Rivals Rankings Week: New Rivals250 released for 2021
The new Rivals250 for the class of 2021 has been released, and with it comes plenty of debate and discussion. The Rivals analysts spotlight some of those conversations here.
CLASS OF 2021 RANKINGS: Rivals250
1. Who did you go to bat for personally that will make you look smart down the road?
Rob Cassidy (Florida): I really like wide receiver Mario Williams. And while he didn’t move up in this update, his standing as the No. 39 player in the country is mostly my doing. Williams lacks ideal size, but he reminds me a bit of former five-star and current Arizona Cardinal Christian Kirk in the way he accelerates at warp speed. Williams' hands and the fact that he appears shot from a cannon off the line of scrimmage make him a nightmare for defensive backs that attempt to press him based on his limited size. He’ll have a long, impressive career.
Mike Farrell (National): Will Shipley is a guy I suggested we move up a bit because I like how he can be a Swiss Army knife on offense for someone. He can do so much as a running back but also as a receiver.
Adam Friedman (Mid-Atlantic): Moving up running back TreVeyon Henderson was a no-brainer to me. The Virginian is almost a completely different player than he was a year ago. He’s taller, stronger and faster, and that has led to him putting up some monster numbers this season. Penn State, Alabama, Georgia, Oklahoma, Virginia, and many other hope to reel in this special running back.
Adam Gorney (West Coast/National): Miller Moss is a smart, talented, gifted quarterback who was just too low in the first round of rankings and now is within the Rivals100 after a strong junior season. I suspect he could move even higher as more people see him through the camp and 7-on-7 circuit. The Mission Hills (Calif.) Alemany quarterback makes a lot of impressive throws and what I liked most about him this season is he was surrounded by a bunch of underclassmen and he showed leadership on the field and orchestrated the offense well. His 10 interceptions were a little high for my liking but when he's trying to make things happen, sometimes he had to take some chances. Moss could be one of the best quarterbacks in this class.
Josh Helmholdt (Midwest): Junior film of Omaha-area tight end Thomas Fidone reminded me an awful lot of class of 2020 four-star Theo Johnson, who committed to Penn State earlier this week. Iowa was on the losing end of the Johnson sweepstakes, but it has a strong shot to salve that wound by landing Fidone in 2021. Nebraska and a host of others, though, are likely to make this a hotly-contested battle because Fidone is a talented playmaker from the tight end position.
Chad Simmons (Southeast): Deion Colzie plays at Athens (Ga.) Athens Academy in the private league circuit, so there will always be questions around the competition level he plays, but do not let that fool you. The Notre Dame commit is an elite talent with size, speed, ball skills and upside. He makes plays consistently on both sides of the ball, but projects more on the offensive side on the next level. Colzie may not be in that group that plays on the highest classifications in their respective states, but he is one of the top prospects in the country.
Sam Spiegelman (Texas/Louisiana): Billy Bowman Jr. received a sizable bump in the latest Rivals250 rankings after a junior season in which he absolutely dominated on offense, defense and special teams. He was so good that he could be a Rivals100 prospect at receiver or defensive back. He's explosive in the open field and a dangerous return specialist, but he's equally as instinctive when he drops back into coverage. The early Texas pledge wears many hats for Denton Ryan and heads into the offseason as a top-40 prospect.
Woody Wommack (Southeast): Hudson Wolfe. I have been driving the bus on his bandwagon for over a year now and after he had a huge season on the field this past fall, I'm even more confident having him where we do in the rankings. Wolfe is a big body at tight end and he's more than capable as a blocker. But he also is a big-play threat in the passing game and has put up numbers despite being the focal point of every defense he faces. There's a reason schools such as Alabama are lining up to get him on their commitment list.
2. Who might we have too high?
Rob Cassidy (Florida): I’m worried about Corey Collier as a five-star. He has the upside to be one of the very best prospects in the country, but he hasn’t quite reached that ceiling just yet. He still needs polishing, especially when it comes to tackling. Right now, his five-star ranking is the product of potential. We’ll see if he reaches it in the months ahead. Collier is an impressive player. There’s no doubting that. Just how impressive he’ll become is the argument these days.
Mike Farrell (National): I’m not sold on James Williams as a five-star and I know our Florida guy Rob Cassidy isn’t either. He’s a huge athlete similar to Shaq Thompson or Taylor Mays but which way will he pan out?
Adam Friedman (Mid-Atlantic): I wasn’t blown away watching Jahzion Harris’ film. He's on the right path to becoming an elite edge rusher but he still has some work to do in terms of inside countermoves and physical development. Harris’ versatility and overall athleticism are his strengths right now and he leans on them a bit too much.
Adam Gorney (West Coast/National): James Williams is listed at 6-foot-5 as a safety and the tallest safety in NFL history – Pat Watkins – was that size when he was drafted out of Florida State. So there is a question of whether Williams, who's ranked No. 13 overall, can stay in the defensive backfield, if he will move down to linebacker or possibly grow into a hybrid guy in the coming years. That versatility is invaluable but it also leaves a question mark as to his position projection over the next four or five years. There is no question Williams has A-plus size, speed and playmaking ability on the back end but it might be unlikely he stays at safety and so some questions arise.
Josh Helmholdt (Midwest): I really loved Iowa commit Justice Sullivan's sophomore film, but when I turned on junior film it looked remarkably similar and that has me worried. Sullivan is a 'tweener, and his four-star rating is reliant on him being able to develop both physically and athletically to better fit into a specific position at the next level. He makes a small move backwards in the Rivals250 in this update, but we need to start seeing some of that growth from Sullivan between now and when he wraps up his high school career if he is to stay in the 250.
Chad Simmons (Southeast): What is the running back value today? We are graded the hardest when it comes NFL Draft time each year, so we know not too many running backs go early in the draft. Armoni Goodwin is a smaller back who tore his ACL this season, and while there is no doubt he is a four-star talent, there could be some questions about his ranking at No. 129 in the country. The Auburn commit is a quick, shifty back with good moves out of the backfield and he will be monitored over the next year once he recovers from the injury to show where he belongs in the 2021 rankings.
Sam Spiegelman (Texas/Louisiana): Latrell McCutchin's junior season was cut short due to a serious leg injury that sidelined him not only for the fall, but will keep him on the bench through the spring until his senior season. Still, McCutchin remains inside the Rivals100 at No. 60 because he was so impressive as a sophomore. The Alabama commitment won't have an opportunity to show out against elite competition this offseason in different camp and 7-on-7 settings, which is disappointing because early on, he was a surefire five-star candidate. Nonetheless, we know what McCutchin is capable of, but it'll be almost another year before we see it again on a football field.
Woody Wommack (Southeast): I'm still a little nervous about how high we have Savion Byrd in the rankings. I know he's very athletic and has high upside, but he hasn't played much offensive tackle and he hasn't competed at some showcase events with elite talent like some of the other players at his position. How he develops going forward is something we'll be watching closely.
3. Who might we have too low?
Rob Cassidy (Florida): It’ll be interesting to see what happens with Tyreak Sapp, who missed some time with injury this season and never really got a chance to show the full scope of what he can do because of this he dropped a few spots in the rankings, but his upside is impossible to doubt. There's a chance he’ll shoot up the rankings when he’s fully healthy in the future.
Mike Farrell (National): Drew Kendall is ranked very high at offensive guard and nationally but I have a feeling he’s a kid who will really become a great college and pro player down the line like his father Pete Kendall. We have him higher than most but maybe still a little low.
Adam Friedman (Mid-Atlantic): This is a tough one because there are a few players that should be moving up the rankings as time goes on. I’ll go with wide receiver Micah Crowell. He’s put together an outstanding junior season and he has the skillset to have an early impact in college. I expect others will see the same during the spring.
Adam Gorney (West Coast/National): I already know the debate around Notre Dame quarterback commit Tyler Buchner is going to be a heated one over the next recruiting cycle. The La Jolla (Calif.) Bishops quarterback put up insane numbers this season with 4,474 passing yards, 53 touchdowns and six interceptions along with 1,610 yards and 28 rushing touchdowns. There is no question at all that Buchner is super talented and really special – and that's why he's ranked No. 42 overall. That might even be too low considering what he does on the football field and his special dual-threat abilities. The only issue is that the competition he plays is so weak it's hard to get a great evaluation of his abilities. A review this offseason will be important to get a better gauge.
Josh Helmholdt (Midwest): Defensive tackle Michael Hall made the highest debut of any prospect from the Midwest in this update, but we make look back at him being the No. 75 player in this update and say that was just too low. I have a couple questions about his potential physical development and overall motor, but if those get answered in the positive then we may be discussing five-stars in the future.
Chad Simmons (Southeast): Trenilyas Tatum is one of the top linebackers I have seen play in person this season. At that time late in September, he was not even hearing from schools, but has since picked up offers from Georgia Tech, Louisville, North Carolina and Virginia Tech. Florida and Georgia, among others, are now showing interest. His stock will continue to rise. Tatum is a very athletic linebacker with size that can run, and he loves to hit. His offer list may not say four-star today, but it will down the road. He went from unranked to No. 206 this update and that is still likely too low.
Sam Spiegelman (Texas/Louisiana): Dematrius Davis Jr. is currently on another postseason march where, in theory, he could help North Shore repeat as Texas Class 6A state champions. This fall, Davis has had to overcome injuries to his offensive line, time missed by his primary wide receiver and five-star tailback, and he has had no issue picking up the slack in the biggest games. Davis has thrived against a gauntlet of top teams in the Lone Star State and produced at an incredibly high level. He's an early Virginia Tech commitment whose innovative play style and mobility will certainly remind folks of Michael Vick. Stats and playoff runs aside, Davis' demeanor, skillset and ability to step up in the biggest moments is worthy of a rankings bump.
Woody Wommack (Southeast): Jake Briningstool. He's actually one of the players from my region and I'm already having some remorse about not pushing the tight end up higher in the rankings. Briningstool has really come on over the second half of the season and is just a matchup nightmare in space for opposing defenses. More importantly, he's shown more of a willingness to be physical as a blocker, something that is needed at his position. He'll have every chance to keep moving up in the rankings.