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West Spotlight: Player comparisons

Ezekiel Elliott
Ezekiel Elliott (Associated Press)

Prospect comparisons always generate a lot of conversation and – with rankings meetings for the 2025 and 2026 classes set to begin this week – now is a great time to take a step back and compare some of the current standout prospects to some college or NFL stars.

Here are five comparisons for some of the best recruits in the West region.

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One of the reasons why Ohio State has always been so high in Davison’s recruitment is because he idolized Elliott growing up and their play styles are eerily similar at the same stage.

The Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei running back is not lightning in a bottle but he’s a three-down back who is phenomenal in tight spaces, so patient at the line of scrimmage and then has the burst to get through the hole and get downfield quickly. Davison is not a burner but he’s instinctive and decisive much like Elliott at the same stage.

At the NFL combine, Elliott checked in at 6-foot and 225 pounds. Davison has bulked up a little this offseason - maybe a little too much as he should trim up a little heading into his senior season - and while we missed the boat a little bit on Elliott as a high four-star prospect but not high enough, Davison is currently a five-star and has so many of the same qualities at the same stage. Ohio State, Michigan, Oregon and Alabama are the four to watch.



When coaches and players talk about Slater as an NFL player and as an NFL prospect they talked about him being versatile along the offensive line, smart and patient, physical when he needed to be and with ample athleticism to get to the second level to seek and destroy there as well.

That sounds almost exactly like how Utu plays along the line of scrimmage at Las Vegas Bishop Gorman as he’s been participating in Rivals camps and other events for years and he has never, ever disappointed. It’s uncanny how the five-star offensive tackle hardly ever loses a rep and if he does, Utu learns from it and never lets it happen again. He’s super consistent, smart, a quiet assassin type and plays very much like Slater does now in the NFL.

The one difference: Utu has been a five-star prospect while Slater was overlooked coming out of Sugar Land (Texas) Clements and picked Northwestern over Illinois and Kansas as a three-star. Utu has Oregon, Ohio State, Michigan, Alabama, Tennessee and others involved.



Henry plays a lot and looks a lot like his late father by the same name as a 6-foot-4, 200-pound receiver who has tremendous ball skills on the outside but that’s not a fair comparison so the choice is Green as the two have so many similarities.

Green was a five-star prospect in the 2008 class out of Summerville, S.C., who showed in high school, in college and then in an illustrious NFL career that he has great hands, is a great route runner and while he didn’t run by every cornerback all the time, quarterbacks threw the ball up his way and Green went and got it.

Henry is the same in so many ways. Maybe even a little more filled out physically at the same stage, the 2026 five-star receiver is not a burner on the outside but he can go up and over anybody in the country to catch passes. He’s a little quieter and laid back than Green at the same stage but Henry is still young - it’s hard to believe he could still have two years of high school left - but has all the qualities of an elite outside receiver as Ohio State has landed his commitment but LSU, Texas, Oregon and others are trying to flip him.



On his draft profile, Gardner measured 6-foot-3 and 190 pounds and it was written about him that he’s a tall corner with long limbs and sticky hands who has a desired blend of confidence and competitiveness.

That description also fits Lee perfectly as he’s listed at 6-foot-3 and 181 pounds, has tremendous length and ballhawking abilities and can also be an asset on offense if needed even in a loaded receiver group at Mission Viejo, Calif.

The third-best cornerback in the 2025 class and the first one outside of five-star status, Lee can comfortably play on an island, has long arms to knock down passes and speed to run with receivers. It wouldn’t be a shock if he was even more in the five-star discussion as his senior year gets underway.



It would be hyperbolic to compare the 2026 five-star quarterback to maybe the best - or second-best behind Patrick Mahomes - quarterback in the NFL right now in Jackson but Lyons has a very similar playing style to the Baltimore Ravens star. Lyons is a better version of Jaxson Dart as well if there’s a college comparison that maybe makes more sense.

The Folsom, Calif., standout quarterback is a phenomenal pocket passer who can throw to all levels as he totaled 3,578 yards with 38 touchdowns and eight picks in his sophomore season. What sets him apart, though, is that he’s also an elite runner and playmaker with the ball in his hands as Lyons also had 929 rushing yards and 23 scores.

Like Jackson, he can be effective on designed runs. He’s also terrific escaping pressure and making something happen when things break down. Either way, on almost every play Lyons is a threat to get a first down or much more and it’s why he’s a five-star quarterback and compared to the Ravens QB.