football Edit

Rivals250 released: Analysts discuss rankings debates

Derek Wingo
Derek Wingo

The Rivals250 for the 2020 class has been released. Our analysts discuss some of the biggest debates, questions and concerns that went on behind the scenes in the latest round of rankings updates.

NEW RELEASE: CLASS OF 2020 RIVALS250

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CLASS OF 2020 RANKINGS: Rivals250 | Position

CLASS OF 2021 RANKINGS: Rivals100 | Position | Team | State

RIVALS RANKINGS RELEASE: New Rivals100 | Breaking down the new five-stars | Top 10 breakdown | Who could still finish in the top 10? | Why is Bresee No. 1? | Farrell's thoughts

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1. Who did you personally go to bat for that will make you look wise down the road?

Shane Illingworth
Shane Illingworth (Matt Moreno/GOAZCATS.com)

Rob Cassidy (Florida): I led the charge on Derek Wingo adding a fifth star and did so because he’s as consistent and well-rounded a linebacker as there is in the country. Only Justin Flowe seems like more of a sure thing to me. Wingo has an extremely rare blend of size and athleticism and also has the qualities it takes to lead a defense. There aren’t a lot of complete high school linebackers out there, but the hyper-athletic Wingo is just that.

Mike Farrell (National): I stood on the table for RB Tank Bigsby to be the No. 1 running back (non all-purpose) in the country and he’s going to have a huge career in college. He can also catch the ball so he’ll impact there as well.

Adam Friedman (Mid-Atlantic): After the season he had, I was really pushing for running back Blake Corum to move up the rankings. The Michigan commit really improved his ability to effectively run between the tackles and runs much harder than defenders anticipate. Corum's game is also really well-rounded. He is a big contributor in the passing game and should had a very successful career in Ann Arbor if used correctly.

Adam Gorney (National/West Coast): Four-star quarterback Shane Illingworth is a tall, rangy kid with a big arm who posted huge numbers during his high school career. And he’s committed to Oklahoma State. Illingworth moved up to No. 116 nationally and in coach Mike Gundy’s offense he should be able to sit back in the pocket and throw the ball all over the field. I know this season the Cowboys used Chuba Hubbard a lot in the run game but Gundy wants to throw the ball and Illingworth should be a perfect fit in Stillwater.

Josh Helmholdt (Midwest): Iowa commit Deontae Craig makes the leap into the Rivals250 and takes over as No. 1 in Indiana after this update. I loved his junior film, but with his atypical size we needed more evaluation points before we made the four-star move. Craig took his game to the next level as a senior, and I see him being a Shawne Merriman type for the Hawkeyes, and likely beyond.

Chad Simmons (Southeast): Jimmy Callaway went from a 5.6rr to a 5.7rr over the summer, but after seeing his senior tape, he has taken that next step to 5.8rr and four stars. He is committed to Tennessee, and the Vols offered early, so they look very smart at this time. Callaway is a versatile athlete that played quarterback, wide receiver and cornerback this season. He rarely left the field and he could be a star on either side of the ball on the next level. Georgia Tech and Kentucky have still tried to get him on campus, but he seems strong to the Vols at this time. If Jeremy Pruitt and his staff hold on, Callaway will make an impact next fall in Knoxville.

Sam Spiegelman (Texas/Louisiana): Donovan Kaufman. He was a three-star because he's undersized, he's a bit of a tweener in regards to his position and he probably doesn't have the offer sheet he deserves, but when he steps on the field he's usually the most impactful player. Kaufman is a modern-day Honey Badger, and when you're talking about a player from New Orleans, that comparison should not be taken lightly. He's a natural playmaker, an aggressive defender with 4.4 speed and plays with a humongous chip on his shoulder. We're going to be hearing his name frequently on Saturdays in the SEC soon.

Woody Wommack (Southeast): This go-round I really went to bat for Jay Hardy. Because of some injuries in the offseason, he wasn't involved on the camp circuit and sort of fell off the national radar. He entered the fall in the Rivals250, but after getting a chance to see him play live and the amount of athleticism and playmaking ability he showed at his size led me to move him into the Rivals100 and to the top spot in the state rankings. Hardy is headed to Auburn, where the Tigers hope he can step in and help fill the void that will be left by several quality defensive linemen heading to the NFL.

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2. Who do you fear that we may have too high?

Prince Dorbah
Prince Dorbah (Sam Spiegelman)

Rob Cassidy (Florida): Bryce Young is a tremendous talent and is certainly a Rivals100 prospect, but I’m not quite as high on him as seemingly everyone else on the planet. My sample size watching him is small, so maybe I’ve seen him on his worst days. That’s why I abstained from our internal conversation about his ranking. So while I’m not saying he shouldn't be a five-star, I’m more skeptical than most. You never want to be the outlier because that usually means you’re wrong, so I’ll happily eat my crow here when Young is a first-round pick. Still, I don’t see the can’t-miss polished passer that everyone else seems to.

Mike Farrell (National): I have a feeling that Zachary Evans is ranked a bit high. There is such a boom-or-bust factor with him I could see him being a starter as a true freshman or in the transfer portal within months. He’s the wildcard in this class.

Adam Friedman (Mid-Atlantic): There was a decent amount of debate about Haynes King. The Texas A&M quarterback commit is a great athlete and can get hot as a passer in the right situations but I'm worried about his lack of consistency. There are fewer highs than there are lows in his game and it wouldn't surprise me if he ended up playing a different position at the next level.

Adam Gorney (National/West Coast): When Leonard Manuel is focused and engaged he could be one of the better receivers in the country. But the four-star who’s now ranked No. 114 nationally has bounced around high schools, he’s been in and out of some commitments and I do have some questions about his hands as an elite receiver. In Florida’s offense and under coach Dan Mullen’s tutelage, he should have a big career in Gainesville if he keeps his eye on the ball but his ranking is a tad high.

Josh Helmholdt (Midwest): Prince Dorbah drops out of the Rivals100 in this update. That was the right move, but we may still have him too high. I wrote about another linebacker/defensive end hybrid earlier in Deontae Craig, but Craig is bigger and a more unique athlete than Dorbah. I just do not see Dorbah's skill set and size fitting anywhere on the field that allows him to play like a four-star.

Chad Simmons (Southeast): Is Oxford (Miss.) jumbo-athlete Jeremiah Pegues too high? Where will he play? How will he be featured? Those are questions surrounding the No. 191 prospect in the country. He is a big, versatile athlete likely to end up at tight end, but he is more of an H-Back, and that position is not used much anymore. He has soft hands, he is mobile for his size and he can make plays with the ball in his hands. But he does not have great length, he is not one that is likely to flex out and he may have a limited role on the next level. Alabama, Auburn and Mississippi State appear to be the main schools involved in his recruitment.

Sam Spiegelman (Texas/Louisiana): Prince Dorbah. When it comes to innate playmaking ability, combine numbers and physicality, there's not much to doubt about what Dorbah brings to the table. However, he's been in the Rivals100 and now inside the Rivals250 at a position he doesn't play week in and week out. Dorbah is a stand-up outside linebacker but plays as a 5-tech for Highland Park. He's asked to occupy two gaps instead of rushing the passer, which is what he'll do at Texas. There's a lot of projecting here and the All-American Bowl should provide us with a better glimpse into Dorbah's future.

Woody Wommack (Southeast): We just moved recent Oklahoma commit Reggie Grimes down a bit in the Rivals100 but he's still in the top 75 players in the country. As an exceptional athlete with a very high ceiling, he's a very tough player to rank because his production on the field hasn't caught up with where he could be in the future. Ranking guys like him too low is how you get burned if and when they blossom at the next level, but there have been plenty of times where we have ranked guys with not enough production too high as well. He has helped his team to the state championship game in Tennessee and will be playing in the Under Armour All-America Game as well, so we still have a few more chances to see him before making a final call.

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3. Who do you fear we may have too low?

Gee Scott
Gee Scott

Rob Cassidy (Florida): I’d have had both wide receiver Gee Scott and quarterback Harrison Bailey in the five-star conversation if it were up to me. The knock on Bailey used to be that he was much better in camps than in actual games, but he posted great numbers and film this season and looks to have erased that narrative. With Scott, I see his elite-level explosiveness and soft hands as a rare combination. He’ll shine in Ohio State’s offense from day one. Sure, he lacks size but he is a matchup nightmare when he gets the ball in space.

Mike Farrell (National): Malachi Wideman might be a little too low in the rankings at No. 95. He could be a star and I love his athletic ability and ability after the catch. He’s just learning how to be a dominant wide receiver.

Adam Friedman (Mid-Atlantic): I probably should have pushed harder for Ja'Qurious Conley. The North Carolina commit can essentially do anything he wants on the field. He's a big-bodied enforcer in the middle of the field with great ball skills and an eye for making big plays. Conley is also a big-time player on special teams.

Adam Gorney (National/West Coast): Henry Parrish got the ball a lot in his senior season and he produced in a big way with 2,319 yards and 28 touchdowns on 263 carries. That’s a lot of wear and tear on the body but the Pitt commit delivered and moved up to No. 155 in the 2020 class. It might not be far enough after watching him and some other running backs higher in the rankings on film. There is a reason Miami and others are trying to flip Parrish – it’s because he’s really, really good.

Josh Helmholdt (Midwest): Even though he makes a big 129-spot jump in this update, St. Louis linebacker Antonio Doyle may still not be high enough. He has elite size for the linebacker position, but his athleticism is on the plus side of the ledger as well. Fortunately we are going to get another chance to see Doyle in-person in San Antonio next month against the top players in the country.

Chad Simmons (Southeast): Alabama commit William Anderson kept to himself during his recruitment and he is not one who self-promotes his play on the field either, so he can be overlooked somewhat. He is a terror off the edge and he has continued to ascend the Rivals rankings, but he still may be too low at No. 159. He made a move up close to 50 spots, but could he close inside the top 100? He will have his chance to shine in the All-American Bowl early in January, so stay tuned. What we know now is, the Crimson Tide is getting an edge rusher with quickness, a burst off the ball and the ability to pressure the quarterback. He plays with a non-stop motor too.

Sam Spiegelman (Texas/Louisiana): Jalin Conyers. Conyers dominated Friday nights for Gruver High, as one should when you're an uber-athletic tight end playing in the Texas Panhandle. Conyers threw touchdowns, caught touchdowns, ran for touchdowns and found the end zone a few times making plays on the defensive side of the ball as a senior. The future Oklahoma Sooner is No. 250 in the country but could easily ascend with a strong showing at the All-American Bowl in San Antonio against top-tier competition.

Woody Wommack (Southeast): I continue to be a big fan of Hawaiian quarterback Jayden De Laura, who had a really impressive senior season. With the way Hawaii has been producing quarterbacks this decade, a close eye needs to be paid to the islands. De Laura moved up to four-star status this go-round and has a chance to climb into the Rivals250 with a strong showing on the all-star game circuit. De Laura is committed to Washington State and has a chance to be a star in the Cougars' offense.