Signing Day for the 2014 recruiting cycle has come and gone, but it's never too early to start looking at 2015 (your favorite team already is). Here are the consensus top 25 players in the class, as collected by the 247Sports Composite.
1. Kevin Toliver II, CB, Trinity Christian (Fla.) Academy
The 247Sports Composite rates Toliver as the top-rated prospect in the class, even though none of the four individual recruiting services bestow upon him that distinction. Toliver committed to LSU in November 2012, but has continued to take unofficial visits since that point, including trips to Miami, Florida and LSU. He also has received interest from Auburn, Ohio State and UCLA, among others -- he has so many scholarship offers that he was only able to name less than a third of them when quizzed.
So what makes Toliver II special? Like other top prospects, it is the combination of size and athleticism. Many prospects have size or athleticism, but only the truly special ones are elite in both areas. Toliver is going to eventually be the size of a college safety, but he has the speed and quickness to stay at cornerback. And with so many teams demanding size at corner, particularly in the Southeast (LSU, Alabama, Georgia, Florida, Florida State, to name a few), there is not enough to go around. And players who can play a smaller man's position at a bigger man's size win games for their teams.
2. Mitch Hyatt, OT, North Gwinnett (Ga.) High School
Hyatt is rated the top offensive tackle in the class by each of the four recruiting services, and is considered a five-star by all but ESPN. He's listed at 6'5.5 and 271 pounds, with offers from Ohio State, Auburn, Clemson, Georgia, USC and Texas, among others. He's taken multiple unofficial visits to both Clemson and Auburn, and committed to Clemson on National Signing Day 2014, where uncle Dan Benish played on the 1981 national championship team.
Hyatt has nice size and has the frame to eventually play at 310 or more pounds after a few years in a college strength program. He has long arms that will help to neutralize elite edge rushers and keep them at bay.
On tape, Hyatt showcases an advance blend of skills. He shows the ability to really bend at the knee and hip, get down and root out a defender.
3. Trent Thompson, DT, Westover (Ga.) High School
Another top lineman from the state of Georgia, Thompson is uncommitted, but holds heavy interest from some of the top programs in the country. Listed at 6'4 and 292 pounds, he holds offers from Florida State, Georgia, Michigan State, Alabama and Auburn, among others. He's a five-star recruit who is considered the best defensive tackle in the class, and he's being pursued hard by Georgia -- Mark Richt showed up to his school and told the students over the intercom that he was "impressed" that everyone was in class and no one was walking in the halls, to which the students responded by running out into the halls to meet him.
Thompson shows great explosion off the ball for a man of his size. His first step is excellent, reminiscent of some defensive ends. And he comes off the ball with good bend at times, though that will be something to improve at the college level. He blows opposing blockers off the ball, though I would like to see him to a better job of attacking a half-man (again, something that will improve with more experience, maturity and college coaching). Once he beats a blocker, his burst to the ball carrier is incredible, and he engulfs running backs. This is a player who is extremely raw, yet has the physical ability to not only take on, but whip double teams. His finish is violent and he really punishes players.
4. Josh Rosen, QB, St. John Bosco (Calif.) High School
There are always a few elite quarterbacks from the state of California in each class, and 2015 is no exception. Rosen is a five-star quarterback who is considered the top pro-style passer in the nation. Listed at 6'4 and 205 pounds, he has great size for a high school quarterback and hails from Bellflower. He is being pursued hard by in-state school UCLA, USC, Cal and Stanford, but says he has interest in checking out Texas and Michigan.
Rosen operates out of the spread, and consistently delivers a catchable ball, hitting his receivers in stride. Accuracy is the most important physical attribute for a quarterback to meet, provided he meets a certain baseline of arm strength (which Rosen does, though he does not have a cannon.) I also like Rosen's ability to throw when he doesn't have a perfect pocket, or is off balance. Some evaluators refer to this as throwing "off platform."
Rosen's motion looks good. He has a free and easy delivery, though it can be a bit less than ideal when he tries to hump up on the throw and generate extra RPMs.
5. Ricky Town, QB, St. Bonaventure (Calif.) High School
We told you there are a few elite quarterbacks from California, right? Town is another guy who is rated as a five-star, coming up right behind Rosen in the pro-style quarterback class rankings. Listed at 6'4 and 205 pounds, he hails from Ventura and has already made his college choice, decommitting from Alabama in January and committing to USC shortly after. He was named the top performer in this year's SoCal Elite 11, a camp that Rosen was unable to participate in.
But there are many things to like about Town. First, he has a consistent, compact stroke. I'd like to see him hold the ball a bit higher, but a consistent throwing motion that is mechanically sound is one of the keys to good quarterbacking. His motion actually reminds me a bit of Jay Cutler's, though perhaps a bit more robotic. He also does a nice job with play fakes, which helps to hold the rush.
6. Daron Payne, DT, Shades Valley (Ala.) School
The quest for the top prospect in the state of Alabama unsurprisingly appears to be a battle between the Tide and the Tigers. Listed at 6'2 and 316 pounds, Payne brings unique size out of the high school ranks, and is 247Sports' pick for the top defensive tackle in the class. From Birmingham, he also holds offers from Clemson (where he has taken a visit) and Georgia, among others. He's incredibly athletic -- Payne is a 6'2 defensive tackle, yet he can dunk a basketball.
7. George Campbell, ATH, East Lake (Fla.) High School
The top multi-positional athlete in the country, the five-star Campbell can play either wide receiver or safety. Listed at 6'3 and 184 pounds, Campbell hails from Tarpon Springs and holds offers from Clemson, Florida, Florida State and Michigan, among others. Previously a commitment to the Wolverines, he decommitted in December, but is reportedly still looking at the Wolverines.
Campbell is only 185 pounds, but I believe he has the frame to play at 210 pounds or more down the line. He has phenomenal athleticism. His top-end speed is excellent, but he has better acceleration than many would expect for a tall player. That's important because it suggests Campbell will have the ability to run better routes, and a greater variety of routes as he continues to develop -- not just deep balls.
8. Martez Ivey, OT, Apopka (Fla.) High School
Another top prospect out of the Sunshine State, Ivey is right behind Hyatt among offensive linemen in the 2015 class. Listed at 6'6 and 280 pounds, he has a slightly bigger frame than Hyatt, and holds offers from Florida, Alabama, South Carolina and Auburn, among others. Ivey has taken three unofficial visits to check out the Gators, making them the apparent team to beat -- a theory he denied.
What makes Ivey so good? Athleticism and the potential to add size. Ivey is very athletic, and he has good quickness off the football with quick acceleration. He can pull and quickly turn the corner. He also shows the ability to bend quite well.
And he does all of that with an extremely impressive frame. Ivey should clearly be able to play when he's north of 300 pounds, as he is currently a quite trim 275-ish pounds, with long arms, big hands and a decent base.
9. Tim Settle, DT, Stonewall Jackson (Va.) High School
Our first prospect on this list from a state that isn't a traditional recruiting power, Settle is a strong defensive tackle prospect who is being pursued by teams across the nation. The 247Sports Composite considers him the third-best defensive tackle in the country and by far the best prospect in the state of Virginia. Listed at 6'3 and 305 pounds, he hails from Manassas and holds offers from Alabama, Ohio State, Clemson and Florida, among others, although he has reported interest in local Virginia, and Virginia Tech is making a push.
I am a big fan of Tim Settle. If I had two words to describe him, they would be "explosive" and "disruptive." On film, he does a great job of exploding through blockers and quickly getting off them and after the running back. He showcases excellent skills for a three-technique defensive tackle, the position made famous by Warren Sapp in Tampa Bay.
10. Shy Tuttle, DT, North Davidson (N.C.) High School
The 2015 class is loaded with talented linemen on both sides of the ball, and Tuttle is no exception. Listed at 6'2 and 314 pounds, the powerful defensive tackle from Lexington is one of the most highly touted recruits in the class. Tuttle is considered a five-star by 247Sports and the Composite, which rates him as the fourth-best defensive tackle in the class. He holds offers from Alabama, Clemson and Tennessee, among others, and is being heavily recruited by local option North Carolina.
Tuttle is a very big player at 315 pounds, but he has the skinny ankles that are the hallmark of big men who move with great suddenness.
At the high school level, Tuttle is way too much for blockers to handle. His size demands a double team, but he is able to stack, shed and split quite well, and he also gets rid of blockers with a violent hand chop and side-step maneuver as well, which I did not expect to see.
11. Daylon Mack, DT, Gladewater (Texas) High School
Mack brings us back to the small list of 2015 prospects who have already made verbal commitments to schools, as he is the jewel of Texas A&M's seven-person class. He's considered a five-star prospect by 247Sports and Scout, and is ranked as one of the top six defensive tackles in the country by each of the four major recruiting services. Listed at 6'2 and 310 pounds, he also received interest from Alabama and Florida State, among other top-tier schools.
Coming off the ball, Mack is unstoppable with his bullrush when he maintains any semblance of proper pad level, an area in which he needs some improvement because he can let his pads get high at times. In high school, his pure strength is often enough, but his pad level will need to improve when he gets to college and he will need to work on developing some pass-rushing moves, because there is not any evidence on film of a swim or rip move beyond his favored bullrush.
12. Kendall Sheffield, CB, Thurgood Marshall (Texas) High School
The 247Sports Composite rates Sheffield as the second-best corner in the class and the second-best player from Texas. He's getting a lot of interest from local schools, as Texas and Texas A&M are showing interest. He also holds offers from Alabama and Florida, among others. He has also recently received an offer from Michigan.
Aside from the fact that Sheffield has good size for the position and the long arms that will help him battle taller wide receivers, what stands out most about him is his speed. A standout on the track, Sheffield posted a top-10 time in the country in the 110m hurdles during the 2013 Texas state championships with a 13.85-second performance. He also won the 300m hurdles and had posted a time in the district meet that ranked sixth in all of Texas.
13. Terry Beckner Jr., DE, East St. Louis (Ill.) High School
Another trip outside the traditional football power states, as Beckner is a menacing defensive lineman from Illinois. He's considered the top strong-side defensive end in the class, and has received interest from Missouri, Ohio State and USC, among others. Listed at 6'4 and 268 pounds, he also plays basketball at his high school.
Beckner is strong. On multiple highlights, he is easily able to discard blockers as they are simply not prepared for the force he delivers with a blow. Beckner also has good, but not great, length and is able to use it to control blockers and prevent them from getting into his chest.
14. CeCe Jefferson, DE, Baker County (Fla.) Senior High School
Jefferson is rated right behind Beckner among strong-side defensive ends in the 247Sports Composite, and is considered the fourth-best player in the Sunshine State. Listed at 6'2 and 250 pounds, he's a little undersized for a college defensive lineman, but will bring speed off the edge at the collegiate level. He's received offers from Alabama, Florida, Florida State and USC, among others. His former coach had high praise:
"We built the entire defense around him," said Sulkowski, now the coach at Coffee County Central in Manchester, Tenn. "He changed the complexity of the game and how team's game planned for us. You look at CeCe from year to year, there's no dropoff, he just gets better and better and better. Teams check things away from him."
15. Malik Jefferson, OLB, Poteet (Texas) High School
Jefferson is the top-rated outside linebacker in the country, and one of the top players coming out of the state of Texas. Listed at 6'3 and 215 pounds, he hails from Mesquite and has received offers from Alabama, Texas A&M, Oregon and Ohio State, among others. His coach called him a "once-in-a-lifetime kid" and praised his endless potential.
The explosiveness that he shows in coming downhill translates to a wide tackling radius that allows Jefferson to make plays even if he doesn't take an ideal angle. His lateral quickness may be his best attribute.
There are a couple of question marks with Jefferson in regards to his frame and coverage ability, but he's such a good athlete and so good coming downhill that even if he struggles early in college to put it together as a complete linebacker, he'll still have a lot of value in a more narrow, attacking role.
16. Iman Marshall, CB, Long Beach Poly (Calif.) High School
Another top cornerback prospect, Marshall is one of a handful of California prospects who have earned a five-star designation. Listed at 6'1 and 190 pounds, he is considered the third-best cornerback in the country and the third-best player in the state. He has received offers from LSU, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Stanford and USC, among others, and has said he likes Stanford for its education and LSU for its tradition.
At first glance, one would assume that Marshall to be strictly a press-corner. However, his quick feet and fluid hips allow him to thrive in off-man situations as well. Marshall carries very good reactive quickness. He's able to recognize routes, transition cleanly out of backpedal and drive on routes just as a receiver comes out of their stem. His lateral suddenness allows to him to stay attached to pass catchers and not get beaten at the break point of routes.
17. Rasheem Green, DT, Junipero Serra (Calif.) High School
Green is rated as the sixth-best defensive tackle in the class and the fourth-best player in the state of California by the 247Sports Composite. Listed at 6'5 and 275 pounds, he hails from Gardena and holds offers from Florida, UCLA, USC and Washington, among others.
Green has powerful, quick hands that he uses to execute a nice assortment of moves to beat offensive linemen. He flashes good overall movement at defensive end as he possesses the hip flexion to pivot and turn the corner in pass rushing situations. I am not quite sure it will translate quite as well versus bigger longer offensive tackles at the college level.
18. Terry Godwin, ATH, Callaway (Ga.) High School
The 247Sports Composite considers Godwin the second-best athlete in the class and the third-best player from the state of Georgia. Listed at 6'0 and 165 pounds, he hails from Hogansville, and committed to Georgia in January over offers from Alabama, Auburn and Clemson, among others.
As a receiver, Godwin displays good hands and really adjusts well to poorly thrown footballs. He catches a number of jump balls by elevating for them and plucking over defenders. And I like what he does with receiver screens over the middle, adjusting to bad throws, keeping his eyes upfield, using his blockers well, weaving through traffic and often scoring. He has a smooth, gliding gait that somewhat disguises how fast he really is. I think Godwin is fast, but perhaps not track fast.
19. Jalin Barnett, OG, Lawton (Okla.) High School
The top interior offensive lineman in the class, Barnett is massive (6'4, 315 pounds) and is rated as the top player in the state of Oklahoma. He's being pursued by both Alabama and Oklahoma, as well as Stanford, among others, and has visited the Sooners and Texas Tech.
20. Shameik Blackshear, DE, Bluffton (S.C.) High School
The top prospect in the state of South Carolina is staying home, as Blackshear committed to Steve Spurrier and the Gamecocks in May. He is considered the best weak-side defensive end in the country, and was being pursued by Florida, Clemson and Florida State, among others. He is listed at 6'5 and 240 pounds, and will still visit other schools.
21. Maea Teuhema, OT, Keller (Texas) High School
The top offensive lineman in the state of Texas, Teuhema committed to the Longhorns in May, but flipped to LSU on Signing Day with older brother Sione. He is considered the third-best offensive tackle by the 247Sports Composite, and is listed at 6'4.5 and 346 pounds.
Teuhema has remarkable mobility for a lineman of his size. He carries his weight extremely well, looking like more a 300-pounder than a 346-pounder, and packs one of the best punches of any lineman in the state over the last several classes. He also likes to pancake opponents and finish the block by making sure they don't get up again. By falling on them. Ouch.
22. John Houston, ILB, Junipero Serra (Calif.) High School
One of the top players in the state of California, Houston is considered the best inside linebacker in the class of 2015. Listed at 6'3 and 205 pounds, he's teammates with Green and holds offers from Florida, Florida State, USC and UCLA, among others. He has said that he might be more inclined to stay near home.
At this stage Houston functions best as a sideline-to-sideline 'backer. He does a nice job scraping along the line of scrimmage and keeping blockers out of his chest plate. He uses an exceptional closing burst to finish plays out by the numbers. He projects an excellent "spill" type of player as well, with his ability to run down plays in space. He can easily range from his inside linebacker position out past the numbers to the sideline to stop ball carriers for minimal gains.
23. Mekhi Brown, DE, Carver (Ga.) High School
One of the top defensive ends in the country, Brown is another part of the impressive crop of prospects coming from Georgia in the class of 2015. He's already made his college choice, committing to Alabama in April, and also received interest from Auburn, Florida State and USC, among others. He's listed at 6'6 and 230 pounds, and is considered the third-best strong-side defensive end in the country.
The first thing that jumped out to me about Brown was his length. In football, length, when used properly, can provide the advantage that allows a player to remain unblocked or to quickly get off a block. Brown, while not very big at the moment, already displays good functional strength with his long levers. And he has the frame to eventually play at 260 or more pounds after some time in an excellent college strength program.
24. Soso Jamabo, RB, Plano West (Texas) High School
One of the top running backs in the class, all four major recruiting services rate Jamabo in the top five at the position, with Scout and 247 putting him at No. 1. Listed at 6'3 and 210 pounds, he hails from Plano and holds offers from Texas, Ohio State, Texas A&M, Notre Dame and Oklahoma, among others. He has been compared to Eric Dickerson, Adrian Peterson and Cleveland Cavaliers point guard Kyrie Irving.
Jamabo has a leaping slide cut that allows him to break diving arm tackles in the open field, turning medium-length gains into monster plays. He also has nice lateral movement that allows him to quickly bounce runs outside the tackles, where he seems the most comfortable. Finally, a jump cut gives him some elusiveness in the backfield and is impressive for his size.
25. Damien Harris, RB, Madison Southern (Ky.) High School
Harris joins Jamabo as top-tier running backs in the class, and is considered the top player in the state of Kentucky by a fairly wide margin. Listed at 5'11 and 205 pounds, he hails from Berea and is the No. 1 running back in the nation according to the 247Sports Composite. He committed to Michigan back in July, but decommitted in January. Harris is still interested in the Wolverines and also holds offers from Florida, Notre Dame, Ohio State and South Carolina, among others.
More players to know
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- Keisean Lucier-South, DE, Lutheran-Orange County (Calif.) High School | Scouting report
- Tyron Johnson, WR, New Orleans (La.) Warren Easton High School | Scouting report
- Byron Cowart, DE, Seffner (Fla.) Armwood High School | Scouting report
- Tarvarus McFadden, CB, Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) American Heritage | Scouting report
- Marvell Tell, S, Encino (Calif.) Crespi High School | Scouting report
- Tyler Jordan, OL, Jacksonville (Fla.) Bishop Kenny High School | Scouting report
- Jovon Robinson, RB, Georgia Military College | Scouting report
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- Stanley Norman, WR/CB, Gardena (Calif.) Junipero Serra High School | Scouting report
- Kyler Murray, QB, Allen (Texas) High School | Scouting report
- Jarrett Stidham, QB, Stephenville (Texas) High School | Scouting report
- Damarkus Lodge, WR, Cedar Hill (Texas) High School | Scouting report
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- Deionte Thompson, S, Orange (Texas) West-Orange Stark High School | Scouting report
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- Justin Hilliard, LB, Cincinnati (Ohio) St. Xavier High School| Scouting report
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- Kris Boyd, CB, Gilmer (Texas) High School | Scouting report
- Larry Pryor, S, Sulphur Springs (Texas) High School | Scouting report
- Chris Warren, RB/ATH, Rockwall (Texas) High School | Scouting report
- Trevor Elbert, OT, Rockwall (Texas) Heath High School | Scouting report