Rivals.com - Rivals Rankings Week: Five-star countdown for 2023 class
football Edit

Rivals Rankings Week: Five-star countdown for 2023 class

It's Rivals Rankings Week for the 2023 class. We kicked things off today by counting down the 19 five-stars in 2023 with thoughts from national recruiting director Adam Gorney. The full Rivals250 will be released on Tuesday.


*****

2023 RIVALS RANKINGS WEEK:

Sunday: Who could supplant Arch Manning atop the Rivals250?

Monday: Five-Star Countdown | Meet the new five-stars | Should Samson Okunlola be the No. 1 OT?

Tuesday: Rivals250 released | Gorney's thoughts | Biggest movers in the latest Rivals250

Wednesday: Offensive position rankings released

Thursday: Defensive position rankings released

Friday: Final state rankings released

*****

1. QB ARCH MANNING

Gorney's take: Numerous people over the last few months have asked if Arch Manning really is the No. 1 player in the country since the five-star quarterback has not done any national events. The short answer is yes since Manning has the physical and mental makeup of a superstar, the arm talent and the family pedigree. Others are pushing him but Manning stays at the top.

Georgia, Texas and Alabama remain his top three.

*****

2. CB CORMANI McCLAIN

Gorney's take: There might not be a better high school football player right now than Cormani McClain, who is one of the smoothest and most complete cornerbacks in recent years.

He’s not the physical specimen of former No. 1 overall prospect Derek Stingley Jr. but McClain has length and arguably more advanced cover skills than Stingley at the same stage. He can run, cover all over the field, live on an island and almost never gets beaten in any setting.

Florida and Alabama are mainly battling it out for him.

*****

3. DE SAMUEL M'PEMBA

Gorney's take: At 6-foot-4 and 245 pounds, Samuel M’Pemba is one of the most physically impressive prospects in the 2023 class and has moved to weakside defensive end from athlete.

M’Pemba is going to make a career out of coming off the edge and beating offensive tackles with his power and speed or dropping in coverage and tracking down players in space. Versatility is M’Pemba’s biggest asset matched with elite physical tools.

Georgia, Notre Dame and others remain in the picture.

*****

4. QB MALACHI NELSON

Gorney's take: Nelson has continued doing this offseason what made him a five-star in the first place: His ability to zip the ball all over the field, make good choices, use his physical tools and be arguably the most-skilled quarterback in the class.

The top of the quarterback rankings is loaded but from a technical standpoint, Nelson is excellent. His ability to patiently and diabolically wait for his opening and then take advantage of it makes the USC commit special.

*****

5. WR CARNELL TATE

Gorney's take: Tate can do it all and after some outstanding performances on the 7on7 circuit, he has been moved to the No. 1 receiver in the class although it remains close. He plays alongside Brandon Inniss with South Florida Express and both are phenomenal but we gave Tate the slight edge because of his ability to stretch the field and to make really tough catches look so easy.

Tennessee, Notre Dame, Ohio State and LSU make up his favorites.

*****

6. WR BRANDON INNISS

Gorney's take: In a straight line, Brandon Inniss might not be the overall fastest receiver in the class but he’s a tremendous route runner where he creates space against anybody and he catches absolutely everything. Through this entire offseason, Inniss has shown he might have the best hands in this class and he’s so reliable all over the field.

It wouldn’t be a shock if he put up huge numbers in college because he’s always open and always finds ways to get the ball in his hands.

Ohio State, USC and others remain involved.

*****

7. ATH NYCKOLES HARBOR

Gorney's take: One day, we might look back on the 2023 rankings and regret not having Nyckoles Harbor even higher since he had 17 sacks in his junior season and he’s a legitimate track superstar with ambitions of being in the Olympics as well.

Perhaps his football game is not as refined as some others in this class but he’s the best overall athlete and if you don’t believe us, just take a look at his YouTube track videos.

USC, Michigan, Oklahoma, Ohio State, Maryland and many others remain involved.

*****

8. QB NICO IMALEAVA

Gorney's take: The Tennessee commit has a cult following in Knoxville and beyond as the five-star quarterback is charismatic and unique on and off the field. Smooth as ever, Nico Iamaleava has all the physical tools to be really special with tremendous arm strength and he carries himself in a way to believe he’s going to be a big-time winner on the biggest stage – playing in the SEC.

After a great junior season and then arguably being the best quarterback at the Rivals Camp in Los Angeles, a move up was necessary.

*****

9. QB DANTE MOORE

Gorney's take: Sometimes lost in the Arch Manning mania and the discussions around Nico Iamaleava's Tennessee commitment and his reported NIL deal is Dante Moore.

Moore is more than capable, super talented and an outstanding decision-maker on the field. The Detroit Martin Luther King standout has all the physical and mental makeup to be special, to lead offenses and be a superstar in college and beyond.

It’s why Notre Dame, LSU, Texas A&M, Oregon and others are trying to land him.

*****

10. OG TJ SHANAHAN JR.

Gorney's take: So many times before we have seen TJ Shanahan back up his reputation as a tough, hard-nosed offensive lineman who actually looks forward to mixing it up with defensive linemen.

Shanahan does not back down from a challenge, from a fight, from anything and wants to impose his will. That level of fierce intensity cannot be taught and offensive linemen will love working with him.

Texas A&M, LSU, Texas and others remain in contention.

*****

11. LB ANTHONY HILL

Gorney's take: The offseason camp circuit is not when Anthony Hill establishes his reputation. With pads on, the five-star linebacker is phenomenal at making tackles, tracking people to the sidelines, showing great vision and patience, and attacking the ball carrier. He’s great physically and in space, and that’s what makes the Denton (Texas) Ryan linebacker so special.

Texas A&M, Oklahoma, Texas and others remain in the mix.

*****

12. DE DAVID HICKS JR.

Gorney's take: One of the things that makes David Hicks Jr. so special is that he can line up outside and use speed and power to beat offensive tackles. Or the Katy (Texas) Paetow standing can line up inside and use speed and power to beat interior offensive linemen.

It almost does not even matter to Hicks where he plays, what kind of front he’s in or anything else. He’s going to make plays and cause headaches in the backfield.

Texas A&M and Oklahoma remain the highest schools for him.

*****

13. DE JAYDEN WAYNE

Gorney's take: The comparison has been written before but it’s so compelling that it deserves another mention that Jayden Wayne and No. 5 NFL Draft pick Kayvon Thibodeaux are a lot alike. From their physical stature to their playing style to their athletic ability – and perhaps even their college choice since Oregon is one of the frontrunners for Wayne as well – there are just striking similarities between the two.

Georgia, LSU, Michigan State, Miami and others are also involved with the Tacoma (Wash.) Lincoln recruit.

*****

14. OT KADYN PROCTOR

Gorney's take: No matter how one cuts it, Kadyn Proctor’s size at 6-foot-8 and 335 pounds will put him on the radar of NFL teams. His ability to move at that size, play with toughness and agility, and then get to the second level and block there as well makes him special.

He towers over everybody and consumes them on the bull rush. Proctor has physical attributes that few have and he is also developing technically as someone who could easily be in that first-round draft discussion in the coming years.

Iowa, Notre Dame and Ohio State remain in contention, but Arkansas State, Penn State, Alabama, Oregon and Michigan will get visits.

*****

15. OT SAMSON OKUNLOLA

Gorney's take: One of the new five-stars this rankings cycle, Samson Okunlola has been on our radar but after his performance at the Rivals Camp in Philadelphia and other stops this offseason it was decided to move him up in the rankings. He was so dominant at the Rivals Camp that defensive linemen had no prayer beating him during one-on-ones.

The New England prospect has outstanding length and athletic ability – plus power – to completely dominate. A top nine has emerged but Okunlola stays mum on favorites.

MORE: Should Samson Okunlola be the No. 1 OT?

*****

16. WR HYKEEM WILLIAMS

Gorney's take: Perhaps the best-looking receiver in the 2023 class from a physical standpoint, Hykeem Williams is now a five-star because of his combination of length and tools, plus his high-level athletic ability.

The Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) Stranahan standout is one of three five-star receivers on South Florida Express along with Carnell Tate and Brandon Inniss. Williams, though, is the best at high-pointing the football and being a complete nightmare for smaller cornerbacks.

Texas A&M, Georgia, Pitt, Alabama and Florida State have his attention.

*****

17. WR ZACHARIAH BRANCH

Gorney's Take: If the game of football has turned into getting the ball to speedy playmakers in space and causing mismatches then Zachariah Branch is your guy.

The Las Vegas Bishop Gorman product, who is committed to USC, is so dynamic through his routes and with the ball in his hands that comparisons with Hollywood Brown and Jaylen Waddle have been made. They’re accurate, too.

He’s fun to watch – unless you’re competing against him – and he was phenomenal at the Los Angeles Rivals Camp.

*****

18. DE KEON KELLEY

Gorney's take: He’s 6-foot-6 and 230 pounds and comes off the edge with such speed that he’s around offensive tackles before many are even out of their stances.

The Notre Dame commit, who’s still being pursued by Alabama and other teams in the Southeast, has great athleticism and outstanding speed off the edge. As he develops even more physically, his dominance should only continue.

He’s had a quiet offseason and moved down the list a little as others have excelled at numerous events, but Keon Keeley is still special.

*****

19. CB JAVIEN TOVIANO

Gorney's take: He plays running back, he’s on special teams and Javien Toviano is an elite cornerback who has now been bumped up to five-star status.

It was probably inevitable because elite athletes such as Toviano don’t come around very often. Couple that with length, size and playmaking ability, and the Arlington (Texas) Martin is the complete package.

Texas A&M, Texas and others are battling it out for his services.