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Rivals Rankings Week: Five-Star Countdown

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It's the postseason rankings release for the 2023 class, and there have been six players added to the list of five-stars, bringing the total to 26.

Today, we kicked off Rivals Rankings Week with a countdown of those 26 five-stars, along with recruiting director Adam Gorney's thoughts on each.

MORE: Recruiting rumor mill as Early Signing Period nears

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RIVALS RANKINGS WEEK

Sunday: Who should be No. 1?

Monday: Five-Star Countdown | Meet the new five-stars | Latest recruiting news on five-stars

Tuesday: Rivals250 released | Biggest Movers | Gorney's thoughts

Wednesday: Offensive position rankings released

Thursday: Defensive position rankings released

Friday: State rankings released

Saturday: Roundtable

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Gorney's Take: The Texas commit retains the top ranking after a strong senior season at New Orleans (La.) Isidore Newman. Manning has the football IQ, the pedigree and special on-field abilities to be a superstar for the Longhorns.

We’re also fully aware he won’t play in an all-star game and hasn’t done many national events through his high school career. That does not take away from the immense amount of ability he already has and the potential to be great when surrounded by elite playmakers.

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Gorney's Take: Nico Iamaleava moved up to second overall following an outstanding senior season. The Tennessee pledge is a playmaker, a gunslinger, a leader all on his own and he makes all the players around him better.

There is no quarterback, maybe no player, in this class with his rare athletic abilities. He can make the short, intermediate and deep throws look easy and he’s only tapping into his long-term potential.

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Gorney's Take: From his length, to his athletic ability, to his competitive spirit and fearlessness, Cormani McClain is special at cornerback. He also has a knack for picking passes off and returning them for touchdowns.

Off the field, McClain is quiet and reserved. But between the lines, the Miami commit is as tough and hard-nosed as they come. He adds that to his unique athletic ability and talent to make a special corner.

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Gorney's Take: Not lost in the debate of Arch Manning being No. 1 and the two five-star California quarterbacks is Dante Moore, who was the best QB at the Elite 11 this summer and then had a phenomenal senior season to cap his high school career.

Moore is not flashy but nearly every ball thrown is catchable. He has great vision downfield and he can escape pressure and still accurately throw beautiful passes.

The five-star remains committed to Oregon but new Arizona State coach Kenny Dillingham did recruit him to Eugene so it’s worth watching.

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Gorney's Take: The Texas A&M commit, who’s still being pursued heavily by Oklahoma, Oregon and others, can play inside or outside, he can win with power or speed and he operates with relentless pursuit of the football. That position versatility is going to be invaluable at the college level and David Hicks’ surprising mix of power and speed will mean he should live in the backfield.

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Gorney's Take: The USC pledge did everything possible this season to not only retain his five-star status but make an argument to push even higher in the rankings. He completed more than 67 percent of his passes, put up big stats, also utilized a run game that cut into his numbers and still was one of the most impressive players all season.

With a clean pocket, Malachi Nelson has an argument as the best QB in the class and he has dynamic abilities not many possess.

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Gorney's Take: Caleb Downs has the innate ability to almost see where a play is going before it happens and then uses his athletic ability to go make a play. The Alabama commit, who’s still being pressed hard by Georgia and Ohio State to flip, can intercept passes, knock the deep ball away, make the big hit, come up in the box to defend the run and he’s awesome in space.

Downs isn’t even his team’s main running back and he still rushed for 17 scores this season. He can do it all.

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Gorney's Take: There might not be a better-looking prospect in the entire 2023 class. Samuel M'Pemba already is dominant on the football field, but it feels like he’s also only scratching the surface. From a physical perspective, not many players look like M’Pemba and his upside is massive.

Georgia landed the Bradenton (Fla.) IMG Academy prospect as he is an excellent edge rusher, he can play in space or line up at linebacker and make plays that way.

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Gorney's Take: Damon Wilson, a new five-star, is basically down to Ohio State and Georgia in his recruitment. He has the length and athletic ability to be an elite defensive end at the highest levels of college football. He’s aggressive off the edge, has great bend and then the speed and pursuit capabilities to get players on the ground.

Wilson still has a frame where he could add even more weight but he’s a great-looking prospect who can pretty much do it all already.

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Gorney's Take: Peyton Bowen, the Notre Dame commit who’s being most heavily pursued by Oklahoma, is incredibly good in special teams as well but in the secondary he makes plays all the time – like, all the time. Whether it’s coming up to make a big hit or to knock down a pass or to have a Pick Six, Bowen has been special this season.

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Gorney's Take: It was a very close call at the top of the receiver rankings but Brandon Inniss, the Plantation (Fla.) American Heritage standout, moved back to No. 1 after a strong senior season.

The Ohio State commit can get open against anybody, he’s an excellent route runner and does a great job creating separation at the last moment. Plus, Inniss might have the best hands in the class and almost never drops a pass.

Miami is trying to flip him but Inniss has shown no real signs that he’s backing off the Buckeyes and he could be a star in that offense.

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Gorney's Take: There were some lengthy discussions about which receiver should be No. 1 in the class and while we sided with Brandon Inniss for now, Carnell Tate has all the tools to be special as well.

The Ohio State commit has great hands, he’s long and can run by defensive backs. Tate has everything you’re looking for in an elite receiver and a big showing at the all-star games can move him back to tops at the position.

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Gorney's Take: What started at the Elite 11 this past summer has carried over to his senior season as Jackson Arnold has been phenomenal. It would be nearly impossible to keep him off the five-star list after those performances.

The ball pops off his hand, he’s a phenomenal decision-maker and the Oklahoma commit is a big-time gamer as well with dual-threat capabilities. He’s completed nearly 70 percent of his passes with 31 touchdowns and three picks, and has rushed for 17 more scores. The Sooners are getting a special one.

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Gorney's Take: He’s all of 6-foot-8 and 330 pounds, and Kadyn Proctor can move extraordinarily well for that size. Plus, he plays with toughness, strength, a mean attitude as he wants to dominate the defensive lineman into submission and then go to the second level to search out more victims.

The Iowa commit, who recently visited Oregon, has all the tools to be a first-round NFL Draft pick and he’s bigger than most of those players now.

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Gorney's Take: Anthony Hill is just so productive all over the field and in so many ways. The former Texas A&M commit, who is looking mostly at Texas now, can come up and make plays around the line of scrimmage, he can diagnose plays to the outside and use his athleticism to stop the ball carrier, he can play in space – anything the coaches ask him to do, Hill has the capability to get it done.

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Gorney's Take: In one-on-one situations, Zachariah Branch is nearly unstoppable to slow down because of his speed, athletic ability and how he maneuvers around the field. That’s why the Las Vegas Bishop Gorman receiver could be so special in coach Lincoln Riley’s offense – in space with the ball in his hands, Branch can do special things.

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Gorney's Take: Samson Okunlola has the best of both worlds because he’s not only big and physical but he’s also long and athletic. Okunlola likes to push people around and dominate physically, but also has the footwork, length and speed to handle edge rushers with ease.

Miami, Ohio State and others have made him a top target because Okunlola can do so much along the offensive line.

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Gorney's Take: The Bellflower (Calif.) St. John Bosco prospect was so good, so dominant and so unstoppable in a regular season game coming off the edge against Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei that if we could’ve changed his ranking then, we would’ve made him a five-star that day. In a playoff win over Mater Dei, Matayo Uiagalelei was great on defense and also caught a touchdown pass because he’s such a natural athlete.

Now he’s paired that with his elite physical tools to become one of the best players in the class. He’s like a more athletic JT Tuimoloau at Ohio State.

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Gorney's Take: Desmond Ricks, the Bradenton (Fla.) IMG Academy five-star cornerback, reclassified from the 2024 class and yet he still is among the top group in 2023 because of all his special ability.

He already has the size to make an impact in college. He’s aggressive and confident in his abilities. Ricks can play on an island and he’s really competitive and tough when the ball is in the air.

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Gorney's Take: Originally from American Samoa, Francis Mauigoa started as a defensive end at San Bernardino (Calif.) Aquinas. Mauigoa has come a long way quickly as an offensive tackle and is now one of the best in the 2023 class.

Mauigoa is big, strong, plays with intensity and toughness, and probably projects as a right tackle for the Hurricanes and beyond.

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Gorney's Take: The former Notre Dame commit, who’s high on Alabama and Georgia now, has essentially the same wingspan as the No. 1 overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, Travon Walker. Keon Keeley has so many other special qualities as well.

The Tampa (Fla.) Berkeley Prep standout is excellent off the edge, he has rare physical tools and athleticism, and surprising power when needed to go back inside to make plays. That wingspan is going to have a lot of coaches and NFL executives interested.

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Gorney's Take: There might not be a more focused competitor in the 2023 class than TJ Shanahan, who does his best work as an interior offensive lineman because he can exert his power and will over his opponents and dominate with his physical ability.

The Texas A&M commit is as fierce and determined as they come and by the fourth quarter he’s still going to be looking to go to battle against defensive linemen. In a pinch, Shanahan can move outside but the five-star does his best work in the trenches.

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Gorney's Take: One of the best-looking receivers not only in this class but recently, Hykeem Williams has the size and length to really make an impact as an outside receiver. What some people forget about the Florida State commit is that he has the ability to run by defenders whether it’s catching a short pass and making a move or stretching the field with the deep ball.

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Gorney's Take: It’s almost unfair to rank Duce Robinson as a tight end because he plays more as a split-out wide receiver and he has the athleticism to do it as well. His size and athletic ability are so unique that it’s hard to find a comparison especially among tight ends.

Robinson moves so well and he’s so productive – 64 catches for 1,228 yards and 10 touchdowns this season. That’s more than 19 yards per catch; not someone who’s just moving the chains down the field.

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Gorney's Take: Over the long term, Javien Toviano might stay at cornerback or he might move to safety but either way, the Arlington (Texas) Martin standout is going to make an impact in the secondary.

Toviano has the length and fluidity to stay at cornerback and he can run with almost any receiver but if he continues to develop physically, moving him to safety just means a team is going to have a really fast and instinctual player in the back.

LSU looks like the frontrunner at this point.

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Gorney's Take: Nyckoles Harbor could make an impact at tight end or defensive end and he’s legitimately one of the best athletes in Rivals' history, as his track times put him in elite company.

As a defensive end, his get-off and pursuit is excellent and while he’s still developing as a tight end, having that speed and playmaking ability is special.

South Carolina, Michigan and others are duking it out.

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OTHER RANKINGS

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

CLASS OF 2025 RANKINGS: Rivals100

TRANSFER PORTAL: Transfer ranking

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