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Top 25 College Football Recruits to Watch in 2017

Sanjay KirpalaniNational Recruiting AnalystFebruary 4, 2016

Top 25 College Football Recruits to Watch in 2017

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    5-Star LB Dylan Moses is the nation's top overall prospect in the 2017 class.
    5-Star LB Dylan Moses is the nation's top overall prospect in the 2017 class.Credit: 247Sports

    With national signing day for the 2016 class firmly in the rear-view, coaches from around the nation will focus their attention on the recruiting trail to prospects in the 2017 class.

    Players such as 5-star linebacker Dylan Moses—who is the No. 1 overall prospect in the 2017 class—are already household names in recruiting circles.

    However, there are a handful of other talented rising seniors who have already compiled dozens of offers before they enter their senior year. 

    Some have flashed on the summer camp scene over the past year, while others have already committed to top-flight programs. 

    While they are already standouts in their respective home states, these players are generating interest from coast to coast.

    Which early standouts should fans be paying close attention to in the months leading up to the 2016 season? 

     

    Note: Prospects listed in alphabetical order.

LB Markail Benton

2 of 26

    Ratings: No. 3 OLB, No. 40 overall

    Notable Offers: Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Florida State, Georgia 

    The top prospect from the state of Alabama in 2017 is 4-star linebacker Markail Benton.

    Benton was one of a handful of elite juniors who were invited to The Opening last season. 

    As BamaOnline's Hank South noted, Auburn is the school that is currently recruiting him the hardest.

    The Tigers landed Benton's former teammate at Central High School in Phenix City, Alabama—corner John Broussard—in their 2016 class.

OL Wyatt Davis

3 of 26

    Ratings: No. 6 OT, No. 24 overall 

    Notable Offers: Alabama, Arizona, Michigan, Oklahoma and Washington

    One of the elite linemen on the West Coast is 5-star offensive tackle Wyatt Davis.

    The No. 4 prospect from the state of California has already accumulated 19 offers before his senior season. 

    In the 2016 cycle, Alabama went out to the Golden State to land stud offensive lineman Jonah Williams. The Tide are looking to pull off a similar victory in California with Davis. 

    As BamaOnline notes, Davis was one of a select group of elite juniors who were on hand for the Tide's junior day last weekend. 

DE A.J. Epenesa

4 of 26

    Ratings: No. 1 SDE, No. 13 overall 

    Notable Offers: Alabama, Florida State, Michigan, Notre Dame and Ohio State

    After piling up 25 offers, 5-star defensive end A.J. Epenesa put an end to his recruiting process by committing to Iowa on Jan. 17.

    As detailed by Steve Wiltfong of 247Sports, Epenesa will follow in the footsteps of his father, Eppy, who played for the Hawkeyes. 

    The younger Epenesa is the top prospect from the state of Illinois in the 2017 class.

    Over the last two seasons, he's recorded 66 tackles—including 15 tackles for loss with eight sacks. 

     

     

CB Deangelo Gibbs

5 of 26

    Ratings: No. 2 CB, No. 9 overall 

    Notable Offers: Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Georgia and Tennessee

    Considering his football lineage, it's not exactly a surprise that 5-star corner Deangelo Gibbs has netted more than 30 offers before his senior year.

    Gibbs is the Peach State's top overall prospect and the nation's No. 2 corner.

    He's also a cousin of 4-star safety and recent 2016 Tennessee signee Nigel Warrior.

    As detailed by Ryan Callahan of 247Sports, the Vols got his most recent visit, which came last weekend. 

WR Trevon Grimes

6 of 26

    Ratings: No. 2 WR, No. 11 overall 

    Notable Offers: Auburn, Florida, Florida State, Notre Dame and Ohio State

    Ohio State is the current favorite to land electric 5-star wide receiver Trevon Grimes.

    As a junior, Grimes hauled in 27 receptions for 496 yards and seven touchdowns. 

    Grimes is the No. 2 prospect from the state of Florida in the 2017 cycle. 

    As noted by Ryan Bartow of 247Sports, Alabama, Florida, Florida State, Miami and Tennessee are among the programs pushing the Buckeyes for his commitment.

RB Najee Harris

7 of 26

    Ratings: No. 1 RB, No. 2 overall 

    Notable Offers: Alabama, Georgia, Ohio State, UCLA and USC

    The top offensive prospect in the 2017 cycle is 5-star running back Najee Harris

    Harris, who is currently committed to Alabama, is the nation's top running back and the top overall prospect from the state of California. 

    Over the last two years at Antioch High School, Harris has rushed for a whopping 5,007 yards and 59 touchdowns. 

    Harris is one of three 2017 running backs who are currently committed to the Tide. 

CB Darnay Holmes

8 of 26

    Ratings: No. 1 CB, No. 6 overall 

    Notable Offers: Alabama, Nebraska, Ohio State, Stanford, and Washington

    Calabasas High School in California is home to a handful of elite prospects, with 5-star corner Darnay Holmes atop that list. 

    While Holmes is listed as a corner, he's also played receiver in high school. He told Bleacher Report last fall that some of the schools among the 20-plus offers he's compiled are talking to him about playing both ways at the next level. 

    “Whenever I get to college, I will see how I fit in going both ways,” Holmes said. “If I’m man enough to play both ways, I think they will let me do it. In my opinion, I was born a corner. But I’ve played on the offensive side since I was young. If they give me a chance to go offense, I will definitely try to take advantage of that opportunity.”

    Alabama and Nebraska are the two programs who have most recently hosted Holmes on unofficial visits. 

DE Joshua Kaindoh

9 of 26

    Ratings: No. 1 WDE, No. 20 overall 

    Notable Offers: Alabama, Maryland, Michigan, Ohio State and Penn State

    Originally from Maryland, 5-star defensive end Joshua Kaindoh transferred to Florida powerhouse IMG Academy prior to last season. 

    After a strong junior season, Kaindoh enters his senior season with more than 20 offers to his credit. 

    Kaindoh rates as the nation's top-ranked weak-side defensive end and the No. 4 player from the Sunshine State in the 2017 class.

    Big 12 power Baylor represents the latest program to offer Kaindoh a scholarship. 

WR Tyjon Lindsey

10 of 26

    Ratings: No. 3 WR, No. 15 overall 

    Notable Offers: Ohio State, Oklahoma, Oregon, Texas A&M and USC

    Las Vegas powerhouse Bishop Gorman High School is another program that has been a haven for attracting college coaches. 

    The Gaels' crop of 2017 talent is headlined by 5-star receiver Tyjon Lindsey, who is the top prospect in the state of Nevada.

    Over the last two seasons, Lindsey has hauled in 79 receptions for 2,001 yards and 29 touchdowns. He's added another four scores as a punt returner. 

    Lindsey was one of the select few underclassmen who participated at The Opening last summer. 

WR Joseph Lewis

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    Ratings: No. 4 WR, No. 22 overall 

    Notable Offers: Arizona, Michigan, Notre Dame, Oklahoma and USC

    Similar to Bishop Gorman, Hawkins High School in Los Angeles is another powerhouse brimming with top talent on the West Coast. 

    While 2017 4-star athlete Greg Johnson and 2018 receiver Jalen Hall are also stud prospects, the highest-rated player at Hawkins this year is 5-star receiver Joseph Lewis

    Lewis has racked up 16 offers, with the latest one coming from in-state Pac-12 member California. 

    USC is the early favorite in the race to land Lewis, who is the No. 3 prospect from the Golden State. 

QB Tate Martell

12 of 26

    Ratings: No. 1 DT QB, No. 19 overall 

    Notable Offers: Alabama, Arizona State, Michigan, USC and Washington

    Since he's been at the controls for Bishop Gorman High School in Las Vegas, all 5-star quarterback Tate Martell has done is go 30-0 in the last two years.

    During that time, he's passed for 5,145 yards and 72 touchdowns and added another 1,037 yards and 14 scores on the ground. 

    After backing off an early pledge to Washington, Martell committed to Texas A&M just prior to last season. 

    Martell is a firm Aggies pledge and has plans on enrolling early for head coach Kevin Sumlin and his staff. 

QB Dylan McCaffrey

13 of 26

    Ratings: No. 2 PS QB, No. 46 overall 

    Notable Offers: Duke, Michigan, Nebraska, Penn State and UCLA

    Much like his older brother Christian two years ago, 4-star quarterback Dylan McCaffrey figures to have college coaches from coast-to-coast flocking to Colorado to recruit him.

    The younger sibling of the star Stanford running back has already established himself as one of the nation's premier quarterbacks in the 2017 cycle.

    According to MaxPreps, McCaffrey passed for 2,800 yards and 27 touchdowns while rushing for 592 yards and another 13 scores last season. 

    Despite his connections to Stanford, Michigan appears to be the early favorite for Colorado's top prospect. 

QB Davis Mills

14 of 26

    Ratings: No. 6 PS QB, No. 98 overall 

    Notable Offers: Michigan, Michigan State, Ole Miss, Stanford and UCLA

    The state of Georgia is populated with stud quarterbacks such as 4-star passers Bailey Hockman, Clemson pledge Chase Brice and Alabama commit Jake Fromm

    Another touted field general from the Peach State is Davis Mills, who has landed 24 offers heading into his senior season. 

    As a junior, Mills accounted for 3,398 yards of total offense and 39 total touchdowns (25 passing, 14 rushing). 

    Colorado is the latest school to offer Mills, whose list of suitors figures to swell in the coming months.

LB Dylan Moses

15 of 26

    Ratings: No. 1 OLB, No. 1 overall 

    Notable Offers: Alabama, Florida, Florida State, LSU and Texas

    The hype around Moses began when the stud Louisiana native was a freshman, as detailed by ESPN.com's Kevin Van Valkenburg.

    Moses has already experienced more than the typical senior recruit, as he's endured a decommitment from LSU and an offseason transfer to Florida prep power IMG Academy. 

    Moses has more than 30 offers entering the spring, and his recruitment figures to generate interest from fans and coaches around the nation. 

    Florida is the latest program to get the nation's top overall prospect in the 2017 class on campus. 

OL Josh Myers

16 of 26

    Ratings: No. 1 OT, No. 3 overall 

    Notable Offers: Alabama, Florida, Michigan, Notre Dame and Penn State

    Ohio State has already landed 10 commitments in a group tabbed as 2017's top class. 

    The Buckeyes' top pledge comes from homegrown, 5-star offensive lineman Josh Myers.

    Myers is the top overall lineman in the 2017 class and the state of Ohio's top overall prospect.

    His father, Brad, was an offensive lineman who played at Kentucky from 1984-87.

S Jeffrey Okudah

17 of 26

    Ratings: No. 1 S, No. 8 overall 

    Notable Offers: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, LSU and Ohio State

    The 2016 class saw Texas produce the nation's top three safeties, and the Lone Star State has an early candidate to be the nation's best player at that position in 5-star safety Jeffrey Okudah.

    Okudah, who also has played receiver at South Grand Prairie High School, recorded 19 catches for 460 yards and six scores as a sophomore.

    However, his future at the next level appears to be in the secondary.

    Okudah has landed 32 offers heading into the spring. Last month, he named a top 10 that included Alabama, Florida, Georgia, LSU, Michigan, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Stanford and Texas A&M. 

WR Donovan Peoples-Jones

18 of 26

    Ratings: No. 1 WR, No. 10 overall 

    Notable Offers: Alabama, Florida, Michigan, Michigan State and Ohio State 

    The recruiting world learned about the athletic exploits of 5-star receiver Donovan Peoples-Jones during The Opening as he took home the Nike Football Ratings Championship.

    He became the first underclassman to take home the title in the history of the event, which tests the nation's top athletes in a series of events such as the vertical jump, agility shuttle, powerball toss and 40-yard dash.

    Peoples-Jones has landed 18 offers, and he is the top overall prospect from the state of Michigan. 

    Ohio State is the latest school to host him on campus, as he attended the Buckeyes' junior day last weekend.

S Isaiah Pryor

19 of 26

    Ratings: No. 2 S, No. 31 overall 

    Notable Offers: Clemson, Florida State, Georgia, LSU and Notre Dame

    After landing 40 offers from top programs around the country, 4-star safety Isaiah Pryor pledged to Big Ten power Ohio State last summer. 

    "I just looked at all of the other schools and weighed the pros and cons," Pryor told Bleacher Report. "Ohio State has been on me for a really long time and I felt most comfortable with them."

    The nation's No. 2 safety has a GPA just under 3.8 with plans on enrolling early and majoring in psychology. 

    Pryor is another touted prospect who has transferred to IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida, in the offseason. 

QB Shawn Robinson

20 of 26

    Ratings: No. 2 DT QB, No. 48 overall 

    Notable Offers: Baylor, LSU, Michigan, Texas and Texas A&M

    Over his first three seasons on the prep level, 4-star quarterback Shawn Robinson has piled up 9,114 yards of total offense and 96 total touchdowns (55 passing, 41 rushing). 

    The 6'3", 207-pounder from Guyer High School in Denton, Texas, committed to TCU last summer. 

    Blessed with sub-4.5 speed in the 40-yard dash, Robinson has rushed for more than 1,400 yards in each of his last two seasons. 

    Given his ability to create explosive plays on the ground and through the air, Robinson has already proved himself to be one of 2017's most dynamic offensive weapons. 

CB Stanford Samuels III

21 of 26

    Ratings: No. 4 CB, No. 34 overall 

    Notable Offers: Clemson, Florida State, Georgia, Michigan and South Carolina

    Another touted defensive back with more than 40 offers under his belt is 4-star corner Stanford Samuels III.

    His father, Stanford Samuels Jr., was a former standout corner at Florida State. 

    The Seminoles are the heavy favorites to land the legacy recruit. However, Michigan could become a threat considering they signed three of his prep teammates in the 2016 cycle, as detailed by Steve Lorenz of Wolverine247.

    Samuels is the No. 6 prospect from the Sunshine State in the 2017 cycle. 

DT Tyler Shelvin

22 of 26

    Ratings: No. 2 DT, No. 18 overall 

    Notable Offers: Alabama and LSU

    As a sophomore, 5-star defensive tackle Tyler Shelvin racked up 67 tackles and nine sacks at Northside High School in Lafayette, Louisiana.

    After garnering early offers from SEC West titans Alabama and LSU, Shelvin committed to the in-state Tigers last March. 

    As BamaOnline's Hank South notes, the Tide are still actively pursuing Shelvin after offering him last summer.

    Shelvin is the No. 2 prospect out of the talent-rich Pelican State in the 2017 class. 

ATH JaCoby Stevens

23 of 26

    Ratings: No. 2 ATH, No. 33 overall 

    Notable Offers: Alabama, Florida, LSU, Miami and Mississippi State 

    Two of the nation's premier athletes reside in Tennessee in 4-stars Maleik Gray and JaCoby Stevens.

    Stevens has accumulated more than 20 offers heading into the spring, with Florida State and Nebraska being two of the latest programs to jump in the mix for him. 

    As Barton Simmons of 247Sports notes, Stevens could play receiver or safety at the next level.

    The 6'2", 200-pounder is the top rising senior from the state of Tennessee.

APB D'Andre Swift

24 of 26

    Ratings: No. 1 APB, No. 26 overall 

    Notable Offers: Clemson, Florida State, LSU, Michigan and Penn State 

    As a sophomore, 4-star running back D'Andre Swift accounted for 1,264 yards of total offense and 15 total touchdowns. 

    He was also one of the select few underclassmen invited to The Opening last summer. 

    Swift has landed 24 offers heading into the spring. 

    He represents the top prospect from the state of Pennsylvania in the 2017 cycle. 

ATH Jamyest Williams

25 of 26

    Ratings: No. 5 ATH, No. 51 overall 

    Notable Offers: Alabama, Clemson, Florida State, Georgia and Michigan State

    Given that he could play corner, receiver or running back at the next level, 4-star athlete Jamyest Williams is one of the most versatile prospects in the 2017 class. 

    As a sophomore, Williams recorded 25 pass breakups and two interceptions while accounting for 1,152 yards of total offense and 13 touchdowns. 

    The Lawrenceville, Georgia, native was also a standout at The Opening last summer. 

    Williams is the nation's No. 5 athlete and the No. 6 prospect from the state of Georgia. 

DT Marvin Wilson

26 of 26

    Ratings: No. 1 DT, No. 5 overall 

    Notable Offers: Alabama, LSU, Michigan, Texas and USC

    The top overall prospect from the Lone Star State in 2017 is 5-star defensive tackle Marvin Wilson.

    The U.S. Army All-American selection has already landed 25 offers, with Florida, Miami and Michigan State being his most recent tenders. 

    Over the course of his freshman and sophomore seasons, Wilson tallied 103 tackles and 19 sacks. 

    Last fall, Wilson took unofficial visits to Alabama, Baylor, LSU, Texas and Texas A&M. 

     

    Sanjay Kirpalani is a National Recruiting Analyst for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes obtained firsthand and all recruiting information courtesy of 247Sports.

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