New 2020 Rivals250 released: Biggest debates, decisions
The new Rivals250 for the 2020 class has been released with plenty of discussion and debate among the Rivals.com team of analysts. Here they break down some of those decisions and their own thoughts behind them.
1. Who did you personally go to bat for that will make you look smart?
Rob Cassidy (Southeast/Florida): I was one of the loudest voices when it came to awarding Noah Sewell his fifth star. There were some concerns about his weight and that he might grow into a defensive end, but he carries his frame incredibly well and is one of the more versatile middle linebackers I’ve ever seen. History will show that he’s a no-brainer five-star.
Mike Farrell (National): Texas A&M quarterback commitment Haynes King is a guy I pushed hard to make a big move up. He has all the intangibles to be very good and I like the way he extends the play and improvises. He’s getting bigger and stronger and his ceiling is high.
Adam Friedman (Mid-Atlantic): I mentioned to the other analysts that Bijan Robinson would prove he was a five-star before he arrived in Atlanta for the Rivals100 Five-Star Challenge presented by adidas and everybody was pretty much onboard after the event. Texas is getting a future star in the Arizona native.
Adam Gorney (West/National): We have talked about him so much already but deservedly so because Noah Sewell is a unique prospect, maybe like we've never seen before. Here is a 260-pound recruit who moves so well at linebacker that it's amazing to see in person. There's no reason to believe he can't stay at inside linebacker and thrive in the years to come. After his awesome showing at the Rivals100 Five-Star Challenge presented by adidas, Sewell added his fifth star and moved all the way up to No. 15.
Josh Helmholdt (Midwest): I had watched Texas A&M cornerback commit Jaylon Jones on film before the Five-Star Challenge – which is why I drafted him on my team – but Atlanta was my first time actually seeing the Texan in-person. He did not disappoint, and he stepped up big for what ended up being a depleted red team which lost in the championship game. I am usually not big on tall cornerbacks because they tend to be stiff, but Jones is that rare combination of size and fluidity at the position.
Chad Simmons (Southeast): Noah Sewell is one that I, along with many others, stood strongly on the table for this update. After seeing Sewell, I think he could be a top 10 talent in this class. Some question where he will play on the next level, but I really have no concerns. He is a freak athlete who can move at his size. Right now, he is an elite middle linebacker and I see him as a major college player regardless of how he develops physically in the coming years.
Sam Spiegelman (Texas/Louisiana): Ty'Kieast Crawford was a tackle whose junior film caught my attention in a big way. The crazy part is that Texas is absolutely loaded with a lot of offensive line talent in the 2020 class, but Crawford was somehow flying under the radar. The Arkansas commitment showed up to LSU's camp at the start of June and put on a clinic. He looks the part of an SEC tackle and has raw strength and athleticism in pass protection, and was a top performer with a defensive line group that featured Rivals250 prospects in Jaquelin Roy and Jacobian Guillory. After that performance in Baton Rouge, I felt Crawford commanded more national respect.
2. Who might we have too high?
Rob Cassidy (Southeast/Florida): I’m a little worried about all the running backs in this class, but DeMarckus Bowman’s five-star ranking is most concerning because he’s my region. He didn’t participate in either of the major national events this offseason. And while he’s certainly a great prospect, he’ll have to spend this season and the all-star season backing up his lofty ranking. I’m really interested to see how he does in an All-American game against top-flight competition. We shall see. I’m obviously not ready to move Bowman just yet, but he’ll be under a microscope.
Mike Farrell (National): What do I know? I had Derek Wingo as one of my answers a few rankings ago and he’s turned out to be awesome. But I’ll say WR Troy Omeire might be a bit high because I worry about his speed. He’s a big kid and physical but he doesn’t gain a ton of separation.
Adam Friedman (Mid-Atlantic): I'm definitely keeping my eye on Kendall Milton. As a big and powerful running back, Milton runs over guys at the high school level but he may not be able to do that at the college level. He's fast but doesn't have elite speed and he's not going to shed pounds once he gets to college.
Adam Gorney (West/National): Sav'ell Smalls is a really talented prospect who I liked a lot at the adidas West Coast Invitational this spring but since then he's been largely absent from the national discussion. He did not attend the Five-Star Challenge. He was not at The Opening. And at some point the five-star defensive end is going to have to back up his top-10 ranking, especially when many elite prospects rated behind him are knocking down the door to reach that elite status. The Burien (Wash.) Kennedy Catholic prospect is a highly-skilled defensive end/outside linebacker hybrid but he has got to deliver on the national stage at some point. He can, but he needs to grab that opportunity.
Josh Helmholdt (Midwest): I also drafted Harrison Bailey onto the red team, and my angle with that pick was surrounding him with his 7-on-7 teammates. He did play well in Atlanta, but he was more familiar with the group of receivers there than any of the other quarterbacks in attendance and he came in well-conditioned for 7-on-7 football. We did not make the five-star move on Bailey this time around, but No. 32 in the class still feels a bit high here. I just don't see that ceiling.
Chad Simmons (Southeast): Broderick Jones is a guy for me that could still be a little too high. Is he in that five-star discussion? Yes, and rightfully so due to his ceiling and potential, but he just needs to show more development and consistency this fall to be a top 30 guy for me. He checks those boxes when breaking down the size, flexibility and athleticism, but I just want to see more on the field with the pads on.
Sam Spiegelman (Texas/Louisiana): Garrett Hayes is a bad man. Not a bad football player, of course, as the four-star tackle is ranked No. 143 in the country and certainly has the talent to be ranked inside the Rivals250. Hayes is a pancake machine and he's someone I would recommend steering clear of after the ball is snapped. However, we've been unable to get a glimpse of Hayes in a camp setting. From film, we see he is a dominant run blocker. We can only assume that the same physicality and nastiness he displays in the run game would show up in pass protection as well, but that's certainly an area of his game I'm keeping a close eye on during his senior year.
3. Who might we have too low?
Rob Cassidy (Southeast/Florida): I suspect Xzavier Henderson’s upside is enough to push him into the Rivals100, but I haven’t seen him in person in nearly a year and want to see how he looks this season before we shoot him further up the rankings. He certainly has the tools. I’ll be interested to see if he progresses as a senior.
Mike Farrell (National): I really like defensive tackle Timothy Smith and have for a long time. He’s one of the best at his position in this class. Keep an eye on him.
Adam Friedman (Mid-Atlantic): There are a few I could point out but the two that stick out to me most are Marcus Dumervil and Cody Simon. Dumervil has the frame, athleticism and aggressiveness to become a key piece of a college offensive line. Simon is so athletic and has a great feel for playing in coverage. He has plenty of room to fill out his frame and he should end up a major contributor at the next level.
Adam Gorney (West/National): It might be incredible to think this way but I'm hard pressed to believe there are 10 other players in this class better than Arik Gilbert after seeing him dominate at the Five-Star Challenge. Gilbert is 6-foot-5 and 248 pounds and looks like he's already been through a college weightlifting program. At that size he's so fluid and athletic, he can stretch the field and he has excellent hands to make tough catches. I know he's ranked as the top tight end in the 2020 class and he deserves it but an argument could even be made for him as the best wide receiver in the class since he's considering playing that position at the next level.
Josh Helmholdt (Midwest): Cincinnati linebacker commit Jaheim Thomas had a very solid off-season, and pushed for him to get a bump in this update. Others who saw him in both Cincinnati and Atlanta disagreed, and that bump did not happen. So, I think Thomas is lower than he should be. He has great length for the position, and a frame that will carry plenty more weight when he hits a college training table.
Chad Simmons (Southeast): Jaquelin Roy is a defensive lineman that continues to grow on me. I saw him play last fall, when he had multiple sacks and numerous pressures. He has re-shaped his body, he has shined at multiple camps this off-season and the LSU commit could end up in that five-star discussion before all is said and done. He is No. 63 in the country, so he is elite, but he could be higher.
Sam Spiegelman (Texas/Louisiana): Malik Hornsby is one of the most dangerous football players in America -- regardless of position. He can sling it and he can run it as good as any dual-threat in the country. However, Hornsby has had a quiet offseason. He's seen his fair share of ups and downs and battled some lingering injuries during spring football, so entering his senior season ranked at No. 231 overall might be a tad low. Hornsby committed to North Carolina for a month before backing off that pledge. Texas, Texas A&M, Oregon and Auburn all have their quarterbacks in place for the 2020 class, and it remains a mystery where Hornsby will wind up.