CFB Future 100: Top 4 Athlete Recruits in Class of 2017

Bleacher Report College Football StaffFeatured ColumnistFebruary 16, 2016

CFB Future 100: Top 4 Athlete Recruits in Class of 2017

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    Bleacher Report

    Now more than ever, in college football recruiting, versatility is a skill that is coveted by coaches around the country. 

    Ever so often, there are a handful of elite prospects in each class that have the ability and toughness to play more than one position at a high level.

    The recent phenomenon of coaches recruiting players as “athletes” isn’t going away anytime soon.

    The 2017 class features a small, but talented crop of players who could make an impact at more than one position in college. 

    In fact, there are seven prospects—headlined by 5-star JaCoby Stevens—who rank among the nation’s Top 70 overall prospects.

    The latest installment of B/R’s CFB Future 100 series put the nation’s top athletes under a microscope.

    We will take a crack at projecting them at the position we believe they will play on the college level and scoring them on their ability to develop when they focus on one spot full-time.

    How do the athletes of the 2017 class stack up in comparison to one another, and where will these stud recruits line up at the college level?

    All analysis provided by B/R National Recruiting Analyst Sanjay Kirpalani.



4. 4-Star CB Greg Johnson

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    Height/Weight: 5’10”, 185 lbs

    High School: Hawkins High School (Los Angeles, California)

    247Sports Ranking: No. 4 ATH, No. 60 overall

    Bleacher Report Score: 91/100

    Recruitment Status: Considering Arizona, Arizona State, Michigan, Tennessee and Washington

    Hawkins High School in Los Angeles is home to a handful of elite prospects, including 4-star athlete Greg Johnson.

    Johnson, who could line up at running back or corner in college, is approaching 20 offers heading into the spring.

    According to Ryan Bartow of 247Sports, Arizona, Michigan, Tennessee and Washington are the schools that are aggressively pursuing him. 


    Bleacher Report Analysis

    Johnson has a decision to make with regards to playing offense or defense. There's no denying he's a special talent with the ball in his hands. However, similar to Jack Jones and Mecole Hardman Jr. in the 2016 cycle, his greatest ceiling may come at the corner spot. He has great ball instincts (18/20 points), and he plays with a physical mentality that you want in a corner. He's got the speed (18/20 points) and athleticism to recover on plays when he's beaten off the line.

    Plus, he could be an elite return man on special teams. Johnson has a chance to be an early-impact guy wherever he lands.

3. 4-Star WR Devon Hunter

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    Height/Weight: 6’3”, 210 lbs

    High School: Indian River High School (Chesapeake, Virginia)

    247Sports Ranking: No. 3 ATH, No. 43 overall

    Bleacher Report Score: 91/100

    Recruitment Status: Considering Alabama, Clemson, Florida, Florida State and Virginia Tech

    Virginia has been a breeding ground for elite talents in recent years, and 4-star athlete Devon Hunter is primed to continue that tradition. 

    The No. 2 prospect from the state of Virginia could play receiver or safety at the next level. 

    Over his freshman and sophomore seasons, Hunter accounted for 1,733 yards of total offense and 18 total touchdowns on offense while racking up 107 tackles, 10 pass breakups and two interceptions on defense. 


    Bleacher Report Analysis

    While I love Hunter's athleticism on defense, I believe he could be a downright scary weapon as a receiver on offense in college. At 6'3", 210 pounds, Hunter has the speed and quickness (14/15 points) of a 180-pound slot receiver. He shows great body control as a receiver, and his defensive background is apparent when he's fighting for jump balls.

    Plus, with his size, he's a willing and capable blocker (5/5 points) in the run game. Overall, Hunter has the potential to become a dominant receiver if he continues to develop and learn the finer points of playing the position. 

2. 4-Star S Maleik Gray

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    Height/Weight: 6’1 ½”, 195 lbs

    High School: La Vergne High School (La Vergne, Tennessee)

    247Sports Ranking: No. 2 ATH, No. 37 overall

    Bleacher Report Score: 93/100

    Recruitment Status: Considering Alabama, Auburn, Florida State, Tennessee and USC

    Florida State pulled a major coup out of Tennessee in the 2013 class when it landed stud corner Jalen Ramsey, who is likely a first-round pick in the upcoming NFL draft after an outstanding three-year career in Tallahassee.

    The 'Noles are hoping to land another stud from the Volunteer State in 4-star athlete Maleik Gray, who already has more than 20 offers to date. 

    According to Ryan Callahan of 247Sports, Florida State is the current favorite to land Gray. 


    Bleacher Report Analysis

    I believe Gray's talents would be best utilized at safety. That's because he has the cover skills (23/25 points) of a corner, but he also possesses the speed and instincts to play sideline-to-sideline like a shifty outside linebacker.

    He's physical in run support and works well against slippery running backs and receivers in open space. He also has the versatility to be a weapon as a blitzer coming off the edge in certain situations. Overall, Gray has the makings of a dynamic safety prospect who can make an early impact in his college career.

1. 5-Star S JaCoby Stevens

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    Height/Weight: 6’2”, 200 lbs

    High School: Oakland High School (Murfreesboro, Tennessee)

    247Sports Ranking: No. 1 ATH, No. 18 overall

    Bleacher Report Score: 93/100

    Recruitment Status: Considering Alabama, Florida, Florida State, LSU and Tennessee

    The top overall prospect from Tennessee in the current cycle is 5-star athlete JaCoby Stevens

    Stevens, who backed off an early pledge to LSU in November, has compiled more than 25 offers heading into the spring.

    The 6'2", 200-pounder could play receiver or safety in college. 


    Bleacher Report Analysis

    I'm truly torn on Stevens because I like his potential at wide receiver at the next level. However, you don't see too many athletes with his length, size and athleticism at the safety position. He has outstanding ball skills, and he flashes a great burst of speed when closing on pass plays close to the sideline.

    In run support, he's a physical presence (23/25 points) who can operate comfortably in space against speedy backs and receivers. Stevens has a tremendous ceiling as a defender regardless of where he lands in college.