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5 different recruits can claim the title of 2015's No. 1 football prospect

There's no consensus top player in the current recruiting cycle, but that's because five players are good enough to deserve that honor.

Byron Cowart beating an offensive tackle at the 2015 Under Armour All-America Game
Byron Cowart beating an offensive tackle at the 2015 Under Armour All-America Game
Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports

Who is the top player in the country for 2015?

Since 2010, there's typically been some agreement between the four major recruiting services (247Sports, ESPN, Rivals, and Scout). In each of the five previous classes, at least two of the services agreed on the top prospect, including two years in which the pick was unanimous.

In 2011, Rock Hill (S.C.) South Pointe defensive end Jadeveon Clowney's athleticism off the edge was so evident it was hard to consider any other prospects for the title of No. 1 recruit. The same was true in 2013, when Loganville (Ga.) Grayson defensive end Robert Nkemdiche was the runaway pick.

However, in the 2015 class, three of the services have a different prospect on top of the rankings. And two other players have a case -- former consensus No. 1 prospect Martez Ivey, an offensive tackle from Apopka (Fla.) and former ESPN No. 1 prospect Terry Beckner, a defensive end from East St. Louis (Ill.). There's no consensus this year because each can make a strong case as the top player in the country.

In fact, had Chesapeake (Va.) Oscar Smith defensive end Josh Sweat not torn his ACL early in his senior season, the five-star Florida State early enrollee would be in this mix, too. The 6'5, 240-pounder finished second in the SPARQ National Championship at The Opening after running a 4.46-second 40-yard dash.

About half a dozen schools could land a No. 1-quality recruit this cycle, and each of these players has one elite trait that differentiates him from his peers.

Albany (Ga.) Westover defensive tackle Trent Thompson, 247Sports No. 1

Georgia commit


For those who give credence to the 247Sports Composite rankings, making the case for Thompson is pretty simple -- when combining the evaluations of all four services, the 6'3, 315-pound Georgia pledge is the best player in the country.

Thompson was intent on proving he deserves the title of top player at the 2015 US Army All-American Bowl and did so with consistently strong effort in practice.

His high motor allows him to take advantage of his elite first step and quickness off the ball that can overpower most high school offensive linemen before they can even get out of their stances. That even goes for highly regarded prospects like USC commit Chuma Edoga, Thompson's victim in the above clip.

East St. Louis (Ill.) defensive tackle Terry Beckner Jr., former ESPN No. 1



Beckner has a lean, projectable frame with enough mass to hold up at the point of attack, but so little bad weight that he was able to run a 4.89 40-yard dash at The Opening and post a 4.36 shuttle. That would make some running backs jealous.

Despite weighing 293 pounds, Berkner is arguably the No. 1 because he's strong enough to play inside at nose tackle if necessary, can penetrate the backfield as a three-technique defensive tackle (since he has tools like the spin move shown above), and is even a threat off the edge. He can use speed-to-power or pure bullrush techniques to collapse the pocket.

Concord (Calif.) Clayton Valley defensive tackle Kahlil McKenzie, Scout No. 1

Tennessee commit


The fact that McKenzie holds the top ranking from Scout despite not playing as a senior is a testament to the dominant performances the  6'3, 354-pounder turned in at the Oakland NFTC, The Opening, and during Army Bowl week.

The case for McKenzie as the top prospect? The above incredible reps at the Oakland NFTC put his raw power on full display. He's an irresistible force, making almost every linemen who has been put in front of him over the last year an imminently moveable object.

In fact, he may be the most functionally strong defensive tackle to emerge from the high school ranks since A'Shawn Robinson in 2013, and McKenzie is 50 pounds heavier than Robinson was at the same time.

Seffner (Fla.) Armwood defensive end Byron Cowart, Rivals/ESPN No. 1



The 6'4, 250-pound Cowart proved his effectiveness at the 2015 Under Armour All-America Game, during which he recorded three tackles, a sack, a force fumble, a deflected pass and two quarterback hurries.

Heavy hands and a powerful burst off the ball allow Cowart to decleat top-10 offensive tackle Keenan Walker. His ability to use a number of different pass-rushing moves is what sets Cowart apart. Most prospects get by on natural ability, but Cowart is the rare player who has a high-level understanding of how to his hands as a pass rusher. especially on rip and swim moves.

Auburn, Florida, FSU

Apopka (Fla.) offensive tackle Martez Ivey, former consensus No. 1



Let's just be clear about one thing: If an offensive line coach were to design the ideal left tackle in a lab, the result would look a lot like the Composite No. 2. He's 6'6, 275 pounds with little bad weight, and had the longest arms of all the recruits at the Army All-American Bowl.

Defensive linemen make up the rest of this list. But a left tackle is the cornerstone of a program, tasked with protecting the blindside of the quarterback. And Ivey is an elite left tackle prospect and arguably the best player in the country because he can run block and pass protect equally well, packs a strong punch with his hands, and has the length to engulf most opponents.

Ivey's dilemma