25 Recruits with the Highest Ceilings in the 2014 Recruiting Class
All high school players are still young in their development. However, certain recruits are closer to to being a finished product than others, as physical and mental maturity play key roles in how fast a player develops.
Prospects such as quarterback Keller Chryst, running back Leonard Fournette and defensive end Da'Shawn Hand are 2014 class members who are close to maxing out their gifts.
On the other end of the spectrum are recruits who have "high ceilings". These recruits are players who have a lot of potential, and who have the most room to improve upon their already great talent.
Every player has a ceiling and a floor, and the higher the ceiling a player has the bigger the return could be if he is developed properly by coaches. Chryst, Fournette and Hand are players with low floors, but many recruits in the 2014 class have higher ceilings.
A running back in Florida shares his carries with another stud runner, but if he can improve one area of his game he could be special. An athlete in California could have NFL potential at two positions, while a receiver in Louisiana just needs more reps.
Raekwon McMillan, LB
At this stage of his career, Raekwon McMillan projects as a linebacker who can only play on first and second downs. He has great strength, explosive movements in short-areas and is a big hitter.
However, McMillan struggles against passing plays. If he works on his his drops, field vision, ball awareness and cover skills, he could be a complete linebacker.
McMillan has the athleticism and agility to develop his cover ability. If he gets with the right linebacker coach in college who helps him in this area, the sky is the limit for McMillan.
Sean White, QB
Sean White may be a late-bloomer. He had several breakout performances this spring and summer, including winning MVP at the Elite 11 Finals (Tom VanHaaren of ESPN.com).
The Auburn commit is a 6'2", 204-pound quarterback with good field vision and delivery quickness. He is a consistent performer, who will see his confidence grow each season going forward. Do not be surprised to see White's arm strength improve on The Plains, since he will get stronger.
Once that happens, he could be a great SEC starting quarterback.
Damian Prince, OT
A great athlete, Damian Prince is a gifted left tackle prospect who should see early playing time in college. However, that will certainly depend on if Prince can become tougher at the point of attack.
Prince, who is 6'6" and 300 pounds, does not always play to his size when engaged with a defender. He has great agility, quick feet and balance, but he needs an offensive line coach to bring out his inner beast.
If he gets with the right tutor and develops a nasty streak, Prince should be playing on Sundays in four years.
Byron Bullough, ATH
Byron Bullough is a classic Michigan State Spartan. He is tough, gritty, plays hard and loves the game of football.
Bullough has a high ceiling as a hybrid strong safety/outside linebacker. He can roll into the box from the top of the defense, use his eyes to quickly locate the ball and has the tenacity to fill gaps. He will battle tight ends in coverage and his toughness is his best asset.
If Bullough can continue to improve his flexibility to hold up versus passing plays, he should be a solid Big Ten defender.
Traevohn Wrench, RB
Charlie Weis' best player in his recruiting is class Traevohn Wrench, a talented running back from Kansas. Wrench has solid speed, agility and quickness.
He can slash through the hole with good force, as he flashes deceptive power. Wrench has a high ceiling because he is 6'0", but only 180 pounds.
If he can add more strength and bulk, without sacrificing much of his speed and elusiveness, he will be an All Big-12 running back.
Clifton Garrett, LB
Clifton Garrett is on his way to becoming an outstanding collegiate linebacker. He is 6'2", weighs more than 225 pounds, and hits like a tank.
If Garrett can continue to improve his ability to play in space and cover skills, he could be a dynamic defender. He flashes the potential to be adequate versus the pass, so he just needs to keep working.
He can run with tight ends down the seams, and has the short-area quickness to menace running backs on underneath routes.
Garrett must continue honing his great skills if he wants to reach his full potential.
Ricky Rogers, WR
West Virginia head coach Dana Holgorsen runs a high scoring offense. Receivers in his system are usually quick and speedy, as it is crucial to get off the line in a flash.
Ricky Rogers is not the fastest receiver in the country, but the 6'3", 192-pounder has great hands. If he can get quicker in his releases off the line, while learning how to use his hands better to combat press-coverage, Rogers could put up big numbers in Holgorsen's offense.
His size, strong hands, good ball skills and ability to win 1-on-1 situations are great starting points. Adding a tad bit more quickness in his game will significantly aid his development.
Gerald Willis, DL
Gerald Willis is a great defensive end at the high school level. He is quick off the ball, flashes good strength and has the athleticism to change directions and pursue the ball.
Willis' ceiling is even higher as a gap-penetrating defensive tackle, as he is an ideal fit as a 3-technique. He is 6'3" and 275 pounds, and possesses good toughness to hold up inside the trenches.
If Willis moves to defensive tackler permanently now, he can get a jump on learning the nuances of the position before he gets to college. If that happens, he could become a standout early in his career.
Deon Drake, LB
Deon Drake does not look like he is 6'1" and 220 pounds, but he plays big. He does not shy away from contact, as he will stack blocks versus bigger offensive linemen and is skilled at shedding.
Drake can attack an offense downhill, as he shows good straight-line speed. He needs to improve his cover skills, but he is such a great blitzer that his third down duty should always be to attack the passer.
If he could improve his flexibility and agility in space a bit to be nearly adequate in coverage, Drake should become a solid 'backer at Michigan State.
Treon Harris, QB/CB/ATH
Frankly, Treon Harris is in danger of wasting a portion of his career if he tries to become a quarterback at Florida State. He's a solid prep passer, but his 5'11", 180-pound frame is too undersized to play quarterback at Florida State.
Harris has a high ceiling as a cornerback. His loose hips, agility and speed are great starting points to work with and develop into a great cover corner.
The more time he spends trying to become a quarterback for the Seminoles, the less time he will have to reach his vast potential as a perimeter-defender.
Thaddeus Snodgrass, WR
Kentucky offensive coordinator Neal Brown is going to love Thaddeus Snodgrass. An Ohioan, Snodgrass has excellent speed and should be a deep threat in the SEC.
He has the potential to develop into a complete, No. 1 receiver in Lexington. Snodgrass just needs to refine his ability to sell and precisely run routes. He flashes a large catch radius, can adjust to poorly thrown balls and has solid run-after-catch skills.
If Brown and the offensive staff at Kentucky can develop Snodgrass into a better route-runner, he could break some receiving records.
Brandon Dawkins, QB
Brandon Dawkins, who is committed to Arizona, is a talented quarterback from California. Dawkins has as much arm strength and physical tools as any passer in the country.
Yet, he needs to refine his footwork and accuracy. Dawkins can struggle with his ball placement skills, as one throw can be on target, and the next will sail over a receiver's head.
If he can clean up his mechanics, become more consistent and improve his accuracy, Dawkins' physical tools will allow him to have a long career.
Dwight Williams, OLB
With teams spreading defenses out and throwing the ball more, defenses are essentially being asked to stay in nickel packages all game long. So having linebackers who can cover has become more critical for defensive coordinators.
Dwight Williams is the kind of linebacker who coordinators want on the recruiting trail. He is 6'1", 205 pounds and excels in coverage. Williams has great speed, range and smooth athleticism.
If he can add more bulk to his frame while getting a little stronger, he will undoubtedly be an every-down linebacker.
Dallis Todd, WR
Big receivers who can run will always be in demand by the recruiting coaches. Dallis Todd is a 6'5", 210-pound offensive perimeter player who can terrorize secondaries.
At first glance, Todd appears to be a tight end. However, after seeing the big horse gallop around the field with the ball, it is easy to see he belongs on the outside. Todd is committed to Oklahoma, where he should be post great numbers in the Sooners' spread offense.
Bryce Dixon, TE
Bryce Dixon makes this list because he is a tight end who has great speed and hands. A college tight ends coach will be able to mold him into a dynamic weapon because Dixon already possesses two critical traits for success.
He is a 6'4", 220-pounder who can sprint by linebackers, menace the seams and snatch the ball easily out of the air with his mitts. Dixon will add more weight and strength, along with improving his footwork as a blocker on running plays.
By already having more than the necessary speed and ball skills for the tight end position, everything else in his development should be easy to learn and develop.
Morgan Mahalak, QB
The 2013 season will be Morgan Mahalak's first as a starting quarterback. He has limited experience and reps as a passer, but has a high ceiling because he flashes the physical and mental tools of a good passing prospect.
Mahalak, who is 6'3" and 190 pounds, is committed to Oregon. He displays a compact delivery, good release quickness, arm strength and solid accuracy. Mahalak also has the athleticism to make plays with his legs.
He just needs more reps to learn and grow as a quarterback.
Adarius Pickett, CB
California is known for produced skill-position players, and Pickett is another gem. He is a 5'11", 175-pound cover corner who can play man and zone coverage.
Pickett can press a receiver at the line, ride them into the sideline and pin them away from passes. He also has the awareness, instincts and range to make his presence known as a perimeter-defender in various zone schemes.
He is a player with a lot of potential, and he is similar to 2013 USC signee Chris Hawkins.
Speedy Noil, WR
Speedy Noil is one of the most talented players in the country, as the New Orleans native splits his time doing a little bit of everything for his Edna Karr High School squad.
However, Noil is expected to permanently move to receiver in college. He is an exceptional athlete who exhibits awesome speed, quickness, agility and elusiveness with the ball.
If Noil can learn the nuances of the position, and completely commit to mastering his craft, he could be the second coming of former Florida State receiver Peter Warrick.
Myles Garrett, DE
Myles Garrett is just starting to scratch the surface of his great talent. He is already a great defensive end, but the 6'4", 240-pounder can improve on several areas of his game.
Garrett flashes the ability to use his hands as a rusher, but he needs to acquire more moves. If he can add 3-4 more moves, he could set himself up to register plenty of sacks.
Garrett also has to continue adding bulk and strength, as he needs to make sure he can consistently hold up versus college blockers.
Getting complacent would be the worst thing for Garrett's development.
Adoree' Jackson, CB
Adoree' Jackson could be in the 2016 Olympics as a long jumper. He is a phenomenal athlete, and it is clear Jackson knows he has superior athleticism to all of his opponents.
Jackson gets by on being amazingly fast, quick, agile and explosive. He needs a lot of technique development, but his ceiling is high due to the combination of his physical tools and natural instincts.
Jackson's lack of good technique is what separates him from fellow top 2014 cornerback prospects Tony Brown and Marlon Humphrey. However, he has a higher ceiling than his counterparts due to getting to where he is now sans good fundamentals.
Malachi Durpre, WR
Malachi Dupre is a 6'2.5", 187-pound receiver with a great set of skills. He has good release quickness, athleticism, strength, speed and hands.
Dupre plays in an offense at John Curtis Christian in Louisiana that runs the ball more than it throws it. The main obstacle restricting him from reaching his ceiling is his lack of reps and production. Once Dupre gets in an offense that can consistently showcase his talent, his career will soar to amazing heights.
Jabrill Peppers, CB/ATH
Jabrill Peppers is a polished player who has a high ceiling based on how athletic and instinctive he is. He could be a special cornerback, running or receiver.
Peppers, who is 6'1" and 205 pounds, is a New Jersey native who looks like a safety, but has the athleticism of a slot receiver. Once he focuses on one position, starts to master a single trade and gets college reps, he will be a dynamic player at Michigan.
Peppers has as much natural talent as any player in the country.
Lorenzo Carter, DE
Da'Shawn Hand may be a better player right now, but Lorenzo Carter is the best 2014 defensive end prospect. Carter has more potential than Hand, and he will probably fulfill it if he stays healthy.
Carter is a 6'5", 232-pound edge-defender with great athleticism, quickness, range and speed. He just needs to add more bulk and strength to be better against the run. Carter also has the versatility to stand up and play outside linebacker.
He is a prototypical-looking prep defensive end prospect, and his ceiling is through the roof as a player.
Dalvin Cook, RB
Dalvin Cook flashes every necessary tool a running back needs to have to be successful in college. He is a 5'11", 190-pounder with exceptional explosiveness, agility, speed and elusiveness.
Cook also displays the potential to be a solid receiver out of the backfield, and has deceptive power. If he can slightly improve his vision, Cook will be special at Florida. He has more potential than current Miami Central teammate, Joseph Yearby.
John Smith, ATH
John Smith has outstanding athleticism on a 6'1", 200-pound frame. He could be an NFL receiver or safety, as he shows great speed, loose hips, explosive movement skills and agility.
As a receiver, Smith just needs to learn how to run sharper routes. He flashes great separation quickness, hands and run-after-catch skills.
As a safety, Smith only needs to improve his man-to-man coverage skills. He reads plays quickly, attacks the line of scrimmage and has great range.
He merely needs to spend more focused on a single position, and when Smith does in college, he will develop into a star.