Rivals Rankings Week: Five-Star Countdown for 2023 class
It's another Rivals Rankings Week here for the 2023 class as we enter the high school football season. As always, we kick off the week with the Five-Star Countdown, as 20 players from the 2023 class currently hold the honor.
Check back throughout the day to see the latest five-stars, along with Rivals recruiting director Adam Gorney's thoughts on each.
RIVALS RANKINGS WEEK
Sunday: Who should be No. 1?
Monday: Five-Star Countdown | Who will be the next five-star?
Tuesday: Rivals250 revealed | Biggest Movers | Gorney goes position-by-position
Wednesday: Offensive position rankings released | Teams that should be pleased
Thursday: Defensive position rankings released | Could this be the best QB class ever?
Friday: State rankings released | Who is on cusp of four-star ranking?
1. QB Arch Manning
Gorney's Take: Arch Manning remains the least-visible No. 1 prospect probably in Rivals history dating back to 2002. He doesn’t do national events, he doesn’t play 7on7 and even at summer camps he’s not throwing a lot.
Still, the fact remains that he has exquisite arm talent, he’s incredibly advanced from an intelligence standpoint playing quarterback, his teammates love him and he’s a great leader. And yes, the Texas commit has a family pedigree that cannot be denied. No one is a lock for the No. 1 spot but Manning remains the top dog for now.
2. QB Dante Moore
Gorney's Take: The Oregon commit was phenomenal this summer. At the OT7 event in Las Vegas, Dante Moore played for Cam Newton’s team and the two worked together seamlessly, Newton regularly complimenting Moore on his decision-making and fully trusting him with the offense.
Then at the Elite 11, Moore was arguably the best one there through three days of events. The Detroit (Mich.) Martin Luther King standout is not going to blow anyone away with his athletic ability but he has a phenomenal arm and his accuracy could be the best in class.
3. DB Cormani McClain
Gorney's Take: The five-star cornerback who transferred from Lakeland (Fla.) Lake Gibson to Lakeland, Fla., for his senior season is so smooth, so rangy and has tremendous instincts in coverage. Cormani McClain is usually shutting down his side of the field, though, so he’s not often tested.
He did struggle a little bit at Future 50 but over so many events McClain has been a machine and has been especially impressive playing in the South Florida Express secondary.
4. QB Nico Iamaleava
Gorney's Take: Lost sometimes in Nico Iamaleava’s cool swagger and his stylish sunglasses and him playing in his trademark pajama pants is that the Tennessee commit is a phenomenal quarterback. He is maturing in his decision-making and has off-the-charts athletic ability as a star football and volleyball player.
Iamaleava plays with bouncy athleticism, he’s so smooth and effortless in everything he does and he’s getting smarter making plays from the QB spot. A run to the top of the rankings is not out of the question.
5. DE Samuel M'Pemba
Gorney's Take: There might not be a better-looking or more physically ready prospect in the 2023 class. Samuel M’Pemba looks like a million bucks and should be an unstoppable force coming off the edge at Bradenton (Fla.) IMG Academy this season.
The Midwest native can rush off the end or drop back in coverage and play in space. When it comes to having an impact on defense, M’Pemba has all the tools to be special.
6. QB Malachi Nelson
Gorney's Take: Trying to figure out the order of the five-star quarterbacks is grueling and nearly impossible but this is what we settled on for the time being. Malachi Nelson dropped a few spots but it’s not because of anything he did poorly. The USC commit still had an excellent summer and was fantastic at the Elite 11. He fits perfectly in coach Lincoln Riley’s offense, although a visit to Texas A&M was interesting and something to watch.
But we have to order them somehow and Nelson is still very well-respected in this class.
7. WR Carnell Tate
Gorney's Take: There remains an ongoing debate about five-star receiver order because the others – especially Brandon Inniss and Zachariah Branch – had phenomenal offseasons. But Carnell Tate held onto the No. 1 spot at the position because he has a mix of everything from great ball skills to excellent athletic ability to being a terrific playmaker and a highly-competitive kid.
8. WR Brandon Inniss
Gorney's Take: A lot of discussion went into whether Brandon Inniss should move back to the No. 1 spot at receiver because he had another tremendous offseason. Inniss didn’t put up huge stats in his junior season because he was moved to quarterback out of necessity but there is no question he’s a phenomenal receiver who doesn’t show off lightning speed but always gets open and always catches the ball.
He dropped one pass at the OT7 in Las Vegas and he acted stunned that it happened. It never does.
9. ATH Nyckoles Harbor
Gorney's Take: As a football player, Nyckoles Harbor is very talented and explosive but can still refine things heading into his senior season. There are others more advanced as a pure defensive end. But Harbor is by far the best athlete in this class and that incredible ability on the track combined with a great physical frame and developing football skills makes his projection easy – the Washington (D.C.) Archbishop Carroll standout has off-the-charts potential.
That’s if he sticks with football and doesn’t choose a pro track career which we believe remains a possibility.
10. OL TJ Shanahan
Gorney's Take: He’s big, he plays mean, he’s tough and there isn’t an opponent he will take a back step to and that’s what we like so much about Shanahan, who looks like he could be a bouncer in "Road House". Moving inside is the best thing for him because Shanahan loves to mix it up, loves to battle, and he has the personality that every time he steps on the football field he’s going to challenge his opponent physically every play.
11. LB Anthony Hill
Gorney's Take: Texas A&M recently beat Texas for Anthony Hill’s commitment and it’s a big one as the Aggies continue to load up with insanely talented defensive players. In the 2022 class it was mainly five-star and other elite defensive linemen and now the five-star Hill joins the group.
Hill’s main strength is getting players on the ground and racking up tackles by quickly identifying the play, where the ball is going and then trusting his eyes and attacking. He’s a physical force as well and someone who plays with toughness all the time.
12. WR Zachariah Branch
Gorney's Take: Of the five-star receivers, Zachariah Branch is the most undersized but he’s by far the most dynamic and thrilling with the ball in his hands. He is nearly impossible to defend in one-on-one situations and the idea is to get him the ball in space and unleash him. As the game evolves into being about matchups and winning in the open field, Branch is almost perfect in that way.
13. DE David Hicks Jr.
Gorney's Take: David Hicks is great off the edge showing speed, leverage and tenacity to fight through blocks and attack the backfield. He’s also excellent inside where he can rip, get small and be hard to block, and still use great explosiveness off the snap to beat smaller interior offensive linemen. Wherever he lines up, Hicks is making an impact and often draws double teams.
14. OL Kadyn Proctor
Gorney's Take: There are other five-star offensive tackles pushing Kadyn Proctor for that No. 1 spot but he retains it based off season film because the Iowa commit has not done much this offseason in terms of national events. Still, the 6-foot-8, 335-pound prospect has NFL-ready size, he’s a devastating run blocker, he can get to the second level and block downfield and so much more.
Proctor does an excellent job being patient and letting edge rushers come to him. Those who try to play even wider like in a nine-technique, Proctor can move lightly on his feet and then punish those defenders as well.
15. OL Samson Okunlola
Gorney's Take: The Braintree (Mass.) Thayer Academy standout will be one of those offensive tackles in consideration for No. 1 at the position in the coming months. The 6-foot-5, 300-pound prospect is not as massive but he’s light on his feet, he has heavy hands and the competitive level for Samson Okunlola is off the charts. He’s the type that doesn’t say much but lines up at national events and buries high-end defensive linemen time and again.
16. WR Hykeem Williams
Gorney's Take: There is no receiver that looks better on the hoof than Hykeem Williams, who is all of 6-foot-4 and 205 pounds, runs like a deer and has incredible length to go up and beat smaller cornerbacks. The Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) Stranahan standout is super smooth, a great route runner and already looks like a college-level receiver.
17. DE Jayden Wayne
Gorney's Take: A transfer from Tacoma (Wash.) Lincoln to Bradenton (Fla.) IMG Academy, Jayden Wayne has all the physical tools at 6-foot-4 and 235 pounds to be an elite defensive end. He will be playing far more high-end Division I players not only in practice but in game settings this year at IMG so we will be closely watching his progress at his new school.
18. OL Francis Mauigoa
Gorney's Take: After long discussions and lots of consideration during previous rankings meetings, Miami commit Francis Mauigoa has now landed his fifth star. Originally from American Samoa with a stop at San Bernardino (Calif.) Aquinas before heading to Bradenton (Fla.) IMG Academy, Mauigoa has the size, physical nature and competitive drive to be special.
19. DE Keon Keeley
Gorney's Take: Keon Keeley is another elite five-star defensive end who has incredible length and ability off the edge and that level of physical prowess is super rare at the high school level. The Notre Dame commit, whom Alabama is trying to flip, is a hot commodity. He can beat nearly any offensive tackle to the edge, he’s getting more powerful to go inside and is so long that he can close on anybody and bring them to the ground.
20. DB Javien Toviano
Gorney's Take: Is he a corner over the long haul? Will he move to safety? That will all be figured out. It’s unquestionable though that Javien Toviano is one of the best defensive backs in this class.
Toviano has unique physical capabilities, the ability to run with receivers, jam them at the line with his strength and then the instincts to knock passes away or pick them off.