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Rivals Rankings Week: Five biggest questions for final Rivals250

Jacoby Mathews
Jacoby Mathews (

Now that the final 2022 Rivals250 has been released, here is a peek behind the curtain with a look at the five toughest questions the analyst team faced during the rankings meeting.



PREVIEWS: Will there be a new No. 1 OT? | Should Alex Styles be top 10?

MONDAY: Five-star countdown | Meet the new five-stars

TUESDAY: Rivals250 released | Gorney's thoughts | Biggest movers | Five toughest questions we faced | Who should be the No. 1 WR?

WEDNESDAY: Offensive position rankings released | Five schools that should be pleased

THURSDAY: Defensive position rankings released | Three-star with most potential

FRIDAY: State rankings released



1. Will Travis Hunter remain at No. 1?

Travis Hunter is a special talent and has been the top player in the Rivals250 since the summer. During the offseason and his senior season it seemed like Hunter was putting up highlight reel plays nearly every week and that made it feel like a bit of a letdown when he didn't exactly flash at the Under Armour All-America Game or in the practices.

The 6-foot-1, 165-pounder out of Georgia has elite speed, quickness, explosiveness, ball skills, leaping ability and instincts but in Orlando it was obvious that quarterbacks weren't throwing at him when he lined up at cornerback. Quarterbacks weren't able to adjust to his speed and style when he lined up at receiver.

Meanwhile, Walter Nolen showed up in Orlando and performed like a man on a mission. His entire repertoire was on full display every practice and in the game. Nolen was beating a handful of five-stars and a number of very highly ranked offensive linemen on a consistent basis with a variety of speed and power moves. When all was said and done, Nolen turned in one of the better all-star game weeks in recent memory.

While Hunter did hold onto the top spot in the final Rivals250, it wasn't by as big a margin as many think. Nolen's performance in Orlando closed the gap between No. 1 and No. 2 by a significant margin but it wasn't enough to overtake Hunter and the body of work he put together throughout his high school career.


2. How will the top of the receiver rankings shake out?

It is a great year at receiver and there are a lot of very talented players that came close to being a five-star at one point or another. Luther Burden and Tetairoa McMillan stood head and shoulders above the group but the next 10 to 15 receivers were very difficult to put in order. Aaron Anderson and Evan Stewart finished as five-stars but it wasn't a slam dunk case for either of them. The analyst team had a bit more confidence in Anderson's skill set and potential than Stewart's and some members of the team weren't completely sold on Stewart as a five-star at all.

The toughest part of sorting out the receivers came with the group that finished between five and 13. We were hoping to get a good look at Andre Greene Jr., Kaden Saunders, and Jayden Gibson at the Under Armour All-America Game but they went down for the week after the first practice. Chris Marshall, Shazz Preston, CJ Williams, Kevin Coleman, Isaiah Bond and Antonio Williams were all very good during the all-star game season so it wasn't easy to say one of them didn't step up against top competition.

Greene, Marshall and Gibson are the biggest receivers in the group but Greene seemed to flash the best hands and was the more dynamic of those three during the season. Marshall is a huge target with good speed but didn't appear to have the same run-after-catch abilities as Greene. Gibson is very good in all those areas but a touch behind both in his overall development.

There isn't much difference between Preston and Williams at all. Both are very polished and reliable targets that should have plenty of success at the next level. Coleman generated a lot of debate. He is on the smaller side and is a very raw technically but his overall speed and playmaking abilities were too much to ignore.

The conversation surrounding Bond, Saunders and Williams was very similar. They have slot receiver bodies but possess some of the skills of outside receivers and each have great speed. It wouldn't be surprising to see them outplay their ranking.

RELATED: Who should be the No. 1 WR?


3. Who will finish at the No. 1 cornerback?

There was intense debate about the cornerback position and the differences between the five-stars was razor thin. Not being able to see Jaheim Singletary (COVID-19 protocols) and Domani Jackson (injury) perform in Orlando made it extremely difficult to compare them to others. Will Johnson (6-foot-2) wowed the analyst team in Orlando with his ability to stick with small, quick receivers at his size. It was one of the only times in his career he was really under the microscope and he impressed. Singletary has a similar skill set while Jackson, when healthy, is much more of a technician with elite athleticism. Denver Harris is very similar to Jackson. He participated in about half of the practices in Orlando but didn't flash like Johnson during the drills or game.

Julian Humphrey earned his fifth star after an outstanding performance in San Antonio at the All-American Bowl but he wasn't the only cornerback that was under consideration as a new five-star. Jeadyn Lukus had the highlight play of the week when he made a leaping interception in the Under Armour All-America Game but his performance during the week of practice was uneven. The same could be said of Daylen Everette, who locked down receivers at times but also made some missteps.


4. Will Jacoby Mathews finish as a five-star prospect?

We've seen Jacoby Mathews in a number of games, workouts, camps, 7-on-7 tournaments, all-star camps and now in an all-star game. He was a late arrival in Orlando but made his fair share of plays during practice while also missing some that he usually makes. While his overall performance that week was very good, some analysts believed it didn't rise to the level of a five-star.

However, when his accomplishments during games and performances in other settings are also considered, Mathews has the body of work of a five-star. The safety does check the boxes from a measurables perspective and, in games throughout his career, he has been absolutely dominant. Mathews kept his fifth star in this final rankings update but it wasn't as easy a decision as others.


5. What should be done at tight end?

Three different tight ends have held the No. 1 spot at the position throughout this rankings cycle and figuring out who should be the highest ranked in the final Rivals250 was a difficult decision. It was so difficult that the top four tight ends are just six spots apart in the Rivals250.

Donovan Green landed at No. 1 because he has proven to be the most reliable throughout his career but Jaleel Skinner, the No. 2 tight end, has the highest ceiling. He is built like an NFL tight end already but has not been able to show he can consistently catch the ball. Oscar Delp, the No. 3 tight end, has had some of those same issues but neither has had trouble getting open. Jake Johnson, who finished as the No. 4 tight end, appeared to check all the boxes but has had a hard time staying on the field.

Finishing just a couple spots behind the No. 1 tight end in the Rivals250, a performance from Johnson during the all-star season might have given us enough confidence to slot him back in the top spot.