football Edit

Tuesdays with Gorney: Breaking down the 2022 rankings

The updated 2022 rankings have been released so there is a lot to discuss heading into the all-star games.

Today, Rivals national recruiting director Adam Gorney offers his thoughts position-by-position on the new 2022 rankings release.

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RIVALS RANKINGS WEEK

Saturday: Who should be awarded fifth star?

Sunday: Who should be No. 1?

Monday: Five-Star Countdown | Meet the new five-stars

Tuesday: New Rivals250 revealed | Biggest movers in new Rivals250 | Who will we regret dropping?

Wednesday: Offensive position rankings

Thursday: Defensive position rankings

Friday: State rankings

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QUARTERBACK

It’s going to be difficult to move Clemson commit Cade Klubnik off the top line at pro-style quarterback but I don’t think it’s impossible and the all-star games are going to play a major factor in the final rankings. LSU commit Walker Howard, Alabama pledge Ty Simpson and new Ohio State commit Devin Brown are the names I’m especially watching. Klubnik has slightly separated himself to this point but this is not settled and my mind is still very open to see who should be No. 1 at pro-style.

As for dual-threat, moving Texas A&M commit Conner Weigman ahead of Georgia pledge Gunner Stockton and moving Stockton to the highest four-star rankings was a tough call. After seeing both this season we thought Weigman has a better arm and actually might be a more dynamic athlete as well. I completely understand the argument over Stockton’s stats but rankings are not based only on stats and so I felt OK moving Weigman ahead. Again, all-star events will be the great equalizer at every position.

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RUNNING BACK

Branson Robinson
Branson Robinson (Jake Reuse)

Georgia commit Branson Robinson and USC pledge Raleek Brown basically couldn’t be any different physically or stylistically. Robinson is built like Mr. Universe and Brown is getting more physical but is still undersized - and both use those attributes to their advantage.

We sided with Brown being No. 1 among players coming out of the backfield after his senior season because he’s so insanely dynamic with the ball in his hands and has game-breaking ability each time he touches it. Robinson is special, too, and should fit in that Zamir White-role at Georgia where he’s just more physical than everybody and can churn out yards.

But there are other running backs I like a whole lot that are moving around in the rankings including Penn State pledge Nicholas Singleton, Oklahoma State commit Ollie Gordon and Notre Dame commit Jadarian Price, who could be due for another move up in the coming months.

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Luther Burden
Luther Burden (Rivals.com)

WIDE RECEIVER/TIGHT END

Wide receiver is always one of those positions that causes the most consternation but I’m happy we kept Missouri commit Luther Burden No. 1 at the position and then moved Oregon pledge Tetairoa McMillan to No. 2. Those could be swapped but I saw both this season and thought they were spectacular.

The rest of the group to me could see significant movement following the all-star games. Nothing is guaranteed but North Carolina commit Andre Greene has five-star potential, Florida commit Jayden Gibson’s size and athleticism are super intriguing and Alabama pledge Aaron Anderson could be the next superstar slot receiver for the Crimson Tide. I like this receiver group a lot well into the 20s at the position.

The top of the tight end group is still to be determined. I don’t mind the way we have them ordered now with LSU commit Jake Johnson, Georgia’s Oscar Delp, Alabama’s Jaleel Skinner, Texas A&M’s Donovan Green and Notre Dame’s Eli Raridon leading the way but there could be some jostling after seeing some of those guys at all-star events. It might be Raridon who has the most ground to gain.

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OFFENSIVE LINE

I’m open to all opinions at offensive tackle because I don’t think we’re very settled on these rankings right now and, again, seeing these guys all together going up against elite defensive linemen will be the proving ground. Julian Armella kept his fifth star but moved off the No. 1 line in favor of Kelvin Banks. I have my eye especially on three high four-stars in Alabama’s Elijah Pritchett, Kentucky’s Kiyaunta Goodwin and Seattle (Wash.) Rainier Beach’s Josh Conerly to possibly make a significant move up in the coming weeks.

I’m also hard-pressed not to believe Earnest Greene will be in the five-star conversation after the all-star games. His level of intensity and soaking up knowledge about the game is incredible. Greene has proven the athletic ability to play tackle at the next level but could also move inside and play guard. I have a sneaking suspicion Billy Schrauth is really impressive, too, even though he hasn’t been on the national stage much.

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DEFENSIVE LINE

I like the weakside defensive ends a ton in this class and it was overdue to move Alabama pledge Jeremiah Alexander and Plantation (Fla.) American Heritage’s Marvin Jones Jr. to five-star status. I hate making such lofty comparisons but Alexander is a lot like Will Anderson at the same stage where he just overwhelms offensive lines and creates such fear and havoc for quarterbacks that he changes the game. Jones is long and aggressive off the edge and a playmaker in his own right.

At strongside defensive end, there is potential for a lot of movement after seeing these top guys at all-star games. How do we feel about Penn State’s Dani Dennis-Sutton and Georgia’s Mykel Williams as five-stars? Are Shemar Stewart and Quency Wiggins actually the two-best prospects at the position and can they prove it on the field? Anthony Lucas is another recruit who, when he turns it on, can be unstoppable. There’s a lot of potential across the board at this position.

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LINEBACKER

There was a lot of movement at both inside and outside linebacker. Starting at inside, Shemar James is super special in my eyes and if he doesn’t pan out in the coming years, that one will be on me. But I fully expect him to be one of the next special ones at Alabama, Georgia, Florida or Texas A&M. He’s just so instinctual, he races to the ball and then gets players on the ground. His film is super impressive.

Harold Perkins starred at running back this season and that speaks to his athletic and playmaking ability. He has LSU, Texas A&M and Texas as his final three and some team is getting a superb playmaker who can fly all over the field. At linebacker, that’s what we’re looking for – size isn’t as crucially as important as people who produce and can cover in space and sideline to sideline.

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DEFENSIVE BACK

Jaheim Singletary
Jaheim Singletary (Rivals.com)

I don’t think anything is settled at cornerback and with more five-stars (four) there than any one specific position, there will have to be a lot of show-me at the all-star games. Jaheim Singletary leads the way right now but he along with Denver Harris, Domani Jackson and Michigan commit Will Johnson all have impressive qualities.

Guys who I think could move even higher are Georgia commit Julian Humphrey because of his elite speed, Clemson commit Daylen Everette because of his elite toughness and instincts, and Clemson pledge Toriano Pride because he just shuts people down.

Safety is also a position where there could be significant movement. I like Xavier Nwankpa and Jacoby Mathews a lot but Kamari Wilson is closing on them. That’s a deep group with a lot of talent.

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ATHLETE

Florida State commit Travis Hunter was No. 1 and remains No. 1 and unless something drastic happens I don’t see that changing. He’s just that good and that dynamic on both sides of the ball. He is one of the best athletes we’ve had since Rivals started ranking players in 2002. A lot of top guys say they could play both ways in college but Hunter absolutely has the ability to star at least at receiver and cornerback.

Georgia commit Malaki Starks and Alabama pledge Emmanuel Henderson are right behind Hunter and we like both very much. Then the two guys who I think could make big moves up are Azareyeh Thomas and especially Kendrick Law, who hasn’t done a lot of national events but I continue to hear good things about him following his senior season.