The quarterback position draws the most attention on the field, as well as on the recruiting trail.
Five four-star quarterbacks in the 2015 class sitting just outside the initial
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Rivals250 presented by Under Armour look to make their cases this off-season to join that list later in the process.
One of the most well-known prospects in this entire 2015 class is Elkton (Md.) Eastern Christian Academy's David Sills, who first hit the scene when he committed to USC as an eighth grader. Sills starts out as a four-star prospect, but has close to a dozen quarterbacks to climb past if he wants to ascend to the top of his position rankings.
"Sills has an extremely high football IQ and his accuracy is impressive," East analyst Adam Friedman said. "While his size is a bit of a concern, his arm strength is improving. Sills is also much faster than most people think. Overall, Sills has a very high ceiling and had the added benefit of throwing to two BCS commits last season."
Joining Sills as four-stars just outside the Rivals250 in the pro-style quarterback category are Albuquerque (N.M.) Eldorado's Zach Gentry and Kennesaw (Ga.) North Cobb's Tyler Queen, an Auburn commit.
"At 6-foot-6, Gentry does not lack for size," noted Midlands analyst Rob Cassidy. "For a player of his stature, he has a tremendously polished throwing motion. It's not perfect, but it's surprisingly solid given that too much size tends to hamper things on that front at times. Gentry is, by far, the top prospect in his state and should garner plenty of offers in the near future."
"There's no doubt what Tyler brings to the table with his cannon of an arm and his ability to get out and move when plays break down," Southeast analyst Woody Wommack said. "The main thing holding him back is his accuracy
-- he was just over 50 percent as a passer this year and struggled against some top-flight defenses late in the season. This off-season could be big for his development as a passer."
A pair of dual-threat quarterbacks also start off as four-stars and will be looking to make a move up the the national rankings over the next year. They include
Michigan State commit Jayru Campbell of Detroit Cass Tech and Moreno Valley (Calif.) Rancho Verde's Sheriron Jones.
"We have been watching Campbell since before his freshman season," said Midwest analyst Josh Helmholdt. "He led Cass Tech to state titles in 2011 and 2012, but took a slight step back this past season. He can hit all points on the field with his arm strength and has shown strong intangibles during his three years as a starter. He now needs to be consistently accurate and develop his decision-making in the pocket."
"Jones is the perfect combination of a drop-back passer who can also use his feet to escape pressure and make something happen," West analyst Adam Gorney said. "With so many outstanding quarterbacks in California next recruiting cycle, Jones sometimes gets lost in the shuffle but he shouldn't because he has elite talent."
Each of the five quarterback prospects who are rated four-stars and sit outside the Rivals250 were initially rated four-stars before their junior seasons. Several more prospects have earned their fourth stars for the first time after proving their talent on the field this fall.
The strongside defensive end position is particularly strong in the 2015 class. Tampa (Fla.) Freedom's Scott Patchan and Long Beach (Calif.) Poly's
Joseph Wicker are two new four-stars among 18 total at the position.
"Patchan is a long rangy, rush end with a good football pedigree," Southeast analyst Kynon Codrington said. "His brother, Matt Patchan, was a four-star recruit that signed with Florida and his dad played at Miami. At 6-foot-6, 225-pounds he has the frame to add weight without losing any of his get-off quickness. He will need to continue to play with proper technique and not come off the ball too high giving his opponent a bigger target to strike."
"Wicker has tremendous size and that's what stands out most," Gorney said. "He is a physical specimen who can dominate at times. We would like to see him be more consistent, going hard on every play and really getting after it with all his physical tools. When Wicker wants to really dominate his side of the line he can definitely do it. I saw Poly in the playoffs and he was in the backfield all the time and causing havoc."
The athlete position also yields two new four-stars who rank just outside the Rivals250. Lakewood (Ohio) St. Edward's David Dowell joins his brother, running back Andrew Dowell, in four-star territory. Andrew made the initial Rivals250 to Watch list this summer as a running back, but David earned his fourth star after an impressive junior season.
"There was a question coming into this season as to which position the 6-foot, 177-pound Dowell fit best," Helmholdt said. "He plays wide receiver and cornerback for St. Edward and could potentially play either position in college, but he appears right now to have the highest upside on the defensive side of the football. His length and athleticism has drawn a lot of early attention and offers from college programs."
Meanwhile, Baltimore (Md.) Gilman School has had a four-star in each of the last four recruiting classes, and that trend continues with athlete Kai Locksley.
"Playing out of position at quarterback, Locksley has had some highs and lows," Friedman said. "While he is pretty good at reading defenses and has good arm strength, his accuracy and decision-making needs work. Locksley has a very high ceiling at wide receiver. A basketball player in the offseason, Locksley can really elevate for the ball. He is a long-strider and has good top-end speed, but since he isn't a full-time wide receiver he doesn't run great routes."
The remaining new four-stars who rank just outside the top 250 each plays on the offensive side of the football. Harrisburg (Pa.) Bishop McDevitt running back
Andre Robinson, Westlake Village (Calif.) Oaks Christian offensive tackle Reno Rosene and Pine Bluff, Ark., tight end Will Gragg all received positive reviews after their junior seasons.
"Robinson had an outstanding junior season and helped Bishop McDevitt to the state championship game this weekend," Friedman said. "At 5-foot-10, 210-pounds Robinson is a load to tackle and is very tough between the tackles. He has the vision and ability to make defenders miss in the open field and very good explosiveness."
"Rosene has excellent size at 6-foot-5 and 290 pounds and this season I especially noticed he has reconstructed his body," Gorney said. "That's to say he lost some bad weight, bulked up with muscle and because of that he is a lot lighter on his feet and moves much better than he did as a sophomore. One of the things that really stands out about Rosene is that he's a nice, humble kid off the field but flips a switch and because very competitive and hard-nosed under the lights. He is being taught really well at Oaks Christian as well so technique is no issue."
"Gragg is a big-bodied tight end who has the athleticism to be a threat as a pass catcher but is also a strong blocker," Midlands analyst Jason Howell said. "At 6-foot-4, 233 pounds he catches just about anything within his reach. He is very reliable as a receiving threat and is comfortable whether he is split out to the slot or right next to the tackle. The thing that really stands out about Gragg, though, is his ability to attack the ball and focus on bringing in a tough receptions."
While these prospects have all earned their fourth star, they will likely be looking to improve their rankings during off-season camps like the Rivals Camp Series presented by Under Armour.