Rivals Camp Series: Ranking the linebackers
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. Today we look at the linebackers.
MORE FROM THIS SERIES: Ranking the QBs | RBs | WRs/TEs | OL | DL
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
1. Sammy Brown, Atlanta RCS
Brown came into the Atlanta Rivals Camp with high expectations and there wasn't a linebacker that performed better this spring. Brown is an outstanding athlete that had no problem running in the open field. He did a great job keeping pace with running backs during 1-on-1s and showed how physical and effective he can be during the pass rushing drills. The highly ranked 2024 prospect is in no rush to announce a commitment but keep an eye on programs like Georgia, Tennessee, Clemson and a few others.
2. Kristopher Jones, Philadelphia RCS
Jones has gotten better and better this offseason and his MVP performance at the Rivals Camp outside Philadelphia was his best showing yet. The 2024 Rivals250 prospect is plenty physical and did a good job using that to his advantage during 1-on-1s and pass rushing drills. Jones held up well when matched up with small, shifty backs in the open field, showing off his patience and ability to react quickly. With still another year of high school to go, Jones has a chance to see his stock rise even higher if he continues on this development track.
3. Jordan Lockhart, Los Angeles RCS
For being such a big prospect, Lockhart moved really well in the open field against some impressive running back talent. The Los Angeles Rivals Camp MVP knew how to disrupt routes and make life difficult for quarterbacks looking for an open receiver. Even with the star-studded cast of quarterbacks at that camp, Lockhart was able to make a number of plays on the ball before the quarterbacks started paying special attention to him.
4. S'Maje Burrell, Dallas RCS
Burrell leaned on his height and length at the Dallas Rivals Camp and came away with the MVP award. During 1-on-1s, Burrell did a nice job of getting his hands on running backs at the line of scrimmage and knocking them off their route. He had his share of pass breakups and looked like the type of linebacker that should continue to get better as he physically matures. Having committed to Texas just a few days before the camp, Burrell had a bit of a target on his back but he stood up to the test.
5. Kylan Salter, Dallas RCS
Salter, who nearly beat Burrell for the Dallas Rivals Camp MVP award, isn't as big as Burrell but has a bit more speed and is very rangy. He used his long arms to his advantage during 1-on-1s and made it hard for quarterbacks to fit their passes into tight windows. Salter is a very good athlete that did well in coverage and did a good job adjusting to the speed of the competition. He closes on the ball well and college coaches are going to count him as an asset in coverage at the next level.
6. Carson Dean, Dallas RCS
Another big linebacker, Dean leaned on his physicality during the Dallas Rivals Camp. The four-star is fundamentally sound in coverage and did a great job of getting his hand on the ball and knocking it out of the running back's arms. Dean has the speed to turn and run with almost any running back that he matches up with and, during pass rushing drills, he showed that he can overpower them too.
7. Ben Cutter, Charlotte RCS
Cutter stuffed the stat sheet during his junior season and that success carried over to the Charlotte Rivals Camp with a MVP performance. His measurables aren't overly impressive but that didn't matter on camp day. Cutter was all over the field during 1-on-1s but he really caught everybody's eye during the pass rushing drills. He impressed with his strength and above average blitzing techniques. Even though Cutter's recruitment hasn't taken off, the inside linebacker from North Carolina is in line for a productive college career.
8. Kaleb Spencer, Charlotte RCS
There's a lot to like about Spencer as a prospect and he very nearly won the MVP award at the Charlotte Rivals Camp. The Oklahoma commit is a big safety that is expected to fill out his frame and transition to outside linebacker and that defensive back experience helped him shine during 1-on-1s. Spencer has a great feel in coverage and that helped him blanket running backs coming out of the backfield. He did a great job turning and running with receivers as they made their way down the field but he was still able to stay within reach so he could knock down the pass.
9. Taurean York, Dallas RCS
York is on the smaller side but he showed a lot of patience in coverage and that helped him keep receivers from creating a lot of separation. The Baylor commit has good straight line speed and his tight coverage forced quarterbacks to overthrow the receivers on multiple occasions. York did a good job of playing physically when he could and that helped him throw off the timing between the receiver and the quarterback. He had plenty of success during the blitzing drills and knows how to consistently get into the backfield.
10. Gerral Blue, Jr., Miami RCS
Blue, the linebacker MVP at the Miami Rivals Camp, showed off the physical attributes that could make him a force at linebacker at the Power Five level. He has the straight line speed in the open field to match up with almost any running back and he has the length to close any throwing window quarterbacks might find. Blue did a good job of sticking with running backs on down field routes and made plays on the ball when quarterbacks didn't expect it. Blue has plenty of potential and it will be interesting tracking his development through the end of this summer and into the fall.