prospect in this 2020 class, where some teams (and fans, and recruiting analysts, et al.) will love him, but he is going to have some doubters as well. Putting him in the former camp shows we are fans of Boone's game early on, but taking his abundance of physical tools and translating them onto the field this fall will be his challenge over the summer.

Nick Krueger (Texas): In Texas, it's Zeriah Beason. He's the cousin of 2019 Rivals100 athlete Marquez Beason and has picked up a lot of offers by association of Marquez and his other teammates at Bishop Dunne. Physically, he has all the things you look for in a guy that could potentially be a true top-flight receiver, but I have also seen events in which he falls off for stretches or comes up with a bout of dropped passes. If he can build on his burst and his hands, his ranking will continue to climb. If he doesn't continue making progress from where he's at now, others will leapfrog him in future rankings cycles.

Chad Simmons (Southeast): Broderick Jones is an elite offensive tackle who is somewhat transitioning from defensive end. He will likely still play some defense this season, but his primary position will be offense tackle. I do not want to put too much pressure on the young man or build too much hype around the Georgia commit, but he is similar to former five-star Laremy Tunsil. As Jones goes through the summer and into the season, we will be watching him closely. He is a prospect in Georgia not enough are talking about, and maybe that is the way he likes it, but Jones is one who could really create a buzz in the coming months.

Woody Wommack (Southeast): It's a big summer for quarterback Harrison Bailey, who is on the fringe of five-star status. There is a debate among some of the analysts when it comes to Bailey's ceiling and he will have a chance to prove a point with the perfect chance at the upcoming Rivals100 Five-Star Challenge. Bailey will have a chance to go toe-to-toe with the nation's No. 1 prospect and show that he belongs in the elusive five-star club.

RIVALS RANKINGS WEEK SCHEDULE

Monday: Revealing the top 10 players | Making the Case: Three who could land in top 10 | Who is the toughest to rank in 2020?

Tuesday: New Rivals100 | Mind of Mike: Farrell reacts to new R100 | Who should be No. 1 in 2020? | Will No. 1 player in 2020 head to Clemson?

Wednesday: The inital Rivals250 for 2020 | Five teams that should be pleased the most with new R250 | Rival Views: Who should top DL be? | Godfather and Gorney Podcast

Thursday: QB rankings | RB rankings | WR/TE rankings | OL rankings | Rivals Rankings Podcast | Commitment Issues Podcast | New Rivals250 by the numbers | Is Florida the team to beat for Manuel?

Friday: DL rankings | LB rankings | DB rankings | ATH rankings | Take Two

Saturday: Team rankings breakdown

Sunday: Mid-Atlantic states rankings | Southeast states | Midwest states | Texas | Florida | West states