With the two biggest underclassmen combines behind us and plenty of new film to review, the Rivals.com National Analyst Team was busy during December and January, evaluating prospects from all over nation for the latest rankings update. Plenty of players made big jumps, with guys like Rashad Roundtree going from unranked to five-star status, but not everyone can make the Rivals250 right off the bat.
Of the new four-star adds, there seven players who made the leap but didn't quite make the Rivals250. They are Upland (Calif.) quarterback Tyler Hilinski, Kansas City (Mo.) Winnetonka running back Marquise Doherty, Columbia (Tenn.) Central tight end Jackson Harris, Palm Beach Gardens (Fla.) linebacker Tevon Coney, Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei linebacker Ben Humphreys, Pasadena (Calif.) Muir cornerback Taeon Mason and Griffin (Ga.) defensive back Jordan Colbert.
While body of work is always considered during the evaluation process, impressive December performances really helped several of the players make the jump. For Colbert, it was a combination of his junior film, a strong showing at the Elite Junior Classic all-star game in Georgia, as well as helping his Griffin team to a state championship.
"What makes Colbert so special is the speed and athleticism he has to go along with his size," Southeast Recruiting Analyst Woody Wommack said. "He could probably play defensive back, linebacker or even wide receiver at the next level, so that speaks to just how much he'll continue to develop once he settles into and learns one spot full time."
For Harris, who plays in a run-heavy offense where he's required to be an excellent blocker, it was about showing what he could do in the passing game. That's exactly what he did at the Under Armour Combine.
"Jackson is a guy who just keeps getting better every we time we see him," Wommack said. "He was really in the mix for a spot in the 250 and if he keeps showing out against the top competition and getting bigger and stronger, it's going to be hard to deny him that spot. He's a legit 6-foot-5, 240 pounds and still has another year to develop before moving onto the next level."
Two-sport star Doherty used Under Armour, which was held at the home of the Tampa Bay Rays, to show that he's more than just a baseball player.
"Doherty doubles as a baseball star and has seen some college interest build there as well, but he's proving to be quite the star on the football field as well," West Analyst Rob Cassidy said. "He is a versatile running back that is as dangerous catching the ball as he is carrying it. Doherty had a great day against solid competition at this year's Under Armour Underclassmen combine and is a name to watch going forward."
Hilinski was one of the quarterbacks throwing the ball to Harris in St. Petersburg, and earned his fourth star back with his showing there and an impressive junior year on the field.
"When I saw Hilinski early in the season, he had just transferred to Upland and the offense was not clicking the right way," West Region Analyst Adam Gorney said. "We dropped him in the rankings, probably unfairly and prematurely, but he proved over his junior season to be one of the better quarterbacks in California. Hilinski finished with 3,053 passing yards with 34 touchdowns and eight interceptions. He completed nearly 70 percent of his passes, so his accuracy and precision cannot be questioned."
Coney was a standout performer at the Army Combine, and also impressed at the South Florida Express tryouts, earning a spot on one of the best squads in the country. Since then, his recruitment has exploded and it's easy to see why.
"Coney has prototypical outside linebacker size, but what has impressed us is his athleticism," Midwest Analyst Josh Helmholdt said. "Coney performed at a couple of events we covered over the last two months where he was asked to play in coverage, and he shows great change of direction, fluid movements and a comfort playing in space."
For Humphreys and Mason, it was all about the junior film, according to Gorney.
"Humphreys is one of those players who doesn't blow anybody away with his physical features, but he's smart, super intelligent on the field and knows exactly where to be on both sides of the field," Gorney said. "I think he projects as an outside linebacker and sort of like Dillon Bates this past recruiting cycle, Humphreys has a knack for being smarter than everyone else on the field and then his instincts take over. He also plays wide receiver and is a serious threat there."
He added on Mason: "He's fast. That's the first thing that stands out about Mason on film is that he's exceptionally fast at cornerback and then when he intercepts a pass, he basically burns everybody down the field. He's also super athletic. Mason is the average size for a cornerback, but he can defend taller receivers because of his athletic ability to go up and knock down passes. The new USC coaching staff made him a major priority once they got there and he's already committed. He should be able to compete for early playing time."
Overall there were 52 players ranked as four-stars or higher that didn't make the cut for the Rivals250. With a busy camp season ahead, including the Rivals Camp Series, which holds 16 events throughout the country, there will surely be more additions in our next rankings release.