Mind of Mike: Farrell's thoughts on new Rivals100
The Mind of Mike is a scary place. We dive into the mind of National Recruiting Director Mike Farrell with his thoughts on the final 2020 Rivals100, which was released on Tuesday.
2020 RIVALS RANKINGS WEEK:
Monday: Top 10 released
Wednesday: Rivals250 released
Thursday/Friday: Final position rankings released
Saturday: Team rankings breakdown
Sunday: Final state rankings released
... As always let’s start at the top with the battle for No. 1. How serious of a debate was it when it came to naming Bryan Bresee the No. 1 player in the class? Not that intense.
Bresee came to San Antonio to the All-American Bowl despite an injury that had his hand in a club wrapping and still dominated everyone. His non-stop effort and drive set him apart and he has special abilities. He reminds me of Rashan Gary, who went on to be a first-rounder in the NFL because both players are very versatile and athletic.
The two quarterbacks — Bryce Young and D.J. Uiagalelei – were under consideration of course but as a group we never really hesitated in naming Bresee. Will he have an impact on college football like our 2018 and 2019 No. 1 prospects – Trevor Lawrence and Derek Stingley, Jr. – did as freshmen? That’s a high bar to set. No pressure, Mr. Bresee.
... There were many top positional battles in the 2020 class that will be remembered. Here’s how each position broke down.
Quarterback — Young barely beat out Uiagalelei in one of the better battles in recent years and it came down to game performance. Uiagalelei has a higher ceiling with his size and similar mobility to Young but Young has that something about him that makes you feel you’re watching the next great small quarterback. This shows how much things have changed from the days when Russell Wilson was a two-star that everyone wanted to turn into a wide receiver to now. Harrison Bailey was the other five-star quarterback in the class but he’s far from Young and Uiagalelei when it comes to long-term potential. He’s very good, but he wasn’t in the discussion for top quarterback.
Running back — This became a very crowded position and one that was heavily debated. Zachary Evans and his off-field issues were constantly debated and he has the biggest bust factor of all the running backs. Still, he finished at No. 1 for a simple reason — he’s an amazing talent. Bijan Robinson pushes a little bit for sure and will be great at Texas but Evans could be a massive boom for some program and is the most talented in the group — bottom line.
Wide receiver — Another heavily debated position and in the end it came down to Julian Fleming and Demond Demas for No. 1. Fleming is more consistent and does everything well but the athleticism of Demas is off-the-charts and made this a good battle. Demas could be the next CeeDee Lamb if he continues to develop and it’s clear that a season off didn’t hurt his skills at all. But Fleming won out for the body of work overall. I like this wide receiver class a lot.
Tight end — Two five-star tight ends but one — Arik Gilbert — really outdistanced the other — Darnell Washington — in the end. Gilbert isn’t as big but he’s still pretty imposing and he’s much more athletic overall than Washington. Washington however could be the next great NFL tight end if he continues to develop because of his rare size.
Offensive line - Broderick Jones just got his fifth star after a solid season on the field but he took the next step in impressing us at Under Armour and rose to the top of the offensive line rankings ahead of Tate Ratledge and Paris Johnson. There is a lot of potential at the tackle spot in the 2020 class and Jones has the highest ceiling by far. Meanwhile it’s a very down year in the interior so you’ll see many of these tackles in this class end up playing inside at the college level, at least for a few years.
Defensive tackle — Bresee ran away with this one and would have run away with defensive end if we ranked him there as well. I like Justin Rogers a lot and think he will be a star but he could be a better offensive line prospect than a defensive tackle.
Defensive end — In the end it was Myles Murphy who ran away with this battle over Jordan Burch. Burch is a great talent and remains a highly ranked five-star but there are motor and effort questions and he can sometimes disappear. I was worried about Murphy’s aggressiveness but he showed that's not a problem in San Antonio and he has amazing upside.
Linebacker — Justin Flowe hung on to his top linebacker ranking but it was much closer than we expected at the beginning of the cycle. Flowe began the cycle battling for No. 1 overall and finishes at No. 8 which is still very impressive. However, both Noah Sewell and Trenton Simpson gave Flowe a run for his money at the end. At the top this is a really good linebacker class.
Cornerback — This has been a battle since the beginning as Elias Ricks and Kelee Ringo have been five-stars from the jump. Ricks started off No. 1 and finished No. 1 but the fact that they are back-to-back shows how close they are in talent.
Athlete — Mookie Cooper ran away with this one as it was an easy year to determine which prospects would end up or project at which position. Cooper is better with the ball in his hands but could play many roles in college.
... Here are my thoughts on the new five-stars...
DE William Anderson - The non-stop effort along with the closing speed make Anderson a special prospect and the kind of player who can change games. He’s Tim Williams to me, but stronger against the run and at the point of attack.
DT Gervon Dexter - Dexter could play defensive end or defensive tackle and takes on double teams well with the use of his hands. His balance is excellent and he can get after the passer.
CB Jaylon Jones - Jones is a big cornerback who could also play safety at the next level and has excellent range and ball skills. He’s not quite at the same level as Jalen Ramsey was out of high school but his versatility is reminiscent.
QB Harrison Bailey - Bailey is a tough comparison because he does everything well but doesn’t stand out in one particular area. However he’s just a winner and a leader, and he will compete early for a starting job. He has improved his ability to improvise and extend the play and that’s crucial.
... And now a look at the players who lost their fifth star, always something that’s tough down the stretch.
RB Tank Bigsby - We could be wrong on this one, I’ll be the first to admit, but I worry about the way Bigsby tries to run east-west too often rather than downhill. I’ve been his biggest fan this entire cycle and he has the potential to be great but he needs to be more decisive and run through tackles rather than around them. Time will tell.
DE Sav'ell Smalls - Smalls is an athletic kid but not as athletic and versatile as I expected and I’m not sure if he can stand up as a linebacker effectively as many think. If he can’t he’s an undersized end who could struggle at times with big tackles. He’s too much of a tweener for me.
CB Fred Davis - Davis was a guy on the brink of losing that fifth star for a while and a rough week at the All-American Bowl did him in. He looked lost in coverage too often and didn’t turn and run as well as expected. The upside is still there of course but he didn’t finish out the cycle strong.
... And how about those we debated long and hard about when it came to five-stars? Here are some we could regret.
WR Kayshon Boutte - OK, people keep saying I don’t think he’s fast. Boutte is plenty fast as proven by his track times. He also catches the ball effortlessly. However, on the football field he lacks that elite burst we look for in a wide receiver who has good but average size. But I get a feeling I’m going to regret this one.
TE Michael Mayer - Mayer will likely have a very good college career and beyond that become an NFL standout which is why I’ll be happy we have him so highly-ranked. But is he that freaky, elite athlete at the tight end position that warrants a fifth star? He falls just short.
OT Walker Parks - Parks has that build you want as an offensive tackle heading into college because he can add a lot of good weight and get stronger each year. We look back at some of the recent first-rounders at the position and many weren’t massive in high school. Parks is one to keep an eye on.
LB Drew Sanders - Sanders is a long and athletic linebacker in a great year at the top for the position. He could grow into a hybrid and he makes a ton of plays. He could be one of those guys who fell short because we didn’t get a final eval.
DT Timothy Smith - I’m including him here because I think Smith is a five-star. I would have loved to see him dominate at an all-star game to prove it to others so let’s keep an eye on him. This is how I like my defensive tackles out of high school — athletic and an elite pass rusher.
... Some big movers at the end of the cycle include linebacker Cody Simon and defensive tackle Jalen Carter on defense and Eddie Williams and Joshua Downs on offense. Simon is another big and athletic linebacker in this class while Carter is getting better each time we see him and could be elite. Williams doesn’t have elite speed but he’s smooth and catches everything and Downs is that perfect slot receiver who will put up monster numbers in college.