Rivals Rankings Week: Five-Star Countdown for 2024 class


It’s Rivals Rankings Week for the 2024 class as we update the Rivals250, position and state rankings heading into the fall high school season. We kick things off as always with the Five-Star Countdown. We will count down all 21 five-stars until we end at No. 1. Rivals recruiting director Adam Gorney offers his thoughts on each five-star.

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Rivals Rankings Week

Sunday: Who should be No. 1?

Monday: Five-Star Countdown

Tuesday: New Rivals250 revealed | Gorney’s thoughts | Ten on the cusp of five-star status

Wednesday: Offensive position rankings

Thursday: Defensive position rankings

Friday: State rankings

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3. DE WILLIAMS NWANERI

Gorney’s Take: Later on Monday, everyone will learn whether the five-star defensive end from Lee’s Summit (Mo.) North commits to Oklahoma, Missouri or Georgia. Whichever program lands Williams Nwaneri is getting a really special prospect.

Nwaneri looks like a college defensive end playing against high school boys as he has NFL size, outstanding speed, great hands and the tracking ability to get people on the ground from anywhere. A push to No. 1 overall is not out of the question.

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4. QB JULIAN SAYIN

Gorney’s Take: Julian Sayin not only won the Elite 11 but was maybe a throw or two away from winning the pro day portion of that event – the most important part – as the Alabama commit proved once again he can hang with any quarterback in this class and might be the best one.

What stands out so much about Sayin is that he’s cerebral, underrated as an athlete and has precision passing ability, plus an under-the-radar competitiveness that should be perfect at Alabama.

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5. DE COLIN SIMMONS

Gorney’s Take: Colin Simmons is the most athletic defensive end in this class. He has relentless energy, pursues until the ball carrier is on the ground, beats offensive tackles with speed to the outside or his athletic ability to the inside. The new Texas commit is just all over the place, all the time. It seems as if Simmons has boundless energy that’s put into good use to make plays and his ability to cover ground is remarkable.

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6. WR MICAH HUDSON

Gorney’s Take: We think Micah Hudson could be a slightly more physical Garrett Wilson at the same stage. A mistake was made to not move Wilson to five-star status although he was No. 32 in the 2019 class, but the same issue won’t be made with Hudson. He has electric speed but is also a smooth route runner who has phenomenal hands and concentration to bring in every ball thrown his way.

Texas Tech remains the frontrunner but the Temple (Texas) Lake Belton standout still hasn’t made his commitment as Texas A&M and Texas remain in the picture.

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7. WR MIKE MATTHEWS

Gorney’s Take: The new Tennessee commit is just a supreme athlete in every way imaginable. As a receiver, Matthews runs smooth, solid routes to get open, he can take short passes and do special things or stretch the defense by running by cornerbacks.

On defense, the Lilburn (Ga.) Parkview recruit is a playmaker in the back end and Matthews is also a pretty elite basketball player as well.

Coach Josh Heupel should find numerous ways to get Matthews on the field – and early – in Knoxville.

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8. DT JUSTIN SCOTT

Gorney’s Take: Justin Scott can line up in any gap along the defensive line and be destructive as he pushes around interior offensive linemen, can use his speed to get in the backfield and then does a great job of pursuit in getting the ball carrier to the ground. Whether it’s a double team or one-on-one, Scott is regularly going to win because of burst, power and then relentless pursuit. Some believe he could be an even better offensive lineman and while his coach at Chicago (Ill.) St. Ignatius thinks Scott could excel there, his rare qualities on defense make the Ohio State commit stand out.

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9. DB KJ BOLDEN

Gorney’s Take: As a receiver, KJ Bolden might be a five-star as well. But the new Florida State commit is projected to play safety in college and he’s special there as well, not only patrolling the secondary and having the ranginess and instincts to make plays but he can also play straight corner or nickel as well.

Really, Buford (Ga.) uses the five-star all over the field as he’s fantastic on offense, elite on defense and really great on special teams as well.

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10. DT DAVID STONE

Gorney’s Take: What David Stone does best is that he keeps his hands and feet active at all times. While he relies on the swim technique a lot to beat offensive linemen, he keeps it tight and doesn’t expose a lot of area for opponents to block him.

His speed is also elite since he can burst off the snap and get where he wants to be before the offensive linemen can get into their stance, which gives him another advantage. With that speed, unrelenting power and tons of pursuit, Stone is going to live in the backfield.

Oklahoma is considered the favorite with Miami, Florida and Texas A&M on his list. A commitment is coming later this month.

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11. DE KAMARION FRANKLIN

Gorney’s Take: Is it possible that even at No. 11 nationally, Kamarion Franklin is underrated? Stats aren’t everything but the Lake Cormorant, Miss., five-star defensive end had 93 tackles, 48 quarterback hurries and 19 sacks last season. Only at the all-star events will we get a final say on where Franklin should be rated but with his length and power off the edge, the five-star is really special and might only be tapping his potential.

A commitment is expected later this month with Auburn, Ole Miss, Tennessee, Miami and Florida State as his finalists.

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12. LB JUSTIN WILLIAMS

Gorney’s Take: There is not much better junior season tape than that from Justin Williams, who has excellent size, pursues like a madman, can play near the line of scrimmage and blow up a running back in the hole, track players to the sideline or drop and play in coverage.

The new Georgia commit can really do it all on the football field and in coach Kirby Smart’s defense, the Conroe (Texas) Oak Ridge standout should excel.

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13. DB ELLIS ROBINSON

Gorney’s Take: Ellis Robinson recently moved to the top-rated cornerback in the 2024 class and after some impressive performances this summer, the Georgia commit is now a five-star prospect as well. The 6-foot-1, 185-pound Robinson has great size and length and even though he’s a bigger corner, the Bradenton (Fla.) IMG Academy standout showed this summer he can turn and run with the best receivers in the class.

Robinson might not be a burner at the position but he can cover, make up ground and his length allows him to always be around the ball.

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14. DB ZAQUAN PATTERSON

Gorney’s Take: One of the best-looking prospects in the 2024 class, Zaquan Patterson is expected to play safety in college but he also played receiver at OT7 Nationals and looked like an elite player wherever he is on the field. The Hollywood (Fla.) Chaminade-Madonna standout is phenomenal in coverage, does a great job tracking the deep ball and he’s super comfortable in space or coming up to make a big hit.

Miami is considered the favorite but Auburn, Florida State and others are involved.

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15. ATH JOSHISA TRADER

Gorney’s Take: To be completely frank, Joshisa Trader will need a big senior season and a strong showing in the all-star events or he runs the risk of falling out of five-star status. Trader is a very talented receiver, he makes plays all over the field and when he flips over to defensive back he might even be better. But he didn’t work out at OT7 Nationals and was a little off the radar this offseason.

The Miami commit is really good but a first-round grade can only happen for so many so Trader needs to be back it up on the field. He definitely has the skills to do just that.

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16. DE DYLAN STEWART

Gorney’s Take: The difference in talent level between Williams Nwaneri and Dylan Stewart is very slight – if at all – as the two are very similar players and dominant defensive linemen. Stewart might be a little more finesse off the edge but the South Carolina commit could also be slightly longer as both are incredibly athletic.

The Gamecocks beat Ohio State and others for the Washington (D.C.) Friendship Collegiate Academy standout and Stewart has all the tools NFL teams are looking for in edge rushers.

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17. DE EDDRICK HOUSTON

Gorney’s Take: Maybe Eddrick Houston doesn’t have the elite length as other five-star defensive ends in the 2024 class but in terms of production and disruption coming off the edge, the Buford, Ga., standout is a top-notch player and looks to back it up again in his senior season after a quiet summer.

Houston really moved way up in the rankings after great sophomore film and then impressive in-person evaluations as a junior. He can push by offensive linemen with power or get to the outside with speed.

Ohio State is considered the frontrunner but others remain as well.

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18. LB MYLES GRAHAM

Gorney’s Take: A move to Gainesville (Fla.) Buchholz for his senior season only solidifies Myles Graham’s Florida commitment and the Gators are not only getting a legacy (he’s Earnest Graham’s son) but also an elite linebacker with phenomenal coverage skills and the ability to play in space.

Graham is an excellent running back himself but he projects on defense in Gainesville and that’s where the five-star can come down and hit, race to the sidelines to knock people around and play in space as comfortably as anyone else in the class.

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19. WR RYAN WINGO

Gorney’s Take: The St. Louis (Mo.) University five-star receiver, who’s looking at Missouri, Texas, Georgia and others, had a quiet offseason but showed up to the NIL Sports seminar/media day and definitely looked the part of an elite player.

Ryan Wingo has leaned out over the last year and is still a smooth route runner with great size and big hands. A big senior season – and especially an impressive showing at the all-star events – could solidify his five-star ranking.

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20. QB AIR NOLAND

Gorney’s Take: An argument could be made that the Ohio State quarterback commit was the most consistent at the Elite 11 through every drill and every test given to those players. The lefty is so compact in his delivery, spins it perfectly nearly every time and had no problem timing up with receivers and putting it on the money every time.

There’s another ancillary benefit to consider when it comes to Air Noland: He’s going to be surrounded by incredible receivers when he gets to Columbus, which will make his job easier.

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21. DB PEYTON WOODYARD

Gorney’s Take: One of the biggest recruiting stories of the summer came in recent days when the five-star safety flipped his commitment from Georgia to Alabama. The Bellflower (Calif.) St. John Bosco prospect will be closely watched this season, and there will be pressure from others for these final five-star spots.

Peyton Woodyard is incredibly talented but so are many others. A big fall season and a strong showing at the all-star games will be crucial.

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