Mind of Mike: The 2020 race for No. 1 is a good one, plus more thoughts
The Mind of Mike is a dangerous place. Here are the thoughts of Rivals.com National Recruiting Director Mike Farrell in regards to the latest Rivals100 release for the class of 2020.
Rivals Rankings Week
Wednesday: Updated Rivals250 revealed
Thursday: New offensive position rankings revealed
Friday: New defensive position rankings revealed
Saturday: Team rankings breakdown
Sunday: New state rankings revealed
The No. 1 spot is not locked down
Let’s start where we always start, at No. 1 overall. There wasn’t much of a debate as to who should be No. 1 as quarterback D.J. Uiagalelei from California held onto the top position. But what was interesting was the jockeying for position behind him. Uiagalelei is a special quarterback prospect and the Clemson commitment has all the skills to be great in college and the NFL.
However, he isn’t a Trevor Lawrence-type who is a lock to go bell-to-bell as No. 1, especially this year with so many talented players at different positions. Linebacker Justin Flowe has some momentum heading into the summer and defensive end Jordan Burch is one of my favorites in this class.
And we can’t forget about the two elite cornerbacks in Elias Ricks and Kelee Ringo and defensive linemen Bryan Bresee and Myles Murphy are rare athletes at their positions as well. Meanwhile Sav’ell Smalls is a great hybrid and running back Zachary Evans was No. 2 in our last rankings and could easily jump back up. There are as many as six or seven candidates for No. 1 overall position in this class.
The best 2020 positional battle is at cornerback, and it's a doozy
Before I get to my thoughts on the new five-stars and the players that lost a fifth star, I’d like to discuss the best positional battle for the 2020 class and one of the best in recent years.
We have two elite cornerbacks with great size battling to be No. 1 at their position. Elias Ricks, an LSU commitment, has six pick-sixes last season and has amazing instincts and ball skills while Kelee Ringo, an uncommitted corner from Arizona, also has great size and probably a little better speed.
So who do you choose? We have them ranked right next to each other at No. 5 and No. 6 and each could move up before all is said and done. It will be interesting to see if either separates from the other.
Last year it was clearly Derek Stingley Jr. as our best corner and he ended up as the first cornerback to finish No. 1 overall. Could it happen two years in a row? It’s not out of the realm of possibility as each have No. 1 overall ability. I lean towards Ricks slightly because of his rare instincts, but Ringo could be that guy who tests off the charts a few years from now and NFL scouts fall in love with. Keep an eye on this one.
Five-star status report
Okay, let’s get into it. We added three new five stars and dropped four players from five star status, not unusual after we go through the spring evaluation period. Here’s my take on each…
ADDED FIFTH STAR:
OT Tate Ratledge – Ratledge is not only technically sound but he’s also very aggressive and nasty. I love offensive tackles with a defensive mentality who also have the athleticism and natural length to dominate. You can try to bull rush him or get around him but it’s doubtful you’ll do either. He’s just starting to scratch the surface of his potential.
WR Demond Demas – I like wide receivers with great body control who can catch difficult passes and make their quarterbacks look better for it. Demas fits that mold as a very good 50/50 ball receiver who also has good size and speed. We wanted to see that next step in explosiveness from the Texas A&M commitment and we saw it.
WR Jordan Johnson – Johnson has shown a better ability to separate this time around and his ball skills are elite. Add in his size and strength and you have a powerful receiver who can not only stretch the field but work the middle of the field and sidelines. The Notre Dame commitment continues to improve.
LOST FIFTH STAR:
LB Reggie Grimes – Grimes has a lot of potential at this stage, but is very raw and he needs to add a bit of speed to be a dominant linebacker. He has the frame where he could grow into a defensive end or become a hybrid guy but he’s not adding the explosiveness we are looking for.
RB Marshawn Lloyd – It’s always tough when a kid commits to a school between our rankings meeting and our release and he loses a star. With Lloyd, it comes down to questions about his speed now and at the next level. Getting to see so many elite running backs from the class of 2020 and 2021 as well as looking back at guys like Lloyd who aren’t burners made us take pause and I think we reached too soon on making him a five-star.
WR Johnny Wilson – Wilson looks the part and has all the physical skills to be an elite receiver but he hasn’t put it all together as we’d hoped. He can show flashes of greatness, but consistency isn’t there and there is a worry about his willingness to work hard enough to be great.
DT McKinnley Jackson – Jackson was a guy we overshot on early for sure and he hasn’t added the athleticism and ability to redirect and get after the passer as we expected. Five-star defensive tackles have to be able to not only stuff the run but also chase the passer and run him down. That’s the new standard at the position and Jackson falls short despite his other skills.
A fifth star may await
So who are the next five-stars? No one knows but a few players have moved into good position.
Arizona running back Bijan Robinson moved up 29 spots and is now the highest ranked four-star in the country. Llinebacker Quandarrius Robinson has emerged as the best player in Alabama and is a tremendous athlete with great size and a frame he can add plenty of weight to. Robinson could also be a hybrid. He’s emerged as Grimes has fallen off a bit, but the players are similar in some ways.
Miami running back commitment Don Chaney leaped 59 spots and could battle Robinson to be the next five-star tailback. Speed is very important at the running back position and Chaney has shown he can pull away from anyone. Linebacker Noah Sewell is a rare prospect at nearly 260 pounds as a ‘backer but he can move well and he jumped up to No. 33 in the country because of his rare traits. Those are the guys that made the biggest moves towards a fifth star.
How about a player who is still a bit far away from the five stars but could land there in the end? Keep an eye on Kentucky offensive tackle and Clemson commitment Walker Parks who has emerged as one of the best tackles in the country. Parks is now No. 57 in the country but has a lot of fans on our analyst team as we move forward and compare the tackles. He was a three star in our previous ranking.
Plenty of players emerge in Texas
There was a lot of movement in the state of Texas as many prospects moved into the Rivals100 or at least moved up. In addition to Demas moving to five stars, many other prospects made big moves. Wide receiver Quentin Johnson made a big move from mid-three-star into the Rivals100 with his size and athletic ability while linebacker Drew Sanders, an Alabama commitment, moved up 31 spots within the Rivals100.
Ohio State wide receiver commitment Jaxon Smith-Njigba jumped into the Rivals100 by moving up 162 spots as he was grossly underranked at first. LSU linebacker commitment Josh White also jumped from a three star to the Rivals100 and he’s a kid I really like a lot. He’s not that tall or long but he’s a hitter. This is a very interesting year in the state of Texas and it should be fun to watch as new players emerge.