football Edit

West Spotlight: Comparing top 2024 standouts to NFL players

Comparisons are an inevitable part of college football recruiting. This week, Rivals is going region by region to compare some of today's top high school prospects to current NFL players. Up today is the West region.

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Julian Sayin
Julian Sayin


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JULIAN SAYIN: Kirk Cousins  

Their recruitments were not similar at all, as Sayin was a decorated five-star and he was on the radar from his middle-school days. The Carlsbad, Calif., standout not only won the Elite 11 this summer but has been phenomenal – and phenomenally consistent – at every event he’s attended for a handful of years. He chose Alabama over LSU mainly, but Georgia, Notre Dame and many others were involved.

Cousins was not heavily recruited and landed an offer from Michigan State as he was also considering Colorado, UConn and some MAC schools. He was a low three-star, a clear miss in the recruiting rankings, because he went on to star in East Lansing and has become one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL.

How they’ve gotten to where they are has been different but their playing styles are so similar: cerebral, balanced, a quiet competitive drive that pushes them to excel, exceptional decision-makers and an uncanny feel for what’s about to happen in the game.



BRANDON BAKER: Andrew Thomas  

One of the criticisms – fairly or unfairly – when it comes to Baker as the top-rated offensive tackle in the 2024 class is that he might project as a right tackle in college and beyond. But that was the same situation Thomas found himself in at Georgia, and it absolutely did not hurt his draft stock or his financial situation once he made it to the NFL.

Baker and Thomas have a similar build: They’re both about 6-foot-5 and 285-290 pounds at the same stage, and while Thomas now checks in at 315, Baker definitely has the frame to add more good weight. Thomas started his freshman season in Athens at right tackle and then moved to left and stayed there. Baker could follow a similar path as Oregon, Nebraska, Ohio State, Texas, Florida State and others pursue.

Another similarity: Almost no defensive lineman has any luck against either Thomas or Baker in games.



Before he was one of the top linebackers in the NFL, Luvu was a relatively unknown prospect from American Samoa who signed with Washington State in the 2014 class. He excelled in Pullman but went undrafted, and he has since emerged as an elite, physical linebacker who can play in the middle or come off the edge.

Viliamu-Asa’s recruitment has been much different, as last week he committed to Notre Dame over Ohio State and USC. He is also highly ranked (maybe not high enough) and plays at powerhouse Bellflower (Calif.) St. John Bosco.

But the two play so alike. Viliamu-Asa is always moving, scanning the field, playing downhill, ready to hit somebody and make plays. That’s how Luvu instinctually played the game at Washington State and how he’s doing it excelling in the NFL.



GATLIN BAIR: Cooper Kupp  

I hesitate making such lofty comparisons because Kupp might be the best wide receiver in the NFL, but there are definitely considerable similarities between Kupp and Bair on the field.

Maybe Kupp is a little better route runner and Bair is faster – no doubt about that since he has elite-level speed, beating Nyckoles Harbor, Rodrick Pleasant and others on the track this offseason.

But the two get open at will, they both have phenomenal hands and they come from the same part of the country. Kupp was a dramatically overlooked and unranked receiver from Yakima (Wash.) A.C. Davis who played at Eastern Washington.

Bair, who has Michigan, Nebraska, TCU, Oregon and Boise State in his top five, is a decorated high four-star – potential five-star – receiver from Burley, Idaho, who in the age of social media is now widely recognized for his accolades. Kupp, back in the 2012 class, achieved in silence. In that way, there are differences, but in terms of playing styles they are quite similar.



Frazier is the top-rated all-purpose back in the 2024 class and plays at arguably the best high school program in the country at Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei. Pollard was a two-star defensive back out of Memphis. Their stories and playing styles are alike, even if their ranking is not.

The four-star Frazier has muscled up even more this offseason, and even though he doesn’t get the ball as much as 2025 standout RB Jordon Davison at Mater Dei, Frazier makes the most of his opportunities, bounces off tacklers like a pinball machine and has speed to burn in the open field. Frazier is hardly used in Mater Dei’s passing attack but he’s capable of catching the ball out of the backfield and making people miss.

That is just like Pollard, who is now the lead back for the Dallas Cowboys and also someone who had to stay patient behind Ezekiel Elliott before his time to shine.