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Rivals Rankings Week: Who should be No. 1 in 2022?

Without a spring or summer to fully evaluate prospects in person, Rivals.com has relied on a lot of film and early personal evaluations to come up with the initial Rivals250 for the class of 2022.

One of the top debates by the team of analysts each cycle is who should lead the way as the top-ranked prospect. This time, three elite prospects have made strong cases to lead the rankings, and we take a look at why in this discussion.

CLASS OF 2021 RANKINGS: Rivals250 | Position | Team | State

CLASS OF 2022: Top 100

MORE: Rivals Transfer Tracker

GORNEY'S VIEW: Domani Jackson

Domani Jackson
Domani Jackson

Jackson has all the special qualities of the No. 1 prospect in the country. He's physically ready right now to play college football. He's fast, athletic, strong as a bull, physical as can be at the line of scrimmage and then he's incredibly competitive and wants to prove he's the best player on the field every single day.

The Mater Dei standout reminds me a lot of Minkah Fitzpatrick at the same stage - and we all know Fitzpatrick should have been rated higher in retrospect. What I love about Jackson is that he has an air of complete confidence in his abilities - and then he goes out and backs it up - plus he puts in the work every single day. During the coronavirus shutdown, he's been working out a ton and looks as cut-up as ever. - Adam Gorney, Rivals National recruiting analyst

SIMMONS' VIEW: Walter Nolen

Walter Nolan
Walter Nolan (Nick Lucero/Rivals.com)

The only real question around Nolen is where he will be playing football in the future. Not only college, but maybe even high school. He played his freshman and sophomore seasons at Olive Branch High in Mississippi, he transferred to IMG Academy in January. After going back home due to the pandemic, he has decided to stay close to his roots and play for St. Benedict High just outside of Memphis.

Regardless of where he plays, he is a dominant force on the defensive line. He is a very athletic, twitchy lineman that checks all the boxes up front. He is explosive, disruptive and a force against the run and the pass. Nolen is one Rivals.com has been very high on since his freshman year and he has continued to develop, improve and show why he is a five-star talent. Alabama, Clemson, Georgia, LSU, Ohio State, Tennessee and others are in pursuit early. - Chad Simmons, Southeast recruiting analyst

SPIEGELMAN'S VIEW: Denver Harris

Denver Harris
Denver Harris (Nick Lucero/Rivals.com)

Only once in Rivals history has a cornerback been the No. 1 overall prospect in the country. That, unsurprisingly, was Derek Stingley Jr., who was unquestionably the top freshman cornerback in college football a year ago. Harris is a defensive back built in a similar mold as Stingley was coming out of high school and it should not come as a surprise he’s being pursued by two of the same teams in LSU and Texas.

Harris is a lockdown cover cornerback with electrifying sub-4.4 speed. Essentially, he can wipe out an opposing team’s top receiver and he’s a difference-maker defending the run. On a high school team laden with talent all over the field, Harris arguably packs the most upside. - Sam Spiegelman, South-Central recruiting analyst