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Analyzing Top 5 Prospects of the First Rivals100 for 2014 Recruiting Class

Andrew KulhaSenior Analyst IIIFebruary 11, 2013

Analyzing Top 5 Prospects of the First Rivals100 for 2014 Recruiting Class

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    The hype from the 2013 recruiting class hasn't even come close to dwindling yet, but we're already breaking down some of the best recruits from the 2014 class.

    Such is the world of college football recruiting, and frankly, that's a huge reason why we love it.

    It never ends. 

    Rivals.com has put together its first "numerical rankings" for the class of 2014. This basically allows us to see which recruits have come away with 5-star rankings (14 5-stars overall) and how Rivals grades the top 100 recruits of 2014.

    For our purposes, let's focus on breaking down the top five recruits in the Rivals100 for 2014.

    Note: You can find the full Rivals100 list here.

5. Sony Michel, 5-Star RB, American Heritage High School (Fla.)

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    Sony Michel is going to be a very good running back at the college level.

    He checks in at 5'11", 180 pounds, and runs a 4.5 40 according to Rivals.com. Michel has a very notable offer list (Rivals), with offers from the likes of Florida, Florida State, Georgia, Miami (Fla.), Notre Dame, Alabama and South Carolina.

    Michel's recruiting process isn't likely to heat up anytime soon, but he has been open about the Miami Hurricanes having a good chance to be one of the final teams on his interest list when all is said and done.

    He's been playing varsity football since eighth grade, so he's obviously a transcendent talent as a running back.

    Look for all three Florida schools to play a major role in his recruitment (specifically Miami), but it's hard not to notice that Alabama has already offered him. With the success that the Crimson Tide had recruiting running backs in the 2013 cycle, they should be considered a legit option as well.

4. Quin Blanding, 5-Star S, Bayside High School (Va.)

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    Quin Blanding is a 5-star safety recruit with elite potential considering his combination of size and speed.

    He's 6'2", 196 pounds, so he has incredible size for just a junior in high school, but he also runs a 4.55 40 according to Rivals. He's big enough to come down to the line of scrimmage and play tough against the run or as a blitzing safety, and his speed will allow him to cover the deep zones of the defense and get over routes.

    Blanding has a big-time offer list (Rivals) that includes the likes of Michigan, Miami (Fla.), Notre Dame, Ohio State, Alabama, Auburn, Florida, West Virginia, Virginia and Virginia Tech.

    Virginia could end up being a top team in his recruitment (listed as his favorite right now according to his 247Sports interest list), but keep an eye out for Florida State. If Jimbo Fisher can have a good amount of success with 5-star recruits linebacker Matthew Thomas and defensive back Jalen Ramsey, the Seminoles could become a legit option for the star safety recruit.

3. Leonard Fournette, 5-Star RB, St. Augustine High School (La.)

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    For all intents and purposes, Leonard Fournette is the best running back recruit in the nation right now. 

    He has tremendous size at 6'1", 225 pounds, and he backs that up with breakaway speed, good vision and agility. Fournette runs leaning forward and has very long strides. He'll be a force between the tackles, but he also has the ability to bounce outside and be a speed back when he needs to be.

    Much like running back Derrick Henry from the 2013 class, Fournette looks like a linebacker, but he runs like an elite running back. He's going to be a very good back at the college level.

    Fournette's offer list includes Alabama, Florida, Michigan, LSU, Notre Dame and Texas among others. His 247Sports interest list has LSU and Alabama listed as the favorites.

    I wouldn't be surprised if his recruitment comes down to those two SEC powerhouses.

2. Jabrill Peppers, 5-Star CB, Paramus Catholic High (N.J.)

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    Jabrill Peppers is a top-notch 5-star cornerback recruit.

    He has shutdown size at 6'1", 210 pounds. He'll be more than big enough to play physical at the line of scrimmage against the run, and he'll also be able to jam receivers at the line. He should throw off a ton of routes at the college level because of his size alone.

    That said, Peppers can also be very good at running back, where he displays elite size, vision and speed. He could play safety, and he can even line up in the slot as a big wideout mismatch.

    Rivals has him ranked as a corner, and he has immense potential at the position, but he can be an incredibly versatile option at the college level.

    He has offers from Alabama, Florida, Michigan, Notre Dame and Ohio State to name a few, and his 247Sports interest list features Ohio State and Stanford as the top schools, followed by Michigan, Notre Dame and Alabama.

1. Da'Shawn Hand, 5-Star SDE, Woodbridge Senior High School (Va.)

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    Da'Shawn Hand is the No. 1 recruit in the 2014 class according to Rivals.

    He has tremendous size at 6'4", 245 pounds, but he also runs a 4.81 40 according to Rivals (4.60 40 according to 247Sports).

    His combination of size and speed gives him elite potential as a pass-rusher. He'll also be very good in pursuit against the run, and he plays with great leverage despite his height.

    He'll be able to come into a program and be an elite addition on the defensive line right away, and the sky is the limit in regards to his potential.

    Hand has offers from all over the country, but the big programs on his interest list (247Sports) are Alabama, Florida, Michigan, South Carolina and Virginia Tech.

    The Hokies appear to have a solid "home-state advantage" with Hand, but I would consider all five of those programs major players for his commitment over the next year.

     

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