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Rivals Rankings Week: Five-star countdown for 2023 class

It's Rivals Rankings Week for the 2023 class, which is now on the clock after the 2022 class went in the books earlier this month. We kicked things off Monday by counting down the 16 five-stars in 2023 with thoughts from national recruiting director Adam Gorney. The full Rivals250 will be released on Tuesday.



Previews: Who should be No. 1? | Which QB should be next to receive a fifth star? | Can Nico Iamaleava unseat Arch Manning as No. 1 QB? | Who is the best defensive lineman?

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

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

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

Thursday: Defensive position rankings released

Friday: State rankings released

Saturday: Rival Views

Sunday: Who will move up most in the next Rivals250?


1. QB Arch Manning

Gorney's Take: Arch Manning stays at No. 1 as there was no reason to move him anywhere else. He has all the skills for a superstar quarterback – the decision-making, the accuracy, the arm talent, the leadership – and there is no denying his pedigree. The New Orleans (La.) Isidore Newman standout has special qualities not rarely seen.


2. DE David Hicks Jr.

Gorney's Take: In a four-man front, David Hicks can move inside, shed blockers, dismiss them like they’re not even there and attack the backfield. In a three-man front, Hicks uses his speed to the edge to routinely beat offensive tackles to make plays. Wherever a coach puts Hicks, he’s going to dominate and that’s why he’s so special.

Texas A&M and Oklahoma are two of the frontrunners.


3. QB Malachi Nelson

Gorney's Take: What makes Malachi Nelson so special is his coolness in the pocket. He can methodically move the ball downfield and pick apart defenses, lull them to sleep and then go over the top to one of his elite receivers for a touchdown.

Nelson is best sitting in the pocket and delivering strikes but he can also throw on the run and his arm talent is exceptional.


4. CB Cormani McClain

Gorney's Take: There was some discussion about moving Cormani McClain even higher in the 2023 rankings because he was phenomenal during his junior season and has looked good at some events into the offseason as well. McClain lets his game do the talking and he knocks down passes or picks them off. He’s just a shutdown corner who makes it hard on every receiver.

Florida, Georgia and many others remain involved.


5. WR Brandon Inniss

Gorney's Take: Brandon Inniss was another prospect who could have moved up even further in the rankings because he has dominated the 7-on-7 circuit so far this offseason. He is a highlight-reel waiting to happen. He makes the toughest catches look easy and any ball thrown has the potential of being caught.

What also makes Inniss so special is that it doesn’t look like he has blazing speed but he’s a super route runner who creates separation all the time.

Miami, Alabama, Ohio State, USC and others are in the mix.


6. QB Dante Moore

Gorney's Take: Dante Moore is not about flash, he’s all substance. The new five-star is about getting the ball to his receivers, making smart decisions, throwing it away when that’s called for, moving the ball downfield and winning games.

There are quarterbacks in this class who are super intelligent, super athletes and everything else. Moore is a perfect mix of all that and it’s why Michigan, Michigan State, Notre Dame, Penn State, Miami and others want him.


7. ATH Samuel M’Pemba

Gorney's Take: Listed as an athlete because of his playmaking capabilities all over the field, Samuel M’Pemba is big, physical, fast and productive. He projects as an edge rusher because he can put his hand in the ground and beat offensive tackles with ease, he can stand up and come off the edge that way or drop in space and play coverage. Wherever coaches put M’Pemba, he’s going to make an impact.

Missouri, Notre Dame, the Florida schools and many others are in the mix.


8. OG TJ Shanahan

Gorney's Take: TJ Shanahan is a big, mean, tough offensive lineman who wants to physically dominate on every rep. Teaching that mentality of exerting overwhelming force on your opponent is nearly impossible – a player either has it or he doesn’t – and Shanahan has it for sure.

There is no one lined up against Shanahan that will intimidate him and he welcomes the physical nature of the position.

Texas, Texas A&M, Georgia, LSU and many others remain involved.


9. QB Nico Iamaleava

Gorney's Take: Nico Iamaleava entered the five-star conversation after a phenomenal junior season in which he threw for 33 touchdowns and one interception. And after seeing him at numerous offseason events, the wait was over.

At 6-foot-6 and 210 pounds, Iamaleava is wiry strong, super smooth in the pocket, can throw from different arm angles and makes everything he does look effortless. At a recent 7-on-7 tournament with the wind gusting, none of Iamaleava’s passes sailed and that speaks to the zip he puts on the ball.

Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, Oregon, UCLA and others are involved.


10. DE Jayden Wayne

Gorney's Take: Kayvon Thibodeaux played this past season at 6-foot-5 and 258 pounds, and he could be one of the first players taken in the NFL Draft. That is the comparison for Jayden Wayne, who is already 6-foot-6 and 245 pounds and filled out.

He's maybe not as athletic as Thibodeuax but looks more physically ready at the same stage. Wayne comes off the edge, dominates with his size and speed, and has the mold of an elite player down the road.

Alabama, Georgia, Miami, Oregon, USC and others are involved.


11. WR Shelton Sampson

Gorney's Take: Shelton Sampson is the next great receiver from the state of Louisiana. He's a long, lean, athletic and complete playmaker who will be a tremendous weapon on the outside. His size makes him unstoppable.

LSU, Alabama and others are battling it out for the Baton Rouge (La.) Catholic standout, who glides down the field and high-points the ball.


12. OT Kadyn Proctor

Gorney's Take: Kadyn Proctor is already 6-foot-8 and 335 pounds, NFL-ready from a physical standpoint, and now just needs to hone those attributes to be an even more dominant offensive tackle.

For his size, Proctor moves really well. He’s not afraid to be physical and he can get to the second level to seek out others to block and open up lanes.

Iowa, Notre Dame, Ohio State and many others are involved with the Pleasant Hill (Iowa) Southeast Polk standout.


13. WR Carnell Tate

Gorney's Take: If Brandon Inniss is the 6-foot receiver who can do everything and Shelton Sampson is the 6-foot-4 outside big target, then Carnell Tate is right in the middle. At 6-foot-2, Tate is a phenomenal route runner but what stands out so much about his game is that he has excellent hands and catches anything thrown in the same zip code.

Ohio State and Notre Dame, among others, are battling it out for the catching machine.


14. DE Keon Keeley

Gorney's Take: Keon Keeley has such rare physical traits that he will only get more dominant as he fills out his frame in the coming years. He’s 6-foot-6 and 230 pounds, and he comes off the edge like a missile. He has such a long wingspan that he can reach out and grab players where others just can’t get to them and he can track players to the sideline with ease.

The Notre Dame commit who recently landed an Alabama offer has all the tools to be incredibly special. He’s exactly what high-end college and NFL teams are looking for in edge rushers.



15. ATH Nyckoles Harbor

Gorney's Take: Nyckoles Harbor is perhaps the most unique and special prospect in this class, someone who had 17 sacks as a junior and is also a world-class track athlete. Not a talented track participant but someone who sets records and could literally compete for a spot in the Olympics.

That mix of athletic ability at the highest level plus his production on the football field and his versatility to play different positions puts him in the five-star category. And he still might be too low. His recruitment remains wide open.


16. LB Anthony Hill

Gorney's Take: Anthony Hill is the only five-star linebacker so far in this recruiting class as he’s separated himself because of his ability to tackle, track people from sideline to sideline, pick through the crowd to make plays in the run game and diagnose what’s happening offensively and then react with speed and force. He’s a tackling machine and a leader of the Denton (Texas) Ryan defense.

Texas, Texas A&M, Oklahoma and others are battling.


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