Top 10 Athletes of the 2014 College Football Recruiting Class
Jabrill Peppers Via 247Sports
The athletes are the true game-changers in the 2014 college football recruiting class.
Being an "athlete" recruit simply means that a player can do so many different things well at the high school level that it's hard to predict what position he'll play in college.
Coaches can line these recruits up virtually anywhere and know they'll get great results. More often than not, those results are big plays.
Another big Alabama running back is featured on this list, as is a recruit who has a chance to be a player who conjures up memories of Charles Woodson when he was at Michigan.
Note: "Star" rankings courtesy of the 247Sports Composite Rankings. All scouting and analysis done from film study via the tapes provided by each recruit's respective 247Sports profile page unless otherwise noted. 247Sports predictions courtesy of the 247Sports Crystal Ball.
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10. Dravon Henry
Weight: 185 pounds
Hometown: Aliquippa, Pa.
School: Aliquippa High School
247Sports Prediction: None made
Bleacher Report Prediction: Penn State
Dravon Henry can play safety or running back, though at his size, he may need to transition to corner. He's fast—he runs a 4.50 40—agile and extremely athletic. He moves quickly, is rangy in coverage and does a great job of reading the play and setting himself up for an interception.
After he intercepts the ball, his shiftiness, speed and vision make him a threat to take it back for a touchdown. Henry is also not afraid to play strong against the run.
Henry plays best as a safety, but he doesn't have great size, so that's why he only checks in at No. 10. If he can get time in at cornerback, though, and work at the position, he could move up the rankings.
According to a report from Brian Dohn of Scout.com (subscribers only), Henry has a "serious interest" in Penn State. As a Pennsylvania recruit, that would make sense.
9. Jamil Kamara
Weight: 211 pounds
Hometown: Virginia Beach, Va.
School: Bishop Sullivan Catholic High School
247Sports Prediction: Virginia 93 percent, North Carolina 7 percent
Bleacher Report Prediction: Virginia
Jamil Kamara should play wide receiver in college. He has the size and height to be quite a mismatch and is also fast enough to be a vertical threat. He's a tall, lanky athlete who runs with long strides.
Kamara will need to improve his speed and quickness to move up these power rankings, but he can get good separation because of his length. He eats up a lot of yards quickly as a result of his strides.
He has good extension and can make a play on the ball in the air. He'll be a reliable option in the red zone. Kamara could probably play safety or even running back in certain schemes.
Kamara has already made five visits to Virginia, as the Cavaliers seem to be in good standing with the elite in-state recruits.
8. Allen Lazard
Weight: 202 pounds
Hometown: Urbandale, Iowa
School: Urbandale High School
Committed to Iowa State on Dec. 3, 2012
Allen Lazard can play wide receiver or safety, but he projects best as a wide receiver. He has great height and runs a 4.50 40. Lazard will be a good "jump ball" receiver because of his length and extension, and he can become a big mismatch at the college level.
He's a good blocker who will get leverage on a defender despite his size, and he's aggressive and physical on the edges. He'll help spring big runs because of his blocking and physicality.
For the record, Lazard can be an intriguing option at free safety. He has the speed to run the alley, and he's not afraid to be physical. But his biggest impact should be at wideout.
He lacks the explosion and elusiveness of some of the other athletes on this list, but if he improves in those areas during his senior season, he can move up.
Iowa State would be smart to utilize Lazard at wide receiver, where he can be a star and provide a ton of favorable mismatches. Look for him to work his way onto the field early.
7. Budda Baker
Weight: 175 pounds
Hometown: Bellevue, Wash.
School: Bellevue High School
247Sports Prediction: Oregon 80 percent, UCLA 20 percent
Bleacher Report Prediction: Oregon
Budda Baker is a versatile recruit who can play safety, running back or wide receiver and return kicks at the college level.
He's fast and elusive and can create running lanes for himself. On defense, he has a quick break, is not afraid to be physical at line of scrimmage and is fast and athletic enough to cover vertical routes.
247Sports doesn't have cornerback listed as an option for Baker, but he doesn't have the size to play safety efficiently. That's what's going to hurt him on this list, though he could be an intriguing slot or nickel back.
If there's a recruit who fits what Oregon likes to do on offense, defense and special teams, it's Baker.
6. Nathan Starks
Weight: 200 pounds
Hometown: Las Vegas, Nev.
247Sports Prediction: None made
Bleacher Report Prediction: No prediction until he officially enrolls at a new school for his senior year. According to Leland Gordon on Maxpreps.com, Cherry Creek of Greenwood Village, Colo., could end up being the spot.
Nathan Starks is a powerful running back with good size and speed—he runs a 4.46 40. He's short, stocky and built like he's been made to run over defenders. He can lower his shoulder and drive through the line, and he's the type of back who will run through contact.
Combine his size and strength with his speed, and Starks should be higher on this list. That said, he was recently dismissed from school, according to Ray Brewer of the Las Vegas Sun, and due to transfer rules, he can't play his senior season in Nevada. Until he finds a new place to play his senior year, he doesn't warrant a ranking any higher than this.
He has the football ability to be ranked as a top-five athlete, though.
5. John Smith
Weight: 200 pounds
Hometown: Long Beach, Calif.
School: Long Beach Polytechnic High School
247Sports Prediction: Notre Dame 40 percent, USC 40 percent, UCLA 20 percent
Bleacher Report Prediction: USC
John Smith can play safety or wide receiver. Depending on where he ends up, he'll be a great fit at both spots. He has quick feet and runs exceptional routes. His 40 time of 4.60 isn't extremely fast when compared to other wideouts, but because of his ability to run routes, he'll get by.
If he gets a bit faster over the offseason or after senior year, he could move up these rankings.
As a defensive back, he is quick enough to stay on top of routes. He's also able to come down into the box and play a physical brand of football.
4. Michiah Quick
Weight: 170 pounds
Hometown: Fresno, Calif.
School: Central East High School
247Sports Prediction: USC 67 percent, Oklahoma 33 percent
Bleacher Report Prediction: USC
Michiah Quick could be a very good cornerback in college, but he'd reportedly prefer to play wide receiver, according to Pete Sampson and Jake Brown of IrishIllustrated.com (subscription required). As a wideout, he has good length, which helps him create separation, and he's an above-average route-runner.
He covers a lot of ground quickly, and his length and lankiness help him to extend and haul in catches. His strides are smooth, and he has the speed to outrun defenders in open space, both in terms of route running and after the catch. Quick will also be a good kick returner.
He can be physical, but he's only 170 pounds. If he adds just a bit more mass during his senior season, he could threaten to move up this list.
This could truthfully go either way, but Quick would do well in USC's offense. He could be a lot like Marqise Lee, especially if he puts on some muscle.
3. Elijah Hood
Weight: 222 pounds
Hometown: Charlotte, N.C.
School: Charlotte Catholic High School
Committed to Notre Dame on April 28, 2013
Elijah Hood is an intriguing back, and he could end up being a star—especially if he sticks with Notre Dame. He has great size and couples that with 4.51 speed in the 40.
He's a bruising runner who will hit the hole hard, lower his shoulder and keep his feet churning. Defenders will bounce off him if they don't wrap up. He also has breakaway speed and can be shifty, so there's a lot to factor in with him.
He can also play inside linebacker, especially in the 3-4, but he will have the biggest impact as a running back.
Hood will be a great option in the red zone for Notre Dame, and the same could be said for goal-line situations. Eventually, he could be a good No. 2 back behind Greg Bryant, and he may even push for more immediate playing time.
2. Bo Scarbrough
Weight: 225 pounds
Hometown: Tuscaloosa, Ala.
School: Tuscaloosa County High School
Committed to Alabama on Sept. 7, 2012
Bo Scarbrough could easily be ranked as a pure running back recruit.
He has tremendous size, runs a 4.59 40 and has the potential to be an elite running back. He's a physical runner who has great explosion and power. He hits the hole hard and gets to and through the second level quickly.
His long strides will help him outrun defenders in open space on the edges, but he can also lower his shoulder, churn his feet and drag defenders on his back.
Scarbrough could also motion out into the slot and be a good option as a receiver.
He is an interesting option for Alabama as a 3-4 outside linebacker because of his speed and physicality, but he should end up at running back.
Scarbrough already looks like a classic Alabama running back. This is a great fit. He'll get carries as a freshman.
1. Jabrill Peppers
Weight: 205 pounds
Hometown: Paramus, N.J.
School: Paramus Catholic High School
Committed to Michigan on May 26, 2013
A 4.40 40 does not do Jabrill Peppers justice. That may be his official time, but he has even faster football speed. Peppers is lightning quick, but he's also strong, physical and elusive.
He's the definition of an athlete recruit. In fact, Peppers is the definition of a football player.
He could play and excel as a running back, cornerback or even a safety in college. But he projects to make the most impact as a cornerback.
Peppers has good height and size, and he's not afraid to be physical as a defensive back. He'll be able to set the edge and come down to the line of scrimmage to defend the run or jam a wide receiver, and he'll make some big, fundamentally sound tackles.
Because of his speed and athleticism, he can backpedal, rotate his hips and stay in stride with even the fastest wide receivers.
He'll be a shutdown cornerback at the college level, and if a coach wants to use him on offense as well, he could be a two-way star. Peppers is that good.
Peppers could be a Charles Woodson-esque player for the Wolverines. He'll make an impact from Day 1.