Rivals National Recruiting Director Adam Gorney together with national hiring analysts Adam Friedman and Sam Spiegelman and social media lead Woody Wommac address three topics and determine whether they believe each statement.
1. After another big performance last weekend, Georgia QB commit Gunner Stockton has cemented his position as a five-star.
Gorney’s opinion: FICTION. Only a few prospects in the 2022 class have retained their five-star status as the rankings will remain very fluid through their key senior seasons and even more important all-star events where it tops every position. I love Gunner Stockton’s play, from his leadership skills to his ability to read and respond to defenses, his dual-threat abilities as not just a runner but a thrower on the run and his never-say-that attitude . But I haven’t seen an elite passer so far compared to other quarterbacks in this class. Ranked below five star status is hardly a damper on anyone’s abilities and Stockton is still one of the best quarterbacks in this class. Do I see a future first-rounder though? I have yet to see more to determine somehow.
Friedman’s opinion: FICTION. Stockton lit up the scoreboard last weekend and Georgia fans should be really excited to get him in uniform next year. He’s going to finish his high school career with one of the best stats in the storied history of Georgia high school football, but his five-star prospect status is up in the air. Stockton has a lot of arm talent, but what really stands out is how quickly he can see what the defense is trying to do and deliver the ball to the right receiver. If you look at the tape, the vast majority of Stockton’s passes are fast screens or deep routes outside the playing action. In games, he hasn’t often thrown the short or intermediate cross routes, the deep timing routes, or those very difficult second level passes. Five-star quarterbacks should be able to throw those passes with ease and a high completion rate. Stockton’s athleticism adds a special wrinkle to his game and defenders have had a very hard time keeping him off large tracts of yard with his legs. As for Stockton’s rankings, there won’t be any finalization until after the postseason all-star games, so there’s a lot more to evaluate between now and then.
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2. Cormani McClain could make an argument as the best cornerback of 2023.
Gorney’s opinion: FICTION. I definitely think Cormani McClain is one of the best cornerbacks in the class of 2023 and he could become a five star in the long run as we see everyone in this class but I still prefer AJ Harris for his physical abilities. There is no doubt that McClain has had a phenomenal start to his junior season and he is a playmaker in the cornerback spot. I really like his game and his height. However, Harris is already physically dominant, he can push receivers off their routes, he can run with anyone, he closes and can jump to knock away or pick out passes. I like McClain very much; I just think Harris is taking him out now.
Wommack’s opinion: FACT. After you get the chance to see McClain play in person, you can see why so many schools rank highly on him. He’s essentially brand new to the cornerback position, but has all the kind of instincts you can’t coach. In his first two games of the season, he forced five times and had several pass-breakups. His ability to read and respond without taking unnecessary risks is something that coaches with defensive backs like to see from a prospect. Add his height, height and athleticism and he has the makings of an elite prospect.
3. Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei is the best team in the country – and so is IMG.
Gorney’s opinion: FACT. I understand that Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei is a private school and so has built-in recruiting benefits that public schools don’t, but this question is about whether it’s the best team in the country and I’d say yes. Not only does Mater Dei have elite players in almost every position, but it’s so well coached, so closely woven into the program that it almost never makes big mistakes and plays fantastic football together. IMG has more high-level players across the board, but many of those players have only played together for a few weeks, not years. This may not be a discussion of Mater Dei or IMG as there are many other quality programs in the country including conference foe Bellflower (Calif.) St. John Bosco, but I suspect if Mater Dei and IMG lined up Friday night, Mater Dei would come out victorious.
Spiegelman’s opinion: FACT. It certainly has a case, and after each of its blue-chip recruits has made plays en route to a lopsided defeat of Duncanville, it’s hard to imagine a more talented team in the country. Offensively, it features home run threat Raleek Brown and CJ Williams who can move the sticks in the passing game. Defensively, there’s a handful of players in the front seven, including Malaki Te’o who can cover a ton of ground at linebacker and David Bailey who is a force off the edge, as well as a few Pac-12 commitments in the secondary, including five-star Domani Jackson, who had a pick six to open this game. That was just as convincing a win in one of these national tilts in recent memory.