The summer camp circuit is the first opportunity most prospects have to test themselves in a venue full of Division I talent. For Clarksville (Tenn.) Northeast's Jalen Reeves-Maybin the summer gave him a chance to raise his star on the national scene.
"I guess a lot of people didn't know about me, so the summertime helped me get my name out there and solidify myself as one of the top players in my region," Reeves-Maybin said.
The 6-foot-1, 198-pound Reeves-Maybin is one of several prospects nationally who made the jump from three-star to four-star status in the latest ratings update from Rivals.com. The Tennessee commit proved he was worthy of the bump after impressive showings at the Memphis NIKE Camp, the Music City Classic 7-on-7 tournament and The Opening.
"Reeves-Maybin projects as a safety at the next level and closes very well on the football," Rivals.com national analyst Mike Farrell said. "We all knew he was a great athlete, but his instincts as a safety and ball skills as well as his excellent size allowed us to consider him for the bump."
Reeves-Maybin has been a standout on both sides of the football during his prep career, but will head to Knoxville to play the STAR position - similar to a nickel back - in the Volunteers defense.
The majority of new four-stars outside the new Rivals250 come from the defensive side of the football. Like Reeves-Maybin, Fairburn (Ga.) Our Lady of Mercy's Rashard Fant is listed as an athlete prospect, but impressed our analysts this summer with his skills on defense.
"Fant is an excellent shutdown cornerback who is an excellent leaper and is a quick-twitch athlete," Farrell said. "His ability to leap and his length allows him to play bigger receivers well and he has very good ball skills. He's not a risk taker and very instinctual."
Iowa commit Delano Hill already sat at the top of the three-star rankings, and has been steadily raising his stock this offseason. Clocking a 4.4 range 40-yard dash this summer helped catapult the 6-foot-1, 190-pound safety into four-star territory.
Another speedster making his debut as a four-star prospect in this update is Mobile (Ala.) McGill Toolen athlete Jason Smith.
"Smith is one of the fastest and most athletic players in the state of Alabama and can play so many different positions that we felt he was going to be a contributor no matter what … sort of a can't miss kid because of his speed," Farrell said.
The defensive line accounts for several moves into the four-star territory. Defensive ends Tashawn Bower and Jamone Boyd along with defensive tackles Kenneth Clark and Elijah Qualls each earned their fourth stars over the summer.
"Clark is definitely a defensive lineman but he played some linebacker during a 7-on-7 tournament this summer and moved around especially well," West Coast analyst Adam Gorney said. "He has outstanding film and plays with a lot of aggression, plus he has an unending motor. A lot of players around Southern California have said for some time Clark is underrated and he proved them right this summer."
"Boyd is a great-looking prospect physically who does some very good things on film after further review and his upside is out of this world," Farrell said. "He's raw and technically he needs a lot of work and his motor can go on and off, but if the fire is lit we could be talking about a future NFL player because you can't teach the natural things he has."
The 6-foot-1, 282-pound Qualls was a player who, as with Reeves-Maybin and Fant, had been listed as an athlete prospect, but after summer evaluations he has found a spot at the defensive tackle position and moved up to four-stars.
"Quite honestly, Qualls was disappointing at the Oakland NIKE Camp," Gorney said. "He came in really hyped up but didn't show the motor or the toughness I was expecting.
"He completely changed our minds after a good showing at the Rivals100 Five-Star Challenge and then an even better showing at The Opening. When Qualls goes his hardest, and that's how he usually plays, he's a menace because he combines speed with a lot of toughness."
Bower was another who has had less-than-impressive performances during the course of his high school career, but finished the summer strong and earns his fourth star.
"Bower had to prove to us he wanted to get better," Farrell said. "His game film was never great but he flashes tremendous potential.
"After avoiding contact and going through the motions at the Baltimore NIKE Camp, he looked like he just didn't care. At The Opening he wasn't dominant, but he worked hard and once again showed those flashes, especially when he took to the coaching. His ceiling is very high, he just needs to show consistent effort."
The offensive line position is also well-represented in the group of new four-stars. California natives Alex Redmond and Cameron Hunt both debut as four-stars in this ratings update.
"I saw Redmond in a game during his junior season and he was physical, tough and played mean. Then he sort of fell off the radar," Gorney said. "He showed up at The Opening and played the same way and beat some really talented defensive linemen numerous times. Once he gets leverage against a defensive lineman, Redmond has the power to stand his ground and not be moved. He does a good job against faster linemen, too."
Katy (Texas) offensive guard Caleb Benenoch also made an upward move in our May rankings update, and he jumps into four-star territory after a summer in which his camp performances earned him several new offers.
"Benenoch is a monster - a massive tackle who we think projects as a guard at the next level and has surprisingly nimble feet," Farrell said. "He moves very well for a big man, can reach the second level and could be an excellent pulling guard at the next level."
Although the quarterback position rankings will see a big shake-up in this month's update, just two make the jump from three-stars to four-stars. One is Jackson (Miss.) Prep pro-style signal caller Ryan Buchanan.
"Buchanan is one of the more overshadowed quarterbacks in this class and he has one of the strongest arms out there," Farrell said. "But he also has good touch and knows when to take something off of it. He's got good size, he's poised and willing to take a hit to complete a pass and he has a bright future in college and beyond if he keeps developing."
Overall, 12 prospects make their debut at four-stars outside the Rivals250. They will have a chance to further increase their stock playing out their senior seasons this fall.
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