Last week Rivals unveiled their first positional rankings for the 2013 football recruiting class, and in doing so they also revealed a number of players who had received three-star grades. Current committed and targeted recruits of the Texas Longhorns were well represented on the various lists, with three commits ranking as the top prospect at their position.
For reasons obvious to most who follow high school football and recruiting in general, these rankings are very much subject to change, coming out as they have when the ranked players are mostly 16 and 17 years old and five months away from playing a single down in their senior season. Some currently ranked high will be passed by others, some ranked low or ungraded altogether will be hot names next January. Some of these players will get only marginally better in their senior season, others will become physically mature and technically refined at a level far beyond what they showed as sophomores and juniors.
The recruitment arcs in the careers of recent Longhorn signees Leroy Scott and Adrian Colbert are a good contrast in this respect. The former was a varsity starter from his freshman year on and was high on the prospect rankings throughout his high school career before suffering from apparent "exposure fatigue" (to borrow Wescott's phrase) and signing with Texas as a three-star recruit. The latter was known more for his prowess on the track than on the gridiron until his senior film blew up his stock late in the recruiting process and he went from a virtual unknown to being a highly sought-after defensive back (Rivals graded him a three-star, but 247Sports ranked him as the fifth best safety in the country). There will almost certainly be players like them in this class as well.
After the jump I'll list some names of interest in the various positional rankings and add some notes on them based on my own recruiting amateurtise.
1. Max Browne (Skyline - Sammamish, Washington)
9. Cody Thomas (Heritage - Colleyville, Texas)
10. Kohl Stewart (St. Pius X - Houston, TX) - committed to Texas A&M
Dual Threat Quarterback:
1. Tyrone Swoopes (Whitewright, Texas) - committed to Texas
6. J.T. Barrett (Rider - Wichita Falls, TX)
8. Kenny Hill (Carroll - Southlake, TX)
16. Devante Kincade (Skyline - Dallas, TX)
* Among pro-style QBs, Max Browne is the only five-star, while Cody Thomas and Kohl Stewart - the only Texans on the list - are both graded at four stars.
* Thomas has really been in the recruiting spotlight for only the past two months, but he has received offers from schools in six conferences plus independent Notre Dame.
* Of the 20 dual-threat QBs, UT commit Tyrone Swoopes (Whitewright) is the lone five-star.
* J.T. Barrett, who was thought to be UT's option 1b at quarterback had Swoopes committed elsewhere, has in-state offers from Baylor, UNT, and Tech, and others from a mix of Big 10, SEC, and Pac-12 schools.
* Hill, son of former major league baseball pitcher Ken Hill, lead Southlake Carroll to the Texas Class 5A Division I state championship in 2011, and currently has nine offers listed by Rivals, nearly all of them from schools either in Texas or the southwest region.
* Devante Kincade has started at QB for talent-rich Skyline since his sophomore season. How talent-rich? Do a Rivals recruit search using the keywords "Dallas Skyline" and you get 127 results. 31 Skyline players have been graded three-star or higher by Rivals since 2002. Kincade has received five offers from a range of offensive systems: from Colorado, Illinois and Notre Dame, to Kansas State's very dual-threat friendly system, to SMU and June Jones's run-and-shoot spread offense.
* The top ten performers at quarterback at last week's Elite 11 Camp in Dallas, according to Rivals analyst Brian Perroni, included Hill, Kincade, Barrett, and Stewart. Also impressing at the event were Damion Hobbs (Cedar Hill, Texas) and Zach Allen (Temple, Texas), who are both listed as dual-thread quarterbacks. (See: Wescott's recap of the Elite 11 event.) I've been high on Allen for a while (see: Allen's Hudl film) and think he could show up on the national dual-threat chart when it is revised next. He has only been offered by Syracuse, Texas State, and Eastern Illinois (a school that has also offered at least two of his Temple teammates). He reportedly has strong interest from Texas Tech and Oklahoma State as well.
* A very under-the-radar name that could eventually pop up on the dual-threat list is Canyon Randall's Collin Bowen, who passed and ran for over 1,000 yards in 2011, and whose team was undefeated before he suffered a broken collarbone in week 9. Randall still advanced three rounds deep into the Texas Class 4A playoffs before being routed by Johnathan Gray's Aledo team. Had he been able to play in that game and show off what he can do he might be a lot more widely known. He reminds me a little of what Casey Pachall looked like as a high school junior. (See: Bowen's Hudl film.)
1. Thomas Tyner (Aloha - Beaverton, Oregon) - committed to Oregon
3. Altee Tenpenny (North Little Rock, Arkansas) - committed to Alabama
12. Keith Ford (Cypress Ranch - Cypress, Texas) - committed to Oklahoma
19. Adam Taylor (Katy, Texas)
27. James White (Dawson - Pearland, Texas) - committed to Texas A&M
37. Jamel James (Cinco Ranch - Katy, Texas) - committed to Arkansas
1. Tyren Jones (Walton - Marietta, Georgia) - committed to Alabama
2. Dontre Wilson (DeSoto, Texas)
4. Johnny Jefferson (Shoemaker - Killeen, Texas) - committed to Baylor
Only five players are on the list, all of them three-star grades and none from Texas.
* Thomas Tyner is the only running back or all-purpose back currently graded at five stars.
* Altee Tenpenny has been a message board favorite of UT fans just on his name alone. He committed to Alabama at their Junior Day in January, but it's being reported as a soft commit. He has since attended Arkansas's Junior Day. I haven't read any recent reports of contact with or interest in Tenpenny from the Texas staff, but people much more plugged in than me will have to confirm that.
* While the Texas contingent doesn't have a Malcolm Brown or Johnathan Gray headliner, it is a pretty deep year for the position in-state, and the Houston area alone has ridiculous running back depth. I'd put the top five greater Houston area backs against the top five of any state.
* "All-purpose back" seems to have become a nice way of describing guys who are quick and can hurt a defense in multiple ways but who are shorter or just aren't considered big enough to be a 20-carry-per-game back. None of the ten players on the all-purpose back rankings are taller than 5'10".
* Keith Ford is generally rated as either the best or 2nd best back in Texas. Scout and 247Sports put Ford highest, while Geoff Ketchum, who makes no distinction between "running" and "all-purpose" backs in his position rankings, rates Dontre Wilson at #1.
* UT running back commit Kyle Hicks of Arlington Martin is listed by Rivals as an athlete. Based on his Rivals rating (5.8), if he were grouped with the running backs he'd be somewhere outside the top 12.
* Adam Taylor, despite missing nearly all of his junior season due to injury, has 13 offers from national powers that include Alabama, Arkansas, LSU, Oklahoma, Stanford, and Wisconsin.
* Jamel James isn't as highly regarded as the others mentioned here (Ketchum ranks him as the 9th best 2013 RB in Texas), but from what film I've seen he might have the best combination of power and speed of any Texas back this side of Ford. Arkansas got themselves a good one.
* Johnny Jefferson is a good all-around back playing for a bad team (Shoemaker's only win in 2011 was against winless cross-town rival Ellison). He has an impressive list of offers that includes Notre Dame, Ohio State, UCLA, and Texas A&M. He committed to Baylor last week after de-committing from A&M. (If you're scoring at home, we're over 10 months away from signing day and the Aggies have already had two de-commits from their 2013 class.) He boasts of a 4.37 40 time at the end of a Hudl video, but the speed he shows off in his highlights, while good, doesn't appear to support that figure. To me, it's a legitimate question whether Jefferson is even the best all-purpose back in his own district (see: Temple's Gaylon Sanders).
* The 2012 high school football schedules have been trickling out in the past week or so. An early game I have circled on my calendar is a zero week contest between DeSoto and Arlington Martin on August 31, when Dontre Wilson will take on Kyle Hicks in what Texas fans hope will be a match-up of future Longhorn backfield teammates. If nothing else, it could be the best battle between running backs the Metroplex sees this year.
1. Ricky Seals-Jones (Sealy, Texas) - committed to Texas
2. Derrick Griffin (Terry - Rosenberg, Texas) - committed to Texas A&M
9. Jake Oliver (Jesuit - Dallas, Texas) - committed to Texas
20. Marcell Ateman (East - Wylie, Texas)
23. Vequan Jones (East - Wylie, Texas) - committed to Baylor
24. Ra'Shaad Samples (Skyline - Dallas, Texas)
25. Devin Lauderdale (Bellaire - Houston, Texas) - committed to Texas Tech
29. Fred Ross (John Tyler - Tyler, Texas) - committed to Oklahoma State
32. Eldridge Massington (West Mesquite - Mesquite, Texas)
34. Jacory Warrick (Cypress Falls - Cypress, Texas) - committed to Texas
38. Jamar Gibson (Goose Creek Memorial - Baytown, Texas) - committed to Texas A&M
41. Chevoski Collins (Livingston, Texas)
* This is a very deep in-state class for receivers. Of the 50 players listed in the wide receiver rankings, 12 are Texans.
* The top 35 receivers currently have four-star grades, and 10 of them are Texans. The number of four-star receivers in a class has tended to be in the mid- to upper-40s in recent years.
* No receiver in this class has yet been awarded five stars, and 2009 was the last class in which fewer than three players received that distinction. Presumably the top candidates to eventually receive that fifth star are Ricky Seals-Jones and Derrick Griffin, though both of them may be as likely to move to tight end and/or make a bigger impact on the basketball court than the gridiron before their college careers are done.
* Jake Oliver was an early recruiting win for the Longhorns, and he has been impressive in every setting in which he has competed.
* The Wylie East duo of Marcell Ateman and Vequan Jones (both listed as 6'4") will be giving all kinds of fits to secondaries in the north Dallas area. Both have upwards of 20 offers and Jones became Baylor's fifth overall (and first four-star) commit over the weekend.
* Ra'Shaad Samples has a Raulersonian-level offer list and a widely discussed and tweeted-about enjoyment of being a sought-after recruit. He also suffered a significant ankle injury over the weekend at the Dallas Elite 11 camp. How that affects his recruiting, if at all, remains to be seen. With two intact ankles he has speed to burn and is a home run threat in the open field.
* Samples has top-flight receiver skills but because of his slight build, the committment of Jacory Warrick (smaller than Samples but with a very similar skill set), the role receivers play in Bryan Harsin's offense (more downfield blocking, please!), and the abundance of talented in-state receivers in this class who are 6'2" or taller, I honestly question why Samples has an outstanding UT offer while the uncommitted Ateman and Massington don't.
* The UT roster will have only 3 scholarship receivers taller than 6'1" this fall, with Cayleb Jones enrolling and Miles Onyegbule moving to H-back. It's very rare to have an in-state class with this many quality big receivers, and with scholarships being as tight as they'll be in 2013, it should be a year where you take Samples or Warrick, but not both.
1. Adam Breneman (Cedar Cliff - Camp Hill, Pennsylvania) - committed to Penn State
9. Christian Morgan (Prestonwood Christian Academy - Plano, Texas)
13. Durham Smythe (Belton, Texas) - committed to Texas
21. Jeremiah Gaines (Red Oak, Texas)
23. Charlie Reid (All Saints Episcopal - Fort Worth, Texas)
* Adam Breneman is the 2013 tight end rated highest by every scouting service I've seen. He has a four-star grade from Rivals, as do all of the top 12 tight ends in their rankings. Durham Smythe is the highest ranked three-star.
* The last tight end to receive five stars from Rivals was Kyle Rudolph in 2008. Rivals has given five stars to only five tight ends since 2002: Rudolph, Martellus Bennett (2005), Tony Hills (2003, later converted to offensive tackle), Greg Olsen (2003), and Marcedes Lewis (2002). All five are currently on NFL rosters, so at least Rivals can accurately predict success for players at one position.
* The fact that UT commit Durham Smythe is ranked 13th and only graded at three stars shouldn't worry Longhorn fans. His film suggests that he'll be the best tight end Texas has signed since at least Blaine Irby. And he'll almost certainly be upgraded to four stars because of his perfect frame and all-around skills for the position, and the fact that Rivals tends to give four star grades to around 15 tight ends per class. Going back to 2006, only two tight end classes (2009 and 2012) have had fewer than that number.
* The 2009 class had only 5 four-star TEs, and naturally, Texas picked the worst possible year to sign the ones rated 7th and 9th: Barrett Matthews and Trey Graham.
* Two weeks ago I wrote about several 2013 in-state tight ends, including Christian Morgan, Smythe, Jeremiah Gaines, and Charlie Reid. They are the only four Texas players so far graded at the position. Gaines and Reid have both been graded at three stars, though I think both have a great chance to vault higher if they build on their strong junior campaigns.
* Gaines still holds 3 offers, all of them from north Texas schools, while Reid has added Iowa State and UCLA to the 5 offers he held two weeks ago.
* Unranked among the tight ends and not yet graded is Mansfield's Trent Gow, who seems to have more interest from the UT staff than Gaines or Reid, both of whom have either visited or been contacted by Texas. Gow is, at worst, a three-star player, and he should see his name show up as the positional rankings expand (currently 25 tight ends are ranked by Rivals, but their list will normally include 35-45 by the end of the season).
1. Laremy Tunsil (Columbia - Lake City, Florida)
2. Kent Perkins (Lake Highlands - Richardson, Texas) - committed to Texas
6. Jake Raulerson (Celina, Texas) - committed to Texas
39. J.J. Gustafson (Jesuit - Dallas, Texas) - committed to Texas A&M
41. Maurice Porter (Fort Bend Marshall - Missouri City, Texas)
42. Josh Thomas (Evangel Christian - Shreveport, Louisiana)
* Josh Thomas and Patrick Morris were among the attendees at UT's 2nd Junior Day.