ESPN 150: Breaking Down Top Prospects of 2013

Wes ODonnellFeatured ColumnistApril 17, 2012

ESPN has finally joined the college football recruiting party by releasing their top 150 high school football players of 2013. Like most years, the worldwide leader has rated a few players differently than other recruiting services like Rivals and Scout, but the overwhelming majority of recruits are already well-known.

ESPN gave out only seven 5-star ratings to this point, with Robert Nkemdiche leading and Reuben Foster holding down the No. 2 spot. The two Georgia natives (Foster has recently transferred to an Alabama high school) are Nos. 1 and 2 respectively on all three major recruiting services.

Other consensus 5-stars across the three services include offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil and cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III. It makes sense, then, that they round out the ESPN 150 top four.


Top 4

Nkemdiche is considered one of the most college-ready prospects in some time. At 6'5", 265 pounds, the defensive end recruit, who also plays fullback, is gifted athlete with rare maturity both physically and emotionally for his age.

Still undeclared, he's expected to announce his decision after Gwinnett's spring game on May 18th. According to Michael Carvell of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, his top five in "no particular order" are: LSU, Alabama, UGA, Ole Miss and Clemson.

Foster transferred to Auburn High School, but he committed to Alabama last July.

The move may give the Tigers a bit of a boost, but Foster's downhill playing style and speed fit in perfectly for what Nick Saban's defense likes to do.

In any other year without a "generational" type player like Nkemdiche, he'd easily be No. 1 overall.

Tunsil has offers from nearly every major program in the country, and at 6'6", 280 pounds, it is easy to see why.

Unlike Nkemdiche and Foster, Tunsil's body of work isn't as impressive, but he has arguably the most upside out of the bunch. He's still growing into his frame, already has unique combination of size and skill and appears to have the makings of an elite left tackle. He has everything you cannot teach, and his shortcomings are all coachable.

Hargreaves III is a straight up football player. His father is a coach on the USF staff, but the Florida native isn't being steered away from looking at the dozens of other schools that have already offered him.

VHIII isn't necessarily a freak athlete, but he has great quickness and ball skills and uses every inch of his frame to make plays. The 5'11", 181-pounder, has phenomenal instincts and is ready to contribute immediately.


Others to Note

No. 7 on ESPN's list is 6'5", 220-pound wide receiver Ricky Seals-Jones. The Texas commit has great size and athleticism and is a dangerous threat playing quarterback for his Sealy High team (Sealy, Texas).

He has unique potential and could almost fill out to tight end size when all is said and done.

Kenny Bigelow checks in at No. 10 on the ESPN 150 list. He has already committed to play for the Trojans at USC.

At 6'3", 280 pounds, the defensive tackle has great burst on the interior and has flashed great athleticism during his high school career, taking snaps at linebacker and tight end. He was the Trojans' first commitment, and they couldn't be happier with his potential in Southern California.

Su'a Cravens is a well-known name that ESPN actually rates much lower than both Rivals and Scout. The California safety checks in on the 150 list at No. 15, whereas he's rated in the top six by the others.

At 6'1", 205 pounds, the Vista Murrieta High School star is considered a game-changing safety with great athleticism, ball skills and upside for the next level. He has offers from every major program, but won't rush to any decisions and wants to see some Big Ten and SEC schools before he commits.

One other player to take note of is Penn State quarterback commit Christian Hackenberg. ESPN ranks him as the No. 11 recruit in the country, while Rivals and Scout both put him outside the top 100. The Worldwide Leader actually rates the 6'4", 215-pounder ahead of both USC commit Max Browne and Stanford commit Ryan Burns—although, not by much, as Browne is No. 13 and Burns No. 17.

It will be interesting to see how these three recruits' senior seasons play out.