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August 20, 2012
Rivals100: Making big moves
While the five stars get most of the attention in any rankings release, our post-summer Rivals100 saw plenty of movement following the top 22 prospects ranked to such elite status.
Five different players moved all the way from outside the Rivals250 in our last cycle, into the new Rivals100 rankings this time around.
Perhaps the most impressive move is by Shreveport (La.) Green Oaks cornerback Tre'Davious White, who makes the highest debut at No. 34. Our analysts break down the moves outside of the five stars.
"It's natural for the five stars to get a lot of the attention, but keep in mind that some of these players outside our top 22 right now will be five stars as well," said Rivals.com national analyst Mike Farrell. "And any player ranked in the Rivals100 is an elite prospect representing the smallest percentage of high school football players you can imagine. It's an amazing honor."
White, who is an LSU commitment and was originally recruited as a wide receiver, makes a jump of 124 slots to within that five-star striking distance.
"White plays quarterback and defensive back in high school, but the original thought was that he would likely be a wide receiver," Farrell said. "But after we saw him at cornerback in person, everything changed. He's now the top player in Louisiana and he has a chance to be the next great corner at LSU."
While White was already ranked in the Rivals250, five players debut in the Rivals100.
Fort Worth (Texas) Southwest wide receiver Robbie Rhodes, a Baylor commitment, Madison (Fla.) Madison County offensive guard Ira Denson (FSU), Memphis (Tenn.) Central defensive end Frank Herron (LSU), Winter Park, Fla. quarterback Asiantii Woulard (South Florida) and New Iberia (La.) Westgate offensive guard Josh Boutte (LSU) were all highly regarded previously, but now took that next step.
"With Rhodes, we got to see that he's a bit bigger than he was during his junior season and the more film we watched the more we saw his big play ability," Farrell said. "Denson is just an animal, a very physical kid who loves to mix it up inside and was very impressive at The Opening.
"Herron was also excellent out in Oregon, showing his athleticism off the edge and his ability to mix up moves and keep linemen guessing. And Boutte had at least three pancake blocks at the Rivals100 Five-Star Challenge and was much more physical and aggressive than we thought. He also has excellent feet."
As for Woulard, he made the move from three stars to the Rivals100.
"The biggest surprise and the most exceptional quarterback at the Elite 11 was Woulard, who sat out the first day because of a groin injury, and honestly, we didn't expect much from him after that," said Rivals.com West analyst Adam Gorney. "We were totally shocked when we saw him in drills, zipping the ball all over the field and making dynamite throws in pretty much every setting. After watching the Elite 11 for a few days, the quarterbacks all start to look similar because they're all talented and make good reads, but Woulard stood out among the group. He has great size, tremendous arm strength and really made a name for himself at that event."
In addition to the five newbies, there are many prospects making big jumps within or into the Rivals100.
Quarterbacks and wide receivers seem to dominate this group, led by Fork Union (Va.) Military quarterback Christian Hackenberg and Pinson Valley, Ala. wide receiver Earnest Robinson. Hackenberg, a Penn State commitment, jumped 101 slots to No. 42, while Robinson (Auburn) made a leap of 68 slots to No. 45 overall.
"When Hackenberg is in the groove, throwing the ball well and making good decisions, he is arguably the toughest quarterback to stop in this class. There were many times this summer when he was doing all the right things and he placed the ball perfectly, plus he has a strong arm and can make all the throws," Gorney said. "He could have moved up even more, but there are spurts when Hackenberg tries to make the tough throw instead of the smart throw. That leads to interceptions and there were times when he threw way too many of those."
"Robinson was outstanding at the Rivals100 Five-Star Challenge," Farrell said. "He has good size, he can go up and get the ball, he runs good routes and he's a bail-out receiver, as I call them. He will catch the ball in traffic and bail out his quarterback on a bad throw. He has a chance to be special."
Fort Valley (Ga.) Peach County wide receiver Demarcus Robinson (Clemson), Cleveland Heights, Ohio wide receiver Shelton Gibson and Seffner (Fla.) Armwood wide receiver Alvin Bailey also made nice jumps, showing that while this isn't a top-heavy year at their position, it is a deep one.
Robinson moved up 41 spots to No. 76, while Gibson jumped 37 spots to No. 85 and Bailey moved up 39 slots to No. 93.
"Robinson has good size, runs good routes and has big, reliable hands so he can make some tough catches both high and low," Farrell said. "He was one of the better prospects at the Rivals Challenge and his stock is starting to blow up."
Rivals.com Midwest analyst Josh Helmholdt breaks down the other two receivers.
"Gibson was a ghost all offseason until he showed up at Ohio State's Friday Night Lights event in late July," Helmholdt said. "It was apparent there that he had not spent the entire offseason on the couch. Gibson came in thicker and stronger than we last saw him in the fall. It was his speed that was truly eye-catching, though. He was so fast down the field that the quarterbacks at the event underthrew him all night long and never were able to adjust to his speed."
"Bailey is easily one of the most complete receivers in the country and that allowed him to show off his skills at extremely talented events like the IMG 7-on-7, The Opening and Gridiron Kings. Although he has just average size, Bailey has the quickness to take short passes and pick up yards after the catch. He has the toughness to work the middle of the field and he has the speed to stretch the field vertically."
"Olsen has a lot of poise in the pocket and at the Elite 11 he got the ball out faster than most of them. It's also important to note that Olsen continues to grow and he seems just a little bit taller at every event we see him," Gorney said. "Olsen also does a great job of looking the other way, coming back and finding the receiver in stride. He does not force many passes and seems to always make the right choice whether it's firing it down the field or checking down when he needs to."
Belle Glade (Fla.) Glades Day running back Kelvin Taylor is the lone running back to make a huge jump within the Rivals100. The Florida commitment shot up 45 slots to No. 47 overall.
"Taylor is very quick around the corner and he has a low, strong build with huge legs," Farrell said. "His burst has improved quite a bit and it's more clear than ever why he's a record-setter in Florida."
Finally, three offensive linemen made nice moves in the latest release. Everett, Mass., offensive guard John Montelus and Midland, Mich. offensive tackle Steve Elmer, both Notre Dame commitments, and Huntsville, Ala., offensive tackle Grant Hill (Alabama) showed they deserved a bump.
"Physically, Montelus is everything you want at the offensive guard spot," Helmholdt said. "He is barrel-chested and thick and has good length for the position. Montelus possesses excellent feet, is disciplined in his technique and knows how to maximize his strength. Additionally, he proved to be very coachable when we saw him at Top Gun in July. After missing on an inside move early in the day, he corrected his error and was not beat the rest of the event."
"Elmer started out in the initial Rivals100, but dropped out after struggling to handle speed rushers off the edge early in the off-season. After taking a couple months to work on his technique and foot speed, Elmer came out this summer with a much-improved kick-slide. In close to 50 reps we saw him this summer, I can recall just one instance where he was beat. When you add on his impressive size and length, Elmer certainly earned a big move back into the 100."
Montelus moved up 22 slots to No. 57 and became the No. 1 offensive guard in the country, while Elmer moved up 46 slots to No. 61. Hill made the move to offensive tackle from guard and jumped 41 slots to No. 69.
"Hill proved to us at the Rivals Challenge that he was a tackle and not a guard and his effort and motor was amazing," Farrell said. "Much of his Southeast big man teammates were injured or too tired to play on day two, but he was there carrying the team. He never wore down in one-on-one reps or other drills and he showed good footwork and excellent arm extension."
The Rivals250 will be released on Tuesday.
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