Rivals.com releases initial position rankings for 2019 class
The initial position rankings for the 2019 class show us which positions, such as strongside defensive end, are going to be strong in this cycle and which positions are lacking in talent and depth.
HEADLINER: JT Daniels, Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei
PLAYER TO WATCH: Hayden Wolff, Englewood (Fla.) Lemon Bay
COMMENTS: The No. 1 overall prospect in the 2019 class is a pro-style quarterback for the second straight year. USC commit Daniels has a sizable lead for the top spot in this position ranking, with Washington commit Dylan Morris and Texas A&M commit Grant Gunnell among the second tier at this position, rated in the 5.9 range.
HEADLINER: Spencer Rattler, Phoenix (Ariz.) Pinnacle
PLAYER TO WATCH: Ta’Quan Roberson, Wayne (N.J.) DePaul Catholic
COMMENTS: The gap between first and second at dual-threat is not as wide as it is at pro-style. Rattler, an Oklahoma commit, narrowly edged out a trio of other 5.9 Rivals Rated prospects including Michael Johnson Jr., son of Oregon Ducks wide receivers coach Michael Johnson. Another recognizable name on this list is No. 9 Taulia Tagovailoa, younger brother of Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa.
HEADLINER: Nayquan Wright, Miami Gardens (Fla.) Carol City
PLAYER TO WATCH: Andrew Henry, Dallas Episcopal School
COMMENTS: This is a small group of just five prospects that spans the range from a top-40 player in Wright all the way down to Columbia (Mo.) Rock Bridge’s Nathaniel Peat, who starts at a 5.6 Rivals Rating. Whether the all-purpose back is less prominent in the game or if 2019 is just a year when those types of ball carriers are late bloomers remains to be seen.
HEADLINER: Devyn Ford, North Stafford, Va.
PLAYER TO WATCH: Jirehl Brock, Quincy (Ill.) Senior
COMMENTS: There are no five-stars in this position group to start, but four players are knocking on the door including Ford, who ranks in the top 10 of the Rivals100. Two sets of teammates register in this ranking, IMG Academy’s Trey Sanders and Noah Cain and Detroit Cass Tech’s Jaren Mangham and Lew Nichols, which is a rare occurrence for the running back position.
HEADLINER: Jadon Haselwood, Ellenwood (Ga.) Cedar Grove
PLAYER TO WATCH: Colby Bowman, Bellflower (Calif.) St. John Bosco
COMMENTS: The depth at wide receiver has been growing in recent years, and that will continue in the 2019 class. Wide receiver accounts for the most five-stars (three), the most four-stars (37) and the most prospects in an initial position ranking (55). The three five-stars are Haselwood, a Georgia commit, Texas native Theo Wease and Oregon commit Arjei Henderson.
HEADLINER: Hudson Henry, Little Rock (Ark.) Pulaski Academy
PLAYER TO WATCH: Ryland Goede, Kennesaw (Ga.) Mountain
COMMENTS: The trend of recognizable names in this 2019 class continues. Hudson Henry is the younger brother of former University of Arkansas All-American and current San Diego Charger Hunter Henry. He leads a trio of Rivals100 prospects to start this ranking that includes Florida native Keon Zipperer and Oklahoma commit Austin Stogner.
HEADLINER: Darnell Wright, Huntington, W.Va.
PLAYER TO WATCH: Chris Akporoghene, Seymour (Tenn.) Kings Academy
COMMENTS: If you look just at the top of the tackle rankings, it looks as if the position may take a dip in talent this cycle. There isn't a single five-star player at the position early on and only three check in with 6.0 ratings. There are a host of tackles rated 5.9, however, so maybe the position just needs time to mature and we could be looking at a very solid group in another year.
HEADLINER: Kardell Thomas, Baton Rouge (La.) Southern Lab
PLAYER TO WATCH: Elton Ndoma-Ogar, Allen, Texas
COMMENTS: It seems as if LSU commit Thomas should be heading off to college by now; he has been on the recruiting radar for so long. The state of Ohio accounts for a large percentage of this ranking, however, with four of the top 10 prospects including Johnson and Michigan commit Nolan Rumler, who both start out in the top five.
HEADLINER: Clay Webb, Oxford, Ala.
PLAYER TO WATCH: Dylan McMahon, Savannah (Ga.) Christian School
COMMENTS: In what is certainly a first for the Rivals.com rankings, the only five-star offensive line commit to start out a class is a center. Webb solidified his five-star rating with a standout performance at the Rivals100 Five-Star Challenge presented by adidas in June against top upperclassman competition. He leads a ranking that also includes four-star Branson Bragg of Texas.
WEAKSIDE DEFENSIVE END
HEADLINER: Kayvon Thibodeaux, Westlake Village (Calif.) Oaks Christian
PLAYER TO WATCH: Mohamoud Diabate, Auburn, Ala.
COMMENTS: Weakside defensive end always brings together an interesting mix of prospects, from undersized to underdeveloped. They all have one thing in common, though, and that is the ability to get to the quarterback. Thibodeaux is the only early five-star, but there are several other talented prospects at the position who just need seasoning.
STRONGSIDE DEFENSIVE END
HEADLINER: Christopher Hinton, Norcross (Ga.) Greater Atlanta Christian
PLAYER TO WATCH: Billy Sonnier, Lafayette (La.) Northside
COMMENTS: This is an extremely deep position group in 2019, with 26 already rated four- or five-stars. Compare that with just 23 from the position currently in that range for the 2018 class. Hinton and Ohio native Zach Harrison both land in the top 10 of the overall class rankings, with Houston native Marcus Stripling not too far behind at No. 16.
HEADLINER: Ishmael Sophser, Amite, La.
PLAYER TO WATCH: Byron Young, West Jones, Miss.
COMMENTS: On the opposite end of the spectrum from strongside defensive end is defensive tackle. It looks like a weak year for the position, with just nine prospects earning early four- or five-star ratings. The position currently has 26 four- and five-stars in the 2018 class. There is good depth out West, though, with four of the top six coming from that region.
HEADLINER: Shane Lee, Baltimore (Md.) St. Frances
PLAYER TO WATCH: Jamir Thomas, Massillon (Ohio) Washington
COMMENTS: Middle linebacker is evolving in the college game, and it seems every year there are fewer prospects who fit the traditional mold. Lee, a top-30 player in the class, is one of those, as is Henry To’oto’o out of tradition-rich De La Salle High in Concord, Calif. To'oto'o just missed out on the top 50 of the overall class rankings.
HEADLINER: Owen Pappoe, Loganville (Ga.) Grayson
PLAYER TO WATCH: Diamante Howard, Miami Southridge
COMMENTS: Some of the most physically impressive prospects in recent years have been coming out of the outside linebacker position, and 2019 is no different. Pappoe is another of these prospects who seems like he has already been on the recruiting scene forever even though he is just a junior. He leads off this ranking with Texas’ Marcel Brooks on his heels.
HEADLINER: Derek Stingley Jr., Baton Rouge (La.) Dunham
PLAYER TO WATCH: Tiawan Mullen, Coconut Creek, Fla.
COMMENTS: A pair of 2017 Rivals100 Five-Star Challenge presented by adidas standouts lead the cornerback ranking in Stingley and recent UCLA decommit Chris Steele. Another Rivals100 Five-Star Challenge alum, California native Max Williams, rounds out the top five. Depth at the position looks solid in 2019, with Mullen among those who could rise with further evaluation.
HEADLINER: Brian Williams, Dallas Bishop Dunne
PLAYER TO WATCH: Keshun Brown, Montgomery (Ala.) Carter
COMMENTS: There is depth at safety in this class, but the top of the list is a little light with Williams the only player at the position to rank in the top 50 overall for 2019. Schools looking for safeties in 2019 will start in Florida and Texas; the top four players at the position and eight of the top 14 are from those two states.
HEADLINER: Jashawn Sheffield, St. Simons Island (Ga.) Frederica Academy
PLAYER TO WATCH: Marquez Beason, Dallas Bishop Dunne
COMMENTS: We round out the position rankings with some more names who will be familiar to college football fans, chief among them being Luke McCaffrey, son of Ed and brother of Christian, who starts off at No. 8 in this ranking. We also have an all-name candidate among the top five in Bru McCoy, with the “Bru” short for “Bruiser.”