As of this past weekend, college football coaches now have the opportunity to talk with juniors in high school, which means the race to build the best 2014 recruiting class has officially begun.
Right now, names like Robert Nkemdiche, Reuben Foster and Jaylon Smith are on the top of the average college football recruiting fan's mind—because they are up to bat—but what about the next wave of elite players entering the college football ranks?
These current juniors will soon be the recruits everyone is talking about, so get yourself in the know and keep your eye on these players from the class of 2014:
Obvious Choice: Da'Shawn Hand, SDE, Woodbridge, VA
This is the kid you wanna know about when discussing the recruiting class of 2014. Hand is the No. 1 recruit in the nation for 2014 according to 247sports, and that's for good reason.
He's got the perfect size to become a college DE at 6'5, 247 pounds (Robert Nkemdiche is 6'5, 260 lbs), and he's incredibly versatile for his size. Sometimes, taller players will struggle to get low and be effective as a pass rusher from the interior of the line, but Hand has no trouble getting penetration from either the inside or the edge.
He has a great first step and uses his hands well to disengage blockers, but where he really impresses me is in pursuit. He has the athleticism and speed to get after the quarterback or ball-carrier, and he's big and physical enough to be an intimidating force as a tackler.
Hand has offers from a ton of schools for obvious reasons, but some notable programs include Virginia Tech, Alabama, Michigan, Ohio State and USC.
Pure Athlete: Jabrill Peppers, CB/RB, Don Bosco Prep, NJ
If you're looking for the pure athlete of this 2014 class I would urge you to check out Jabrill Peppers. He's lighting-quick, displays incredible vision and natural football instincts and at 6'1, 200 pounds he's big and strong enough to play incredibly physical.
The best part is, he can effectively star as either a running back or a hard-hitting cornerback on the defensive end. How can you not like this kid?
His speed and elusiveness allow him to blow by defenders as a runner, and on the defensive side he has the ability to close on the ball quickly. He can also be incredibly physical as a runner or a run-stopper at the line of scrimmage.
Some schools that have already made offers to Peppers include Florida, Michigan, Notre Dame and Ohio State. He's ranked No. 3 overall by 247sports.
Big Arm: Keller Chryst, QB, Palo Alto, CA
At 6'3'', 215 pounds, Chryst already has the measurables that most NFL scouts look for in quarterbacks, and with a good season I wouldn't be surprised to see 247Sports' No. 16 overall player really jump up the boards.
What really stands out about Chryst is his arm strength—he literally heaves the ball downfield—but that ability coupled with nice arc, touch and accuracy really make him an intriguing prospect.
This kid can throw a fade route in his sleep, but he can also put some zip on his passes. According to 247sports, his school interests include Stanford and UCLA.