Three-Point Stance: Controversial rankings, potential misses, QBs
Rivals.com National Recruiting Director Mike Farrell’s Three-Point Stance is here with the most controversial 2017 rankings, five prospects that could outperform their ranking and a quick look at Georgia's elite company.
1. THE MOST CONTROVERSIAL RANKINGS
The final Rivals100 for the class of 2017 has been released with the Rivals250 set to be released today. In nearly two weeks, these prospects will put pen to paper and sign with college programs. Having covered this class since our first ranking back in 2015, I can tell you the five guys who have drawn the most buzz when it comes to their rankings. And I can explain how we settled on their final ranking.
1. OL Trey Smith – Hands down the Tennessee commitment has drawn the most attention simply because another network put him at No. 1 overall and the rest followed suit with a high five-star ranking. For us, Smith is a very good prospect who will either be a guard or a right tackle at Tennessee and have a terrific career. We feel comfortable with him finishing just inside the national top 50. But we never saw No. 1 overall and never truly saw a five-star prospect, especially in a class loaded with elite offensive tackle talent and the best center prospect I’ve scouted in probably the last decade.
2. LB Dylan Moses – Moses has gone for a wild ride in the rankings, starting off at No. 2 in the country, sliding outside the five-star range at No. 32 and finishing right there but earning that fifth star back. He was a middle school phenom who became an elite running back prospect and was then re-classified as an athlete as he tried to transition to linebacker. Between his senior year and his Under Armour week performance, he joined guys like Dante Fowler and Raekwon McMillan in recent years to lose that fifth star only to gain it back.
3. RB Najee Harris – Everyone seems to love Harris, but after Cam Akers' senior film came out, some fell in love with Akers a bit more. While Akers is more of a sure-thing at Florida State than Harris is at Alabama, there is little doubt in my mind that Harris has the higher ceiling in the long run. How can you rank a sure thing over a prospect you’re not convinced could turn into a superstar? That’s the risk you sometimes take at running back. Back in 2009 Trent Richardson (No. 6 nationally) was more of a sure thing than Bryce Brown (No. 1 overall) but Brown had a higher ceiling. Obviously the two had very different careers in college. Time will tell if we are seeing a repeat of that.
4. OL Isaiah Wilson – Some don’t have Wilson in their top 100 and everyone except Rivals feels that Trey Smith is a better prospect as an offensive tackle. The argument could be made that, like Smith, Wilson will either be a guard or a tackle at the next level but in our evaluation he’s taller, longer and is further from his ceiling. This will be a fun one to keep an eye on.
5. DBs DeAngelo Gibbs and Richard LeCounte – Both Gibbs and LeCounte are ranked as five-star prospects elsewhere and are far from it on Rivals. They are polarizing in many ways. Gibbs was a five-star at one time but regressed in coverage and we re-classified him as an athlete, while the highest LeCounte got is his current ranking at No. 58. Both players are still highly ranked, so either they both become first-round superstars and we are wrong or they have excellent careers and we are closer to correct. But our view of the duo is different than others for sure.
2. FIVE PROSPECTS THAT COULD OUTPERFORM THEIR RANKING
There are prospects in every class who exceed expectations and, invariably, these misses are highlighted by fans. It comes with the territory. Running back Nick Chubb is a great example; he was ranked No. 35 in the Rivals100 and was just two spots away from a fifth-star. Essentially Chubb was not a “miss” at all, but since he’s played more like a five-star than some five-star running backs in that 2014 class like Racean Thomas, Sony Michel, Elijah Hood and especially Jalen Hurd, many feel he was a “miss.” You get the point.
In the 2017 class, there are a few prospects that could end up being superstars but, for one reason or another, didn’t get that fifth star. Here are my top five:
1. QB Tate Martell – Yes, the Ohio State quarterback commitment is short, but he has that “it” factor and a competitive drive that’s hard to match. Maturity is an issue and time will tell whether he’s patient enough to wait his turn in Columbus. If he puts it all together, we will be talking about a Heisman candidate.
2. RB D’Andre Swift – Swift just wasn’t sudden enough to earn that fifth star despite the fact that he’s a powerful runner with good vision and shows good patience. The last two Georgia running back commitments we held back on making five-stars were Todd Gurley and Chubb, so that might bode well for him.
3. TE Brock Wright – I’m a big fan of Wright and his game is very much like Jason Witten when it comes to inline blocking and finding the open spot in the intermediate passing game. But what if he adds a half-step of quickness and becomes more of a downfield threat? Watch out.
4. WR Cedarian Lamb – With the Sooners' wide open offense having produced stat-stuffing wide receivers in recent years, will Lamb be the next one? His high school production makes me wonder if we’re looking at the next Big 12 superstar.
5. DB Grant Delpit – There's something about Delpit – his range, his instincts, his length – that makes me think he could be the next defensive back star at LSU.
3. GEORGIA IN ELITE COMPANY
One final quick note here: Georgia quarterback commit Jake Fromm earned his fifth-star in this final 2017 rankings update, which puts the Bulldogs in very elite company. Georgia (Jacob Eason, Fromm) joins Florida (Tim Tebow, Cam Newton) and Notre Dame (Jimmy Clausen, Dayne Crist) as the only programs to land a five-star quarterback in back-to-back classes. Clemson is in line to be the fourth with Hunter Johnson inking this year and 2018 No. 1 overall Trevor Lawrence pledged to the Tigers, but that won’t be official until Lawrence signs.