Tuesdays with Gorney: Thoughts on Rivals100 Five-Star Challenge
ATLANTA - In his weekly series, Rivals National Recruiting Director Adam Gorney offers his thoughts on recruiting topics and storylines that impact the national landscape with a focus this week on the Rivals Five-Star Challenge and the Rivals Underclassmen Challenge that took place in Atlanta last week.
FIVE-STAR CHALLENGE COVERAGE: The QB Report | Teams with the top commits | Analysis from Atlanta | MVP spotlight | WR vs. DB Part 2 | WR vs. DB Part 1 | OL vs. DL | RB vs. LB | Sherrod Covil commits to Clemson during Five-Star Challenge | The Gorney Awards | Rumor Mill
FIVE-STAR CHALLENGE INTERVIEWS: Lebbeus Overton | Oscar Delp | Shawn Murphy | Cade Klubnik | Jaylen Sneed | Dante Moore | Beau Atkinson | Justin Williams | Jeadyn Lukus | Dillon Tatum | Tawfiq Thomas | Trent Ramsey | Cayden Green | Travis Hunter
2023 OL CLASS - WOW!
One of the biggest eye-opening parts of the Rivals Camps over the last few days was just how loaded the 2023 offensive line class is – filled with massive, physical and mean offensive tackles and guards who look like college football players already.
The best one, Pleasant Hill (Iowa) Southeast Polk’s Kadyn Proctor, was not in attendance but I especially liked TJ Shanahan and his toughness. He is not afraid to mix it up and actually looks forward to it.
Miles McVay, Logan Reichert, Madden Sanker, Iapani Laloulu, Wilkin Formby and Johnathan Hughley were others that stood out. And then there is Lee’s Summit (Mo.) North’s Cayden Green, an absolute monster who could definitely push for that No. 1 offensive tackle spot in the 2023 class after completely dominating and looking great at the Underclassmen Challenge.
Over the recruiting cycle there are going to be prospects that jump in and out of the five-star rankings. There are changes like that every recruiting cycle, and the Rivals Camps in Atlanta were a great opportunity to see players step it up on the national level.
Mauldin, S.C., four-star cornerback Jeadyn Lukus and Hilton Head, S.C., four-star linebacker Jaylen Sneed are definitely two players who will be in that discussion. They were already close but Sneed continues to pick off passes all the time and he covers like a corner. Lukus showed off tremendous athleticism and a great build to be in that five-star talk. Those are just two that will definitely be discussed in the coming months
BECHT IS MAJOR STEAL
Keeping Brock Purdy rated as a low three-star was a mistake because he’s gone to Iowa State and became one of the best quarterbacks in the Big 12, if not the country. The same mistake cannot be made on Rocco Becht, a three-star right now who proved at the Five-Star Challenge that he’s far better than his current ranking.
The Wesley Chapel (Fla.) Wiregrass standout has better size than I thought. He has command of what’s going on, plays with confidence and was arguably the best quarterback on the field that day. His style is a perfect fit for what coach Matt Campbell is looking for and I liked Becht a lot.
MORE: Ranking the QBs
I LOVE KADEN SAUNDERS
Kaden Saunders was excellent at the Indianapolis Rivals Camp and he stepped it up even more against national competition in Atlanta where no one could slow him down. The Penn State commit is such a sharp route runner, he can create space between him and any cornerback, and then he caught anything thrown his way.
The Westerville (Ohio) Westerville South standout is currently ranked as the No. 22 wide receiver in the class. After seeing many of the others over the last year or so, there’s no question Saunders could easily move up a lot in the next round of rankings.
THOUGHTS ON WIGGINS
There was a lot of talk heading into the camp about just how dominant Quency Wiggins would be especially after some outstanding performances in recent weeks. The Baton Rouge (La.) Madison Prep Academy standout certainly is one of the best-looking players in the class – filled out, big, physical and he can move. That’s why Alabama and LSU are battling it out for his services.
Wiggins won some reps in Atlanta but he got stopped, too, by TJ Shanahan and others and it might have been the best thing for him. For all the talk that Wiggins might be a five-star and could be one of the best defensive ends in the class, keeping that fire hot after such a dominant summer will serve him well in the long run.
After losses, the four-star standout handled himself well. He should build off this experience because Wiggins clearly has the potential to be one of the best prospects nationally.
EUGENIO INSIDE IS A MONSTER
When Mario Eugenio took reps at defensive end, the four-star won some reps and lost some reps and looked pedestrian at times. But when he moved inside and took reps against offensive guards, even at 238 pounds, the Tampa (Fla.) Gaither prospect was unstoppable.
Eugenio is stronger than he looks (he took part in the Bench Press Competition at the Five-Star Challenge) and so offensive guards cannot just muscle him around inside. With his speed and burst, Eugenio might not always play inside but in certain packages it could be really useless and that’s why Michigan, Iowa State and others are heavily involved in his recruitment.
DEBATE OVER NO. 1 FOR 2023
Current No. 1 Lebbeus Overton had a nice showing at the Five-Star Challenge. He showed active hands and good moves at defensive end but I don’t think he without question is the top player in the class.
Quarterbacks Malachi Nelson and Arch Manning are both phenomenal talents. Wide receiver Brandon Inniss is unstoppable and four-star offensive tackle Kadyn Proctor has some of the best film out of anybody at his position in the 2022 or 2023 classes.
All that is to say this: Overton is No. 1 right now but that is not locked in like others had been in previous years. A lot of things could still happen for that top spot.
MCCLELLAN COULD BE SPECIAL
Kamari McClellan is unassuming and he speaks quietly, but the 2024 quarterback really has a cannon and can spin it once he’s on the field. One colleague said McClellan’s game reminds him of a young Justin Fields and while I’m not crazy about making big comparisons like that, there are definitely similarities.
YOUNG RECEIVERS STAND OUT
Three receivers at the Rivals Underclassmen Challenge were real standouts and they could continue to push higher as more 2023 and 2024 rankings get released. It’s hard to believe James Madison is a 2024 receiver because he’s already so physically dominant. With cornerbacks hanging all over him, the Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) St. Thomas Aquinas standout made every catch. It was really something to see.
I also liked Thomasville (Ga.) Thomas County Central’s Adam Hopkins and Temple, Texas' Mikal Harrison-Pilot. Both showed the ability to catch the ball all over the field and Harrison-Pilot was especially good deep.
SPURLIN IS REALLY INTERESTING
When I watched Pearce Spurlin work out the first thing that came into my mind was that Georgia could maybe get four-star tight end Oscar Delp in the 2022 class and then Spurlin is already committed for 2023.
That means the Bulldogs would have two huge tight end targets who could move and stretch the field and now it’s up to offensive coordinator Todd Monken to figure out ways to get them the ball. That was a point of emphasis from Delp and Spurlin when I talked to them about Monken’s vision for throwing the ball their way but the proof will be in the playcalling.