Rivals Rankings Week: Class of 2022 Five-Star Countdown
We kicked off our 2022 Rivals Rankings Week on Monday with a countdown of the 29 five-stars. Check out the five-stars and Rivals National Recruiting Director Adam Gorney's take on each.
RIVALS RANKINGS WEEK SCHEDULE
Monday: Five-Star Countdown
Tuesday: New Rivals250 released
Wednesday: Offensive position rankings
Thursday: Defensive position rankings
Friday: State rankings
Saturday: Rivals Roundtable
1. ATH Travis Hunter
Gorney's Take: Travis Hunter is one of the most dynamic athletes in the Rivals era and he would be in the conversation to be the No. 1 cornerback and the No. 1 wide receiver in the 2022 class. He’s that special and versatile.
While others are still trying to flip him, Hunter has firmly stuck with his Florida State commitment. He should be an immediate contributor in Tallahassee.
2. DT Walter Nolen
Gorney's Take: Walter Nolen was too dominant at the Future 50 this summer to not place him as the top defensive tackle in the class again. The Powell, Tenn., standout is incredibly fast off the snap, physical enough to dominate once the offensive lineman gets on him and wins almost every rep he takes.
3. DT Travis Shaw
Gorney's Take: Shaw is massive at 6-foot-6 and 325 pounds and he uses his body so well to dominate physically but also stay under control and be able to track down players in the backfield. During his junior season, the five-star destroyed offensive lines, laughed at double teams and completely dominated up the middle. He commits on Aug. 21 with North Carolina, Clemson and others involved.
4. OT Julian Armella
Gorney's Take: Julian Armella has a mixture of everything one looks for in an elite offensive tackle – a big frame, physical presence and competitive nature with this desire to not only win reps but to grind defensive linemen down.
5. CB Jaheim Singletary
Gorney's Take: Length is something so important at the cornerback position and Jaheim Singletary has a lot of it. That's an important part of his game but not the only thing that makes the former Ohio State commit the top player at that spot. He runs like a gazelle, he covers ground quickly and receivers don’t get behind him. All of that is combined with a competitive streak where Singletary is not afraid to chirp at receivers all game. That confidence is needed at the highest level and the five-star certainly has it.
6. WR Luther Burden
Gorney's Take: There was debate at the top of the receiver rankings but Luther Burden stayed No. 1 as we revisited all the reasons why we like him so much. He already has a college-ready body, he can be physical against cornerbacks, he can take short passes and get big gains or stretch the field on the long ball. The Oklahoma commit has deceptive speed that builds up like a freight train. Missouri and others are trying to flip him but the Sooners continue to hold his pledge.
7. CB Denver Harris
Gorney's Take: Denver Harris remained as the No. 2 cornerback even though he was pushed by other five-stars and he’s coming off a knee injury. But all reports are that the five-star is just fine and should return to his super-special abilities this season.
What do we like about Harris? He’s long, he’s athletic, he does a great job of turning and seeing the ball, stepping in front of passes, and baiting quarterbacks to make bad throws. He’s also competitive on every 50/50 ball and usually picks it off.
8. WR Evan Stewart
Gorney's Take: Evan Stewart has moved up to five-star status and the second-best receiver in the class because he was outstanding this summer, particularly at Florida’s Friday Night Lights camp where he torched some of the best receivers in the country. His speed is unique. His route running is special.
His ability to set up cornerbacks, create space and make plays does not come along very often. Stewart is a highlight-reel waiting to happen and his move up in the rankings is well-deserved.
9. CB Domani Jackson
Gorney's Take: Domani Jackson tied a California state record by running 10.25 in the 100-meter dash this summer which speaks to his speed, explosiveness and athletic ability. That cannot go unnoticed especially considering how that will project to his career at USC and how he would perform at the NFL Combine.
On the field, Jackson is physical and tough, and does an excellent job making it difficult for receivers to work through their routes. Alabama is trying to flip him but Jackson seems locked in with the Trojans.
10. DT Keithian Alexander
Gorney's Take: Keithian Alexander is massive but also fast; he’s physical but can also win with his unique agility and athletic ability to beat offensive linemen off the snap. The former Georgia commit who’s now looking most at Alabama, Texas A&M and others is a great combination of size and speed, versatility and plugging up the middle.
11. DE Dani Dennis-Sutton
Gorney's Take: Penn State beat out Georgia and Alabama for Dani Dennis-Sutton, who has length, athleticism and a frame that any defensive end at any level would want. Off the edge, Dennis-Sutton has speed and moves. He has looked excellent at events. He is also 6-foot-5 and has a frame that could add even more weight, so power and athletic ability is not going to be an issue.
12. OT Kelvin Banks
Gorney's Take: Kelvin Banks is the consummate offensive tackle who has a long wingspan, a great punch, a strong base and a physical nature about how he plays the position that’s very appealing. He proved at the Dallas Rivals Camp that he can dominate elite defensive linemen and beat either physical or fast defensive ends without much problem.
13. LB CJ Hicks
Gorney's Take: CJ Hicks has length at linebacker so he can play in space but he’s also surprisingly physical and productive when blitzing and it wouldn’t be a shocker to see him come off the edge at Ohio State, either.
The versatility that he brings to the position along with his playmaking ability, speed and power are rare qualities. A lot of linebackers have some of those traits; Hicks has all of them.
14. S Xavier Nwankpa
Gorney's Take: Xavier Nwankpa has moved to the No. 1 safety in the country after seeing him perform at The Opening, but also after having incredible junior film where the new five-star shows off excellent ball skills and a physical nature that is really special.
15. QB Cade Klubnik
Gorney's Take: With Quinn Ewers reclassifying to the 2021 class and going to Ohio State early, Cade Klubnik takes the mantle as the No. 1 quarterback in this class after earning five-star status following a strong summer.
The Clemson commit was very good, not great, at the Rivals Five-Star Challenge where he showed his arm talent and accuracy but also was inconsistent. However, he really shined at the Elite 11 and was phenomenal throughout the entire event. He really earned his bump in the rankings there.
16. CB Will Johnson
Gorney's Take: There are big cornerbacks in the 2022 class but none at the five-star level as big and physical as Johnson. He also has the speed to match and the coverage skills to be considered one of the top players in his class. He's maybe a step slow, but Johnson is really talented, physical and an excellent playmaker. Michigan will be happy to have him.
17. RB Branson Robinson
Gorney's Take: Branson Robinson is built like Mr. Universe as he’s all muscle and will be a downhill runner at Georgia. He overpowers tacklers, bounces off them and keeps his legs churning for more yards. He has maintained his athletic ability and his plant-and-go skills even though he's built like a bodybuilder.
Robinson is cognizant he can’t get much bigger or he will lose some of that dynamic ability. It’s been written before but needs to be stated again that he’s so similar to Nick Chubb.
18. OT Kameron Dewberry
Gorney's Take: At the Rivals Camp Series event in Dallas this spring, Kam Dewberry was working through some rust and lost a few of his first reps. He got mad. He got focused. And he got revenge. The five-star offensive tackle could be a right tackle or could move inside and be just as effective. He reminds us of Jedrick Wills – super powerful, moves really well and has a competitive drive that is special.
19. OT Zach Rice
Gorney's Take: There is an ongoing discussion whether Zach Rice should actually be higher in the rankings because at 6-foot-6 and around 300 pounds, he has a frame that could actually add more weight so he has not topped out physically yet. Still, he’s massive, strong, physical and loves to seek and destroy defenders.
20. S Jacoby Mathews
Gorney's Take: Mathews had a little bit of a subdued summer but that doesn’t mean he still isn’t one of the most talented – and physically-gifted – prospects in the entire 2022 class. At the Rivals Five-Star Challenge, Mathews had a good showing but didn’t completely dominate like some others. He still has tremendous length, cover ability, athleticism and a physical nature.
21. RB Raleek Brown
Gorney's Take: The top-rated all-purpose back in the class, Raleek Brown moved up to five-star status. The Oklahoma commit continued to dominate in his own way: Getting the ball in his hands whether running it, catching it out of the backfield or lining up in the slot, and then making defenders look foolish trying to track him down.
He has great speed but it’s not only that. Brown has such deceptive footwork, start-and-stop, make-you-miss stuff that it’s really fun to watch. As he continues to get older and more physically developed, he just keeps getting better.
22. LB Gabe Powers
Gorney's Take: The question entering the spring and summer was whether Gabe Powers was nimble and athletic enough to play linebacker and not move to defensive end. The 6-foot-4, 230-pound prospect answered that question over and over, and he was excellent playing in space, running down the field in coverage and making plays.
The Ohio State commit has special physical abilities and he showed them off this offseason.
23. LB Shawn Murphy
Gorney's Take: The Alabama commit showed his versatility at the linebacker position and it’s one of the things the Crimson Tide like so much about his game. Murphy is an outstanding inside linebacker who can read and react, fill the hole and get people on the ground with force.
But he can also come off the edge, play in space and he moves well for a player his size. The fact that he can move around linebacker spots is a huge bonus and why he’s so valuable in this class.
24. OG Devon Campbell
Gorney's Take: Devon Campbell had a quiet summer but we know who he is as a football player: Big, tough, mean, moves people like heavy equipment moves dirt at a construction site. No matter how hard even some elite defensive linemen try to beat him physically, Campbell has an excellent power base and almost always exerts his will on his opponent.
25. WR Kevin Coleman
Gorney's Take: Kevin Coleman made some visits this summer including Florida State and Oregon but only did some workouts, which is fine because he has already proven his abilities numerous times. He’s not Jaylen Waddle, who had been the comparison by some before, but he’s a dynamic pass catcher who’s awesome in space, can run by defenders and can line up all over the field.
26. QB Walker Howard
Gorney's Take: The LSU commit had a strong showing at the Elite 11 especially early in the event as he backed up his five-star ranking and showed better accuracy and ball placement than he did at the Dallas Rivals Camp when the ball sailed a little bit at times. Howard has unquestionable arm strength, he can throw on the run, he’s super fast in his drop and is the alpha on the field and in the huddle.
27. DE Mykel Williams
Gorney's Take: Mykel Williams backed up his five-star ranking at the Rivals Five-Star Challenge even though he will need to keep dominating because many high four-stars are pushing for these final spots. But the USC commit was very good coming off the edge – fast, violent, aggressive and much more agile and athletic than expected. Williams is a big, physical and athletic presence who had a good showing in Atlanta.
28. QB Gunner Stockton
Gorney's Take: Gunner Stockton has a big-time arm, he is fearless bombing the ball all over the field, the Georgia commit will sit in the pocket and take a hit if it means his pass was caught by a receiver. There’s a lot to like about Stockton’s game.
The one issue is that the Tiger (Ga.) Rabun County standout did no national events this offseason so it was impossible to compare and contrast him to other five- and four-star prospects. A big senior season and all-star event will be needed so Stockton can prove he should be considered at the highest level.
29. DT Tyre West
Gorney's Take: Tyre West is a very talented and versatile defensive lineman who is fast and skilled enough to come off the edge and getting big enough to make a big impact as a defensive tackle, not only during his senior season but also in the SEC. The Georgia commit who is also being pursued by Florida State and others has surprising power and he pursues from the backside a lot and those are the positive parts of his game.
But West is also someone who steers clear of competing at national events and so that will mean he will need to show out this season and during the all-star season to maintain his lofty ranking.