25 College Football Recruits in Dire Need of a Strong High School Senior Season

Edwin WeathersbyAnalyst IJuly 24, 2014

25 College Football Recruits in Dire Need of a Strong High School Senior Season

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    Football season is around the corner, and many 2015 recruits will be fully devoted to their high school teams. Within the national recruiting class, several prospects have a strong need to conclude their high school career with a strong season.

    While reasons differ for many players on this list, all of them need to answer the call this fall. Three 5-star quarterbacks need strong senior seasons, while a few players have something to prove after suffering injuries as juniors.

    Plus, a recruit in Canada is also featured.

Arthur McGinnis, LB

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    Arthur McGinnis is a 3-star linebacker from New Orleans. He is on this list because he deserves an extra star by his name, and the only way for him to get it is to have a strong senior season.

    At 6'2" and 226 pounds, McGinnis has great speed and physicality. He can play on all three downs, which is why he deserves more acclaim. A big season this fall at Warren Easton High School in Louisiana will bring him more attention.

    Texas A&M is at 100 percent in his 247Sports Crystal Ball.

David Sills, QB

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    The saga of David Sills began when he committed to USC in middle school. A lot of hype started to surround Sills then, but today he is regarded as a 3-star quarterback.

    Former USC head coach Lane Kiffin was the coach who offered Sills, but new head coach Steve Sarkisian never seemed as high on Sills as Kiffin was. Sills has since flipped from the Trojans to West Virginia.

    Now that his recruiting drama should be over, it's time for Sills to prove he's more than a mystery this fall at Eastern Christian in Maryland.

Brian Lewerke, QB

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    Another 3-star quarterback on this list is Brian Lewerke. From Phoenix, the Michigan State pledge should be considered a 4-star prospect.

    At 6'3" and 180 pounds, Lewerke has solid mechanics and distributes the ball well to his weapons. He needs a big-time senior year at Pinnacle High School in Arizona to earn that extra star before national signing day.

Kai Locksley, QB/ATH

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    This is a pivotal season for 4-star recruit Kai Locksley. He has a ton of athleticism, but the 6'3", 188-pounder has even more to prove as a quarterback.

    If Locksley wishes to enter the college ranks as a passer, he must show that he can go through his progressions in the pocket and work with good mechanics at Gilman High School in Baltimore.

    If not, it'll be awfully hard for him to justify his potential resistance to a position change. Florida State, Maryland and Texas are his main suitors, per 247Sports.

Zach Robertson, OG

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    A 4-star offensive lineman, Zach Robertson is on this list because he will anchor an offensive line that will protect superstar 5-star quarterback Josh Rosen at St. John Bosco in California.

    Robertson, who is 6'5" and 308 pounds, must raise his game to new heights to keep Rosen upright. The other four blockers will follow Robertson's lead in the trenches, and if he is doing all he can to keep Rosen clean, St. John Bosco will be tough to beat.

    UCLA is at 75 percent in his 247Sports Crystal Ball.

Sam Darnold, QB

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    Freshly committed to USC, Sam Darnold is an intriguing 3-star quarterback who is a bit of a late-riser.

    He missed most of his junior season at San Clemente High School in California with an injury, which is the main reason why he wasn't highly touted at the start of the year.

    However, the 6'4", 208-pounder has good athleticism and arm strength. He needs to have a strong senior season to escape the "myth" label. 

Chad President, WR/QB

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    Chad President is a 4-star receiver who is 6'3" and 195 pounds. He can also play quarterback at a high level. From Texas, President is coming off a torn ACL as a junior at Temple High School.

    Any player who is coming off a serious injury faces questions when he comes back, and President is no different. A strong campaign this fall will answer any questions about his knee.

    President is committed to Baylor. 

Kirk Merritt, RB/WR

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    Kirk Merritt won the SPARQ National Championship earlier this summer with a 148.83 rating at The Opening. That is a huge honor, as it shows how much athleticism the Louisiana native has.

    However, the 5'11", 206-pounder has to make sure it all transfers to the field. Merritt needs a big senior season at Destrehan High School this fall to make sure he doesn't get labeled a "workout warrior."

    Keep an eye on LSU and Texas A&M with him. 

Jake Browning, QB

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    After throwing for more than 5,700 yards and 75 touchdowns as a junior, 4-star quarterback Jake Browning is back for his senior season at Folsom High School in California.

    It's not that the Washington commitment is in dire need of a strong senior season—he just needs to make sure he doesn't have a huge drop-off in production. 

    It's safe to assume that will not happen.

Jahvoni Simmons, LB

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    Jahvoni Simmons is a 4-star linebacker who didn't participate in many camps and combines this offseason. It's not that he is scared of competition—the Virginia native's rough and rugged style of play just doesn't mesh well with the seven-on-seven setting.

    However, now it's about time to strap on the pads and start the banging, which is right up Simmons' alley. He needs to show everyone this fall who didn't see him much in the spring and summer just how good he really is.

    Virginia is at 92 percent in his 247Sports Crystal Ball

Ryan Newsome, WR

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    Ryan Newsome is a speedy 4-star receiver who tied the national record for punts returned for touchdowns with seven as a junior, per 247Sports. He spent a lot of time also being used as a running back for Aledo High School in Texas.

    Newsome, who is 5'8" and 168 pounds, needs a strong senior season to show people last year's dynamic success as a return man wasn't a fluke. He also needs to increase his production in the passing game as a receiver.

    Texas is on top for his services, per 247Sports.

Devonaire Clarington, TE/WR

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    Hailing from powerhouse Booker T. Washington High School in Miami, Devonaire Clarington will soon arrive at a fork in the road.

    At 6'5.5" and 222 pounds, he appears to be progressing toward a move to tight end. However, Clarington has spent most of his career working as a big receiver.

    If he devotes himself to playing tight end this fall, a big senior season could vault him up the tight end rankings. It would be shocking if Clarington didn't sign with Miami.

Kanya Bell, WR

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    Kanya Bell is a quick and slippery 4-star receiver who attends Diamond Bar High School in California. At 6'0" and 160 pounds, he is at his best after the catch.

    Bell didn't get to show off his skill set as a junior, as a knee injury robbed him of several games. Knee injuries are always eye-raisers to evaluators, so Bell needs a big senior season this fall to prove he is back at full strength.

    Look for him to sign with USC. 

Neville Gallimore, DL

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    Anyone would take a 6'3", 300-pound explosive and strong player. However, there would be some questions about just how good that prospect is when it is revealed he is from Canada.

    That is the case with 4-star recruit Neville Gallimore, who dominates at Canada Football Prep Academy in Ontario. He has fared well when he has competed against recruits from the United States, but a strong senior season would help his cause even more.

    Ohio State, Oklahoma, Michigan State and Notre Dame are his top schools, per 247Sports.

Cordell Broadus, WR

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    Cordell Broadus transferred from Diamond Bar High School in California to Bishop Gorman in Las Vegas earlier this spring.

    It's a big deal around Sin City, as Bishop Gorman is the dominant program in Nevada. The 4-star receiver is 6'2", and eyes will also be on him because his father is hip-hop legend Snoop Dogg.

    Broadus proved he was a bona fide college prospect a long time ago. However, he'll need to produce in a major way to help Bishop Gorman get to where it wants to go this fall.

    Broadus' recruitment will come down to USC versus UCLA.

Da'Vante Phillips, WR

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    Miami Central High School in Florida had one of the most lethal high school running back tandems ever last year in Dalvin Cook and Joseph Yearby. 

    Cook signed with Florida State, while Yearby stayed home and signed with Miami. Both players will be in college this season, which is why 4-star receiver Da'Vante Phillips must step up.

    Losing studs like Cook and Yearby will sting, but it's up to Phillips to increase his output and pick up the slack for Miami Central. Phillips will eventually end up at Florida State.

Jeffery Holland, OLB

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    On tape, Jeffery Holland looks like a 5-star linebacker. He can rush the passer at 6'2" and 230 pounds, plus he has the potential to play a few other different linebacker positions in various schemes.

    However, Holland is still rated at the 4-star clip. Trinity Christian Academy in Florida is home to several other well-known recruits, so Holland will need a big senior campaign to both warrant his fifth star and not get lost in the shuffle. 

    If Holland signs with a school not named Auburn or Florida, he'll shock the recruiting industry.

Christian Kirk, WR

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    Christian Kirk is another 4-star recruit on this list who deserves an extra star. At 5'10" and 191 pounds, the Arizona native's lack of height is probably the main obstacle holding him back from 5-star status.

    He isn't going to grow two inches by the start of football season, so it's best he simply dominates on the field again for Saguaro High School in Scottsdale. 

    Another huge season would make it tougher for pundits to deny him a final star. Texas A&M will eventually land Kirk.

George Campbell, WR

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    A 5-star receiver, George Campbell may be more of an athlete than a true receiver right now. He is 6'3" and 184 pounds, plus he has excellent speed.

    However, Campbell's hands and ball skills are suspect. He needs to have a huge season this fall, with a lot of receptions and highlights of him plucking passes with his hands.

    Florida, Clemson and LSU are out in front for Campbell, per 247Sports.

Ricky Town, QB

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    Ricky Town has a 5-star rating, but he has steadily slipped in the 247Sports Composite Rankings this spring. Now at No. 35, Town has not looked good at several throwing outings during this offseason.

    However, it was revealed that Town had been battling an injury this spring, which likely was the cause of his inconsistency. The USC commit would be wise to focus on having a huge senior season at St. Bonaventure in California to show everyone he's fine and still deserves his 5-star billing.

    Barton Simmons of 247Sports wrote the following on July 18:

    He battled injury and a coaching change as a junior. He fought through an injury during the spring, was the final quarterback selected for the Elite 11 finals and after being ranked outside the Elite 11 standings through the first four days of competition, he was at times the best quarterback at the event when it mattered during the 7on7 tournament...Put Town’s feet to the fire and he has consistently responded. 

Kyler Murray, QB

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    Another 5-star quarterback on this list is Kyler Murray. He plays for Allen High School in Texas, and a state title is the goal again this season.

    Murray isn't on this list because he has something to prove. Sure, he's only 5'10" and 180 pounds, but he's here because the fate of Allen High School's season is on his shoulders.

    He must have a big-time senior season to ensure his team wins the title.

Torrance Gibson, QB

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    There's no question Torrance Gibson has 5-star athleticism. The 6'4", 200-pound Florida native is fast, quick, agile and explosive.

    However, he isn't a 5-star quarterback prospect right now. Gibson plays for American Heritage in Ft. Lauderdale, where he needs to show off improved quarterback play this fall.

    It's easy to see his running skills, but he must display an ability to work through reads and deliver accurate passes to targets as a senior. Look for Tennessee or Ohio State to win him over.

    Here's an interesting interview Gibson gave to Bleacher Report's Michael Felder.

Blake Barnett, QB

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    The final 5-star passer on this list is Blake Barnett. The Alabama commit is perhaps the hottest quarterback recruit in the country, as he won the Elite 11 MVP earlier this month. 

    Barnett will have all eyes on him now after winning such a prestigious honor. You don't just win Elite 11 MVP and disappear; a big season in the fall is expected.

    Barnett must answer the call this season at Santiago High School in California. 

Mitch Hyatt, OT

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    Possessing terrific technique, agility and patience, Mitch Hyatt deserves his 5-star rating as an offensive tackle.

    However, the 6'5.5" blocker is light in the pants at 271 pounds. Hyatt needs a strong senior season at North Gwinnett High School in Georgia, especially in the run-blocking category. Displaying improved point-of-attack strength and power will help the Clemson commit prove he's ready to help the Tigers. 

Josh Sweat, DE

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    A phenomenal prospect, Josh Sweat is the No. 1 player and prospect in the 247Sports Composite Rankings.

    That's why he is on this list. Being the No. 1 recruit brings a ton of pressure to perform and deliver on the field, and Sweat needs to play like his hair is on fire this fall at Oscar Smith High School in Virginia.

    Without a strong senior campaign, Sweat could find himself out of the No. 1 spot after the season.


    All recruiting ratings and rankings are from 247Sports' Composite Rankings. Player evaluations are based on review of tape at Scout.comRivals and 247Sports.

    Edwin Weathersby is the College Football Recruiting Analyst for Bleacher Report. He has worked in scouting/player personnel departments for three professional football teams, including the New York Giants and Cleveland Browns.