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August 25, 2012

Roundtable: Closing in on Rivals250

MORE: New Rivals250 | Breaking down team rankings

The Rivals.com analysts tackle current topics in the recruiting world in a roundtable format.

Who barely missed the Rivals250 this week and has a real good shot of breaking into the post-fall ranking?

Rob Cassidy: Las Vegas Bishop Gorman quarterback Anu Solomon has dropped from the Rivals250 in this recruiting cycle, but the talented dual-threat has every chance to find his way back. Playing at one of the region's top high schools, he'll see no shortage of exposure and will have the chance to show off his strong arm and quick feet against top competition.

Kynon Codrington: For me, Clarksville (Tenn.) Northeast athlete Jalen Reeves-Maybin has a good shot this fall to climb into the Rivals250. Reeves-Maybin is a playmaker with the ball in his hands, but he can easily transition to safety or outside linebacker when he enters college.

Mike Farrell: I'll say Jamone Boyd because I think he's going to have a very good senior season. I know he is a polarizing prospect when it comes to rankings, but you can't teach his size and athleticism, and I think this could be the year he puts it together and becomes more consistent. However, if his film remains the same he will stay on the outside looking in and be more potential than substance.

Adam Gorney: In the West, keep an eye on Sherman Oaks (Calif.) Notre Dame running back Khalfani Muhammad. He was in the Rivals250 the last time but after seeing some other running backs I thought he needed to take a dip in the rankings. His plummet might have been a little too harsh especially since he holds all kinds of track records so his speed will definitely be an asset in college. Muhammad's team plays a challenging schedule this season which includes a trip to Ireland to play Chandler (Ariz.) Hamilton next week. If he puts up solid numbers through the season, Muhammad could move back up.

Josh Helmholdt: Iowa defensive end commit David Kenney started in the Rivals250 and just fell out because we did not see him this summer and others moved ahead of him. But Kenney is one of the most explosive pass rushers in the Midwest, and that is a highly valued trait from the defensive end position. A strong senior season could get him right back into the 250.

Woody Wommack: There were a number of players who were off the radar during the summer because of their camp performance or lack thereof. With the season in full swing, there will be ample opportunities to rebound. Look for WR Carlos Burse, who was right on the fringe the last time around, to come on strong.

What matchup (player vs. player) over the next month in high school action intrigues you the most?

Rob Cassidy: When Arlington (Texas) Martin and DeSoto High School get together on Aug. 31, the game will feature a meeting of four-star tailbacks. DeSoto's Dontre Wilson is the No. 180 prospect in the country. His Arlington Martin counterpart, Kyle Hicks, sits just outside the Rivals250. The head-to-head matchup will result in exciting offense, and the juxtaposition of the two ball-carriers will factor into the next round of rankings.

Kynon Codrington: I'm looking forward to next week's contest between Loganville (Ga.) Grayson and Miami (Fla.) Central. The nation's top prospect, DL Robert Nkemdiche, looks to cement his ranking against the strong run game of the Rockets featuring 2014 OL Trevor Darling, a Miami pledge, and fellow 2014 RBs Joseph Yearby, a Florida State commit, and Dalvin Cook, a Clemson recruit.

Mike Farrell: I want to see Derwin Gray go against Kenny Bigelow when Eastern Christian Academy plays Friendship Collegiate at the Patriot Classic. I'm not sure if they will get to go head-to-head because Bigelow could be doing more work inside, but it would be a great matchup to see in pads with a five-star going against a four in the trenches.

Adam Gorney: It's a quarterback matchup between Max Browne and Cooper Bateman. Browne is the top-rated quarterback in the class and he's thrown for some insane numbers the last two seasons. He's leading his Sammamish (Wash.) Skyline club on the road against Bateman and Salt Lake City (Utah) Cottonwood. This should really be an intriguing matchup of two of the best quarterbacks in the country who are high-profile guys and who competed against each other this summer. It will be interesting to see who gets the upper hand.

Josh Helmholdt: On Sept. 15, I will head down to Central Illinois to see Peoria Manual play Peoria High. Manual has Rivals250 offensive tackle Logan Tuley-Tillman while Peoria High has three-star defensive end Josh Augusta. The 6-foot-5, 275-pound Augusta is very talented, but he is raw. Going head-to-head with Tuley-Tillman will give us a great opportunity to scout both prospects, especially Augusta who could prove worthy of a fourth star.

Woody Wommack: Hoover (Ala.) versus Batesville(Miss.) South Panola on Aug. 31. These are two traditional powers in the South, each producing a number of prospects each year. I'm interested to see how Hoover linebacker Jamal Lucas fares on the blitz when he's met by South Panola's hulking offensive lineman Deon Mix. The two won't be going head-to-head the entire game, but will still see plenty of one another.

It appears 2013 is the year of the cornerback. But which position disappoints you overall in the 2013 class?

Rob Cassidy: Wide receiver is thin at the top this year. The absence of a single five-star this late in the process certainly says something, and that something isn't positive. The potential for a couple to emerge in this cycle is there, but there isn't a can't-miss prospect at the top as in the recent past.

Kynon Codrington: The wide receiver position disappoints me the most. Every year there are a couple of clear-cut five-star wideouts. Crete (Ill.) Monee receiver LaQuon Treadwell has a chance to earn his fifth star this fall and is the best flanker in this year's class hands down.

Mike Farrell: Inside linebacker is again very weak. After Reuben Foster and Larenz Bryant, I think there's a pretty good dropoff. Weakside defensive end is also not so great and very top heavy. But I'll go with inside linebacker because it's been weak overall for the second year in a row.

Adam Gorney: Wide receiver is weak. Rivals.com has no five-star wide receivers and the top-rated player at that position is Laquon Treadwell at No. 23. We considered moving Treadwell to that elite status but held up pending what he does this season. It is disappointing that there are no five-star wide receivers since it's such a vital position in college. Maybe that's why it's the year of the cornerback - because the top ones look so good against slightly above average receivers.

Josh Helmholdt: We usually see more than three offensive tackles in the top 50, but the position is not as deep at the top as it has been in years past. With 31 prospects at the position rated as four-stars there is depth as you get further down the list, but we're not seeing as many elite players at the position as years past.

Woody Wommack: It's not so much that the group as a whole disappoints me, but at this point in the cycle it's a shame that one wide receiver hasn't distinguished himself from the rest. Perhaps it's the talent at cornerback at all the various camps and combines that's contributing, but we've yet to see one prospect dominate at receiver. It could turn out to be that 2013 is a year where there are plenty of good prospects at wide receiver, but no truly great ones.

Looking ahead to the first couple of weeks in college football, which program in need of impressing recruits has the best opportunity to do so?

Rob Cassidy: If there's something to be said about first impressions, it's Arizona State. The Sun Devils' new coaching staff is putting increased emphasis on in-state recruiting, and there's no better way to usher in a new era than finding a way to go on the road and upset Missouri in week 3. ASU's game with the Tigers is sandwiched between home contests against Illinois and Utah, giving Todd Graham's staff an early chance to make playing at Arizona State look desirable again.

Kynon Codrington: Tennessee has a great chance to impress recruits and gain momentum on in-state foe Vanderbilt in the recruiting rankings. The Vols open against N.C. State and followed by a Sept. 15 game against Florida before closing September against a possible top-five Georgia team.

Mike Farrell: I'll go with Michigan State and Michigan as both have tough tests. Michigan State recruiting has been overshadowed by Michigan and Ohio State and others in the Big Ten, but a big win over Boise State would go a long way in attracting some more remaining recruits in 2013 and getting a head start on 2014. Michigan plays Alabama and needs to show that Brady Hoke has taken the team to the next level and hang with an SEC power. Clemson's game against Auburn is also a key early matchup in the Southeast as it goes against each other for some of the same top kids including Montravius Adams.

Adam Gorney: It has to be Penn State. The community and the commitments need some positive news. A good start to the season can help that process and looking at Penn State's schedule, it's not completely out of the question. The schedule gets drastically more difficult in October but early on the Nittany Lions have some winnable games. There have been coaching changes and programs that need a boost but nothing compares with the need for positive press that Penn State faces heading into this fall. A bad start means more issues with the recruiting class. A good start would be a really positive sign and a chance to slowly move forward.

Josh Helmholdt: Michigan State is coming off back-to-back seasons in which it won a conference championship and the inaugural Legends Division title, but the Spartans enter the fall outside the top 50 in the team recruiting rankings. Their season opener against Boise State on Aug. 31 will draw a lot of national attention, though, and should help raise their profile in the eyes of recruits.

Woody Wommack: Brady Hoke and the Michigan coaching staff have done a great job restoring the program's stature in the college football world. But to truly be considered elite again, the Wolverines need a signature win. They'll get that chance against Alabama in Week 1, and if they're able to knock off the defending national champions, recruits all across the nation will take notice.



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