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December 2, 2012

Roundtable: Previewing the rankings update

MORE: Rivals100 chat LIVE, 3 p.m. ET Monday

The end of the regular season and the start of all-star season means it's time to update our prospect rankings. Monday at noon ET, we will reveal a new Rivals100, with the new Rivals250 right behind on Tuesday. Fresh off a week of rankings meetings, the Rivals.com analysts tackle some questions about the class of 2013 in a roundtable format.

1. Is there one position that emerged this time in the national rankings as a position of strength?

Mike Farrell, National/Mid-Atlantic: I think it's actually a very good and deep year at quarterback. We may not have as many five-stars as we've had in some past years, but there are a number of quarterbacks who are emerging as potential impact players at the college level. I also can't remember a year where the elite quarterbacks took care of the ball so well and avoided turnovers. This could be a class we look back on and be pleased with the rankings at the hardest position to evaluate.

Adam Friedman, Mid-Atlantic: The running back position got a lot stronger this time around. Numerous prospects at the running back and all-purpose back positions made big jumps up into the Rivals100 and Rivals 250. A few of them have set records at the state or national level and have been the subject hot recruiting conversations across the country.

Kynon Codrington, Southeast: I have to say the safeties emerged as a position of strength for me. West coast analyst Adam Gorney feels Su'a Cravensis the most complete football player in California this season. Tray Matthews and Keanu Neal also impressed us this summer at The Opening, and on film they are head hunters with great range, instincts and ball skills.

Woody Wommack, Southeast: As the cycle has gone along it's become more and more evident that this year is a very strong year for the cornerback position. There are seven cornerbacks among the top 39 prospects, and analyzing the differences between the group is like splitting hairs. Several of them, led by Kendall Fuller and Vernon Hargreaves III, should make an impact early in the college careers.

Josh Helmholdt, Midwest: One position we have not given enough attention to in the 2013 class is safety, but when you look at nine players who will be rated 6.0 or higher when the updates rankings are released ... that is a huge number for a position like safety. The depth at the position this year is outstanding, and the top-end talent may be the best we have seen in a decade.

Jason Howell, Southwest: Running back and safety really stick out in my mind for several reasons. First of all both positions are stacked with five-stars. Second of all, there is a lot of depth to go along with that top talent. Third, there are a lot of guys who have shown different ways of getting the job done and standing out throughout both position groups. If I have to pick one, I'll go with running back.

Rob Cassidy, West: "Emerged" is probably the wrong word, but the cornerbacks in this class continue to be strong. It all starts at the top, but the depth is solid as well. The three current five-stars -- Kendall Fuller, Vernon Hargreaves III and Jalen Ramsey -- are probably in a class of their own, but names such as Cameron Burrows, Eli Woodard and Chris Hawkins, among others, make the make the group strong and deep.

Adam Gorney, West: It's obvious that defensive end is a position of strength in this recruiting cycle, but I think running backs made a big move up in these rankings. There were two running backs in the West especially who shot up the charts and one from the Southeast who also made a healthy move up the rankings. Running back is sometimes an overlooked position, but because so many prospects had outstanding and dominant years, there were numerous players at that position who made a big jump in the latest round of rankings.

2. Which player did you push for the hardest for a big bump this time around?

Mike Farrell, National/Mid-Atlantic: For me it was T.J. Logan who could be the next Gio Bernard at North Carolina This kid is very versatile, he's a threat in the running and passing game, and his production is off the charts. North Carolina is beginning to become the home to some elite running backs with Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall last year and Logan this year.

Adam Friedman, Mid-Atlantic: I really thought Corey Clement deserved a big move in these rankings. He set the all-time career rushing record for South Jersey and is committed to Wisconsin, a school known for its running game. Leaving Clement outside the Rivals250 would have been a huge mistake.

Kynon Codrington, Southeast: Laquon Treadwell was the player who was most deserving of the coveted fifth-star. I had a chance to see him twice this summer at The Opening and Gridiron Kings, and he was the best receiver in attendance. He has great size, body control, and deceptive speed. He even played some safety at Gridiron Kings to help the team out. Midwest analyst Josh Helmholdt has seen him multiple times this fall and said he is even better than last year. Treadwell hauled in 75 receptions for 1,400 yards and 18 touchdowns as a junior. If he was better than his junior campaign, his senior season must be downright nasty.

Woody Wommack, Southeast: A guy I pushed for to get a nice bump within the Rivals100 wide receiver Demarcus Robinson. From all accounts, the Army All-American is a dynamic talent who could be the bridge to the next generation of quality Clemson wide receivers like DeAndre Hopkins and Sammy Watkins.

Josh Helmholdt, Midwest: The Midwest will see a lot of action in the three-star territory, with several new three-stars being added and even more moving higher in the three-star range. In the four-star territory, though, the Midwest prospect who should make the biggest jump is Michigan State linebacker commit Jon Reschke of Birmingham (Mich.) Brother Rice. The 6-foot-2, 225-pound Reschke has always had the tools, but this year we saw him translate that over to the football field.

Jason Howell, Southwest: Without a doubt that honor goes to Laquvionte Gonzalez. The Cedar Hill standout does not fit nicely into any particular mold. He is not a prototypical receiver, he's not your typical running back, but when he steps on the field he is a special playmaker. He is knocked for his size and his technique, but he is the kind of guy who you want to have the ball. Gonzalez may not be textbook, but he is as slippery and quick as anyone in the country. He has tremendous vision and change of direction to go along with breakaway speed.

Rob Cassidy, West: For me it was Chandler (Ariz.) Hamilton's Cole Luke. There's still something to be said for pure athleticism, and Luke certainly has that. I've seen him make a significant impact from the corner position, but also from running back, receiver and as a return man. He truly shines in his natural position, of course, but the guy is capable of making plays from anywhere on the field. Sometimes we get too caught up in measurables and body types and overlook players who always seem to be standing at the center of the action.

Adam Gorney, West: Because he had such an incredible senior season and has been dominant pretty much every time he was on the field I felt compelled to drastically move up West Hills (Calif.) Chaminade running back Terrell Newby. The four-star running back rushed for 2,129 yards and 43 touchdowns through 13 games against solid competition and has proven to be one of the best running backs in the country. Petitioning him to move up was almost a no-brainer.

3. Which player has the most to prove to you this upcoming all-star season?

Mike Farrell, National/Mid-Atlantic: This may be the obvious answer, but I think it's Robert Nkemdiche, the nation's No. 1 player. While Jadeveon Clowney and Dorial Green-Beckham went bell to bell the last two years and there wasn't a lot of doubt at the top, this year Nkemdiche is not locked into that slot at all. There are many players making a charge to the top, and this final evaluation will be key for all of them.

Adam Friedman, Mid-Atlantic: Derwin Gray needs to really do well at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl. He dropped in the new rankings because his pass blocking technique really needs some work. Some of the best defensive ends in the country will be in San Antonio for Gray to go up against, and if he does well he could find himself moving back up the rankings.

Kynon Codrington, Southeast: I'm going to stick with my region and point to Joey Bosa. Bosa has the frame and the tools to be a dominant, every-down defensive lineman. However, the Ohio State pledge has suffered some unspecified injuries over the last couple of seasons. When healthy he can play on the strong side at end or slide down to tackle without missing a beat. Former St. Thomas Aquinas head coach and current athletic director George Smith said he is a freak and could be the most athletic player he has ever coached. I'm looking forward to seeing him in Orlando at the Under Armour All-American game in January.

Woody Wommack, Southeast: Our eyes will be on Robert Nkemdiche. His high school season came to an early end, and he didn't compile the kind of eye-popping status we expected. His rating is based on his on-field abilities, but it will be nice to get to see him going against and competing alongside some of the other top players in the country.

Josh Helmholdt, Midwest: Alliance (Ohio) Marlington athlete Dymonte Thomas could have the most to gain at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl in January. Thomas has already proven he is a great athlete and one of the fastest players in the Midwest. We still have not seen him in coverage, though, and he is headed to Michigan next year to play safety. If the 6-foot-2, 192-pounder can show he has the range and coverage skills to play deep, he could be in line for a good bump come January.

Jason Howell, Southwest: It has been a rough year for Tyrone Swoopes. The small-town standout has been thrust under a microscope, and everything from his leadership to his athleticism to his mechanics have been dissected ad nauseam. To his credit, he has never quit or backed down from a challenge, but there is no question the 2012 season did not go as hoped. Swoopes will be in San Antonio for the U.S. Army Bowl, and he will have plenty of eyeballs watching his every move.

Rob Cassidy, West: Let me start by saying that I'm a big fan of Chans Cox. I think he's a fine linebacker. Still, there's a consensus that he needs to prove it at the top level, and I understand why. Cox, a four-star linebacker, has battled the injury bug throughout his career and is currently nursing a broken foot. The other knock has less to do with him and more to do with the competition against which he plays. The all-star season will make or break Cox's ranking. He could shine at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl and skyrocket or struggle and find himself in a free fall.

Adam Gorney, West: Robert Nkemdiche. He dodged the Rivals Five-Star Challenge last summer even though it was right down the road from him, he didn't compete at The Opening, and his senior film is impressive but doesn't blow me away. On the other hand, Carl Lawson was unreal at the Five-Star Challenge, and his senior film at defensive end is extraordinary. Nkemdiche needs to dominate at the Under Armour game to get my vote to stay No. 1 in this class.



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