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Rivals Rankings Week: Five-Star Countdown for 2026 class

The Rivals Rankings Week for 2026 begins today with a Five-Star Countdown, as the group has grown to seven. The 2026 Rivals100 expands to Rivals250 on Tuesday.

Follow today's countdown throughout the morning, with recruiting director Adam Gorney providing his thoughts on each five-star.



Sunday: Can anyone supplant Jahkeem Stewart for No. 1?

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

Tuesday: New Rivals250 released | Gorney goes position-by-position | Highest debuts

Wednesday: Offensive position rankings released | Rivals Rankings Podcast | QB rankings breakdown | RB rankings breakdown | WR/TE rankings breakdown | OL rankings breakdown

Thursday: Defensive position rankings released | DL rankings breakdown | LB rankings breakdown | DB rankings breakdown | ATH rankings breakdown

Friday: State rankings released | Who is No. 1 in each state?

Saturday: Ranking Roundtable



Gorney's Take: Jahkeem Stewart has been so dominant for so long at defensive end that he would have been a five-star prospect in the 2024 class. He has NFL size and toughness, and what makes Stewart even more special is that he has a dominant mindset where he wants to go out every day to prove he’s the best. His people are asking where some of the best offensive tackles are going to camp this offseason because Stewart wants to test himself against the best.

Not only does Stewart have all the physical tools to be one of the best defensive ends in a long time but he also has the focus to be really special in the years to come.

In February, the No. 1 prospect in the 2026 class released his top 15 but Texas, USC and Oregon have been the schools standing out most. LSU also should be considered near the top group since he’s an elite talent from New Orleans (La.) St. Augustine.


Gorney's Take: Putting the football part aside, Jackson Cantwell has every metric to make him a five-star prospect from parents who competed in the Olympics in track and field, to an amazing frame at 6-foot-8 and 300 pounds with little bad weight to the mindset of understanding what it takes to be special.

Then Cantwell’s football abilities are considered and the Nixa, Mo., offensive tackle has everything needed to not only be a five-star prospect but consideration for the No. 1 spot in the 2026 class. Cantwell has agility and moves so well then mixes that with power and toughness to make himself a complete offensive tackle. From on the field, off the field, pedigree, mentality and so much more, Cantwell has a legitimacy few can claim.

Missouri, Arkansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Georgia and many others are involved.


Gorney's Take: Many of the best NFL receivers in today’s game are 6-foot-2 or shorter with the main outlier being DK Metcalf but what makes Chris Henry Jr. at 6-foot-5 so special is that he’s so athletic, so comfortable in his own frame and so dominant as an outside receiver that he is definitely the best receiver in the 2026 class right now.

Now at powerhouse Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei, the Ohio State commit will have a national stage to showcase his abilities, which he has shown at numerous events over the last year.

He has great hands, a big catch radius, is physical and smooth, and so much more. His late father also starred in the NFL before his untimely passing and the 2026 receiver has all of his dad’s qualities and more on the field.



Gorney's Take: Brady Smigiel’s stats from his sophomore season speak for themselves – 59-percent completions for 4,222 yards with 52 touchdowns – but there is so much more than those numbers that make the Newbury Park, Calif., standout a five-star quarterback.

His father, Joe, played professional football (with Miami coach Mario Cristobal in the World League) and he’s now the coach at Newbury Park so Smigiel is a coach’s son, a gym rat type and mature beyond his years.

Smigiel is confident in his abilities but also very grounded and understands what he’s looking for at the next level. That’s why he’s taking his time with a commitment and doing his homework before making a decision.

Visits to Florida, Miami and Florida State are coming up. A trip to Washington is being planned. He also wants to take another Midwest swing through Ohio State – his newest offer – along with Michigan and Notre Dame. The Irish and Oregon have stood out a lot but Smigiel remains open in his recruitment.


Gorney's Take: Is Tyler Atkinson an edge rusher or an outside linebacker? It does not really matter because the new five-star from Loganville (Ga.) Grayson has the physical tools and burst to blitz as a defensive end and he has the ranginess and athleticism to drop in coverage and make plays there.

In today’s football landscape, Atkinson is exactly what coaches are looking for in being sort of positionless. He can be used all over the defense and then can make an impact because of his athleticism, skill and playmaking ability.

Florida State, Georgia, Alabama, Clemson, North Carolina, LSU, Texas, Auburn, Ohio State and Tennessee is his early top 10 but it would be a major surprise if the in-state prospect didn’t end up with the Bulldogs.


Gorney's Take: The Folsom, Calif., offense is well-known as a juggernaut no matter who’s running it, but Ryder Lyons took production to another level through his junior season with 3,578 passing yards, 38 touchdowns and eight interceptions, along with 929 rushing yards and 23 more scores.

Lyons was impressive at the Los Angeles Rivals Camp recently and at other events this offseason. The new five-star quarterback is best when he can roll out of the pocket, be creative and then make things happen down the field. At the same stage, the Folsom QB reminds us of an even-better Jaxson Dart.

USC, Oregon, Texas A&M, Michigan and Notre Dame are the frontrunners at this time as the Trojans and Ducks could have a slight edge. His brother, Walker, signed with USC in the 2023 class and then went on his Mormon mission.


Gorney's Take: Originally from Southern California, Keenyi Pepe has been on the national scene for years and has only gotten better and more refined as he’s grown into his impressive frame. The 6-foot-7, 290-pound standout is following in the five-star footsteps of Miami signee Francis Mauigoa and others at Bradenton (Fla.) IMG Academy and he’s tested daily by elite players across the board there.

Pepe is physical, tough and also moves his feet well. He is patient when defensive ends come at him and has a great punch to overpower opponents.

Miami and Florida State will be two major contenders in his recruitment with Georgia, USC, Oregon and others involved.