Rivals.com analysts discuss the decisions with which they wrestled most for the latest Rivals100 rankings.
Mike Farrell: Cayleb Jones was the hardest for me. I only got to see him for drills, one-on-ones and for half of a game at Gridiron Kings so I was wondering if I didn't get enough of an evaluation to make him a five-star. But I've been doing this for so long, I pretty much know what a five-star wide receiver looks like after seeing so many over the years. They stand out, they look special and they have an amazing combination of size, agility, quickness and the ability to beat people downfield, as well as make touch catches in traffic and over the middle of the field. Jones showed all of that immediately when I saw him.
Adam Gorney: Aziz Shittu was the toughest one for me. He was so extraordinarily good at the Los Angeles NIKE Camp that we thought for sure he was a five-star talent, a real gem that we found on the camp circuit. But then he was mediocre at The Opening and surprisingly didn't even show up at the Stanford NIKE Camp. We look for five-star recruits to dominate all the time and Shittu just wasn't doing it. Should we move him out of the five-star rankings? How far should he drop? Those are questions that plagued me during the evaluation meetings because I still think he is very talented but his summer showings were not great. Although this doesn't matter for this round of rankings, I saw Shittu this past weekend and he was really good at nose guard. Strong, powerful and also athletic, Shittu definitely dominated the competition.
Josh Helmholdt: The hardest decision for me in the Rivals100 was between Ohio defensive ends Se'von Pittman and Adolphus Washington. I liked Pittman slightly better on film, but felt Washington had the upper hand when I saw the two go head-to-head at the Ohio State NIKE Camp in May. Pittman was on top in our initial rankings, but Washington edges slightly higher this time around.
Chris Nee: I would say the prospect that was the toughest for me with ranking this time around was Miami (Fla.) Northwestern wide receiver Amari Cooper. The South Florida wideout, who played sparingly as a junior, moved from a three-star prospect to four-star status, and 58th overall in the Rivals100. The reasoning for such a drastic move is that Cooper was very good during events held throughout the spring and summer. He is a special kind of wide receiver who has great feet, good speed and excellent hands. He is a big playmaker at the wide receiver spot, but his lack of proving it in games caused some hesitation. The good news is that by the end of the 2011 season he will be a household name at the wide receiver spot.
Keith Niebuhr: Jonathan Taylor, a defensive tackle from Millen (Ga.) Jenkins County, is at No. 47, but that is solely on film. Unfortunately, up to now we've only seen his highlights while most of the top 50 has been scouted in person by our staff. Taylor, a 6-foot-4, 315-pounder, is incredible on film. His raw strength blows you away, and he's also quite quick for a prospect his size. When you're ranking someone, a player's highlights are crucial. But getting an up-close look at someone is a big piece of the equation. Had we had the opportunity to eyeball Taylor and see him in some type of one-on-one setting, we'd have a stronger assessment of him. For better or worse.
Brian Perroni: For me it would definitely be Austin (Texas) High wide receiver Cayleb Jones. He was one that we talked about at length. When I think of five-star receivers I think of absolute freaks that stretch the field such as Julio Jones or A.J. Green. Jones is a very good player and has always been ranked as the No. 3 prospect in the state of Texas but I just wasn't sure if he was ready to be named a new five-star prospect. He is a possession receiver at this point and isn't quite the deep threat that those other guys are. He does catch nine or 10 balls a game, though, and simply finds ways to get open. In the end it was hard for us to ignore his upside.