Three-Point Stance: New Jersey talent, camp season, NFL Draft
Rivals national recruiting analyst Adam Friedman has thoughts on the overall talent in New Jersey, who he is looking forward to seeing this spring and past five-stars from the East region.
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CLASS OF 2023 RANKINGS: Rivals250 | Team | Position | State
CLASS OF 2024 RANKINGS: Rivals250 | Team | Position | State
CLASS OF 2025 RANKINGS: Rivals100
LACK OF TOP-END TALENT IN NEW JERSEY
New Jersey has always been home to great high school teams and the state has produced some of the best prospects in Rivals history. Rashan Gary, Eugene Monroe, Greg Olsen, Jabrill Peppers, Quenton Nelson and Minkah Fitzpatrick were all star recruits from New Jersey but the top-end talent hasn't been as plentiful in recent years.
For years there have been around five or six players from New Jersey in the Rivals250 but in 2022 there were none and last year there were just three (Chase Bisontis, Will Norman and James Heard). The 2024 class has just one player in the Rivals250 right now in Yasin Willis.
The number could change as this rankings cycle progresses but the larger question remains: Where has the top talent in New Jersey gone?
PROSPECTS THAT I'M LOOKING FORWARD TO SEEING
There are dozens of players who I can't wait to see this spring. Of course, the highly ranked players will be great to see again but there are some who have been the topics of a number of behind-the-scenes debates. Here are five non-Rivals250 prospects from the East that I'm looking forward to seeing in the next few months.
The size and lean frame Boyer brings to the table has college coaches really excited about his potential. On film he moves well and has decent playing strength at this stage of his development but getting an up-close look at how he handles pass rushers will give us a strong handle on how long it will be before he sees the field at the college level.
Michigan, Clemson and Wisconsin are just the latest programs to offer the offensive tackle out of North Carolina.
Palepale posted some very impressive junior film and verifying what we've seen so far is a high priority as we head into the spring. He plays with an aggressive streak you like to see in defensive linemen and his motor doesn't stop. Palepale can quickly disengage from offensive linemen and chase down ball carriers.
South Carolina, Oklahoma, Washington, Ohio State and Michigan, have recently offered him.
Hornsby is a fantastic athlete out of southern New Jersey and he's always had sky-high potential. His film from this past season had plenty of highlight plays but getting an up-close look at his development will be a little more telling than what the film showed.
At 6-foot-3 and 195 pounds, Hornsby could play receiver or safety at the next level but his skill set is more likely to land him on the offensive side of the ball.
Notre Dame and Tennessee offered Kahoun, an Ohio State lacrosse commit, earlier this month and it's easy to see why when you turn on the tape from his junior season. He is one of the most explosive players at the position this cycle and ball carriers have a very difficult time picking up yards on outside runs.
Kahoun's straight-line speed looks impressive on film and it will be great to see him match up with running backs and tight ends in space this spring.
Williams is a difficult evaluation on film because he plays all over the field but there's no doubt he is an excellent athlete. The 6-foot-3, 245-pound defensive lineman saw time at running back and tight end as well. Williams is explosive at the snap and runs through any offensive lineman that tries to block him.
Seeing him this spring will give us a much better idea of where he is in his technical development.
FORMER EAST COAST FIVE-STARS THAT WILL BE DRAFTED IN 2023
A one-time LSU commit, Jarrett signed with Maryland and had a very good career with the Terps. He tallied 40 catches and 471 receiving yards with three touchdowns this past season, a slight dip from the 2021 season in which he caught 62 passes for 829 yards and five touchdowns.
As a high school prospect, Jarrett was a fantastic route runner with great burst and very reliable hands. At this point it appears likely he'll be picked in the first three rounds of the upcoming draft, depending on how he does at the NFL Combine.
The former No. 1 overall player in the 2020 class, Bresee was almost an instant star at Clemson. He was a freshman All-American and ACC Defensive Rookie of the Year after making 33 tackles, four sacks, six and a half tackles for a loss, breaking up two passes, forcing one fumble and a safety. Bresee's last two years at Clemson were plagued by injuries, playing in just four games as a sophomore.
He was such an explosive and versatile defensive lineman coming out of high school and it will be interesting to see how he does at the NFL Combine. Many mock drafts have him going in the first round.
Simpson started off his career as a running back in North Carolina but finished as a five-star linebacker. He signed with Clemson despite an early commitment to Auburn and flourished as soon as he arrived on campus. Simpson played more than 1,400 snaps over three years at Clemson and showed off many of the traits we saw at the high school level. He has great sideline-to-sideline speed for his size and is a strong tackler in the open field.
Simpson could go as high as the second round in the upcoming draft.
Pickens was a physical freak at the high school level and made so many highlight plays. He had a combination of size, quickness, strength and athleticism rarely seen from high school players. Pickens played in no less than 10 games each of the last four years at South Carolina, racking up a total of 131 tackles, seven and a half sacks, and 11.5 tackles for a loss. While he was on the field a lot, Pickens struggled to play at a consistently high level.
He is projected to be a late round pick but could boost his stock with an impressive performance at the NFL Combine.
Wright held onto his fifth star in the final update of the 2019 rankings but his career didn't get off to a great start at Tennessee. He improved by leaps and bounds throughout his career, starting in 42 games. Wright was a unanimous first-team All-SEC selection this past season and is projected to go in the first round of the upcoming draft.
As a high school prospect, Shorter was a big, downfield target for quarterbacks with impressive straight-line speed who wasn't afraid to run routes over the middle. His career got off to a rocky start at Penn State but he turned a corner after transferring to Florida and was one of their best offensive weapons this past season.
A fantastic talent, Shorter's draft projections are over the map so he'll need a good showing at the NFL Combine to lock in his status as one of the better receivers in this draft.