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RCS New Orleans: How Rivals camp, other events will impact rankings

Kaleb Jackson
Kaleb Jackson

This past weekend featured a couple major events around the country. The Rivals Camp Series event in New Orleans drew some of the best prospects in the nation, while other players made their way to different events. analysts take a look at the important rankings-related questions and topics developing through all of the live camp evaluations.


MORE RCS NEW ORLEANS: Prospects now on the radar | Commitment predictions | Teams that should be pleased | Recruiting rumor mill | Players predict commitments | Four days in Louisiana with Adam Gorney | The Gorney awards | Positional MVPs | Combine standouts

CLASS OF 2023 RANKINGS: Rivals250 | Team | Position | State

CLASS OF 2024 RANKINGS: Rivals250 | Team | Position | State

TRANSFER PORTAL: Stories/coverage | Message board

RIVALS CAMP SERIES: Info for 2022 series


Is a shakeup at running back coming?

Justice Haynes and Richard Young have not locked up the top two spots in the running back rankings, but they have seemed to separate themselves at this point. Meanwhile, Kaleb Jackson, from Baton Rouge (La.) Liberty Magnet, had an impressive performance at the Rivals Camp in New Orleans last weekend, but there will be others who will push him for that No. 3 spot. Texas A&M has shown Jackson the most attention, while LSU has been lukewarm on him with the new staff taking over. Orlando (Fla.) Edgewater's Cedric Baxter is an intriguing prospect and Michigan State commit Kedrick Reescano has excellent film, while others could emerge as the running back rankings get shuffled in the next few months.


What a difference a year makes

Wilkin Formby is a massive offensive tackle, listed at 6-foot-8 and 300 pounds, very little bad weight, strong and barrel-chested. What's most impressive is that at that size, the Tuscaloosa (Ala.) Northridge standout moves his feet well and can handle speed to the edge. The four-star was at the Rivals events last summer, but he's a year older, a year stronger and playing with more confidence than ever. Formby has really come into his own and - currently listed at No. 33 at his position nationally - it's almost impossible to believe there are 32 better offensive tackles in his class.


Houston-area prospects show off

This past Saturday's Texas Exposure Camp served as a solid opportunity for 2023-2025 prospects in the Houston area to shine in the presence of recruiting media as well as compete against some of the area's best.

Houston Stratford 2023 tight end Hawkins Polley walked away with camp MVP honors on a day where he couldn't be beat in 1-on-1s, whether he was lining up against linebackers or defensive backs. The Baylor commit's route-running skills make him a high-upside player, but his strong hands are what could make him special at the next level.

Clear Falls 2023 four-star linebacker Corey Kelly will be a versatile weapon at the next level with his ability to rush the passer and move in space. Shadow Creek four-star 2024 safety Maurice Williams Jr. showed his skills in man coverage playing cornerback during the camp as his stock continues to rise. Humble Atascocita 2024 teammates Braylon Conley (defensive end) and Zion Brown (quarterback) were additional standouts from the camp. They have both been solid so far this offseason.

All of these prospects - if they continue to impress throughout the rest of the offseason - could see their rankings rise in the next update.


Spotlight shines on Mid-Atlantic linemen

There haven't been many big camps as far north as Baltimore so far this year, but this past weekend a group of highly talented prospects gathered in cold, windy conditions to show off the hard work they've put in during this offseason. The defensive linemen on hand were particularly interesting to watch. It was a group that featured 2023 prospects like Rivals250 members Desmond Umeozulu and James Heard along with four-stars Mason Robinson, Sydir Mitchell, David Ojiegbe and Dylan Gooden. Most of them played to their rankings, but it's a long offseason and there will be a number of other opportunities for all these players to impress. Two 2023 defensive ends that could see their stocks rise if they keep playing like they did on Sunday are Da'Shawn Womack and Anthony Little. They have fairly similar physical traits and styles as defensive ends, but Little is a bit more raw when it comes to his technique. Womack appeared to have the technical skills, size, strength and quickness to make life hard for any offensive lineman.

Also on the defensive line, 2024 Rivals250 defensive end Ernest Willor and high three-star Dominic Nichols showed a lot of promise. The skill level and talent that was evident on film was obvious when watching them in person. In the younger classes, players like Ari Watford, a 2025 prospect, and James Carrington, a 2026 prospect, continued to build on their already impressive offseason performances.

The offensive line group wasn't as deep as the defensive line, but there were a few big names and some others who could see their ranking rise. Miami commit Antonio Tripp and Penn State commit Anthony Donkoh headlined the group. Both are currently rated as three-star prospects and each of them turned in solid performances. We'll be watching each of them closely over the next few months. A high three-star in the 2024 class, Fletcher Westphal had a very good performance during 1-on-1s as well, but the offensive lineman that stole the show was 2024 prospect Tosin Babalade. The Hyattsville (Md.) DeMatha prospect checks all the boxes from a physical perspective and showed the lateral quickness, strength and sense of timing to put on a dominant performance during 1-on-1s. He earned the MVP award, and rightfully so.


Highly rated linebackers make good on their rankings

Rivals250 linebacker Tony Rojas showed he could be a special prospect. At No. 210 overall, Rojas has the build and range to be a major asset as a pass defender. He stands tall at about 6-foot-3, and has great length in his arms, which helped him knock down a few passes and pull in at least one interception on Sunday. Rojas is pretty lean but he has the frame to add the necessary mass for the college game.

In the 2024 class, Rivals250 prospects Aaron Chiles (No. 55), Kristopher Jones (No. 109), and Jaylen Harvey (No. 122) turned in dominant performances during 1-on-1s. Each of them had multiple pass breakups and they did a great job keeping up with running backs on deep routes. Harvey is making the transition to linebacker from defensive end, so playing in space is something he is just getting used to, but he seems to be coming along very nicely. Chiles and Jones are both inside linebackers, but they can cover in the passing game. Each of them used their long arms and outstanding speed to lock down the running backs that they were matched up against.