Advertisement
ago football Edit

Rivals Five-Star: Rankings storylines to follow for defensive standouts

Jahkeem Stewart
Jahkeem Stewart

The Rivals Five-Star, the marquee football event of the offseason, takes place this week with the NFL's Jacksonville Jaguars playing host. With 104 of the best prospects in the country scheduled to compete, there are major rankings implications riding on their performances.

Yesterday we highlighted some of the biggest rankings for the offensive side of the ball. Today we put the defensive side of the ball under the microscope.

*****

MORE RIVALS FIVE-STAR: Offensive rankings storylines | Big 12 teams in spotlight | ACC teams in spotlight | SEC teams in spotlight | Big Ten teams in spotlight | Five QBs storylines | RB storylines | WR storylines | Roster | TE storylines | OL storylines | DL storylines | LB storylines | DB storylines | Rivals Five-Star set for Jacksonville

PROSPECTS THAT COULD BOOST THEIR STOCK: Southeast | Florida prospects | Mid-South | Midwest | Northeast | West

BEST OF THE RIVALS CAMP SERIES: Top 10 quarterbacks | Top 10 running backs | Top 10 receivers | Top 10 tight ends | Top 10 defensive linemen | Top 10 linebackers | Top 10 defensive backs

*****


Advertisement

How does 2026 No. 1 Jahkeem Stewart stack up?

Stewart has competed at multiple events this offseason but this will be his toughest test yet. The dominant No. 1 prospect in the 2026 Rivals250 has never shied away from competition and, frankly, has never had a reason to doubt his abilities, especially in the camp setting. Stewart has, at past events, has been a bully offensive linemen haven’t been able to handle. This week he’ll have massive, athletic, and strong offensive linemen to contend with who bring the physical measurables and technical abilities that should level the playing field.

How well has he built on those incredible physical gifts and how much success does he end up having? These questions will get answered on Wednesday.

*****

Which defensive backs will push for their fifth star?

Hylton Stubbs
Hylton Stubbs

The number of defensive backs expected to compete on Wednesday who are within five-star range is close to 10. USC safety commit Hylton Stubbs is the highest-ranked 2025 defensive back coming to Jacksonville. A standout performance by Stubbs could push him over the edge and land him that fifth star. Also in the 2025 class, Chris Ewald and Chuck McDonald will be under the microscope as they push for their fifth star. Depending on their performance, Shamar Arnoux and Gregory Thomas have the potential to make their way into the five-star conversation as well.

In the 2026 class, Zelus Hicks, Bralan Womack, and Zech Fort all rank within the top 70 and each have some traits that could put them in the five-star ranks. Hick, at No. 12 in the Rivals250 could solidify a resume that already has him trending towards adding his fifth star. Womack, an early Notre Dame commit, and Hicks have already had very good offseasons and this up-close evaluation of their skill sets could help their case for a fifth star.

*****

Will another defensive lineman add their fifth star?

There is outstanding depth across the defensive line group. Notre Dame commit Christopher Burgess leads the way for the 2025 class followed by new Ohio State commit Zion Grady and his future teammate in Columbus London Merritt. Oklahoma commit Trent Wilson will be making his first camp appearance this spring and is eager to show off the progress he's made since last season. Auburn commit Malik Autry, Michigan commit Jaylen Williams, Texas A&M commit Landon Rink, USC commit Gus Cordova and Jarquez Carter will make their cases to add their fifth star.

The 2026 class will be represented by a truly elite group. Stewart will be joined by Rivals250 No. 25 James Carrington, No. 28 Deuce Geralds, No. 32 JaReylan McCoy and No. 246 Jake Kreul.

*****

Will a five-star emerge from a loaded linebacker group?

Luke Metz
Luke Metz

There are 12 linebackers participating on Wednesday and seven of them are top 100 prospects in their respective class. The No. 1 outside and inside linebackers will be competing this week. Outside linebacker Nathaniel Owusu-Boateng is the No. 1 linebacker and one of the highest ranked four-stars in the 2025 Rivals250. This will be a rare opportunity to see him workout in an elite environment before the upcoming season. Inside linebacker Riley Pettijohn is the No. 3 linebacker in the 2025 class and, like Owusu-Boateng, will be aiming for his fifth star as well.

Oregon commit Nasir Wyatt, Christian Jones and Alabama commit Luke Metz are also in the top 100 of the 2025 Rivals250. LSU commit and Rivals250 prospect Keylan Moses, the younger brother of former five-star and Alabama linebacker Dylan Moses, will be competing as well.

There is five-star buzz among the participating 2026 linebackers as well. Top-100 prospects Kosi Okpala and Anthony Davis along with Rivals250 Miami commit Jordan Campbell are very highly regarded.

*****

How will the pass rushers hold up against the massive offensive tackles?

Jake Kreul, Zion Grady, JaReylan McCoy, Christopher Burgess, London Merritt, Jahkeem Stewart and the rest of the outside pass rushers will need to have all their tools at their disposal when they get lined up for one-on-ones this week.

The offensive tackle group is loaded with enormous prospects with elite skill sets. Five-stars Immanuel Iheanacho (6-7, 340lbs), Douglas Utu (6-6, 301lbs), Keenyi Pepe (6-7, 290lbs) and Carter Lowe (6-6, 290lbs) are just a few of the elite pass protectors ready for the challenge. If the talented group of defensive linemen hope to get to the quarterback, they'll need to find ways to beat prospects of this size.

We'll find out just how deep their arsenal of pass rushing moves is when the ball is snapped on Wednesday.

Advertisement