CFB Recruiting 200: Top 13 Athletes in Class of 2016

Bleacher Report College Football StaffFeatured ColumnistAugust 3, 2015

CFB Recruiting 200: Top 13 Athletes in Class of 2016

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    2016 4-Star ATH Mecole Hardman has impressed at both corner and receiver during multiple camps in the offseason.
    2016 4-Star ATH Mecole Hardman has impressed at both corner and receiver during multiple camps in the offseason.Credit: 247Sports

    After thorough study using specific scoring criteria, Bleacher Report National Recruiting Analysts Damon SaylesSanjay Kirpalani and Tyler Donohue have graded the top 200 players in the 247Sports composite rankings and provided in-depth analysis on each young athlete. Bleacher Report will run a position-by-position breakdown series of the best college football recruits in the class of 2016. Here we present the Top Athletes.

    Other Positions

    Players who excel at more than one position at the high school level are often coveted by college coaches on the recruiting trail.

    Some high-level recruits are forced to play multiple spots out of necessity, while others have yet to find a spot in which they can grow and reach their full potential.

    The latest installment of Bleacher Report's CFB 200 series will profile the prep stars classified as athletes.

    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 2016 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.

13. 4-Star Chase Lucas, Running Back

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    Height/Weight: 5'11", 166 pounds

    High School: Chandler High School; Chandler, Arizona

    247Sports Ranking: No. 13 athlete, No. 187 overall

    Bleacher Report Score: 86/100

    Uncommitted: Considering Arizona, Arizona State, Oregon and Washington

    One of the top prospects from the state of Arizona in the 2016 cycle is two-way 4-star standout Chase Lucas.

    While the 5'11", 166-pounder could play either running back or in the secondary at the next level, he's done the majority of his damage in high school on offense.

    As a junior, he accounted for 1,494 yards of total offense—with 1,126 of those coming on the ground, according to MaxPreps.

    Arizona and Arizona State are among the early schools in the running for Lucas.

    Bleacher Report Analysis 

    Perhaps the best fit for Lucas at the next level would be as an all-purpose back in a spread offense. As a runner, he has great vision and the ability to make ankle-breaking cuts in open space. He's also a good receiving threat out of the backfield. He could benefit from adding a little bulk to prepare for the physical demands of being a running back in college.

12. 4-Star Scott Bracey, Wide Receiver

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    Height/Weight: 6'3", 195 pounds

    High School: Benedictine College Prep; Richmond, Virginia 

    247Sports Ranking: No. 12 athlete, No. 132 overall

    Bleacher Report Score: 89/100

    Committed to Duke on July 25, 2014

    One school quietly enjoying a stellar 2016 class is Duke, whose current group rates as the nation's No. 22 class.

    The first commitment David Cutcliffe and his staff were able to land was a big one in 4-star athlete Scott Bracey almost a year ago.

    As Adam Rowe of 247Sports noted, Bracey—who could play quarterback or receiver in college—chose the Blue Devils over offers from powers such as Notre Dame, Ohio State and Penn State, among others. Despite other schools still pursuing him, Bracey has maintained he is solid in his pledge to the Blue Devils.

    Bleacher Report Analysis

    Bracey's highest ceiling appears to be at receiver. He's a big body who can make tough catches in traffic. He's also a load to handle for smaller defensive backs because of how physical he is. He has the type of size and athleticism to be an instant red-zone threat on the outside.

11. 4-Star Jamel Cook, Safety

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    Height/Weight: 6'4 ½", 185 pounds

    High School: Miami Central High School, Miami

    247Sports Ranking: No. 11 athlete, No. 128 overall 

    Bleacher Report Score: 90/100

    Committed to Florida State on Feb. 21, 2015

    Miami Central High School has been kind to Florida State and head coach Jimbo Fisher in recent years.

    A pair of Rockets in the 2016 cycle have already pledged to the Seminoles in 4-star athlete Jamel Cook and 3-star defensive end Keir Thomas.

    As Josh Newberg of Noles247 noted, Cook worked out at safety, corner and receiver during FSU's summer camp earlier this month.

    Bleacher Report Analysis 

    There's a lot to like about Cook's game, but the biggest question is where he will line up in college. Despite his size, he's proved to be fluid enough to play corner. His frame could hold enough bulk for him to make a move to linebacker or even defensive end if he keeps growing.

    His best long-term position is safety because of his range and natural cover skills. He's got the size and instincts necessary to develop into a force at safety in the long term.

10. 4-Star Jordan Fuller, Safety

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    Height/Weight: 6'2", 190 pounds 

    High School: Northern Valley Regional High School at Old Tappan; Westwood, New Jersey 

    247Sports Ranking: No. 10 athlete, No. 123 overall

    Bleacher Report Score: 91/100

    Uncommitted: Considering Notre Dame, Ohio State, Penn State, Rutgers and UCLA

    The younger brother of current UCLA wideout Devin Fuller, one of the top prospects from the Garden State in 2016 is 4-star athlete Jordan Fuller.

    Jordan has excelled playing quarterback and receiver on offense and roaming the secondary on defense during his time at the prep level.

    While the Bruins would love to land him, the Buckeyes appear to be the team trending with Fuller, per his Crystal Ball page.

    Bleacher Report Analysis

    Fuller is dynamite with the ball in his hands, but safety may be his best fit long-term. He tore it up at The Opening in Oakland, California, where he showed off size and athleticism that would make him an elite defender in the secondary. Once he settles in at any spot, his potential makes him an intriguing talent as he transitions to the next level.

9. 4-Star Marquez Callaway, Cornerback

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    Height/Weight: 6'2", 175 pounds

    High School: Warner Robins High School; Warner Robins, Georgia 

    247Sports Ranking: No. 9 athlete, No. 107 overall

    Bleacher Report Score: 90/100

    Uncommitted: Considering Alabama, Auburn, Georgia, Notre Dame and Tennessee

    The talents of 4-star athlete Marquez Callaway extend beyond the gridiron.

    As Kipp Adams of 247Sports notes, Callaway—who plays both receiver and cornerback in football—is also an elite hoops standout.

    In-state power Georgia is involved with Callaway, but his last three visits have been to Mississippi State, Tennessee and Notre Dame.

    Bleacher Report Analysis 

    Callaway is a big-time athlete who can play receiver. However, his best position at the next level appears to be corner. He has great ball skills, and he's not afraid to come up and deliver a blow in run support. He's got good size and length. He needs to add some bulk to his frame, but he's an explosive player who's also capable of being a standout on special teams.

8. 4-Star George Hill, Running Back

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    Height/Weight: 6'0", 200 pounds

    High School: Hubbard High School; Hubbard, Ohio

    247Sports Ranking: No. 8 athlete, No. 101 overall

    Bleacher Report Score: 88/100

    Committed to Ohio State on June 14, 2014

    Ohio State has a pair of touted running back commitments in 4-stars Kareem Walker and Demario McCall.

    Another player who could figure into head coach Urban Meyer's backfield plans is 4-star athlete George Hill.

    Hill, who was the first commitment in Ohio State's 2016 class, is used to operating with other talented rushers. Last season, he shared backfield duties at Hubbard High School with 2015 Michigan State running back signee Larry Scott.

    Bleacher Report Analysis

    Hill is an all-purpose back who can even do damage lining up as a slot receiver. He's speedy and thrives in open space because of his ability to create chunk plays. It will be interesting to see how Meyer uses Hill. His versatility may be what helps him find the field quickly in Columbus.

7. 4-Star Trevon Diggs, Wide Receiver

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    Height/Weight: 6'0", 183 pounds

    High School: The Avalon School; Rockville, Maryland

    247Sports Ranking: No. 7 athlete, No. 85 overall

    Bleacher Report Score: 90/100

    Uncommitted: Considering Alabama, LSU, Maryland, Penn State and Tennessee

    Trevon Diggs probably learned a thing or two about the recruiting process from watching his older brother Stefon—whom the Minnesota Vikings just selected in the 2015 NFL draft—go through it a few years ago.

    The 4-star athlete, who could play either corner or receiver, may choose to follow in his older brother's footsteps by snatching passes in a Maryland uniform.

    However, he named Alabama his leader back in April.

    The speedy Diggs, who hauled in 78 passes for 1,008 yards and 15 touchdowns as a junior, could announce his commitment as soon as July 4, per Ahmed Ghafir of 247Sports.

    Bleacher Report Analysis

    Diggs' skill set is reminiscent of his older brother's. He's elusive in open space and has great hands. He attacks the ball in the air, which also makes him an intriguing option in the secondary. However, he appears to be a natural with the ball in his hands.

6. 4-Star Ahmir Mitchell, Wide Receiver

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    Height/Weight: 6'3", 206 pounds 

    High School: Cedar Creek High School; Egg Harbor City, New Jersey

    247Sports Ranking: No. 6 athlete, No. 82 overall

    Bleacher Report Score: 89/100 

    Uncommitted: Considering Michigan, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Ole Miss and Rutgers

    Even though he has the ability to play in the secondary, most schools are recruiting 4-star athlete Ahmir Mitchell as a receiver.

    Of his current group of favorites, both Notre Dame and Ohio State hosted Mitchell for visits late in June.

    However, it's Michigan that seems to be trending with the No. 3 prospect from the Garden State.

    Bleacher Report Analysis

    One thing that stands out about Mitchell on film is how fluidly he moves in open space. That's impressive for a pass-catcher with his size. There are still some details he can improve upon, such as route running and controlling his body to make contested catches. But he has an impressive skill set that should translate well to the college level.

5. 4-Star Devin White, Running Back

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    Height/Weight: 6' ½", 258 pounds

    High School: North Webster High School; Springhill, Louisiana

    247Sports Ranking: No. 5 athlete, No. 77 overall

    Bleacher Report Score: 91/100

    Uncommitted: Considering Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, LSU and Ole Miss

    At 258 pounds, 4-star Louisiana athlete Devin White has the athleticism to be a standout running back or linebacker at the college level.

    Over the last two seasons, he's registered 3,381 rushing yards and 50 touchdowns on offense while racking up 192 tackles on defense.

    LSU is the early favorite for White, but schools such as Alabama and Ole Miss are heavily pursuing the No. 7 prospect from the Pelican State.

    Bleacher Report Analysis

    White simply does things that normal running backs don't do. He's got the speed to get to the edge and run away from defenders, but he's also a load to bring down when running between the tackles. He brings a combo of athleticism and physicality to the position that makes him an intriguing talent at the college level.

4. 4-Star Devin Asiasi, Tight End

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    Height/Weight: 6'5", 260 pounds

    High School: De La Salle High School; Concord, California

    247Sports Ranking: No. 4 athlete, No. 65 overall

    Bleacher Report Score: 88/100

    Uncommitted: Considering Alabama, Arizona, Oregon, USC and Washington

    According to Justin Hopkins of 247Sports, 4-star jumbo athlete Devin Asiasi recently trimmed his list of suitors to eight lucky programs.

    The 6'5", 260-pounder, who could play defensive end or tight end in college, is the No. 8 prospect from California in the 2016 cycle.

    Last season, Asiasi played both ways, recording five sacks and catching 16 passes for 264 yards and a pair of scores.

    Bleacher Report Analysis

    Asiasi is an intriguing prospect with a high ceiling at both defensive end and tight end. Personally, I like him at tight end because of his athleticism and his ability to create mismatches against smaller defensive backs and slower linebackers. He's still raw, but he's versatile enough to handle in-line blocking or being flexed out wide as a receiver with equal effectiveness.

3. 4-Star Jack Jones, Wide Receiver

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    Height/Weight: 5'10", 170 pounds

    High School: Long Beach Poly; Long Beach, California

    247Sports Ranking: No. 3 athlete, No. 53 overall

    Bleacher Report Score: 90/100

    Uncommitted: Considering Arizona, Michigan, Oklahoma, UCLA and USC

    Last year, Golden State powerhouse Long Beach Poly was buzzing thanks to elite corner and eventual USC signee Iman Marshall.

    This year, the main attraction in the Jackrabbits program is 4-star athlete Jack Jones.

    Jones, who could play receiver or corner at the next level, has the Trojans in hot pursuit of him in addition to schools such as Michigan, Oklahoma and UCLA.

    Bleacher Report Analysis

    Of all the prospects on this list, I'm perhaps most torn on where I like Jones more. Ultimately, I chose receiver based on his explosiveness on film. He's got great short-area quickness and the ability to make defenders miss in space. He could also be a candidate to return kicks on special teams. Ultimately, the team that lands Jones will get a player with the potential to make an early impact in a multitude of ways.

2. 4-Star Demetris Robertson, Wide Receiver

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    Height/Weight: 6'1", 165 pounds

    High School: Savannah Christian Prep; Savannah, Georgia

    247Sports Ranking: No. 2 athlete, No. 36 overall

    Bleacher Report Score: 91/100

    Uncommitted: Considering Alabama, Clemson, Georgia, Florida State and Stanford

    After making an early commitment to Alabama, 4-star athlete Demetris Robertson backed off that pledge in April.

    However, the Tide are still in the running for Robertson, as he took a visit to Tuscaloosa after his decommitment.

    Nick Saban's main competition appears to be Georgia, which holds a slight edge on Robertson's Crystal Ball page.

    Bleacher Report Analysis

    Robertson is one of the more dynamic athletes in the 2016 class. I saw him at The Opening in Orlando, Florida, in March. After a slow start, he was simply unstoppable in one-on-ones. He impressed me with his ability to get off the line of scrimmage and separate from speedy corners on deep routes.

    He still has areas to improve upon, namely his precision as a route-runner. However, he's an electric playmaker with the ball in his hands, and he should continue to burst through defenses at the college level.

1. 5-Star Mecole Hardman Jr., Wide Receiver

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    Height/Weight: 5'10", 175 pounds 

    High School: Elbert County High School; Elberton, Georgia

    247Sports Ranking: No. 1 athlete, No. 27 overall

    Bleacher Report Score: 93/100

    Uncommitted: Considering Alabama, Auburn, Georgia, Michigan and Tennessee

    Whether it's at corner or receiver, one word describes the game of 4-star Georgia athlete Mecole Hardman Jr.—explosive.

    Hardman has been a warrior in the offseason camp circuit, as he's done several camps and performed well at each stop, including the recent IMG National seven-on-seven tournament, as Luke Stampini of GatorBait noted.

    The two teams that currently seem to be leading the race to land Hardman are Georgia and Tennessee, with the Bulldogs apparently in the driver's seat at this stage.

    Bleacher Report Analysis 

    I got the chance to see Hardman at a camp in Atlanta in February. On a day when most campers struggled with temperatures that hovered around 25 degrees, Hardman thrived at both receiver and corner.

    His speed jumps out immediately, but what makes him special is his competitiveness. He fought for reps and made them count when he got them. As good as he is on defense, he's simply too electric to not have the ball in his hands at the next level.