football Edit

Rivals Rankings Week: Breaking down the 2025 athletes

With the updated 2025 Rivals250 being unveiled Tuesday, it's time to look at the updated position rankings. The offensive position rankings were released Wednesday and today the defensive position rankings are in the spotlight. We finish it off with the athletes.

Cameron Sparks
Cameron Sparks (

NEW 2025 POSITION RANKINGS: Pro-Style QB | Dual-Threat QB | Running Back | All-Purpose Back | Wide Receiver | Tight End | Offensive Tackle | Offensive Guard | Center | Defensive Tackle | Weakside Defensive End | Strongside Defensive End | Inside Linebacker | Outside Linebacker | Cornerback | Safety | Athlete



Sunday: Who should be No. 1?

Monday: Five-Star Countdown | Meet the new five-stars

Tuesday: New Rivals250 unveiled | Gorney's thoughts | Biggest movers

Wednesday: New offensive position rankings released | QB rankings spotlight | RB rankings spotlight | WR/TE rankings spotlight | OL rankings spotlight

Thursday: New defensive position rankings released | DL rankings spotlight | LB rankings spotlight | DB rankings spotlight | ATH rankings spotlight

Friday: New state rankings released | Breaking down state rankings


FINAL 2023 TEAM RANKINGS: Comprehensive (overall) ranking | High school/JUCO ranking | Transfer portal ranking

CLASS OF 2024 RANKINGS: Rivals250 | Team | Position | State

TRANSFER PORTAL: Latest news | Transfer portal player ranking | Transfer portal team ranking | Transfer Tracker | Message board


Who's No. 1?

A true football player, Sparks works on both sides of the football at Chattanooga (Tenn.) Baylor School and does so well enough to warrant attention from colleges at more than one position. Most lean toward linebacker with the 6-foot-4, 210-pound frame, but he continues to display offensive skill on Friday nights and a lot of it translates from the basketball court. It's easiest to see on offense, as he works as a big wide receiver, able to take the top off of a defense just as much as he can move the sticks with precision and lower-body power underneath.

With two years of prep ball to be played, it's tough to make a positional call on Sparks, who continues to fill out that strong frame in the meantime. He can evolve into a tight end on offense or even a full-time pass rusher before all is said and done. The linebacker projection several colleges have next to his name at this time comes as a hybrid projection because of his power, instincts and natural ability to make plays from sideline to sideline – something he has flashed since a freshman on the varsity level.

Sparks will be a fascinating evaluation for many in the years to come, but he of course already has his pick of college programs at this time. The in-state Tennessee Volunteers, who are among those coveting him on offense, were the last program to get him on campus for an unofficial visit while he also saw Florida State and Clemson late this summer. Georgia and Miami are also among the many programs involved with Sparks, who doesn't seem to be in a rush to make a verbal commitment at this time.


Movers & Shakers

Jaden Nickens
Jaden Nickens

Jaden Nickens: The Oklahoma City native became the first athlete projection in the Rivals250 to come off the board with a commitment, picking the longtime favorite Oklahoma Sooners in mid-August. At 6-foot-3, 170 pounds, the top-five in-state talent is still growing into his frame and is relatively new to the sport, so many see this athlete projection turning into a wide receiver projection sooner rather than later. Part of the pass-catching projection could be due to Nickens' basketball background, where instead of the hardwood being a moonlighting hobby, Nickens actually reeled in scholarship offers and helped his team to a state title this spring. OU holds his commitment as a wide receiver at this time.

Phillip Bell: Many were introduced to Bell based on the offseason the Mission Viejo (Calif.) High School standout had, primarily working as a pass-catcher. The four-star standout is on the heels of No. 1-ranked athlete Cameron Sparks for the top spot and both may end up as a wide receiver projection before all is said and done at the next level. Bell's latest scholarship offers have come in from SEC country, with Florida and Arkansas jumping in earlier this month, but there is some early buzz for semi-local USC as many would imagine. Oregon, Ohio State, Clemson and many other programs are involved for Bell, who isn't shying away from a potential early verbal commitment.

Bryce Fitzgerald: The two-way talent was a big riser in the summer update for his ability to excel both on offense and defense, but he has settled in more on the defensive side of the ball at his new program in Miami (Fla.) Columbus High School. While his skill will likely warrant wide receiver snaps at some point for the defending state champions, Fitzgerald has impressed with his instincts and ball tracking ability as a safety early on in 2023. He has also flashed as a returner and took a punt back to the house in CCHS' opener last Friday. Miami hosted him most recently while USC and Michigan are among his latest scholarship offers.


Top four classes so far

Omari Gaines
Omari Gaines (

1. Oklahoma - Jaden Nickens

2. Penn State - Omari Gaines

3. SMU - Demetrius Brisbon Jr.

4. Vanderbilt - Carson Lawrence