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Mind of Mike: The first 2021 rankings and more thoughts

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

Brock Vandagriff
Brock Vandagriff (Nick Lucero/Rivals.com)

The Mind of Mike is a scary place. Here are the thoughts of National Recruiting Director Mike Farrell regarding the first 2021 release of the Rivals100.

Rivals Rankings Week:

Tuesday: 2021 Rivals100 revealed | Vandagriff No. 1

Wednesday: 2021 Offensive position rankings

Thursday: 2021 Defensive position rankings revealed

1. INTERESTING DISCUSSION AT THE TOP

The discussion surrounding the top spot in the rankings was an interesting one. There was a debate between Georgia quarterback Brock Vandagriff and Florida defensive end Donell Harris, but that abruptly ended when Harris decided to re-classify to the 2020 class.

Would Vandagriff have won the battle? It's hard to say, but this is the first time I’ve ever been involved in a ranking release where one of the top two prospects decided to re-classify days before the final decision was made. Harris will be re-evaluated as part of the 2020 class and will likely be a five-star but he’ll be far from No. 1.

Meanwhile, Vandagriff is the man to beat in 2021 and is yet another quarterback who will start a cycle at the top of the rankings. In 2018 it was Trevor Lawrence who went bell-to-bell as our No. 1 and so far D.J. Uagalelei is holding onto the No. 1 spot in the 2020 class.

One thing we assume we know for 2021, unlike the 2018 and 2020 classes, is that it won’t be a Clemson quarterback commitment at No. 1 as Vandagriff appears to be down to Oklahoma, Georgia and Florida.

2. THE FIRST SEVEN 2021 FIVE-STARS

Here’s my take on the first seven five-stars:

QB Brock Vandagriff – I like everything about him, from his arm strength to his accuracy and his pocket presence. He doesn’t get rattled, keeps his eyes downfield and can extend the play when needed. Vandagriff has only played two seasons of high school football but you can tell he’s been coached up from a young age.

DE J.T. Tuimoloau – This kid is a freaky athlete who could stand up, put his hand in the dirt, play a three tech or even be a tight end on offense if he wanted. He’s raw but you can’t teach his size and athletic combination.

DE Jack Sawyer – Sawyer plays hard every play, has excellent technique and he’s a very good athlete. He’s probably the most polished of all the five-stars on this list and closest to his ceiling and that’s a compliment. Sawyer looks college ready.

DE Korey Foreman – Foreman is very aggressive and has a non-stop motor. He gets off the snap very well, uses his hands effectively and I love his ability to counter and spin off contact. Foreman is going to give 110 percent on every play.

RB Camar Wheaton – Wheaton is a home run waiting to happen with his elite speed but he’s also powerful and can break tackles. Wheaton will make you miss as well and once he gets a step on the defense he’s gone. He could be one of the fastest running backs we’ve seen in awhile.

CB Corey Collier – Collier makes play after play on defense and has such great anticipation and closing speed that his size is just an added bonus. His length allows him to make plays, but it’s more about his aggression and ability to read the play that makes him special in run support and on pass defense.

OT Savion Byrd – Byrd is an elite athlete as an offensive tackle with great feet and the ability to recover. He has a great frame to fill out and he’s a solid technician at such a young age. His best football is ahead of him and he could be a Tyron Smith-type down the line.

Savion Byrd
Savion Byrd (Sam Spiegelman)

3. TEXAS TALENT

Three of the top 10 players in the country are from the state of Texas, so could the Longhorns land all three? Savion Byrd and Tommy Brockermeyer are leaning toward Texas right now but running back Camar Wheaton appears to be a wild card. If Texas misses on Zachary Evans in 2020, which looks likely, the program will need to land Wheaton. Five-star skill talent can’t leave the state that often if Texas wants to be a national title contender.

4. STANDOUT CLASS FOR SIGNAL CALLERS

It’s a strong quarterback year in 2021 so programs such as Ohio State (Kyle McCord), Michigan (J.J. McCarthy) and Washington (Sam Huard) are sitting pretty early. I have Vandagriff as a lean to Oklahoma, so the Sooners could add to an already potent offense. At dual-threat quarterback, Preston Stone is the top guy right now and many think he’s a lean to Texas.

5. TALENTED RECEIVERS ABOUND ON WEST COAST

As always, the wide receiver position is very interesting and three of the top four 2021 receivers are from the West Coast. And, just like in 2020, the majority of the top prospects from out west will end up outside the Pac-12 unless USC steps it up big-time.

Emeka Egbuka is the highest-ranked four-star in the country and Washington has a good chance at him as he hails from the state, but Beaux Collins and Troy Franklin are likely to end up outside the Pac-12 footprint.

Two of my favorite receivers in this class, Agiye Hall and Mario Williams, are from Florida and must be kept in-state. Florida State, Florida and Miami will be jostling for all of them but you know Alabama, Clemson, Georgia and others will make it difficult.

6. WEAK CLASS AT LINEBACKER

Jonathan Flowe
Jonathan Flowe (Nick Lucero/Rivals.com)

Early on the 2021 class looks like weak at linebacker, but I know prospects will emerge. One that is interesting to follow is Jonathan Flowe, the younger brother of 2020 five-star Justin Flowe as they could be a package deal.

7. JUST ONE FIVE-STAR RUNNING BACK?

Will Wheaton be the lone five-star running back in 2021? It’s a good but not great group at the top early, and speed will be the big question aside from the track star.

8. OFFENSIVE LINE CLASS COULD BE HISTORIC

I like this offensive line group a lot and think there could be a record number of five-stars before all is said and done. When a talent like Hayden Conner is down at No. 13 at offensive tackle you know you have a very deep group. The top guard, Drew Kendall, is the son of one of the nastiest offensive linemen I’ve scouted over the years – Pete Kendall - who played at Boston College and went onto an NFL career. At center, there are two dominant players early in Ryan Linthicum from Maryland and Raheem Anderson from Michigan.

9. CLEMSON IN GOOD POSITION FOR TOP DEFENSIVE TACKLE

Defensive tackle Payton Page could be the next great one at his position to head to Clemson, although its early. He could follow Christian Wilkins, Dexter Lawrence and now Bryan Bresee to head out-of-state and play for the Tigers. He is very athletic and has five-star potential.