Rivals Rankings Week: Analyst roundtable
The latest rankings refresh for the 2022 class rolled out this week, and we asked our recruiting analysts about some of the toughest decisions in this update.
RIVALS RANKINGS WEEK SCHEDULE:
Monday: Five-Star Countdown
Thursday: Defensive position rankings released
Friday: State rankings released
1. Which prospect do you think we ranked too high?
Friedman: There was a lot of debate about Walker Howard as a five-star and that’s something that will continue to be evaluated as the process continues. Howard has a lot of the tools that make quarterbacks successful but he doesn’t have too many starts under his belt. It’ll be interesting to see how he plays throughout the rest of his career and if it goes well enough for him to keep his fifth star.
Helmholdt: I am interested in seeing linebacker Shawn Murphy this offseason. When I saw him prior to his junior season I did not see five-stars there, but that was just coming out of COVID quarantine. I'd like to see him in the midst of a regular off-season of development.
Gorney: We might have gotten a little too aggressive on Branson Robinson, who had a stellar junior season with 1,179 yards and 15 touchdowns but there is going to be a big debate moving forward about who is the best running back in this class. Robinson moved to No. 1 at the position and No. 41 overall and that is a huge jump - especially over some running backs who had amazing junior years as well like Gavin Sawchuk, Emmanuel Henderson and Jaydon Blue. Hopefully, we can see Robinson against elite national competition to gauge exactly where he should be ranked.
Simmons: One I want to see more of in person is offensive tackle Julian Armella. He is an elite prospect, but is he the No. 1 prospect in Florida? It will be a very interesting battle for the best in the Sunshine State. Will Armella stay on top? What about Ohio State commit Jaheim Singletary? Others are in the mix too, and there will be new five-stars to emerge in this state.
Spiegelman: Phaizon Wilson sits at No. 169 in the country and from an evaluation standpoint, there's plenty to like about the 6-foot-4, 200-pounder with enormous athleticism and playmaking ability. However, Wilson's best production has come in the offseason instead of on Friday nights, which leaves more to be desired. Wilson is expected to try on a different uniform as a senior, which should open the door for the New York native and Texas transplant to justify his ranking in the fall.
2. Which prospect do you think we ranked too low?
Friedman: Wide receiver Antonio Williams could be someone that is underrated as a four-star outside the Rivals250. The speedster isn’t a physically imposing prospect but he just plays at a higher gear than the rest of the players on the field. The South Carolina native posted impressive stats as a junior and it will be exciting to get a closer look at him later this year.
Helmholdt: The prospects who we have not seen in over a year are the ones that concern me the most because our latest game evaluations of them are still from sophomore season. In the Midwest, prospects like Kaleb Brown, Tyler Morris, Billy Schrauth and Sebastian Cheeks would be in that group. We have seen more of Brown and Morris in camps and 7-on-7s. Cheeks has been in camps too, but evaluating a linebacker in that setting is much different than evaluating receivers.
Gorney: He's currently No. 12 overall so we clearly have a lot of respect for five-star athlete Travis Hunter but maybe not enough. After seeing him at the Pylon 7v7 tournament in Bullhead City, Ariz., this past weekend, there is a very real argument that could be made that Hunter is a top-five, if not higher, prospect in the class. He was dominant at receiver and cornerback, he has insane athletic ability, he's super fast, competitive and wants to impact every play he's on the field. I love Hunter's upside and he will be in the conversation for a move higher next time.
Simmons: Travis Hunter is a five-star athlete, and he is No. 12, but that is too low. He is a top-10 talent, maybe top-five. The Florida State commit is an elite playmaker on both sides of the ball, he dominates games, 7-on-7 events, and he has to be in the conversation for the top prospect in the country. He makes it look effortless much of the time, and he is likely going to move up next update.
Spiegelman: Evan Stewart is embedded in the Rivals100 and has remained there ever since debuting there in the initial 2022 rankings. He's a special athlete with elite track speed and a knack for catching the ball at its highest points. Stewart finished his junior year with 46 catches for 900 yards and nine touchdowns and has a chance to continue to climb the rankings with more big performances on bigger stages. Texas, Oregon and Alabama are three teams in the mix.
3. Who didn’t make the Rivals250 that has a good shot to make it next time?
Friedman: Two receivers from the East Coast have a good chance to jump into the Rivals250 next time and both were in the previous version. Clemson receiver commit Adam Randall and four-star Andre Greene are outstanding talents that give defensive backs a lot of problems. They are both big, strong receivers that can high point the ball well and make a lot of plays when the ball is in their hands.
Helmholdt: We moved Detroit defensive tackle Deone Walker up to four-stars in this update, and he can continue to move higher if he continues on his current development track. The question that needs to be asked is whether he has a higher upside as an offensive lineman. Answers to those questions will help shape Walker's evaluations in the coming months.
Gorney: Anthony Lucas is someone I'm going to watch very closely. He was not great at the All-American Combine last January in San Antonio but the reports are he had a great junior season, his athleticism is off the charts and he does look like a big-time prospect on the hoof. I wanted to see more production out of him and it looks like that happened in his junior season. With that level of athleticism playing on the defensive line, Lucas could be someone who shoots higher up the charts and makes it into the Rivals250.
Simmons: Alabama two-sport athlete Antonio Kite is one I am eager to see live in the coming months. He is a basketball player with offers, but after getting back on the football field his junior season, his recruitment as a football player has exploded. He is a long athlete with speed, ball skills and real upside. Alabama, Florida State, Georgia, Penn State and Tennessee are some of the programs in pursuit of Kite.
Spiegelman: Two of the deepest position groups in 2022 are wide receiver and outside linebacker. Chris Marshall is a basketball star that gave football a chance last season and has since emerged as a jump-ball aficionado and a big-framed option that can stretch the field or create mismatches out wide. He's someone who continues to impress at events nationwide. Another is Kip Lewis, who caught some attention during Carthage's road to another state title. Lewis has phenomenal closing speed and covers a ton of real estate from linebacker. His propensity for big plays yielded new offers from Notre Dame, LSU, Texas, Texas A&M and Oklahoma, among others.