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Three-Point Stance: Rankings questions, hot seat, Oregon

CLASS OF 2020 RANKINGS: Rivals250 | State | Position | Team

TAKE TWO: Could Clemson land a record number of five-stars?

Rivals.com National Recruiting Director Mike Farrell’s Three-Point Stance is here with five burning questions heading into rankings meetings next week, a look at coaches on the hot seats and a hat-tip to the job that Mario Cristobal is doing as Oregon.

1. FIVE QUESTIONS HEADING INTO THE NEXT RANKINGS UPDATE

Demond Demas
Demond Demas (Nick Lucero/Rivals.com)

The Rivals.com analyst team will meet about the 2020 rankings next week and there are several key questions that will be answered in the coming days. These are the biggest ones to me:

Who will be the new five-stars? We already have 26 five-stars in the class of 2020 and we usually range between 30-35 each year, so there isn’t a ton of wiggle room. Or will the 2020 class end up finishing with 40 five-stars? All of those are questions that won’t be answered until January, but it’s certainly something to track moving forward. Can wide receiver Demond Demas, a Texas A&M commitment I like a lot, earn that fifth star? What about Georgia offensive line commitments Broderick Jones and Tate Ratledge? There are a few in range that could make a move up. I don’t think there will be a ton but we'll see.

Who will lose a fifth star? Prospects such as Johnny Wilson and McKinnley Jackson have a lot of talent and a running back like Marshawn Lloyd has a high ceiling, but are they living up to five-star status? There will be some debates after camp season on some prospects we may have overshot on.

Who will be the top cornerback? At one point we were sure that Kelee Ringo was going to take over as the top cornerback in the country and then we saw Elias Ricks dominate once again in 7-on-7. Which one will be the guy? This could be a debate we have many times after last year where it was easily Derek Stingley Jr. last year.

Who will be the top defensive end? The 2020 class is loaded when it comes to defensive ends and we have quite a battle at the top. Will it be Bryan Bresee, the Clemson commitment who could also be a defensive tackle, or how about Sav’ell Smalls who could be a linebacker as well? It’s amazing to me that Jordan Burch, who I like as a top-five player nationally, is No. 4 at defensive end this year behind Bresee, Smalls and Myles Murphy. There could be some shifting going on at defensive end.

How will the wide receiver battle play out? Julian Fleming is No. 1 at receiver right now while Rakim Jarrett is a close No. 2, but what about Demas if he moves up or how about Wilson if he doesn’t fall? It’s a good wide receiver class for depth and many guys can make a case to be No. 1. It’s always the toughest position to rank.

2. THIN CROP OF HOT SEAT COACHES

Clay Helton
Clay Helton (AP Images)

It’s not a great list of coaches on the Hot Seat heading into next season, at least when It comes to power programs, but it’s always interesting to see how they’re recruiting as we head to the end of the May Evaluation period.

Clay Helton, USC – Helton is clearly the No. 1 guy on the hot list for everyone in the country and so far USC's 2020 recruiting efforts are off to a slow start. He has his quarterback in Bryce Young and a good wide receiver in Joshua Jackson, but with only three commitments so far it’s clear that prospects aren’t jumping on board that quickly. The Trojans usually close strong, but they didn’t last year and we’ll see how the season goes before we know how they will do this year with many West Coast prospects looking elsewhere.

Lovie Smith, Illinois – Illinois only has two commitments but both of them are four-stars with running back Reggie Love and wide receiver Jadon Thompson on board. The Illini may lack numbers, but that’s an impressive start following a 2019 class that was also highlighted by some key four-stars. Recruiting is going well so Smith just needs to turn it around on the field.

Chris Ash, Rutgers – Rutgers, like Illinois, only has two commitments but athlete Sofian Massoud is a nice pickup. Quarterback Evan Simon is a solid player as well. But Rutgers recruiting has been average under Ash and the on-field product has been horrible.

Gus Malzahn, Auburn – Gus has a big contract, so why is he on this list? Because he’s always on this list. Auburn is recruiting pretty well, led by four-stars Kobe Hudson and JJ Evans, but compared to other programs in the SEC the Tigers are lacking a bit. Malzahn will need to step it up a bit on the field and off.

Willie Taggart, Florida State – After one year? OK, he’s not in danger of being fired and recruiting isn’t that bad. The Seminoles have 12 commitments and a top-10 class right now highlighted by Malachi Wideman and Jayion McCluster. But recruiting is never the problem at Florida State. It’s all about how many wins he can string together this season. If the Seminoles have another losing season, recruiting will take a big hit.

2. OREGON BUILDING MOMENTUM

Chris Steele
Chris Steele (Nick Lucero/Rivals.com)

I like what Mario Cristobal is doing at Oregon. The addition of five-star defensive back Chris Steele, a Florida transfer, is huge for the program. The Ducks are recruiting California very well and spot recruiting the rest of the country as well. Cristobal is building a roster than can compete for the Pac-12 title in the next two seasons.

We all know defensive end Kayvon Thibodeax was a huge get last year but Mykael Wright could be the bigger get from California in the long run. And adding elite players from Tennessee, Texas, Florida, Alabama, Oklahoma and Maryland over the last two cycles shows how the Ducks can flex their recruiting muscles nationally. The more guys like Thibodeax and Steele that Oregon can get on the roster, the more attention the program will get nationally and the better recruiting will become.

Cristobal has always been an elite recruiter and he’s proving to be an upgrade over Willie Taggart early in his career at Oregon.

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