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Rivals250 released: What were the biggest debates, decisions?

The final Rivals250 for the 2020 class is in the books. Our recruiting analysts talk about the biggest debates and decisions, along with potential regrets, that came with the discussions for this final ranking.

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

2020 RIVALS RANKINGS WEEK:

Monday: Top 10 released

Tuesday: Rivals100 released | Breaking down the new five-stars | Mind of Mike

Wednesday: Rivals250 released

Thursday/Friday: Final position rankings released

Saturday: Team rankings breakdown

Sunday: Final state rankings released

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1. Who did you push for the most that will make you look smart down the road?

Cody Simon
Cody Simon (Rivals.com)

Rob Cassidy (Florida): I have always been insanely high on Noah Sewell and was one of the forces pushing him into the top 10 this update. Truth be told, I’d have him even higher if it were up to me, but that’s splitting hairs. I’m not sure there’s more of a slam dunk in this class. Sewell’s combination of size, speed and agility screams first-round pick. He’s spent two years wowing onlookers at every national event and retains his athleticism as he continues to add size.

Mike Farrell (National): DT Timothy Smith is a guy I pushed for near the end and I honestly think he’s a five star caliber talent so I’m excited to see how his career plays out. Pass-rushing D-tackles are hard to find and he’s going to be a great one.

Adam Friedman (East Coast): There have been a lot of players I pushed for throughout this 2020 rankings cycle. In this last rankings updated I waffled back and forth on Darnell Washington but ultimately decided I thought he should remain a five-star. I obviously wasn’t the only one in this camp either. The Georgia signee is as physically talented as they come and if he improves even slightly, he could be a force in college and the NFL.

Adam Gorney (West Coast/National): William Anderson was the most impressive four-star prospect at the All-American Bowl and he plays the game with a level of ferocity and relentlessness that's going to get him on the field early and often at Alabama. He's a perfect fit for the Crimson Tide's defense, that hybrid edge rusher who attacks at all times and wants to dominate with his toughness and violent play. He was excellent during one-on-ones and as he develops even more physically he should dominate because he has the mentality. I definitely pushed for him to be a five-star and I really think he could be great in Tuscaloosa.

Josh Helmholdt (Midwest): The performance from Ohio State's Cody Simon was one of the best I have seen after 17 years of covering the All-American Bowl in San Antonio. The middle linebacker has the instincts and strength to be a tackling machine in the middle of the defense, but can also drop back and be effective in coverage. All the tools are there for Simon to be next in the Buckeyes' long tradition of great linebackers.

Chad Simmons (Southeast): Mike Wright had a monster senior season, and it was not just those four months, but the overall progression he made over the last year and a half continued to push him up the rankings. He finished the rankings cycle as a four-star, and the Vanderbilt signee could be headed for a big career in Nashville. He is a very smart young man, he has the arm strength, he has the mobility, and numerous other SEC schools made late pushes before Dec. 18 trying to get in the race. Wright is one I really believe in moving forward.

Sam Spiegelman (Texas/Louisiana): Donovan Kaufman is a unique prospect that reminds me so much of Tyrann Mathieu, so it's fitting that the two hail from New Orleans and play safety. Like The Honey Badger, Kaufman is excellent in coverage, an instinctual ballhawk and delivers a ton of pop when he makes contact. Kaufman was the Defensive MVP in the Division I state championship game for Rummel, collecting a pick-six, multiple sacks and hits behind the line of scrimmage, and his overall tape speaks volumes about his impact on the defensive side of the ball. Whether he sticks with Vanderbilt or winds up at Florida State, Baylor or LSU, Kaufman is going to remind folks of Mathieu for years to come.

Woody Wommack (Southeast): After seeing him in Hawaii, I really made a push for Demond Demas to move up within the five-stars. He was always a tough call for us because he missed his senior season and has been off the radar for the better part of six months. But after seeing him in person and seeing his incredible athleticism and playmaking ability, it was tough not to push him for a move up the ranks. Demas does have some boom-or-bust potential, and I was one of the people concerned that led to him being ranked toward the back of the five-stars prior to seeing him last week. But I'm officially a fan of Demas and his game.

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2. Who might we have too high?

Gervon Dexter
Gervon Dexter (Rivals.com)

Rob Cassidy (Florida): Gervon Dexter is one of the best players in the country. We undoubtedly had him underrated coming into the update and he deserved a bump. That said, I don’t think I would have pushed him to five-star status if it were left up to me. He's going to be an impact player at Florida. There’s no disputing that. But five-star status means we’re projecting him as a first-round pick, and that might be a bit of a stretch for a guy that spent much of his high school career leaning on raw power. If I'm wrong, I'll happily take my lumps on draft day.

Mike Farrell (National): I worry a bit that one of our five-star running backs like Kendall Milton or Marshawn Lloyd might be too high and might not have the top-end speed to end up as first-rounders down the line.

Adam Friedman (East Coast): Michigan commit Andre Seldon has performed better than I expected at each event I’ve seen him, but I’ve been burned by highly ranked cornerbacks that are on the smaller side in the past. Five-foot-nine is a generous listing for Seldon and it’ll be very hard for him to excel as a cornerback in the Big Ten.

Adam Gorney (West Coast/National): Is it OK if I pick an entire position here? Because I want to pick the running backs. Look at the early mock drafts for the 2020 NFL Draft and there might be one – and at the most two – running backs taken among the first 32 selections and we're talking about a draft with Wisconsin's Jonathan Taylor, Ohio State's JK Dobbins and Georgia's D'Andre Swift leading the way. There would be four in the conversation if Clemson's Travis Etienne decided to come out but he's heading back to school. Those are some high-profile names and maybe one or two will be first-round picks after huge college careers. We have five five-star running backs and there are some risky picks in that group. I just think it's too much for how the game is trending.

Josh Helmholdt (Midwest): Cornerback Fred Davis lost his fifth star, but I made the argument that he should be even lower. He had a very rough week at the All-American Bowl, and when I go back and watch his in-season film I do not see the speed of an elite cornerback. Giving up the big pass play on the game's opening drive was just the tip of the iceberg with Davis' problems in San Antonio. I do not see a Rivals100 prospect here.

Chad Simmons (Southeast): Jordan Burch. You cannot deny that Burch is talented, and one of the top players in the 2020 class. But, is he the 17th-best in the country? He does show flashes, but does he really want to be the best? The talent is there. He has great size. The athleticism is there too, but he does not show up as much as some would expect with all that he has to offer physically and athletically. The South Carolina commit is expected to be an immediate contributor in Columbia, so Burch will have a chance to make a very early statement.

Sam Spiegelman (Texas/Louisiana): Julian Fleming is a really good wide receiver and at Ohio State, I fully expect him to make a ton of plays in Ryan Day's offense. However, he's never blown me away with his speed or hands or playmaking ability. While he does everything really well, I am not sure he's a total difference-making wide receiver.

Woody Wommack (Southeast): I know he is as talented as any running back in the country but I'm still nervous about where he have Zach Evans finishing in the rankings. While his pure potential is undeniable, there are so many things that could prevent him from being a first-round pick down the line. First, we have way too many five-star running backs. Secondly, Evans has clashed with his high school coaches and has obviously had a tough time navigating his time in the spotlight. While I can sympathize with him on the last aspect, it would be safer to have him ranked inside the Rivals100 but outside of five-star status.

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3. Who might we have too low?

Jahmyr Gibbs
Jahmyr Gibbs (Nick Lucero/Rivals.com)

Rob Cassidy (Florida): I’ve always loved Ohio State signee Gee Scott and think his game speed is much faster than his 40 time. His explosiveness makes up for what people have called a lack of top-end speed. Arizona State pledge Levon Bunkley-Shelton is another wideout who might outplay his ranking in college.

Mike Farrell (National): I’m worried a bit about dropping RB Tank Bigsby because he could have a great career at Auburn and I’ve already said how worried I am that Kayshon Boutte could end up playing like a five-star.

Adam Friedman (East Coast): I’m going against the rules here and picking two players and both are safeties. LSU signee Jordan Toles and North Carolina signee Ja’Qurious Conley have a ton of potential and should be stars in college if they iron out a few technical flaws. I expect both to take advantage of the quality coaching they’ll receive and become major playmakers for their respective teams.

Adam Gorney (West Coast/National): We have a lot of high-ranked running backs but Jahmyr Gibbs still might be too low. He was outstanding at the All-American Bowl as he's gotten more physical, showed fantastic speed to the outside and he proved that his big stats were not just against weak competition but that he's maybe one of the best overall running backs in this class. If Georgia Tech can hold on over LSU and others then he should be used immediately in that offense. Through the rankings meetings there was a lot of debate who was a five-star, who should drop and more, but we might have missed the boat on Gibbs by not moving him up enough.

Josh Helmholdt (Midwest): I am not sure we gave Georgia Tech running back commit Jahmyr Gibbs a big enough bump. Gibbs is now in the Rivals100, but are there really seven running backs in this class better than him? I am suspect that is the case. The speed is real and Gibbs has the frame to run with power too.

Chad Simmons (Southeast): Yes, Kayshon Boutte is ranked No. 35 in the country, so he is highly thought of by Rivals, but is that too low? I covered him in Louisiana for a couple of years, then saw him at Under Armour All-America week, and he is one that could have that fifth star beside his name. He is a great route runner, he constantly creates separation, he is quick off the line, he catches everything within reach and he could be the next offensive star at LSU.

Sam Spiegelman (Texas/Louisiana): Kayshon Boutte had my vote as a five-star receiver, particularly in this 2020 class. He is a track star with 4.3 speed and a host of Louisiana state records. He has made a ton of improvements in the technical parts of his game like high-pointing the football and making more difficult grabs in traffic. Boutte is a 1-on-1 mismatch and always a threat to take the top off a defense and make plays in space. Now, he has a more well-rounded game that was well on display at the Under Armour All-America Game in Orlando. He's probably a five-star talent deserving of a better spot.

Woody Wommack (Southeast): One guy I can really see developing into a Top 10 pick down the road that we have outside of five-star status is Donell Harris. Right now, he's a little on the skinny side and is still a work in progress as a complete defensive end. But I could easily see him adding 30 pound of muscle in college without losing a step coming off the edge. Elite pass rushers are highly-coveted at the next level and Harris' career production getting after the passer is very impressive.

Kayshon Boutte
Kayshon Boutte (Rivals.com)