{{ timeAgo('2023-01-23 14:09:20 -0600') }} football Edit

Rivals Rankings Week: Final five-star countdown for 2023 class

The final rankings for the 2023 class are being released this week and today we began as always with the five-star countdown. There are 32 five-stars and we unveiled them one at a time in reverse order throughout the day, finishing with the player who will go down in Rivals' history as the No. 1 prospect in the 2023 class. Rivals recruiting director Adam Gorney offered his thoughts on each five-star, as well.

RIVALS RANKINGS WEEK SCHEDULE

Monday: Five-star countdown | Introducing the new five-stars

Tuesday: Final Rivals250 for 2023 revealed | Gorney's thoughts

Wednesday: Final offensive position rankings for 2023

Thursday: Final defensive position rankings for 2023

Friday: Final state rankings for 2023

Saturday: Final JUCO rankings for 2023

Sunday: Initial 2023 transfer portal team rankings

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1. QB ARCH MANNING (Texas)

Gorney's Take: Arch Manning did not do any Rivals camps, he did not compete at the Elite 11, he played in no national 7on7 tournaments and he declined to play in any of the postseason all-star games. That is not ideal but it still does not take away from the fact that the Texas signee has tremendous ability, outstanding upside and a pedigree that cannot – and has not – been ignored. Others pushed but Manning stayed at No. 1.

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2. QB NICO IAMALEAVA (Tennessee)

Gorney's Take: There is no quarterback – maybe no player – as dynamic as Nico Iamaleava, who has such incredible tools that will be honed by Tennessee coach Josh Heupel and his staff to make him an even more dominant player. Iamaleava effortlessly gets the ball all over the field. He’s a phenomenal athlete, a super competitor and the early returns out of Knoxville have been nothing but positive.

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3. DT DAVID HICKS (Texas A&M)

Gorney's Take: The Texas A&M signee hovered around the top group of five-stars throughout the recruiting cycle and was completely dominant at the Under Armour Game. Hicks is just more physical and has a devastating attack that cannot be slowed down by many offensive linemen in any class and his position versatility across the defensive line really stands out.

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4. QB DANTE MOORE (UCLA)

Gorney's Take: A late flip from Oregon to UCLA should be a monumental win for the Bruins in the coming years because Dante Moore has been consistently outstanding over the last year and deserves to be this high in the rankings. He’s not going to blow you away physically or athletically but the UCLA signee puts the ball on the money all the time, makes tough throws look easy and gives coach Chip Kelly a tremendous weapon to run his innovative offense.

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*****

5. DE KEON KEELEY (Alabama)

Gorney's Take: The measurables on Keon Keeley are extraordinary but he’s not only impressive numbers on a piece of paper. At the All-American Bowl, the Alabama signee with long arms and tremendous athletic ability also showed off a ferocity that few others have in this class. Keeley keeps his balance, uses his frame to his advantage to bend off the edge and he has inside moves as well along with the fact that maybe no one in this class closes better on the ball carrier.

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6. WR BRANDON INNISS (Ohio State)

Gorney's Take: Countless times over the years we saw from Brandon Inniss exactly what we saw from the Ohio State signee at the All-American Bowl: He gets open against everybody and catches everything. Those are the two most important factors with Inniss and we’re not going to overthink this one. He doesn’t have the flash or the physical tools of some other five-star receivers in this class but he’s virtually guaranteed to have tremendous success with the Buckeyes because no one can stop him and he has awesome hands.

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*****

7. WR ZACHARIAH BRANCH (USC)

Gorney's Take: After his outstanding performance all week at the Under Armour Game, there was serious discussion about putting Zachariah Branch as the top-rated receiver in the class. He’s so dynamic and shifty, and he can create space against any defensive back and in the open field. Branch is a mix between Tyreek Hill and Hollywood Brown and should be tremendous in USC coach Lincoln Riley’s offense.

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*****

8. OL KADYN PROCTOR (Alabama)

Gorney's Take: There were some monstrous offensive linemen at the All-American Bowl but Kadyn Proctor was the biggest of all. Checking in at 6-foot-8 and 345 pounds, Proctor might be tapped out physically but that’s perfectly fine because now it’s time for Alabama to refine his skills, keep his physical nature and make him a first-round draft pick. I also loved the mentality – right or wrong – that by going to play for the Crimson Tide he can be challenged the most in a new setting. Eighth in the class might not be high enough for him.

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9. S CALEB DOWNS (Alabama)

Gorney's Take: Caleb Downs is not this super long, rangy safety that we’ve fallen in love with over the years – some having panned out and some having not – but he’s just a baller, a playmaker that is always doing something positive for his team. The Alabama signee is not afraid to come up and hit. He can track plays sideline to sideline and he just has this unteachable knack to be around the ball and make something positive happen for the defense.

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*****

10. DE SAMUEL M'PEMBA (Georgia)

Gorney's Take: There is not a more muscled-up, physical specimen in the 2023 class than Samuel M’Pemba, who looks like he has zero body fat and was chiseled out of marble. He’s also an elite pass rusher with athletic ability and a physical nature to his game. Is he a pure edge rusher? Could he roam around the defense and play multiple spots? There are still some questions about all that but Georgia is getting a phenomenal defensive presence and M’Pemba’s versatility is only a bonus.

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*****

11. DE DAMON WILSON (Georgia)

Gorney's Take: Damon Wilson did not participate in an all-star game which is unfortunate because it would have been great to see him alongside the other elite defensive linemen in this class. But he’s among the five-star group because of his size, athletic ability and motor. Sometimes, it’s as simple as that. The Georgia signee is big, long, rangy and he continues to pursue the ball carrier until they’re on the ground. It’s usually Wilson who’s making the play because he has the speed and power to beat pretty much any offensive lineman.

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*****

12. S PEYTON BOWEN (Oklahoma)

Gorney's Take: The Oklahoma signee is not as much a physical presence as someone who is constantly in the right place at the right time to make plays. Peyton Bowen can play centerfield, scan how things are developing and then make a play. Or he can come up into the box to make a hit. Or he can blow up a screen pass. He’s also been fantastic on special teams and could be a major contributor there.

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13. WR CARNELL TATE (Ohio State)

Gorney's Take: When it comes to drawing up the perfect receiver, Carnell Tate comes to mind. He's incredibly fluid, a great route runner, has surprising and dynamic speed, and then has shown excellent hands throughout his high school career. Combining all those factors and then seeing the Ohio State signee dominate at numerous events, it was an easy call to keep the Bradenton (Fla.) IMG Academy receiver in the five-star club.

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*****

14. QB MALACHI NELSON (USC)

Gorney's Take: When the pocket is clean, Malachi Nelson might be the best quarterback in this class. He can sit back there and pick apart defenses, find receivers all over the field and the ball comes out beautifully. The USC signee can also improvise and looks comfortable throwing on the run or picking up extra yards with his feet. He didn’t play in any all-star events because he had offseason surgery but Nelson looked great in his senior year, at the Elite 11 last summer and for years on the circuit.

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*****

15. DT PETER WOODS (Clemson)

Gorney's Take: Peter Woods’ ascendency to five-star status started percolating during an impressive senior season, boiled over by completely dominating the Alabama/Mississippi All-Star Game and then he confirmed things at the highest level by impressing at the Under Armour Game. The Clemson signee is built like a brick house, deadly serious about being great at the next level and has overwhelming power and force to win at the line of scrimmage.

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*****

16. DT JORDAN HALL (Georgia)

Gorney's Take: Jordan Hall said leading up to the All-American Bowl he wanted to go to San Antonio to prove he’s one of the best defensive linemen in the class. He did that and more. The Georgia signee is not only big and powerful, but he plays with a toughness and relentlessness that could make him really special in Athens. The Georgia coaching staff has developed some elite interior defensive linemen over the years and Hall looks like he has the desire and the physical makeup to be a big-time player.

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*****

17. OL FRANCIS MAUIGOA (Miami)

Gorney's Take: Francis Mauigoa opted to only play in the Polynesian Bowl but his work in Hawaii was enough to lock up his five-star ranking as he proved to be an immovable object at left tackle. The Miami signee is tough, always seeking out players to knock around, and does an excellent job shutting down speed and power coming off the edge.

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*****

18. CB CORMANI MCCLAIN (Colorado)

Gorney's Take: Aside from the circus that became his recruitment, Cormani McClain is still one of the more special cornerbacks in recent memory and for so many reasons. The Colorado commit has a long, rangy frame, he’s super competitive between the lines, he can cover ground, he trusts himself and has supreme confidence in his abilities. McClain has always had the ability to tip away or pick off passes. His recruitment has sidetracked him in recent weeks but on the field, McClain is one of the best in the class.

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*****

19. DE KELDRIC FAULK (Auburn)

Gorney's Take: When talking about the ideal physical form for a defensive end not named Keon Keeley, then it’s Keldric Faulk, who was phenomenal at both the Alabama/Mississippi All-Star Game and then the All-American Bowl. What an incredible late steal for Auburn as Faulk has the physical makeup, length, speed and power to be a complete force off the edge. He’s moved into five-star status but it might not be high enough based off the last month. From a year ago until today, he’s grown, filled out and looks like an SEC edge already.

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*****

20. DE MATAYO UIAGALELEI (Oregon)

Gorney's Take: Playing on arguably the best team in high school football, Matayo Uiagalelei dominated at defensive end in the biggest games and really made a statement in two games against fellow powerhouse Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei. The Oregon signee can win off the edge, he has inside moves, he closes well and over the last couple years he’s really made it a point to develop. The coaching staff in Eugene is filled with guys who can keep getting him better as Oregon beat out Ohio State and USC for him.

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*****

21. DE ADEPOJU ADEBAWORE (Oklahoma)

Gorney's Take: Checking in at the Under Armour Game at 6-foot-5 and 240 pounds, Adepoju Adebawore looks like the quintessential edge rusher with no bad weight and twitched up like no other defensive end in this class. He’s light on his feet, fast, aggressive and surprisingly powerful. That will only improve as he adds weight in a college program. His fast-twitch is rare for this class and he still has tremendous upside.

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*****

22. LB ANTHONY HILL (Texas)

Gorney's Take: Linebackers never do much at all-star games but Anthony Hill’s resume speaks for itself. He can get in the backfield, take up lanes, engage the running back, play in space, shut down stretch plays to the sideline and do anything that’s asked of him. Texas won out for the Denton (Texas) Ryan standout and he has the ability and physical nature to see the field on Day 1 in Austin.

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*****

23. QB JACKSON ARNOLD (Oklahoma)

Gorney's Take: Jackson Arnold is such a gamer that it’s nearly impossible to argue about his ranking and this does not only come down to stats - which are significant as well. He completed nearly 70 percent of his passes and he put up huge passing and rushing numbers (he rushed for 855 yards and 23 touchdowns this year). Arnold has proven time and again he is an elite quarterback. The ball pops off his hand, as the Oklahoma signee looked different in that way at the Elite 11. Even if his Under Armour performance was a tad muted, he has all the tools to be special.

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*****

24. WR JOHNTAY COOK (Texas)

Gorney's Take: When discussing dynamic receivers in this class other than Zachariah Branch, then Johntay Cook is the guy – and he was far more productive in his senior season. The Texas signee is a few inches taller, he plays with confidence and swagger where he wants the ball in his hands to make plays, and perhaps no cornerbacks can consistently hang with him on the outside. Once again, Cook proved at the Under Armour Game that he’s one of the best in this class and he’s so exciting to watch.

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*****

25. TE DUCE ROBINSON (Undecided)

Gorney's Take: Listed as a five-star tight end, Duce Robinson is basically a big receiver since he’s so fluid, so athletic and so versatile in the offense with great hands. He's also a two-sport star who’s serious about a baseball future. Robinson was very good at both the Under Armour Game and the Polynesian Bowl. He has a huge catch radius and he’s a nightmare matchup for undersized corners. Georgia, USC and Texas are battling it out for him.

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26. WR HYKEEM WILLIAMS (Florida State)

Gorney's Take: Hykeem Williams did not participate in the all-star events, which is unfortunate because he would have been able to show off his unique physical size and skills on the biggest stage. But Florida State is definitely getting one of the best receivers in this class. The Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) Stranahan product is a perfect red-zone threat to win 50/50 balls, but he can also stretch the field and he catches the ball with ease.

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*****

27. OL ZALANCE HEARD (LSU)

Gorney's Take: If there is a comp for Zalance Heard, it’s D.J. Fluker, who was not perfect at an all-star event but is just a massive human being, went to the SEC and ended up as a first-round pick. Heard still has room for growth and split some reps at the Under Armour Game but he has all the physical tools and ability to be special at LSU. The Monroe (La.) Neville standout moved up to five-star status based on how he looks and his projection there, plus his ability to extend his arms and pin defensive linemen back and his footwork that continues to get better.

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*****

28. OL SAMSON OKUNLOLA (Miami)

Gorney's Take: Samson Okunlola was a little anonymous at the All-American Bowl and did not dominate as much as other offensive linemen at the major all-star events, but his catalog of work over the years keeps him as a five-star prospect and someone who is still one of the best players at his position in this class. The Miami signee has the size and the power, and he’s continuing to develop the footwork to be elite. As a projection, in three or four years down the road, we think he could be one of the best offensive tackles in the class.

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*****

29. TE NYCKOLES HARBOR (Undecided)

Gorney's Take: Nyckoles Harbor is still developing as a football player and he has some work to do if he’s going to stay on the offensive side of the ball as a pass catcher. But he’s such an incredibly rare athlete that he has first-round projection written all over him. He’s one of the best-looking players in this class and a world-class track star. As he continues to learn the intricacies at tight end or as a big receiver, Harbor has plenty of upside to blossom into a superstar. Michigan, South Carolina, Maryland, Oregon and others are involved.

*****

30. CB DESMOND RICKS (Alabama)

Gorney's Take: The Alabama signee remains a five-star because of his incredible physical tools and his competitiveness that we’ve seen over the years, even as Desmond Ricks reclassified from the 2024 to the 2023 class. With his speed and ability to cover plus play on an island, Ricks has the potential to be really special even though some elite receivers got the best of him at the Under Armour Game. As he develops under coach Nick Saban, Ricks has the length, the want-to and the ability to be special in Tuscaloosa.

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*****

31. DE YHONZAE PIERRE (Alabama)

Gorney's Take: Yhonzae Pierre’s reputation as a potential five-star really started in his junior season, then he dominated at Alabama’s summer camp, then he was outstanding as a senior and then finally turned in an incredible performance all week at the All-American Bowl. Not only is the Crimson Tide signee a high-level athlete and physical force but he’s so fast off the snap that he was winning some one-on-one reps by hardly being touched. He can get to the edge, he can spin, he can go inside and his productivity is simply off the charts.

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*****

32. LB SUNTARINE PERKINS (Ole Miss)

Gorney's Take: If you go to a lab and draw up what an outside linebacker is supposed to look and play like, it would be Suntarine Perkins. The Ole Miss signee, who was pushed hard by Alabama until the end, is all of 6-foot-4 and 210 pounds. He has length and covers ground so incredibly well. Not only was Perkins an excellent linebacker at Raleigh, Miss., but he was also a phenomenal running back, maybe one of the best in the country.

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*****

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

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