In his weekly series, Rivals National Recruiting Director Adam Gorney offers his thoughts and opinions on recruiting topics and storylines that impact the national landscape. Today, he looks at the newly-released 2023 rankings.
RIVALS RANKINGS WEEK
Monday: Five-star countdown
Tuesday: Rivals100 revealed | Who is the top player at each position?
Wednesday: Recruiting updates on offensive players in the ranking | States, positions producing the most 2023 talent
Thursday: Recruiting updates on defensive players in the ranking | Who is on the cusp of the Rivals100?
Friday: Rankings roundtable
THOUGHTS ON THE FIVE-STARS
There were a few prospects with whom it was a complete no-brainer and inevitable so there was no need to wait on giving them their five-star status. Here are some preliminary thoughts on the four five-stars:
DE Lebbeus Overton: He starts at No. 1 overall and there’s an easy argument as to why. He is so physical and aggressive for a sophomore in high school, he has great timing to set up blockers and he’s fast and athletic to track players down in the backfield. I don’t think he has the freaky physical traits of Jadeveon Clowney or even a DeMarvin Leal but he reminds me a lot of Jeffery Simmons, a mix of physical and athletic who’s just unstoppable on the defensive line.
QB Malachi Nelson: There was a lot of debate about whether Nelson or Arch Manning should be the top quarterback in the class. We sided with Nelson and I think we made the right decision. He’s so smooth and cool in the pocket. He is such a precision passer and a playmaker that it’s hard to put any other quarterback ahead of him right now. Even if his last name is Manning.
QB Arch Manning: Which brings us to Manning. We didn’t want to rank him high just because of his family gene pool but that has to be a consideration that Peyton and Eli are his uncles and his grandfather is Archie Manning. No high school football player in Rivals history has that type of bloodline. But the 2023 quarterback is also a smooth passer with great timing and he’s an underrated athlete. Based on talent and potential alone, a ranking this high is justified.
WR Brandon Inniss: I know at the NFL Combine a lot of guys who move up the draft boards and are the headliners are the speedy guys who test well in the 40-yard dash. But something also has to be said about receivers who run excellent routes, always get open and catch every single pass thrown their way. Maybe Inniss isn’t the fastest in the world but he gets open and he makes plays, and he’s been doing it for years. We wanted to reward that.
POTENTIAL FIVE-STAR PROSPECTS
A glance at the highest four-stars gives you an idea of some names we had under five-star consideration but there are a few worth pointing out because these players – and many others – could be on the path toward five-star status as we see more 2023 prospects over the coming months.
DE Peter Woods: Woods does an excellent job of shedding blockers and bringing the punishment on his tackles. Power is not an issue at all. He throws offensive linemen out of the way and he likes to play with a physical nature at defensive end.
OL Kadyn Proctor: Proctor was a prospect that I felt should have been under even more consideration for five-star status. His size, toughness and athleticism as a sophomore is incredible and he’s one that could move to a five-star the more we see him at upcoming events.
DL Francis Mauigoa: The reports from IMG so far have been glowing about Mauigoa from players and coaches about just how big, strong and physical Mauigoa has been the first few months on campus and he’s really just learning the game. Originally from American Samoa via San Bernardino (Calif.) Aquinas, Mauigoa is massive and has experience on both the offensive and defensive lines.
… Defensive end is my favorite position so far in this class. There are six strong-side defensive ends in the top 15 and all have five-star potential. And then at No. 29 is Kelby Collins from Gardendale, Ala., who could prove to be among the best in the entire bunch because of his size, range and physical ability. I also really like Jayden Wayne from Tacoma (Wash.) Lincoln, who looks like a million bucks when he walks in the room.
… Here are some names of highly-rated prospects who I think could move even higher over the next few rankings cycles: Tony Mitchell (currently No. 17), Malik Bryant (No. 18), Richard Young (No. 27) and AJ Harris (No. 28). Harris is a top priority for Georgia, Ohio State and many other programs and has recently seen his recruitment take off.
… The wide receiver position is also an interesting one to me in this class. Inniss leads the way but the states of Florida and Texas are also very well-represented and there is going to be lots of discussions about who should be ranked where. I really like Hykeem Williams because he’s so long and rangy. Santana Fleming and Jalen Brown from South Florida are smaller playmakers with great hands. Johntay Cook is really interesting as a slot guy. It’s definitely a position that could see a lot of movement in the rankings.