National Signing Day 2018: Ranking the Top 10 Athletes

Brian Pedersen@realBJPFeatured ColumnistJanuary 31, 2018

National Signing Day 2018: Ranking the Top 10 Athletes

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    Auburn signee Joey Gatewood
    Auburn signee Joey GatewoodCredit: 247Sports

    When it comes to evaluating high school football prospects, there are statistics and measurements you can use to determine which recruits are the best and which have the biggest upsides. There are also copious amounts of film and highlight clips, not to mention in-person impressions made at various camps and all-star games.

    Amazingly, the position a prep prospect specializes in isn't always that important since college coaching staffs may see a skill set that fits better in a different role at the next level. If anything, they'd prefer a recruit to be capable of handling more than one position to increase his value.

    Because of this, each year 247Sports and other national recruiting sites list dozens of recruits who have stood out at more than one position as "athletes." Ahead of national signing day Feb. 7, we've ranked the 10 best from the 2018 class, using 247Sports' composite rankings as a barometer but also factoring in how varied their use could be in college.

No. 10 Braden Lenzy

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    Braden Lenzy
    Braden LenzyCredit: 247Sports

    Height/Weight: 6'0", 175 lbs

    High School: Tigard (Portland, Ore.)

    247Sports Ranking: 215th

    Status: Signed with Notre Dame

    Notre Dame scooped up Braden Lenzy a few weeks after he decommitted from Oregon on Dec. 5, giving the Fighting Irish a versatile weapon who could end up being their return specialist in the fall. Lenzy doubles as a track star, and he had intentions of doing both sports with Oregon before switching schools.

    Lenzy's speed also makes him a candidate to be a deep threat in the passing game, though he'll likely need to put on more weight before that happens.


    One Thing to Know

    Lenzy committed to Notre Dame via an essay posted to the Players' Tribune, in which he chronicled how he fell in love with football in third grade and never looked back.

No. 9 Dyami Brown

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    Dyami Brown
    Dyami BrownCredit: 247Sports

    Height/Weight: 6'2", 180 lbs

    High School: West Mecklenburg (Charlotte, N.C.)

    247Sports Ranking: 181st

    Status: Signed with North Carolina

    Dyami Brown is already enrolled at North Carolina, where he will use spring practice to get acclimated to college routes while also showing off a skill set that could make him an instant contributor on special teams. In high school, he played receiver and cornerback but isn't likely to continue on the defensive side with the Tar Heels.

    Brown tallied 29 total touchdowns in his final two high school seasons, 22 on receptions and seven on running plays.


    One Thing to Know

    In December, Brown was one of the stars for North Carolina's team in the Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas, returning a kickoff 92 yards for a touchdown.

No. 8 Jaquayln Crawford

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    Jaquayln Crawford
    Jaquayln CrawfordCredit: 247Sports

    Height/Weight: 5'9 ½", 161 lbs

    High School:  Rockdale (Rockdale, Texas)

    247Sports Ranking: 183rd

    Status: Signed with Oklahoma

    Jaquayln Crawford played quarterback, wide receiver and cornerback and was a top-tier return specialist for his high school team. The options are plentiful for him at Oklahoma, where head coach Lincoln Riley will likely utilize him in a variety of offensive roles that exploit his quickness and ability to maneuver in small spaces.


    One Thing to Know

    Crawford showed off his various talents while helping Rockdale High School win a Class 3A title over Brock. He was named defensive MVP of that game and also threw a touchdown pass out of a Wildcat formation.

No. 7 Quindarious Monday

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    Quindarious Monday
    Quindarious MondayCredit: 247Sports

    Height/Weight: 6'3", 185 lbs

    High School: Carver (Atlanta)

    247Sports Ranking:  157th

    Status: Signed with Auburn

    One of two athletes on this list who are headed to Auburn, Quindarious Monday is a defensive specialist who could find himself in a number of different roles with the Tigers. His natural position is safety, but he could handle coverage duties or end up as a rover if he adds more bulk to his long frame.

    Monday has strong instincts against the run too, making him a candidate to be part of blitz packages and draw assignments against receivers coming out of the backfield.


    One Thing to Know

    Monday patterns his game after the late Sean Taylor, who was known as one of the hardest hitters in the game during his college and NFL careers. Monday honors Taylor both on his Twitter page and with some custom cleats bearing Taylor's image.

No. 6 Tre'Shaun Harrison

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    Tre'Shaun Harrison
    Tre'Shaun HarrisonCredit: 247Sports

    Height/Weight: 6'2", 190 lbs

    High School:  Garfield (Seattle)

    247Sports Ranking:  160th

    Status: Uncommitted

    One of several players who decommitted from Oregon around the time Willie Taggart bolted for Florida State, Tre'Shaun Harrison is still considering the Ducks as well as FSU, Tennessee and Utah. Each school is looking at him first as a receiver but can't ignore how valuable he could be guarding wideouts thanks to his long frame.

    Harrison, the second-ranked player from Washington, has clocked a 4.35-second 40-yard dash.


    One Thing to Know

    Harrison also plays basketball at Garfield High School, which has produced numerous college and NBA players, including Brandon Roy and Tony Wroten.

No. 5 L'Christian Smith

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    L'Christian Smith
    L'Christian SmithCredit: 247Sports

    Height/Weight: 6'6", 205 lbs

    High School: Wayne (Dayton, Ohio)

    247Sports Ranking:  126th

    Status: Signed with Ohio State

    L'Christian Smith is a perfect fit for the H-back position that head coach Urban Meyer's Ohio State teams have become known for. He won't outrun anyone. His sheer size, however, will make it difficult for most defenders to pry the ball from him or take him down easily, making him valuable as a ball-carrier or a receiver.

    Smith could be best utilized in the red zone, as he's someone who can box out defenders like a basketball player going for a rebound and win jump balls on fade routes.


    One Thing to Know

    It's not sports-related, but how Smith got his nickname, Blue, is still noteworthy. It came from his father after he was born with jaundice. He told The-Ozone that he was put under a blue light to help with the condition, and it made his skin look blue.

No. 4 Mario Goodrich

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    Height/Weight: 6'2", 180 lbs

    High School: Lee's Summit West (Lee's Summit, Mo.)

    247Sports Ranking: 114th

    Status: Uncommitted

    Mario Goodrich is the prototypical three-way standout who has played wide receiver, cornerback and handled punt and kick returns at the prep level. Expect the school that signs him to give him a shot in all three areas before ultimately locking him into one main responsibility.

    Committed to Nebraska until early December, Goodrich has since picked up offers from Arkansas, Clemson, Florida, LSU and Oregon. Georgia and Ole Miss are also hot after the fourth-best player from Missouri.


    One Thing to Know

    Goodrich's recruiter at Nebraska, Donte Williams, is now the outside linebackers coach at Oregon as part of Mario Cristobal's staff.

No. 3 Talanoa Hufanga

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    Height/Weight: 6'0 ½", 193 lbs

    High School:  Crescent Valley (Corvallis, Ore.)

    247Sports Ranking: 88th

    Status: Signed with USC

    Talanoa Hufanga secretly signed with USC but didn't make it public until a week later, via video that showed off his intense workout regimen. But he's not just a weight-room phenom, he also produces all over the field as he regularly split time between quarterback, wide receiver and safety.

    The Trojans are going to give him a look first on defense, but don't be surprised if he quickly becomes their next Adoree' Jackson, someone who can start on both sides of the ball and possibly be used as a return man as well.


    One Thing to Know

    Hufanga was a major stat stuffer during his senior year at Crescent Valley High School. On offense he caught 11 touchdown passes on 35 receptions and scored seven times on 39 carries, while on defense he had 44 tackles (seven for loss), a sack, four interceptions, a forced fumble and a blocked field goal.

No. 2 Bryan Addison

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    Height/Weight: 6'5", 180 lbs

    High School: Junipero Serra (Gardena, Calif.)

    247Sports Ranking: 98th

    Status: Signed with UCLA

    Bryan Addison was the first big prospect to choose UCLA after Chip Kelly was hired in November, picking the Bruins over Michigan, Ohio State, Oregon and USC. A two-way star in high school, Kelly may want to see if doing that is also possible in college.

    Addison is most known for his defensive acumen as a tall, rangy safety who is able to play the position like a cornerback. He could easily be moved over to the edge to handle bigger receivers, and his ball skills make using him as a pass-catcher a viable option as well.


    One Thing to Know

    Addison's father, also named Bryan, was an all-conference safety for Hawaii in the 1980s. The son got to play on the same field as dad in January when he participated in the Polynesian Bowl in Honolulu.

No. 1 Joey Gatewood

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    Height/Weight: 6'4", 232 lbs

    High School: Bartram Trail (Jacksonville, Fla.)

    247Sports Ranking: 49th

    Status: Signed with Auburn

    Joey Gatewood is one of the top dual-threat quarterbacks in the 2018 class, a big-bodied passer who has just the kind of frame you want from someone willing to tuck it and run. He'll remind you of a young Cam Newton, and he could be Auburn's next great dual-threat passer.

    If his arm weren't so strong, there might be a desire to convert him into an H-back/hybrid player on offense or even see what he could do as an edge-rusher.

    There's tremendous upside with Gatewood, who is still learning the nuances of playing quarterback and to this point is living off pure athleticism. Give him a year or two and he could be tremendous.


    One Thing to Know

    Gatewood committed to Auburn in December 2015, an interminably long time for him to wait before being able to sign almost two years later. Rhett Lashlee, the Auburn offensive coordinator who recruited him, has since moved on to two other jobs at Connecticut (2017) and SMU (2018).


    Recruiting rankings from 247Sports unless otherwise noted. Follow Brian J. Pedersen on Twitter at @realBJP.