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Mind of Mike: Thoughts on the updated 2021 Rivals250

The Mind of Mike is a scary place. We dive into the mind of National Recruiting Director Mike Farrell with his thoughts on the latest Rivals250 for the class of 2021.

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CLASS OF 2021 RANKINGS: Rivals250

CLASS OF 2022 RANKINGS: Rivals250 | Position | Team | State

COVERAGE: Rivals Transfer Tracker | Rivals Camp Series

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CLASS OF 2021 RANKINGS WEEK SCHEDULE

MONDAY: Who should be No. 1 in 2021? | Counting down the 20 five-stars | Looking at new five-stars

TUESDAY: Rivals250 revealed | Ten big movers | Where five-stars stand in recruiting | Schools with most R250 commits

WEDNESDAY: QB rankings | RB rankings | WR/TE rankings | OL rankings

THURSDAY: DL rankings | LB rankings | DB rankings | ATH rankings

FRIDAY: State rankings spotlight

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... As always I’ll start at the top and it’s clear there aren’t many changes in the national top 10 for one big reason: the pandemic. This is usually the update following the Rivals100 Five-Star Challenge, The Opening and a ton of other events, and we didn’t get to see much. The Elite 11 helped a bit, even though I usually don’t put a ton of stock in it. But with it being the only true QB event this summer, it had more importance than normal.

DE Korey Foreman remained No. 1 followed by OT Amarius Mims and QB Caleb Williams and I like this trio a lot. This will be the least evaluated class at Rivals since the early 2000s when there were just a few camps and evaluations were mostly done from VHS film. Misses were big back then but I feel confident in this top three. I’m not quite as sold on DE J.T. Tuimoloau as some others and I think DT Maason Smith is the safer prospect but time will tell.

As far as big moves among the five-stars? There weren't any, at least among the prospects who had already earned theirs. How could there be with so few evaluation opportunities?

Yes, we went back and reviewed some junior film again as we always do, but we weren’t calling it a “deep dive” every few weeks just to shake things up. I have no idea when our next release will be or what the recruiting calendar will look like, and having only 20 five-stars at this stage is very, very low.

But these are serious extenuating circumstances and if we have to stay lower in 2021 and be more conservative we will be.

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Here’s my take on those new five-stars:

OT Tristan Leigh — He’s athletic, aggressive and he has very good feet and a frame to build on. He’s the perfect build for an OL who can add weight the right way and play at 320 pounds at the next level.

QB Ty Thompson — I love Thompson's strong arm and ability to run. He spreads you out with his dual-threat ability and he can pick you apart. And if the play breaks down he’s off to the races.

S James Williams — Williams is a physical specimen and it just didn’t seem right to have Corey Collier, who I like a lot, ahead of him because Williams has the higher ceiling. He needs some polish but both are five-stars and comparing the two led to Williams' jump.

OT Blake Fisher — Fisher was my call for the most part as I love his size and aggressive nature. He’s thinned down some and if he adds some flexibility he could be the next great offensive lineman at Notre Dame.

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Here are the prospects that I think are closest to that fifth star right now:

OL JC Latham — I have been pushing Latham as a five-star for a long time and I feel like he will earn it after another season under his belt on offense. He could have the highest ceiling of any player in this class.

WR Troy Franklin — California won’t play this fall and Franklin's high school career is likely done but that doesn’t mean he can’t earn a fifth star. Many times as we see more players at a position it makes one we haven’t seen look better and undervalued.

S Sage Ryan — Ryan was a big mover in this last ranking and can make plays all over the field.

ATH Billy Bowman — Like Ryan, Bowman can play in many places and he’s a special prospect who just has to overcome some size issues. But we’ve had smaller defensive backs as five-stars so you never know.

WR Christian Leary — Speed is way up there for me when it comes to wide receivers and I doubted Henry Ruggs coming out of high school. Ruggs proved he deserved a five-star ranking and Leary could as well.

TE Thomas Fidone — Wait, isn’t Fidone below Hudson Wolfe in the tight end rankings? Yes, he is but I like him better as a flex option and downfield threat. He just needs to put on some size.

DT Leonard Taylor — I went from doubting Taylor to believing in him and we’ll see how he does this season.

LB Dallas Turner — I love Turner as one of the best hybrid guys in the 2021 class and he could make a major push up.

LB Terrence Lewis — Lewis is still filling out and so far he’s showing no rust from his time off from camps and such.

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... OK, lets talk quarterbacks. The quarterbacks at the Elite 11 this year were allowed to rip it and I broke down every throw without trying to overact to routes on air. I already loved Ty Thompson so his move to a five-star ranking was solidified by his additional growth as a quarterback. Tyler Buchner clearly changed his throwing style and gave us pause but we didn’t want to free fall him. Other prospects, such as Christian Veilleux just looked out of place and erratic and nothing like a four-star. Aside from Thompson, Florida commitment Carlos Del Rio helped himself the most at the event. This is a solid quarterback class for sure, but this is a tough year to evaluate the position.

... Prospects such as Leary, Xavier Worthy, James Williams and others moved up based on a re-evaluation of their position. There was no way I could keep a talented prospect like Worthy as a mid-level three-star based on an early evaluation so going back and reviewing him again was key. We did that with many prospects I felt were undervalued initially, including the North Carolina trio of RaRa Dillworth, Keshawn Silver and Power Echols.

... Some prospects, as usual, slid because others moved up so if your team has a commit that slid 10 slots or fewer, just relax. We didn’t free fall nearly as many prospects in this ranking or the last simply because we didn’t see as many. I don’t mind going back and bumping kids here and there based on a film review but dropping them like crazy without any sort of basis for it wasn’t happening. That being said, we had 11 players drop 40 or more spots in this Rivals250 which is a small number compared with a usual release – it can be as high as 30-35 usually – and all were based on positional comparison if we didn’t have a new eval.

... This has been the least fun of any year of rankings in my nearly 25 years. Players opting out, evaluations being limited, some states playing and others postponing and so on. This has been rough, and it will continue to be rough. My hope is that the 2022 class won’t be nearly as affected.