Rivals Camp Series: Ranking the defensive linemen
The 2022 Rivals Camp Series regional stops are finished and only the Rivals Underclassmen Challenge remains, and that event looms large in a couple of weeks. This week, we are taking a position-by-position look at which prospects impressed us the most at the regional events this year.
RIVALS CAMP SERIES: Info for 2022 series
1. Jahkeem Stewart, New Orleans RCS
It's not often you find an eighth grader worthy of even competing on Sunday of the Rivals Camp Series, but upon seeing Reserve (La.) East St. John defensive lineman Jahkeem Stewart at the Underclassman Combine in San Antonio, it was clear he was a different breed. He arrived on Sunday morning at Destrehan High School looking as physically impressive as anyone and backed it up with dominant play against top 2023 and 2024 linemen.
His performance had some of the analysts discussing how high he could have been ranked if he was a 2023 prospect, and the consensus was that he would already be in elite territory.
2. Keldric Faulk, RCS Atlanta
There were a lot of very good defensive linemen in attendance in Atlanta, but Faulk was just a cut above the rest. Measuring in at 6-foot-6.5 and 250pounds with a 6-foot-10 wingspan, Faulk has ideal size and length for an edge player and he’s very skilled when it comes to his hand techniques and understanding of leverage.
Combined with his quickness, Faulk was able to show off his full repertoire during 1-on-1s. He got into the backfield with ease and made sure offensive linemen weren’t able to slow him down. Faulk also showed how he’s able to keep his balance while bending around the outside. His performance in Atlanta cemented him among the other four-stars in the country.
3. Kendrick Gilbert, RCS Indianapolis
Gilbert earned the defensive line MVP honors in Indianapolis after a dominant showing and winning nearly every rep during 1-on1s. Gilbert used his length and athleticism to keep offensive linemen on their heels throughout the day and did a fantastic job displaying all of the tools in his pass rush repertoire. He was explosive off the ball and showed an uncanny ability to win with both speed and power.
His size and athleticism make him one of the Midwest's most sought-after prospects.
4. Dylan Stephenson, RCS Miami
Stephenson's recruiting stock was already on the rise heading into RCS Miami, but it has seen an even bigger rise in the months since. The four-star came to the camp looking ready for the upcoming season, working over tackles round after round. His get-off and speed was crisp, and the mix of hand-fighting techniques stumped linemen. His length and strong performance combined for Miami DL MVP honors at the end of the day.
5. James Heard, RCS Philadelphia
Heard is not the biggest or longest defensive end in the class, but his speed to the edge is impressive, which makes it very hard for offensive tackles to handle him. The four-star from Camden, N.J., can make himself small and tough to block, dip his shoulder and get to the edge before most of these offensive linemen get out of their stance. When tackles start guessing or try to get a jumpstart on Heard's speed he can go inside and win that way.
His performance at RCS Philadelphia earned him DL camp MVP honors.
6. Ashton Porter, RCS Dallas
Porter uses a combination of moves to slip offensive tackles and was able to line up in the interior and off the edge and was able to use his speed effectively in the same ways. His quickness gives opposing offensive linemen very little room for error and his hands create violence at the point of attack. His performance earned him RCS Dallas DL MVP honors with a solid group of defensive linemen in attendance.
7. David Stone, RCS Dallas
Stone was one of the top-ranked defensive linemen that attended a Rivals regional camp this spring, and despite maybe not having his best day his flashes were there. His size and speed combination have college coaches excited for his future, and that alone has helped him win reps against older competition on the camp circuit the last two years. His performance at RCS Dallas earned him an invite to the Rivals Underclassman Challenge.
8. Jamaal Jarrett, RCS Charlotte
Jarrett has grown two or three inches in the last year or so, leaned out and now looks like a completely dominant force up the middle. The Greensboro (N.C.) Grimsley prospect won almost all of his reps by brute force, overpowering and manhandling interior offensive linemen and leaving them in the dust. He's tall, but he has a thick base, so no one is going to push him around. What makes Jarrett extra special is being fast off the snap and moving with finesse for his size. His ability to plug up the middle was on display, earning him camp MVP honors in Charlotte.
9. Levar Talley, RCS Los Angeles
Talley comes off with the edge with reckless abandon, attacking the offensive tackle sometimes, using his speed to the edge and constantly keeping players unsure of what his next move will be. The 2024 defensive end from Rancho Santa Margarita (Calif.) Catholic can still fill out his frame, but if he keeps that speed and intensity then Talley should be even more dominant off the edge. He wreaked havoc in front of a star-studded Los Angeles group and took home camp MVP honors on the defensive line.
10. Xzavier McLeod, RCS Charlotte
McLeod was deep in the conversation with Jamaal Jarrett for DL MVP at RCS Charlotte because of his consistent athleticism that allowed him to get off and fly by opposing offensive linemen. Although maybe not as physical as some at this size, McLeod makes up for it with speed in the interior and combination of moves.