July 21, 2009

Rivals100 Mailbag: Your questions answered

MORE: The Rivals100 | Three earn five-star status in new Rivals100 | The new five-stars

Why did Zack McCray drop out the Rivals100? What does William Gholston have to do to get five-star status? Will the top quarterbacks be re-ranked after the Elite 11 camp is over? Why didn't Barry Brunetti make the top 100? These are just a few of the questions posed by users to Rivals.com's recruiting analysts. Read on for the answers.

From 428GroveSt in Chicago, Ill.: What does William Gholston have to do to get Five Star status? He has an offer from nearly every program in the country, has prototypical NFL Size/Speed and has outstanding playmaking ability. Will was one of the only juniors on the USA today All American team last year.

William does have prototypical NFL size and speed, but that is for a position (defensive end) he has yet to play, and looks very very raw at in camp settings. I saw him play in the playoffs last year, and was impressed with his performance at linebacker, but at the Champaign NIKE Camp, he struggled at DE, no doubt about it. He simply does not know what he is doing yet at that position. He has potential to move up, because he is as physically gifted as any player in the country. Having an offer from nearly every program in the country does not mean you are a five star prospect. There are dozens and dozens of prospects that can claim that. Finally, we do not look at the USA Today All American team for our research in selecting five-star prospects. – Greg Ladky

From bl16qb in Portland, Ore.: Was there any discussion of Kenny Shaw cracking the top 100?

The way the process works we first look at each position beginning with quarterbacks. Then we rank running backs, receivers, etc… all the way down until each position is satisfied. From the new individual player rankings we come up with the Rivals100 and Rivals250. So in regards to Kenny Shaw, he got a big bump up, going from No. 50 in the previous wide receiver rankings to No. 28 in the updated. That's a nice jump, and he'll make an appearance in the Rivals250 tomorrow. I like Kenny and I certainly believe he's one of the better wide receiver prospects from the state of Florida. That's saying something considering the talent in that state this season. – Jamie Newberg

From JoeHoo in Charlottesville, Va.: Why did Zack McCray drop out the Rivals100?

As we go through the process of updating the Rivals100, or any ranking for that matter, if you're toward the bottom of the list, as McCray was last time, there might be a chance you drop out as more new evaluations are made. That was the case with Zack this time around. With the new additions to the list several guys toward the bottom of the ranking like Fre'Shad Hunter, Ahmad Dixon, Zack McCray, Joe Boisture, Jordon James, Paul Jones, Michaelee Harris and C.J. Fiedorowicz all slid out to make room. That being said you will find McCray's name near the top of the Rivals250 released on Wednesday. – Mike Farrell

From mnuccio2 in Lansdale, Pa.: How does a player like Paul Jones drop out of the top 100? From most reports he dominated at camps, yet he drops. Is it b/c of his injury? I've seen this happen a lot to players who get hurt, they seem to drop. To me that just isn't fair.

The answer here is very much the same as it was for JoeHoo's question. Jones was toward the bottom of the rankings previous and when new additions were made several of the guys toward the bottom of the previous ranking fell out. You won't have to wait long to find his name on the Rivals250. We still think very highly of Jones and others like him that slid out. – Jeremy Crabtree

From vandystu in Nashville, Tenn.: What did James Stone do to get bumped so far down in the Rivals 100 and O-linemen rankings?

We still love James' upside, but he showed at the Tennessee camp that he's got some work to do to be at the very top of the offensive linemen rankings. The Tennessee OL/DL camp had some of the top defensive linemen in the country in attendance, and James really struggled with the speed off of the edge. Some of us think he may even be a guard at the next level. He's still highly rated, but we want to see him continue to improve his foot quickness and pass set to block the really elite prospects. – Barton Simmons

From Jon1798 in New Orleans, La.: I have to ask about a few LSU commits that seem more than qualified for the top 100. What are the knocks on guys like Ronnie Vinson, Justin Hunter, Tharold Simon and Justin Maclin? These guys seem to have it all, yet are still not getting the love. Thanks!!

With Ronnie Vinson and Tharold Simon, we just need to get new evaluations on them. We have not seen anything new on them since the last rankings. I think very highly of both of them and will be keeping a close eye on them during the year. With Maclin, we have always loved his measurables and body. He's got a lot of upside, and we're just waiting to see how he continues to develop. Reports from the USC camp were that he was a little stiff and was not overly impressive but that he looked like a million bucks. - Barton Simmons

From ryan48 in Carolina Beach, N.C.: Why did Michaelee Harris drop out of the Rivals 100 after his domination at the NIKE 7on Tournament?

Ryan, keep in mind that we did have to draw a cutoff date doing the rankings and that was well before last week's NIKE 7on tournament. That being said, I know that Greg Ladky, who covered the tournament for Rivals.com came away with a ton of glowing comments and there's a strong chance you will see Harris in the Rivals100 in the future. You also won't have to wait too long on Wednesday to see his name on the Rivals250 either. He was already very close to making the list again before the new evaluation. – Jeremy Crabtree

From playerville in Oakland, Calif.: What made Austin Hinder drop from the top 100? I had read he had performed well at all the Elite 11 camps. I know this is a weak QB class did that have a lot to do with it?

The strength of the class had nothing to do with it. Austin actually struggled at several events we saw him at this spring and early summer, including the NIKE Camp and the Elite 11 Regional earlier in Berkeley. He has bounced back with two solid days so far at the Elite 11, which will give us another opportunity to discuss his ranking. These definitely have been the two best days we've seen him at in any event, and he's playing like a true Army All-American – Barry Every

From SkotDuran in Tampa, Fla.: I had a question about 5 star players. Is there a cap on the amount that you are willing to give 5 star ratings to or a minimum that you have to give? Or is it just a reflection on the amount of players that you feel are 5 star caliber? Also do you see a time when you will be giving star ratings to juniors as well as seniors in high school, as the push in CFB is to recruiting even earlier? Thank you for your time and I really appreciate it.

Rivals.com has never had a cap on how many five-stars it's given out. Some years the list will be around 30, some years, it's closer to 20. It just depends on the amount of depth and talent in that year's class. At this early, early stage in the recruiting process, the 17 that earned five stars are the guys we felt like they were sure things. The list will likely climb as we move forward in the process in the fall. There are quite a few guys that were right on the bubble that we had some serious talks about. It's already difficult enough to rank the players in the current class, so don't know if we'll ever officially move to ranking underclassmen, but we will also find ways to make it clear to readers on some guys that have already caught our eye – Jeremy Crabtree

From TalHawkins112 in Tuscaloosa, Ala.: Will the top quarterbacks be re-ranked after the Elite 11 camp is over? If so, when?

All of the quarterbacks at the camp are definitely being re-evaluated right now here at the camp. I can already tell you from seeing things through a day and half of the camp there we could see some changes in the next rankings update. We're going to shoot for another update about a month from now, after we come back from other major events like Top Gun and the Gridiron King Camp. – Barry Every

From Gatortail75: What happened to cause Gerald Christian to move outside of the top 100? He was called a can't miss prospect by one of your analysts during a USF 7-on-7 tournament.

Gerald was someone we discussed at length because a lot of people think he has much more upside on the defensive side of the ball than on offense. It looks like he will be a tight end all the way at Florida, so we classified him as a tight end. At that position, we think he has just a little bit lower of a ceiling. He is just barely outside of the 100 and still has a 5.9 rating. A player ranked in that range is still a 'can't miss' prospect in our eyes so I don't think that that contradicts what Jamie saw in Tampa. – Barton Simmons

From marshall2 in Westlake Village, Calif.: Just wondering why Malcolm Jones from Oaks Christian in California dropped 40 spots from 32 to 70? He has not done any camps or anything like that the whole entire summer, and I do not see a reason for why he dropped so much. I think rivals should rank their prospects more on what they do during the season rather than how they perform in camps during the summer.

We did get a chance to see Malcolm multiple times this summer and spring at passing tournaments and leagues, including the Air Strike Tournament. Those tournaments are definitely different than combines because you get to see a player do actual football skills. He is still a very, very special prospect and one of the nation's best. Period. However, as we've moved forward we do believe with his running style he's going to need to find the right fit for him offensively if he sticks at running back. We do also love his potential to star at linebacker. And you're right about making sure we look at what happens really on the field. That's something we strive to enforce with all of the prospects when we do updated rankings in the season. Real actual football success is still extremely valuable. – Jeremy Crabtree

From weedline83 in Birmingham, Ala.: How does Phillip Sims compare to quarterbacks in previous classes and who does his style remind you of?

It's obviously not an elite year for quarterbacks as it seems everyone has quite a few flaws in their game more so than in years past, but Sims is big, strong-armed guy who reminds me a bit of Matthew Stafford from 2006. Stafford was more polished at the same stage and more elusive, but both guys have big arms, thick frames and they can make any throw. Sims would be a better fit in a spread but is good enough to work under center and be very successful in college. I don't think he's a future No. 1 overall pick like Stafford, but he has all the tools to be successful. – Mike Farrell

From nole4life24 in Tallahassee, Fla.: Defensive end Corey Miller has been performing extremely well, and deservingly made a huge jump in the most recent rankings. Do you think he will ultimately earn a fifth star despite being in a very deep DE class?

Right now the common sentiment with Corey is that he's a great player, but no one is making a strong push for him to earn his fifth star. He's a phenomenal player right now, but we wonder how much upside he has and how much better he will get. With the exposure that Byrnes has, the schedule that they play and with the inevitable appearance of Miller in some post-season games, he'll have plenty of opportunities to earn that fifth star. He's already in that range. Right now everyone thinks he is a four-star though. – Barton Simmons

From wspencer5 in Charleston, W.V.: Why didn't Barry Brunetti make the top 100? Is it because of his height? I thought he performed very well at almost every camp he attended.

Brunetti has done well at most camps, but he really struggled at Tennessee's camp. That being said, he didn't slip at all, other prospects just moved ahead of him. He wasn't consistent enough this time around to make a push into the Rivals100, but he's still not far off. – Mike Farrell

From 84veteran in Denver, Colo.: Please shed some light on the following statements (see below) that are floating around on the Colorado Rivals blog site. I disagree with the statements, and I would love to hear the truth from the source so I can educate the bloggers on this site. Thank you! 1. Rivals has stated that they watch little or no film on most players they rate and seldom do they look at anything but highlight tapes. 2. At 4 stars and especially below you are dealing with much higher numbers and much less evaluation actually being done. 3. Star ratings: Often they are NOT based on talent but popularity. 4. I've seen players granted an extra star or two just because of the school they went to, not because film was evaluated.

Whoever said that Rivals.com's analyst don't watch film, doesn't know how we go through the process. Film is one of the most vital tools we utilize in making evaluation on a prospect.

Our film library consists of more than 5,000 prospects in the class of 2010 alone. I have a stack of film here on my desk that I will go through today some time before shipping off to other analysts and headquarters to be loaded up. I also know that we as a staff strive to get as much game film to evaluate as we can. And if we can't get it and have to watch only highlight tapes, we strive even harder to ensure that we see that prospect in some fashion in person through the recruiting process.

I'll be the first to admit that it is virtually impossible to see every single kid in person we rank. However, between all the traveling that the staff has done this spring we feel we have a good grasp on a strong majority of the kids ranked three-stars or higher. Are there more kids we hope to see the rest of the summer and into the fall? No question.

Barry has been gone 18 of the last 20 weeks somewhere, Barton, Greg, Farrell, Jamie and myself have spent multiple upon multiple weeks on the road seeing players in person. We use that to compliment what we see on a prospect's film.

I wish it was just as easy as saying a kid has an offer from here, so he gets this ranking. It'd make all of our jobs easier and my family would get to have me around the house more often. That being said, we take our evaluations seriously and put a lot of time and effort into them. We'll also admit we do always strive to get better, see more kids and will continue to work on these rankings all the way until we're finished in January. – Jeremy Crabtree

From GMoney2600 in Baton Rouge, La.: Why is it taking so long for Tharold Simon to make it into the top 100? It took far too long for Janzen Jackson to enter last year even though it was obvious he was better than nearly everyone ranked ahead of him. The same seems to be happening to Simon this year.

Tharold Simon is somebody we haven't had a chance to get a new evaluation on since the last update. He didn't attend any camps or combines, and we didn't get any new film. I really like his versatility, and I'm definitely going to keep a close eye on him this fall, so he'll have a chance to move up but we can't give him a bump without something new to evaluate. Janzen Jackson's move up came with the release of his senior film. If Simon's senior film has that kind of impact, he will certainly follow suit. – Barton Simmons

From sherm19 in East Lansing, Mich.: Does Rivals use base some rankings on which school a prospect has committed to. I ask because, Edwin Baker was such a high RB prospect for class of 2009, even after being injured all senior year. But after committing to Michigan State, his ranking decreased dramatically. I'm curious if Joe Boisture would have maintained his Rivals100 ranking had he stayed with a more media preferred school like Boston College. This seems like I'm a bitter fan taking stabs, but I really am interested if this plays a role. Thanks.

No, Rivals.com doesn't base rankings on what school a prospect is committed to or has offers from. In regards to Baker, we got a chance to see him a few times in person throughout his senior season when he was healthy, and it was based on those evaluations that he slid down some. I'm a huge fan of the kid personally and hope he has a ton of success in college. With Boisture, his new ranking has more to do with us seeing him at several events in the late spring and summer and liking several other quarterbacks higher. – Jeremy Crabtree

From killerwvu in Morgantown, W.V.: Was there any discussion about Barry Brunetti making the top 100? Also, how do you like West Virginia's chances with the following top 100: Latwan Anderson, Ivan McCartney, and Chris Dunkley? Thank You

The question about Brunetti was already answered above. WVU is the team to beat for Latwan Anderson, and I think for Ivan McCartney, but I don't see Dunkley going to Morgantown. Anderson has favored West Virginia for a long time, so it's clear that another team will have to wow him to win that battle. I think McCartney's link with 2009 signees Eugene Smith and Stedman Bailey could be enough to lure him to join his former teammates. – Mike Farrell

From simmonaa in Buffalo, N.Y.: How close was Chase Rettig to making the top 100? I had previously read that there was a lot of movement in the QB rankings so I was hoping to see him up there

Chase was a guy that I saw three times in person and Jeremy saw five times this spring. We like his upside and potential, but he was not seriously considered for the Rivals100 – Barry Every

From DickButkus51 in Milwaukee, Wis.: How can C.J. Fiedorowicz drop out of the top 100 all of a sudden? All reports coming out about him have been spectacular with some of the latest claiming his size and athleticism scream NFL. So now that he has committed to a mid-level DI school he is suddenly not as good? Then you have Kyle Prater make the big jump to 5-star status as the 4th best player in the country? As a part of Illini-nation I am glad that a home-grown talent is getting attention (and a potential future player) but Prater is not even clearly the best WR in-state and you have him as the fourth best PLAYER in the nation. Do you only base your rankings on offers or the school a prospect has committed to? Your rankings just don't make sense sometimes.

C.J. slid out as did many others that were ranked toward the bottom of the ranking last time when new players were added to the ranking. You are right about talking about how talented and athletically gifted he is. He is still ranked as a four-star prospect, the nation's No. 4 tight end and a Rivals250 prospect. That's hardly a knock on him at all. He's one of the top 1 percent of every high school football player in the nation. I guess we'll have to agree to disagree about Prater. We've seen him up close and in person several times and there is no hesitation on our part to name him as a five-star prospect and one of the top five players in the nation. I think quote from Illinois analyst Tim O'Halloran sums up perfectly what we think of Kyle: "The higher Kyle gets ranked, the harder he will work. He's the type of kid that won't be satisfied with being the fourth best player and the top receiver in the country. He will use this new ranking as further motivation to become the nation's best. He's a special player and one of the best I've ever covered coming out of the state." – Jeremy Crabtree

From jh81 in Phoenix, Ariz.: How do you compare the duo of Prater & White (No. 3 & No. 5) to Jones & Green (No. 4 & No. 9)? Is this duo better or was 2009 a better year of top 10 talent overall?

Prater is probably closer to Julio in comparison. Both are bigger, filled out guys. They both have excellent body control, and like Julio, Prater is a legit 6-3. White is more similar structurally to A.J. Green, but White has the legit track times. He's definitely faster. As a whole, both are great prospects and I expect Prater and White to have similar impacts as a freshmen like Julio and A.J. did. – Barry Every

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