2014 College Football Recruits with Most Star Potential
Looking for potential stars in the Class of 2014, it would be easy to just go down 247Sports' composite rankings and list off the top however-many guys. There's a reason they're ranked so highly in the first place.
Let's not take the easy way out, though.
This list of players with the most star potential takes both pedigree and skill set into account. No. 1 overall recruit Leonard Fournette, for example, is a load of a running back who might well become an All-American, but his upside is surpassed, in my opinion, by another, more explosive player at the position in the class.
Don't fret if the prized recruits of your favorite teams aren't mentioned here. Being left off the list is not a statement on what they will become; it's a statement on what they might become, compared with the upside of their peers.
In terms of pure ceiling and potential to become a superstar, these highly ranked prospects are the best of the best this recruiting cycle.
All rankings, unless otherwise noted, courtesy of 247Sports.
QB Keller Chryst, Stanford
It's not obscene to compare Chryst with Andrew Luck, which says everything you need to know about his upside, talent, mental aptitude and football acumen.
The 6'4'' passer will need to work to reach the precedent Luck set in Palo Alto, Calif., but he has a huge enough arm to eventually become a Stanford legend, provided he learns how to reel it in and make smart decisions against FBS defenses.
Kevin Hogan will be a good teacher and mentor for Chryst as a freshman next year, since they both have similar builds and skill sets. Chryst, though, has the much higher ceiling, and if he reaches that mark, he might be able to lead the Cardinal to heights that Hogan (and even Luck) never could.
RB Jalen Hurd, Tennessee
Hurd missed almost all of his senior season with a torn labrum in his shoulder, but with plenty of time to heal before next season, he should be able to walk into Knoxville, Tenn., as a true freshman and make an immediate impact in the backfield.
A 5-star recruit on 247Sports' subjective rankings, Hurd is a tall, straight-line runner with the speed and vision to make huge plays on the outside. If he adds a little bit of weight—as he should in a college strength program—he would become a dead ringer for Darren McFadden, who shredded SEC defenses with Arkansas in the mid 2000s.
Even in this six-year lull for Tennessee football, the school has always produced quality offensive linemen. With capable blockers paving holes in front of him and a pro-style coach in Butch Jones, Hurd might become an All-SEC tailback sooner rather than later.
WR KD Cannon, Baylor
In the Class of 2014, there is perhaps no better marriage between prospect and system than that of Cannon and Baylor—provided Art Briles stays in town.
One of the best big-play receivers in the field, Cannon has enough size (6'0'') and more than enough speed to thrive in Baylor's up-tempo, vertical passing offense. There's a lot of Kendall Wright to his game, and Wright was an All-American in 2011 on a team that also had Josh Gordon and Terrance Williams as options.
Ranked No. 29 in the 247Sports composite and coming to Baylor on the heels of its first ever BCS bowl campaign, Cannon will be hailed with bigger expectations than almost any receiver in the school's history. If he can add a little bit of weight, though, there's no reason he shouldn't be able to meet them.
WR Speedy Noil, Undeclared
Whether he ends up at LSU—the overwhelming favorite to land him—or Texas A&M, the intriguing dark horse, Speedy Noil has everything it takes to become a superstar at the college level.
The kid is that talented.
Noil isn't as short as some seem to think (5'10.5", 176 pounds), but he has a slender frame that needs to add some bulk. Still, he's blessed with quickness off the line and great top-end speed, running a 4.40 in the 40-yard dash, according to 247Sports.
Watching his high school tape, it's impossible not to compare Noil with former Florida Gator Percy Harvin, who represents (roughly) his best-case scenario at the next level. This type of speed, hands and positional versatility do not come along often.
DE Myles Garrett, Texas A&M
Of the top 10 prospects on the 247Sports composite, none is rawer than Myles Garrett, who still needs to learn the intricacies of rushing the passer—and really of playing football in general.
If he ever puts it all together, though, watch out.
No defensive player in this year's class has a higher ceiling than Garrett. With rare size (6'4'', 240 pounds) to go with elite speed and athleticism, he has all the tools necessary to become a Mario Williams- or Jadeveon Clowney-type force at the next level.
Strength and power are already there, and Garrett should only get stronger and more powerful with time in a college training program. If Kevin Sumlin's defensive staff can teach him some technical skills, he could be a future Bednarik finalist.
OLB Clifton Garrett, LSU
Like KD Cannon with Art Briles at Baylor, Clifton Garrett picked a school and scheme that highlights his strengths impeccably, which could lead to bona fide superstardom at the college level.
As B/R's Barrett Sallee explains in the video above, John Chavis' defense at LSU is predicated on "letting athletes be athletes." Les Miles brings in some of the best defensive players in the country, then Chavis lets them loose and puts them in a spot to succeed.
With elite speed coming off the edge, Garrett could become a quick force rushing the passer in Baton Rogue, La., along with helping out as a valuable, downhill stopper in run support. If he can hone his coverage skills under Chavis and Co., Garrett will become a three-down linebacker and potential future All-American.
CB Jabrill Peppers, Michigan
Like their dramatic foil, wide receivers, superstar cornerbacks are expected to be loud, poised and brash. The position requires a certain amount of ironclad confidence, a willingness to push the buttons of the guy across the line.
Think Deion Sanders. Think Richard Sherman. Think even someone line DeAngelo Hall, who became a superstar in the NFL despite being one of the worst in the league at actually guarding people. The persona matters as much as the skill.
Jabrill Peppers is more like "Primetime" and Sherman than Hall, having the walk to merit the talk.
"I want [people] to say Jabrill Peppers and then Charles Woodson," Peppers said without a shred of insincerity in the Full Ride video above.
As the No. 2 overall player in the country, Peppers has the physical talent and upside to potentially join that conversation in Ann Arbor, Mich.