The first Rivals250 presented by Under Armour for the 2016 class was released on Tuesday. This is the earliest numerical release ever for the Rivals250 and there are many interesting prospects and story lines to follow in the rising junior class.
There always seems to be a few players whom the analysts think should be in the Rivals100, but they run out of spots. In the initial Rivals250, Clyde Leflore-Chriss, Brendan Ferns and Darrian Franklin landed just outside of the Rivals100, but all of them are high-caliber players.
New Orleans (La.) Warren Easton Senior is home to 2015 five-star wide receiver Tyron Johnson but Leflore-Chriss has also made a name for himself. Opponents of Warren Easton know they cannot just focus on Tyron Johnson because Leflore-Chriss has the ability to do plenty of damage of his own. He is long, he is athletic, and he has the ability to change directions in a hurry. He is a threat to get behind the defense for the deep ball or take a five-yard pass and turn it into a big gainer. -- Mid-South Recruiting Analyst Jason Howell
Ferns and Franklin come in at numbers 102 and 103, respectively.
Ferns' performance at the Columbus Rivals Camp against several four-star linebackers in the 2015 class really opened our eyes and backed up the early hype he had generated on the recruiting trail. At 6-foot-2 and 222 pounds he plays with great length and range in open space. He also handles the point of attack well and has a smooth change of direction. -- Midwest Recruiting Analyst Josh Helmholdt
Franklin is a hard-hitting, versatile linebacker who could play inside or outside. He aggressively pursues players in the backfield and wants to make that head-rattling tackle every time. He's also a phenomenal option at wide receiver and although it's unlikely he plays on that side in college it shows off his versatility and athleticism. -- West Recruiting Analyst Adam Gorney
Dionte Mullins (No. 104) and P.J. Blue (No. 105) also just missed the Rivals100 but all five of these players are expected to have big seasons, which could help them make the jump into the Rivals100.
Speaking of Ferns, Franklin and Blue, linebacker looks to be one of the best and deepest positions in the 2016 class. Lyndell Wilson, Caleb Kelly and Keion Joyner are all five-stars already, and Daelin Hayes, Lokeni Toailoa and Ben Davis are on the cusp of earning their fifth star. All-in-all, there are 24 four-star linebackers in the initial 2016 Rivals250.
Ferns, Franklin and Blue are three of the 16 linebackers ranked between Nos. 101 to 250.
Blue has a great frame for a linebacker with plenty of room to grow. He uses his length and especially his long arms effectively in coverage situations and he closes very well on the football. He has a good understanding of space and reading run/pass as he diagnoses plays on film very well.
Bush is a quick-twitch and physical linebacker who explodes to the football and thrives on contact. In coverage situations he makes up for his lack of length with great anticipation and instincts and in run support he is very good at finding the proper gap, exploding through it and taking great angles.
Bryce Youngquist, No. 113 in the Rivals250, has a very good chance of improving his stock this coming season.
There is a certain relentless aggression with Youngquist that makes him a special player. He is a phenomenal athlete so he flies all over the field to make plays and it seems like on every down he wants to make an impact on the field. Youngquist is physically one of the best linebackers in this class, he can cover down the field no problem and he loves getting in the backfield to pop somebody.
The eyes of Texas will be on Marvin Terry, No. 133 in the Rivals250, as he learns a new position.
Marvin Terry spent his sophomore season lined up at defensive end but in the spring he transitioned to linebacker. Still, there is plenty to see on his defensive end tape. He is a bit undersized for the position but he shows a quick first step and he is very explosive. He also has a nice frame, which should fill out nicely over the next few years.
Depth At Running Back
The running back position in 2016 is not as top-heavy as in past years. Kareem Walker leads the group as the only five-star and there are only four running backs in the top 50 and only five in the Rivals100. The depth at the running back position is really shown in the Rivals250. There are 13 backs from No. 101 to No. 250 and Elijah Holyfield is the highest rated in the Rivals250.
Holyfield is the son of former heavyweight champion of the world Evander Holyfield and the relation is clear when he's smashing opponents in the mouth as an every-down running back. He has ideal size for a running back, along with a terrific build and reminds me of a throwback to smash mouth backs of the 1980's and 1990's. There is still a little concern about his top-end speed but Holyfield is a diligent worker who continues to turn in faster times and I expect him to have the quickness it takes to be a factor back at a major Big Five program.
-- Southeast Recruiting Analyst Woody Wommack
Mitchell is a big, downhill runner with surprising speed in the open field. He has excellent vision, is decisive in his cuts and gets up-field very quickly. He doesn't have a ton of wiggle but makes up for it with light feet and vision.
Turner is a stout 5-foot-8, 190-pounds, and he runs with balance and explosiveness. He does a great job of hitting the hole and getting north and south, but he also has the speed to get to the outside. He shows a quick burst and he can quickly change directions.
Once again states like Florida, Alabama, Texas and Louisiana have plenty of prospects ranked in the Rivals250 but the state of Ohio is well represented, also. Brendan Ferns landed just shy of the Rivals100 but players like George Hill (No. 128) and Justin Layne (No. 146) deserve recognition as well.
At this stage of his career it is still undetermined what position Hill will play, but there is no doubting his athletic talent. The top attribute in Hill's game at this stage is his speed. The Ohio State commit can fly, but he is also a true football player. Running back, receiver and defensive back are all potential college positions.
Layne did not get many balls thrown his way as a sophomore, but made the most of the chances he had - scoring on nearly half his receptions. Layne's big-play potential was also evident at the Detroit RCS. He is explosive off the line, has good size for the position and is on the plus side of the athleticism ledger as well
Mullins is a very good athlete who could play either side of the ball but excels on offense. He has the quickness to take a slant or bubble screen to the house and he is extremely shifty in space. He also has very good body control and adjusts to balls thrown over the wrong shoulder with ease.
Les Miles is known as one of the nation's top recruiters and he and his staff have grabbed three early commitments that should lay the foundation for a strong 2016 class. Edwin Alexander is the highest rated four-star defensive tackle and Feleipe Franks is the seventh ranked quarterback overall. Both made the initial Rivals100 for the 2016 class. Future LSU wide receiver Stephen Sullivan will start at No. 169 in the Rivals250.
Sullivan is a real intriguing prospect given his size and athleticism. At 6-foot-6 and 210-pounds, Sullivan has played multiple positions on both sides of the ball. As a receiver the length is the first thing which catches the attention, but he also has some quick feet and big hands.
One of the more surprising teams in this conversation is Baylor. Art Briles is helping the Bears get out of the shadow of Texas and Texas A&M. Rivals100 offensive tackle Patrick Hudson will be one of the cornerstones for the Baylor offensive line and Rivals250 running back Kameron Martin will have a lot of room to make plays in the wide open Baylor offense. Cornerback Keshawn Somerville and wide receiver Tren'Davian Dickson are also committed to Baylor and will have solid rankings within their positions. Future Baylor Bear quarterback Zach Smith sounds like he will fit into Briles' offense well.
Smith brings some nice tools to the table. He has the prototypical size at 6-foot-4, and he shows a big arm. While he does have some nice arm strength, he also does a good job of placing the ball and knowing when to put it on a rope or put some air under it.
Alabama has had the best recruiting class six times going back to 2008 and the Crimson Tide is in great position to win the recruiting title again in the 2016 class. Three players have already committed to Alabama and all three of them are ranked in the top 75 in the Rivals100. Five-star Demetris Robertson is No. 5 in the Rivals100 and is the top rated athlete in the country. No. 38 in the Rivals100 is Shyheim Carter who is also one of the top athletes in the country. Both are lethal on either side of the ball. Benito Jones is Alabama's lowest ranked commit coming in a No. 61 in the Rivals100. The defensive tackle out of Waynesboro (Miss.) Wayne County is the eighth ranked defensive tackle in a very deep 2016 class.
Georgia might have the bragging rights at this point with two five-stars already committed. Rivals100 No. 2 Jacob Eason and No. 3 Ben Cleveland have decided to take their talents to Athens. Eason is the top quarterback in the country and Cleveland is the top offensive tackle in the country. With plenty of big name targets still on their board Georgia will be a serious contender for the 2016 recruiting title.