West Spotlight: Four tough rankings questions
Rivals.com national recruiting director Adam Gorney looks at four burning questions in the West Region ahead of the next rankings update for the 2024 recruiting cycle.
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1. Is Sayin the No. 1 player in the class?
The debate over who should be the No. 1 prospect in the 2024 class will be heated and there will be a lot of different candidates with Julian Sayin being among them since he had such a phenomenal offseason and then a great senior season as well.
The five-star Alabama quarterback commit from Carlsbad, Calif., completed more than 75 percent of his passes for 2,112 yards with 21 touchdowns and no interceptions.
While those numbers aren’t astronomically high, it shows a few things: Sayin can put up impressive numbers and he just does not make mistakes.
That would be a very big part of the argument for Sayin to be No. 1 overall in the class. He won the Elite 11 this summer against all the other five-stars in the class and then he had a flawless senior season not surrounded by elite playmakers at receiver where he just didn’t turn the ball over or do bone-headed things with the ball in his hands.
2. Is Woodyard a five-star?
Here is the discussion we’re going to have about the difference between a very talented and worthwhile player who has an incredibly bright future and a five-star prospect.
Five-star Alabama safety commit Peyton Woodyard is a key defensive player on arguably the nation’s top team at Bellflower (Calif.) St. John Bosco. He makes important plays, does a great job leading the defense, has closing speed, is rarely out of position and is very coachable.
But a five-star prospect is a predicted first-round NFL Draft pick. Caleb Downs was a five-star safety but that only came late in the rankings cycle after it was impossible not to move him there because of his playmaking capabilities. He has backed that up.
Shaq Thompson, Derwin James, Landon Collins, JuJu Smith-Schuster, Minkah Fitzpatrick and Jeffrey Okudah were some five-star safeties throughout the years. Is Woodyard that elite or is he one notch below those guys – still an incredibly good player but maybe not five-star status?
3. Are there other five-stars in the region?
The 2024 class is not loaded like some recruiting cycles in the West but there are some other players who should be in that five-star discussion. As we go through the all-star events and compare guys apples-to-apples across the country then some others could emerge.
There are a few on the radar.
Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei’s Brandon Baker is the No. 1 offensive tackle in the country not because he pulverizes defensive linemen into the ground but because his athleticism and technique are completely off the charts.
Bellflower (Calif.) St. John Bosco linebacker Kyngstonn Viliamu-Asa might be the best defensive player in program history – and that’s saying something – as he’s a tackling machine and should be elite in Notre Dame’s defense.
Other states in the region probably don’t have five-star level talent this season – although I’m tempted to take a shot on playmaker QB Isaac Wilson, a Utah commit – so the focus will largely be on elite players from California this cycle.
4. How to order the WRs in California?
Among the highest-end receivers in California’s 2024 class, Oregon commit Jordan Anderson has the most receptions (77) and receiving yards (995) of the group. USC commit Ryan Pellum was nearly all the offense at Long Beach (Calif.) Millikan.
Chatsworth (Calif.) Sierra Canyon teammates Xavier Jordan and Kwazi Gilmer were the top targets on their undefeated team and split a lot of the receiving stats. Oregon pledge Dillon Gresham had 12 receiving touchdowns on 44 catches for 774 yards.
So how do we order these high-end receivers when it comes to rankings meetings? Production matters a ton but so does projection and that will be the challenge to figure out in the coming weeks.