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Mind of Mike: Thoughts on updated Rivals250 rankings

JC Latham
JC Latham (Rivals.com)

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.

RIVALS RANKINGS WEEK SCHEDULE:

Monday: Five-Star Countdown

Tuesday: New five-stars in updated Rivals250

Wednesday: Offensive position rankings released

Thursday: Defensive position rankings released

Friday: State rankings released

CLASS OF 2021 RANKINGS: Rivals250 | Team

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

COVERAGE: Rivals Transfer Tracker | Rivals Camp Series

THE RACE FOR NUMBER ONE

Maason Smith
Maason Smith (Nick Lucero/Rivals.com)

OK, as always let’s start at the top. I would feel very comfortable with any of our top three prospects being No. 1 right now but DT Maason Smith won out and edged OT JC Latham and DE Korey Foreman. Would Foreman have held onto No. 1 if California didn’t shut down the season or was Smith’s progression just too much? We will never know but a defensive tackle who can chase the quarterback is more valuable and harder to find than a defensive end.

Latham has been making a case to be the first offensive lineman to finish No. 1 overall in Rivals history and we have one more ranking left so time will tell. But these are big, athletic and freaky players with great motors and an aggressive side. It’s hard to miss with that combination.

I feel there is a slight dropoff from Foreman to Amarius Mims at No. 4 although Mims is becoming more consistently physical and less of a finesse tackle. Caleb Williams wins the quarterback battle again this round simply because of his dual threat ability but Brock Vandagriff is not far behind.

The only big move into the top 10 aside from Latham was Oregon quarterback Tyler Thompson, who pushed to No. 9. Some prospects slid slightly such as DE Jack Sawyer (opted out) and OL Bryce Foster (still needs athleticism work) but there weren’t a ton of dramatic moves. Judging who should move up and down when not everyone was playing this season wasn’t easy. This is going to be a class that will be interesting to review in a few years. In some cases we make mistakes because we see prospects too many times and begin nitpicking subconsciously but that won’t be the case this year.

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THOUGHTS ON THE NEW FIVE-STARS

Here are my personal thoughts on the new five-stars.

OT JC Latham — This was a long time coming but we wanted to see Latham in his second year playing offensive tackle and we were blown away. With the shutdown of so many events, he would likely have been a five-star this summer. Now he’s pushing for the No. 1 spot.

LB Dallas Turner — He’s a freaky hybrid and an elite pass rusher who gets around the edge with ease and closes strong. He can play standing up or with his hand in the dirt and has the frame to grow into a Jonathan Allen-type down the line.

S Sage Ryan — Smooth, savvy, effortless. Those are all the ways I’d describe Ryan and he reminds me of a smaller Keenan Allen who was set to be a great safety at Alabama long ago before switching to Cal to play receiver. Unlike Allen, Ryan will stay on defense.

LB Barrett Carter — Carter is a whirling dervish who covers a ton of ground, gets great depth in his drops and can blitz with the best of them. He’s a safety talent in a linebacker's body and that’s what is coveted these days.

OT Kingsley Suamataia — The big, athletic and still raw tackle from Utah has progressed in many ways and is very good at blocking downfield and hitting moving targets. He has a chance to be special in the Pac-12.

OT Nolan Rucci — Rucci had the bloodlines and now the size and power to dominate at the next level. He’s filled out and still has room to add weight and he should be a road grader in the Big Ten.

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PROSPECTS THAT JUST MISSED A FIFTH STAR

Thomas Fidone
Thomas Fidone (Nick Lucero/Rivals.com)

Here are a few prospects who were considered for a fifth star but missed and why.

TE Thomas Fidone — This one was debated quite a bit and he came close but it came down to how big he can get at the next level. Fidone has a chance to be a great tight end in college but he’s angular and bulk would need to be added in a big way.

DE Shemar Turner — Like Fidone, Turner has a thin frame and has a chance to be elite but would need to fill out quite a bit to be a first-rounder down the line.

QB Kyle McCord — McCord has improved in many areas and was debated briefly but we don’t see the consistency when it comes to accuracy that we need to make him a five-star.

LB Terrence Lewis — This one hurts because I’ve been on Lewis' bandwagon for a while but he just can’t get over the hump to get the vote. As with many, the size of his frame is the issue.

LB Clayton Smith — This kid is an athletic freak and moved way up in the rankings. Size is not an issue with Smith but instincts are still on the table. He’s dominating with his athletic skills but just shy of a five-star when diagnosing plays.

WR Jacorey Brooks — It’s about speed for Brooks. Yes, Mario Williams isn’t a burner either and he’s a five-star but he’s better after the catch. Brooks is excellent but not a downfield terror.

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BIG MOVERS IN THE RIVALS250

JoJo Earle
JoJo Earle (Sam Spiegelman)

There were some big movers, up and down, in this latest Rivals250 update. Here are a few notable ones.

RB LJ Johnson — Johnson moved up a bit because the gap between him and Camar Wheaton has closed. Wheaton had the speed advantage but beyond that they are close.

LB Xavian Sorey — We finally designated Sorey as a linebacker and not an athlete and his ability to cover so much ground in the pass game has him moving up.

WR JoJo Earle — He’s not big but he’s electric and will be a dominant slot receiver at the next level and perhaps beyond.

DB Terrion Arnold — We moved Arnold to safety and he’s shown additional ability to track plays across the field and get into the run game action more consistently.

LB Deontae Lawson — Some feel Lawson is still undervalued and he could be. He’s a big, physical thumper who is just starting to reach his potential.

TE Michael Trigg — Trigg is a freaky athlete at the tight end position and is similar to some of the more successful flex guys we see today.

RB Audric Estime — I love Estime’s running style and he always fights for extra yardage which will be the key to his success in the Big Ten and beyond.

WR Deon Colzie — Colzie dropped a few spots because he hasn’t taken the next step in his speed development so it will be interesting to see if he’s topped out.

DT Lee Hunter — Hunter still needs to get a bit more explosive off the snap and disrupt on a regular basis.

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IN CLOSING

Finally, I’m very interested to see how players such as Sawyer, Emeka Egbuka and others impact without a senior season. I feel like Egbuka would be someone who could push for No. 1 overall if we got to see him this season or at an all-star game. The lack of all-star games is going to be very rough this year.