Tuesdays with Gorney: Prospects who could be No. 1 in the 2025 class
This week the Rivals team of analysts will be meeting for 2025 rankings and today national recruiting director Adam Gorney looks at 15 players who could earn the No. 1 spot in that class.
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The Miami (Fla.) Central defensive end might not have the elite length of some other defensive ends in this class but he’s as powerful and productive as anybody. Blount can stand up and rush off the edge, he has counter moves, he can get inside and the four-star absolutely lives in the backfield.
That relentless pursuit mindset is evident in Blount’s game and it’s why Florida, Miami, Ohio State, Alabama and others are involved.
Because of NFL Draft trends, it’s very difficult to name too many five-star running backs, especially ones that could end up No. 1 in the class. But Davison could be a rare exception.
He already has a college-ready body at 6-foot and 205 pounds and is kind of a mix between Ezekiel Elliott and Leonard Fournette. He rushed for 1,514 yards and 17 touchdowns as a sophomore on arguably the nation’s best team in the nation’s best high school football league.
Ohio State, USC, Georgia, Texas and many others remain involved.
His father, Eppy, played at Iowa and his brother, AJ, also played for the Hawkeyes and was a second-round pick of the Buffalo Bills so football runs deep in the Epenesa family. The 2025 defensive end from Edwardsville, Ill., should be next in line.
Epenesa is not just resting on his family’s laurels either as he’s a devastating edge rusher with power and speed who can take over the backfield and make it problematic for offenses to get anything going.
Iowa will of course be a contender but many others are also involved.
When Griffin showed up at the National Combine registration day in San Antonio two years ago, he had a baby face but was already a hulking figure. The Savannah (Ga.) Christian School standout has only gotten bigger and more refined and he’s a monster coming off the edge.
There’s no doubt Georgia and South Carolina are two programs that have caught his attention early but with his size and strength off the edge, Griffin is a special prospect in this class. With 14.5 sacks and 30 tackles for loss as a sophomore, Griffin has our attention.
The 2025 class is loaded with elite receivers and Moore is definitely in the conversation for the top spot – which puts him in the running for No. 1 overall as well. Still, the Duncanville, Texas, standout can take the top off defenses or take a short pass and weave through would-be tacklers for big gains.
He has great hands, he’s a dynamic route runner and possesses all the qualities of an unstoppable weapon on offense as Oklahoma, Texas, USC, Ohio State and others are involved.
He’s not as muscled up as Derek Stingley Jr. nor is he the athlete of Travis Hunter but Sanchez can clearly make an argument as the top cornerback in the 2025 class because of his ability to run with receivers and his length to close late and pick off passes or tip them away.
It’s been rare but not unheard of to put a cornerback No. 1 in the class and with his ability to play on an island and to make plays, Sanchez could be in the conversation as Texas, TCU, LSU, Alabama and a host of others are involved.
The comparison for Sanders has been D.J. Humphries, who also happened to be from Charlotte, who was a little light during his high school playing days but added good weight in college and was a first-round NFL Draft pick.
Sanders, from Charlotte (N.C.) Providence Day, is all of 6-foot-6 and 260 pounds with a frame that could easily add 30-40 pounds in the coming years. He’s light on his feet, technically sound and long, all good traits for an elite offensive tackle.
Georgia, the Carolina programs and others are all involved.
A 6-foot-6 defensive end with length and get-off who has various moves to win against offensive tackles, Smith looks to be an elite edge rusher in this class and proved to be tough to stop during his sophomore season at Birmingham (Ala.) Spain Park. He might not have the closing speed of some other elite defensive ends in this class but Smith lives in the backfield, can get to the edge easily, has a great spin move or can go inside to cause problems.
Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee and a host of other SEC programs are involved.
Wide receiver is his preferred position but Sparks is also an outstanding safety/outside linebacker who is constantly in the game and making plays. The 6-foot-4, 205-pound prospect from Chattanooga (Tenn.) Baylor School should not be overlooked when it comes to the top playmakers in this class. He plays like a bigger version of JuJu Smith-Schuster at the same stage.
While Sparks wants to play offense, he’s also a top-notch defensive prospect.
Having a quarterback No. 1 is certainly common especially considering NFL Draft trends. Underwood looks like the best one in the 2025 class so far. He has excellent size, he has dual-threat capabilities or he can sit in the pocket and dissect defenses.
The Belleville, Mich., standout can fire the ball into tight windows, put air under it for his receivers to run and catch the pass, and he can throw from different arm angles to make impossible throws look easy.
Michigan, Ohio State and other Big Ten programs are battling for him.
As unassuming as Utu is on the field, that’s how dominant he is as well. The Las Vegas (Nev.) Bishop Gorman offensive tackle went up against many of these defensive linemen mentioned here at the Rivals Underclassmen Challenge last summer and won every rep. He’s a quiet kid but plays with competitive fire, shows great feet and power, and can play all along the offensive line.
The Ellaville (Ga.) Schley County standout is a mix between Alabama signees Yhonzae Pierre, who ended up as a five-star, and Jaquavious Russaw, who probably would have if he’d shown up and performed like expected at the Under Armour Game. Walker can play in space, he can play with his hand down and rush off the edge and he’s incredibly productive on defense and at running back.
Is he the No. 1 player in the class? Not sure. But he could be up there as Georgia, Alabama, Florida State, Florida and others are involved.
It cannot be easy playing alongside five-star receiver Carnell Tate and other standouts in Bradenton (Fla.) IMG Academy’s offense but the early Colorado commit led the team in touchdown receptions as a sophomore and has continued to be one of the most dynamic playmakers in the country.
Watkins plays with an attitude that many elite receivers have, a belief that no one is going to stop him and he’ll let you know about it. Speed, playmaking ability, hands, competitive drive – he has it all.
Williams is probably not the best or most-refined football player right now but there is no arguing about a 6-foot-8, 220-pound defensive end with that kind of wingspan and that kind of length on the field. Projecting two years down the road, the Folkston (Ga.) Charlton County standout could shoot way up the rankings especially if he continues to physically develop.
Georgia loves Williams and all the Southeast powers will chase him. Plus he’s a standout basketball player.
If production propels a player to No. 1 in the country then Williams has to be in the conversation after he put up 2,700 all-purpose yards and 42 touchdowns in his sophomore season. The Saraland, Ala., standout gets 10 yards of cushion by cornerbacks and still runs by them as Williams has great speed and outstanding hands, plus he’s used in the run game and on special teams.
An early commitment to Alabama has not stopped Georgia and others from pursuing him.