National Signing Day 2020: Ranking the Top 25 Defensive Prospects
The unanimous top-ranked defender in this year's recruiting class is Damascus, Maryland, defensive lineman Bryan Bresee, who likely will play on the interior of the line but is versatile enough to play at all positions up front.
It's no different in B/R's look at this year's top 25 defenders. Bresee is the best high school player in the country.
But who fleshes out the list behind him?
With multiple Clemson Tigers, Alabama Crimson Tide, Georgia Bulldogs and LSU Tigers, this is a star-studded list full of future playmakers at all three levels of the defense. This has the potential to be the deepest and best group of defenders in a long time.
The linebacking corps is particularly strong this year, with several of the top players spread all across the country. There are plenty of game-breaking defensive backs, too.
Using the 247Sports Composite rankings, a look at other recruiting services, film study and upcoming opportunity, B/R attempted to rank the top 25 defensive players in this year's class. Recruiting, as they say, isn't an exact science, but it's fun to project just who is going to make an impact and when.
So, let's take a look at Bresee and Co. to see just how the 2020 recruiting class defenders shook out heading into the final couple of weeks of this year's recruiting cycle.
25. Clark Phillips III, S, Utah
Height/Weight: 5'10.5", 178 lbs
High school: La Habra (La Habra, CA)
247Sports composite ranking: No. 50
Status: Signed with Utah
Everything appeared set for dynamic defensive back prospect Phillips to sign with Ohio State and be part of the Buckeyes' star-studded recruiting class. But the Utes made a late surge and received a visit from him after he chose not to sign with the Buckeyes.
The rest is history.
He wound up signing with the Utes on December 19, giving coach Kyle Whittingham the jewel of his class. Utah went from being ranked in the 80s in the week leading up to the early signing period to signing a strong class, thanks to signees like Phillips.
Phillips is one of the nation's top all-around defensive backs, blending quality technique with elite ball skills. He's also not afraid to play in the box and make tackles. He should play right away for Utah and will only improve after time in the weight room.
He's the centerpiece of the class and could slot right into departing All-American Jaylon Johnson's cornerback spot; his career could have a similar trajectory, too.
24. Avantae Williams, S, Undecided
Height/Weight: 5'11", 170 lbs
High school: Deland (Deland, FL)
247Sports composite ranking: No. 44
Status: Choosing between Florida, Georgia and Miami
The compact-but-elite safety prospect is one of the biggest remaining uncommitted prizes on the board, and it's going to be exciting to see where the twists and turns of the next few weeks land him.
Steve Wiltfong of 247Sports quoted a source who said he thinks Williams "really, really, really" wants to go to Miami coming off a visit to the Hurricanes. The Crystal Ball heavily favors the Gators, but apparently that's not a done deal at all.
Whoever gets Williams will be getting a plug-and-play athlete who could wind up being an early draft pick down the road. He has the versatility to play any position in the secondary, and while he likely won't bulk up enough to be an Isaiah Simmons type, he is a big hitter like the Clemson star.
He is a lot like former Washington Huskies and current Arizona Cardinals safety Budda Baker, which is a comp 247Sports mentioned. He has the ability to do big things right away and throughout a star-studded career.
23. Justin Rogers, DT, Kentucky
Height/Weight: 6'2.5", 311 lbs
High school: Oak Park (Oak Park, MI)
247Sports composite ranking: No. 51
Status: Signed with Kentucky
A sure sign of the program coach Mark Stoops is building in Lexington is the huge recruiting victory the Wildcats got when defensive tackle Justin Rogers elected to come down from Michigan to join Big Blue Nation.
This is an elite defensive lineman coveted by the nation's top programs who ultimately chose Kentucky over Alabama, Michigan, Michigan State, Tennessee and others. Rogers is the centerpiece of a class of diverse, versatile defensive linemen who could grow to be a strength for the 'Cats.
Rogers is ready to step right in and play immediately, and he is going to be a strong difference-maker in the interior of the line. He's an explosive player who can get after quarterbacks from the middle of the line and could do big things right away.
It isn't like he's going into a loaded roster like he would have had he decided to join the Crimson Tide or Georgia Bulldogs, so Kentucky has a spot waiting for him in the starting lineup if he continues to thrive. Rogers could be a three-year starter in the SEC and head to the NFL.
He's got that kind of ability, even if he isn't as tall as some of the best classic defensive tackles.
22. Demouy Kennedy, ILB, Alabama
Height/Weight: 6'3", 215 lbs
High school: Theodore (Theodore, AL)
247Sports composite ranking: No. 38
Status: Signed with Alabama
Though Nick Saban has proven time and time again he can go anywhere in the nation and lure players to Tuscaloosa, he has done an outstanding job keeping the top talent from the Yellow Hammer State home.
We've already seen that with Quandarrius Robinson on the list, and another example is Theodore, Alabama, playmaker Demouy Kennedy, who is the same type of rangy, athletic defender as Robinson, but he may have an even higher upside.
It's going to be interesting to see whether he projects as an inside or outside linebacker for Alabama, but his sprinter's speed is going to be electric to watch once he fills out. His 247Sports profile compares Kennedy to Houston Texans linebacker and former Vanderbilt starter and Alabama native Zach Cunningham.
With Alabama needing help in the linebacking corps, Kennedy is an exciting option. The best thing for the Tide is he has plenty of company on this list. Saban did an outstanding job of addressing needs on the second level after a subpar 2019 season, and Kennedy could work his way into the rotation right away.
He has the ability to be a multi-year starter, no matter which linebacker role he fills.
21. Curtis Jacobs, OLB Penn State
Height/Weight: 6'2", 220 lbs
High school: McDonogh School (Owings Mills, MD)
247Sports composite ranking: No. 35
Status: Signed with Penn State
James Franklin has been able to lure several defenders to Happy Valley over the past few years who blossomed into top-tier players, and everybody will know the name of one of them this year in All-American Micah Parsons.
Another outside linebacker who could follow in Parsons' footsteps and become a high-caliber prospect learning under the upperclassman's wing is Curtis Jacobs. The athletic, do-it-all linebacker was a two-sport star in high school, and he is good enough to step right in and find the rotation.
There are more physically developed linebackers in the class, and football is now going to be a full-time commitment for Jacobs, so watch how he blossoms this next year. He has impact potential after a small acclimation period, and he could wind up being a big-hitting prospect who can hold 230-235 pounds easily.
It isn't out of the question that Penn State could use him on the edge, and he's athletic enough to get after quarterbacks. Jacobs has huge upside, and he has been a late surge in the recruiting cycle who will pay big dividends for the Nittany Lions.
20. Fred Davis II, CB, Clemson
Height/Weight: 6'0", 192 lbs
High school: Trinity Christian Academy (Jacksonville, FL)
247Sports composite ranking: No. 52
Status: Signed with Clemson
You may forget about Fred Davis II in a loaded class of cornerbacks, but you absolutely shouldn't. He has as much shutdown ability as anybody. Perhaps the Clemson signee doesn't have the upside of Elias Ricks or Kelee Ringo, but he can be a dynamic force.
The way Dabo Swinney has recruited recently, the Tigers are prepared to reload with several defensive backs leaving, including A.J. Terrell. Davis has the potential to step right in and replace Terrell as a true freshman.
That would be a major story, sure, but coach Brent Venables and Swinney have proven they're not scared to throw the youngsters out there and let them grow. The weakness of the ACC in recent history has allowed them to do that, and then when the meat and potatoes of the schedule rolls around, they're ready.
On film, Davis plays aggressive and with a swagger that normally could get out of control for some players his age. But he's still fundamentally sound, possesses fluid hips and does a great job turning on the pivot and playing the ball.
Davis does a lot of things that are hard to teach. It's going to be fun to watch him develop.
19. Desmond Evans, WDE, North Carolina
Height/Weight: 6'6", 240 lbs
High school: Lee County (Sanford, N.C.)
247Sports composite ranking: No. 43
Status: Signed with North Carolina
Had Simpson chosen to stay in North Carolina, he would have been paired with Desmond Evans, an elite athlete who is going to be one of the best edge-rushing players in college football before his playing days are done.
Right now, he's not as fundamentally equipped to be elite right away. But he has posted big high school numbers by sheer physical force, and the raw skills are unbelievable. Everything is there on film, and it's just a matter of him putting everything together.
Evans likely will have the chance to audition with live reps. The Tar Heels were stellar offensively with Sam Howell leading the way at quarterback in Mack Brown's first season, but the defense was lacking. This year's incoming UNC class is loaded on that side of the ball, and Evans is the best of the bunch.
When you see a 6'6" frame and realize Evans could weigh 275 and still be a violent, long-armed force coming off the edge when the ball is snapped, it's an exciting thought to watch him blossom and become a player who is going to be an early-round NFL draft pick.
He's got that level of potential.
18. Jaylon Jones, S, Texas A&M
Height/Weight: 6'1.5", 190 lbs
High school: Steele (Cibolo, TX)
247Sports composite ranking: No. 21
Status: Signed with Texas A&M
The Aggies struck gold at the safety spot in the 2019 class with elite Demani Richardson, who finished third on the team with 63 tackles in his first season. They also landed Brian Williams, who saw action in 10 games despite seeing limited snaps.
Coach Jimbo Fisher hopes he hit another star to go along with Richardson in Jaylon Jones, the top prospect in a loaded class ranked sixth nationally. Jones is a 5-star, versatile defender from Cibolo, Texas, who has the talent to play right away.
Blessed with excellent size and speed, Jones is a big playmaker on the defensive side of the ball. He has the potential to be the best safety in the entire class, and the position is deep and versatile. Yes, the cornerbacks are better in this class, but there are some dudes at safety.
Jones is one of them. It's going to be interesting to see if he sticks at safety or moves to a big, physical cornerback. He can do it all.
It's going to be fun to see where defensive coordinator Mike Elko starts him out and how much he plays right away.
17. Trenton Simpson, OLB, Clemson
Height/Weight: 6'3", 224 lbs
High school: Mallard Creek (Charlotte, N.C.)
247Sports composite ranking: No. 26
Status: Signed with Clemson
Let's stick with the national runners-up, shall we?
The Clemson Tigers' recruiting class is historic, loaded at several different positions. One of the biggest late "gets" was outside linebacker Trenton Simpson, and coach Dabo Swinney went into a difficult place to sway him to head out of state.
This year, North Carolina coach Mack Brown did a phenomenal job keeping elite players from the Tar Heel State with the Tar Heels, and Simpson was thought to be a lean to Brown. But once he visited Clemson and the school pursued hard, the lure to play with perennial champions was too great.
Simpson is a future force who could find a home on the second level this year but has the kind of frame that could hold 20-30 pounds and make him a fearsome edge-rusher. His speed and the fact he's already put together with an athletic build at such a young age make him an intriguing prospect.
There are a lot of different things Simpson can do on defense, and coordinator Brent Venables is the perfect mad scientist to watch him, figure out how he fits and maximize his potential. It also doesn't hurt that he played at one of the top high school programs in the state.
He's going to be ready to go right away.
16. Demonte Capehart, DT, Clemson
Height/Weight: 6'4.5", 295 lbs
High school: IMG Academy (Hartsville, S.C.)
247Sports composite ranking: No. 33
Status: Signed with Clemson
When you sign six 5-star prospects the way Clemson did, you've got to expect several of them on a list like this, and here is yet another one.
For all of Clemson's success this past year, the Tigers did have a hard time replacing all that talent along the defensive front from its 2018 national championship team. The defensive ends didn't produce the way they'd expected them to consistently, and the Tigers cobbled together a line by committee.
That's not to say they were bad because they were anything but. The best player, though, was a true freshman in defensive tackle Tyler Davis. So that should prove Clemson will play the best along the front.
Enter Demonte Capehart, another college-ready prospect from IMG Academy. The last defensive lineman the Tigers grabbed from there was Xavier Thomas, who may have had a sophomore slump but was dynamic in his first year.
Capehart is a big, rangy defensive tackle with the athletic ability to step right in and play alongside Davis. He's an all-around DT who has the potential to rush the passer, clog lanes or get his hand up and deflect passes. He's going to team with Brian Bresee and Davis to be a force, probably as soon as 2020.
15. Dontae Manning, CB, Oregon
Height/Weight: 6'0", 185 lbs
High school: Raytown (Kansas City, Kansas)
247Sports composite ranking: No. 30
Status: Signed with Oregon
One of the best all-around athletes in this entire class is Dontae Manning, whose 247Sports recruiting profile compares him to former Ohio State and current NFL standout Marshon Lattimore. That's an apt description of his ceiling, too.
Manning possesses exceptional recovery speed but may be among the top three press-coverage cornerbacks in the nation. His size enables him to be an all-around, versatile defender who could play on the boundary or at the nickel position.
He needs to get more physical, but that will happen in Oregon's strength and conditioning program, and he effortlessly glides all over the field. He could be one of the top cornerbacks in the Pac-12 very early in his career.
If Manning develops the way he should, he could be a three-year player on defense and a dynamite returner. He is a major recruiting victory for Mario Cristobal and opens up a new avenue on the trail into the Midwest for a coach who has thrived recruiting the West Coast. Manning could find his way into the mix right away.
14. Mekhail Sherman, OLB, Georgia
Height/Weight: 6'3", 234 lbs
High school: St. John's (Washington D.C.)
247Sports composite ranking: No. 32
Status: Signed with Georgia
When Kirby Smart was Alabama's defensive coordinator, he and assistant Sal Sunseri would go up and down the Atlantic coast and sign difference-making players every year. Now that Smart is Georgia's head coach, he's proving he can do it in Athens, too.
The Bulldogs' recruiting brand is national, and that was on display when they pulled Mekhail Sherman from the D.C. area. He is a force who missed his junior season with torn knee ligaments and still rebounded to be 247Sports' top-ranked outside linebacker in the nation.
He is a blazing fast OLB who can get after quarterbacks with the best of them and possesses enough athleticism to play sideline to sideline, jump out into coverage and make plays all over the field.
The best part about all that is he's one of the top tacklers in this year's class and should be an elite force for Dan Lanning. He is the same caliber of athlete as last year's No. 1-ranked Nolan Smith, who made an instant impact for UGA.
Sherman is docked a little on this list because he needs to prove he can regain his full ability after the injury, but two years removed from it and he should be just fine, especially after some time in a college weight room.
13. Noah Sewell, ILB, Oregon
Height/Weight: 6'2", 266 lbs
High school: Orem (Orem, UT)
247Sports composite ranking: No. 13
Status: Signed with Oregon
Elite linebacker Noah Sewell flirted with schools across the country, including a handful of SEC programs such as Alabama, Auburn and Tennessee, but he ultimately decided to stay out West.
Now, he's going to make a duo of Sewell brothers for coach Mario Cristobal. Of course, his brother Penei is one of the top offensive linemen in the nation, and they'll get to play at least one year together before NFL teams come calling to make the older Sewell a very rich man.
Noah may follow suit someday.
He's not overly fast, and he's a bit of a "tweener" between a defensive lineman and linebacker, but if he drops some of the bad weight and gets into a quality strength and conditioning program, Sewell has elite potential and the ability to be a terrific run-stuffer.
Sewell is nowhere near as college-ready as his incoming classmate Justin Flowe, but he is going to make his mark somewhere on the field in the very near future. He's just not quite as polished as some of the other linebackers on this list.
12. Jalen Carter, DT, Georgia
Height/Weight: 6'3", 301 lbs
High school: Apopka (Apopka, FL)
247Sports composite ranking: No. 18
Status: Signed with Georgia
The schools from which Jalen Carter ultimately chose was a "who's who" among the South's top schools.
Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Clemson, LSU and others all wanted the jumbo athlete from the Sunshine State who became yet another player from that fertile recruiting ground to leave the "Big Three" and head to Athens to play for Kirby Smart.
He has the ability to get on the field right away with an opportunity vacated in the middle of the defensive front for the Dawgs. Blessed with a thick lower body and violence at the point of attack, Carter is the complete package. He's also a dynamic athlete who can do a bunch of things with the ball in his hands.
At his size, he even played some tight end in high school. It's a scary thought that UGA is getting yet another playmaker with his skill set who is a big-bodied player. He was a major recruiting victory, and even if he doesn't start right away at such a tough position to break in, he'll be in the rotation.
It's going to be impossible to keep a player with Carter's size, strength, agility and versatility off the field. He is an elite force who has top-10 NFL draft pick potential if he develops. He's one of the best DTs in the country and will wreak havoc on SEC offenses right away.
11. Drew Sanders, ATH (OLB), Alabama
Height/Weight: 6'5", 232 lbs
High school: Ryan (Denton, TX)
247Sports composite ranking: No. 22
Status: Signed with Alabama
The Oklahoma Sooners may have wound up convincing Jalen Hurts to come to Norman after he left Alabama, but the Crimson Tide paid them back with two huge pulls from former OU commitments on the recruiting trail.
Considering the Tide had Tua Tagovailoa with Hurts gone, Nick Saban probably got the better end of that deal.
Yet another Alabama player on this list is Drew Sanders, a jumbo athlete who was once committed to OU but flipped to Alabama and should wind up playing inside linebacker for a Tide team that needs them now. Yes, Dylan Moses and Joshua McMillon should anchor those spots in 2020, but don't sleep on Sanders.
He is a polished prospect who should be a hard-hitting, plug-and-play guy in the rotation who could grow into a multi-year starter. Alabama also spoiled coach Lincoln Riley's top commit when the Tide flipped running back Jase McClellan late in the early signing period.
But Sanders could wind up being one of the most important players for the Tide at a major position of need. He would have gone a long way in shoring up the Sooners' defensive issues but instead will help outfit the Tide with another playmaker on the interior of the linebacking corps.
10. Chris Braswell, WDE, Alabama
Height/Weight: 6'3", 220 lbs
High school: St. Frances Academy (Baltimore, MD)
247Sports composite ranking: No. 19
Status: Signed with Alabama
The best out of Alabama's group of long, athletic outside linebackers/defensive ends they pulled in the 2020 recruiting class is Chris Braswell, a dynamic athlete they convinced to head south.
Braswell is the type of player with the body that can explode with a year in the weight room, put on great weight and not miss a beat. But he also has the football acumen and ability to step right in and play immediately.
He's probably going to be a situational pass-rusher right away, and though the Crimson Tide are going to be deep and good on the second level after they were a bit weak in '19, Braswell should have the quickest path of the outside 'backers to playing time.
The Baltimore product practically bounces around the field, and he is a rangy guy who can pivot, play receivers in coverage and pin his ears back and make plays in the offensive backfield. He's a do-it-all player who appears ticketed for a big college career and big things after.
Out of all Alabama's signees, he may have the biggest upside of anybody not named Bryce Young.
9. Sa'vell Smalls, OLB, Washington
Height/Weight: 6'4", 244 lbs
High school: Kennedy Catholic (Burien, WA)
247Sports composite ranking: No. 29
Status: Signed with Washington
Much like fellow West Coast linebackers Noah Sewell and Justin Flowe, Sa'vell Smalls flirted with several schools on the East Coast, but he ultimately stayed in Pac-12 country. It's a 2020 cycle trend that's a positive development for a conference that has watched too many of its local prospects go elsewhere.
Smalls was unfazed when coach Chris Petersen elected to retire, mainly because he'd developed such a strong relationship with former defensive coordinator Jimmy Lake, who was promoted to head coach.
Now, he joins an elite group of young defenders the Huskies have grabbed over the past two recruiting cycles. Smalls has the potential to be one of the best.
His size lends itself to his being able to play a variety of positions. If he needs to stay mostly on the second level, chase ball-carriers and drop into coverage, he's got the speed and ability to do that. He's also the ideal size to be able to be a force off the edge, getting after quarterbacks.
He played some receiver and tight end in high school, so he's got good enough hands to be a force against the passing game. Smalls is one of the best 'backers in the country and has instant-impact ability and the potential to be a force.
8. Will Anderson, WDE, Alabama
Height/Weight: 6'3", 230 lbs
High school: Dutchtown (Hampton, GA)
247Sports composite ranking: No. 17
Status: Signed with Alabama
If you're seeing a trend developing here, there are a lot of Alabama defensive ends and outside linebackers on this list, and it's because Nick Saban desperately needed them. All he did was go out and sign the best group of those guys in the country.
There's one higher still on the list, but Will Anderson is an exciting player who should add some weight and ultimately play with his hand down for the Crimson Tide. His 247Sports profile says he plays bigger than his weight suggests, and that's true.
It's a big deal to get a player with that trait, and he will be a force once he gets in Scott Cochran's program in Tuscaloosa. The comparison for Anderson is former Florida standout and current Los Angeles Ram Dante Fowler, so it's obvious they expect Anderson to pack on some weight.
He decided to head to Alabama when he could have gone anywhere in the nation or stayed in-state and played for Georgia, and he is yet another 5-star steal for Saban. He has a bright future for UA and may work his way into the rotation right away.
7. Gervon Dexter, DT, Florida
Height/Weight: 6'6.5", 286 lbs
High school: Lake Wales (Lake Wales, FL)
247Sports composite ranking: No. 12
Status: Signed with Florida
The Florida Gators pulled one of the top defensive line prospects in the entire nation when Gervon Dexter decided to stay in-state rather than go to Alabama or somewhere else. He's going to be a force for the Gators, possibly as soon as 2020.
Between Kyree Campbell, Elijah Conliffe and Zachary Carter, there aren't a ton of big bodies to go on the inside for Florida, though there are some potential playmakers. Dexter may find himself firmly in the rotation, if not the starting lineup.
Dexter is tall, strong and could fill out and add another 20-30 pounds easily without losing any of his explosion. He has a strong first step and good hands, and if he learns not to take plays off, he's going to be one of the most productive defensive linemen in this entire class.
Dexter has the ability to be a three-and-done type player, and he is going to be one of the top signees in UF's class.
6. Elias Ricks, CB, LSU
Height/Weight: 6'2", 192 lbs
High school: IMG Academy (Bradenton, FL)
247Sports composite ranking: No. 14
Status: Signed with LSU
Florida and several other schools want to claim the moniker "DBU," but nobody puts elite defensive backs in the NFL like the LSU Tigers. They also have shown the propensity lately to get guys who make a difference in the secondary right away and just continue to get better.
It's going to be interesting to see if that continues with former defensive coordinator Dave Aranda now Baylor's head coach, but LSU secondary coach Corey Raymond is still around, and it's even possible he slots into Aranda's spot.
If so, look out for California 5-star cornerback Elias Ricks to be the next instant star on the Bayou. Last year, it was Derek Stingley Jr. who not only was the best freshman in the nation but one of the best players, period.
Before him, safety Grant Delpit had a breakout first year at LSU, and now he's off to the NFL after his junior season, where he is expected to be a top-15 pick. Ricks falls right in line after Stingley.
He may be the starter opposite Stingley next year, blessed with elite size, a terrific all-around game as a defensive back and somebody who has exceptional ball skills. He was a major recruiting victory on the West Coast for the national champions.
5. Jordan Burch, SDE, South Carolina
Height/Weight: 6'5", 275 lbs
High school: Hammond School (Columbia, S.C.)
247Sports composite ranking: No. 8
Status: Committed to South Carolina
Jordan Burch pulled quite the surprise when he elected to give South Carolina coach Will Muschamp huge news with his commitment, but he has the clear path to playing time and the potential to be a megastar right away.
Burch is the type of athlete who is big enough to stick inside or can slide out and get after the passer from the edge. Perhaps the best thing for him to do would be to replace Javon Kinlaw, who was a disruptive force for the Gamecocks and is off to the NFL.
Everybody in the nation was after Burch, and he ultimately picked his hometown team over LSU, Georgia, Alabama, Clemson and others. Don't put him on the inside of the line just yet, though. This is a player who is big and athletic enough to be a Julius Peppers-type player.
What if he can even stand up some and play like Khalil Mack? It's not out of the question, at all. Muschamp should be able to do a lot of things with Burch because he's so big, strong and agile. He has the potential to be one of the top overall players in the country very soon.
He's a can't miss.
4. Myles Murphy, SDE, Clemson
Height/Weight: 6'5", 260 lbs
High school: Hillgrove (Powder Springs, Ga)
247Sports composite ranking: No. 7
Status: Signed with Clemson
It may be easy to forget about Myles Murphy because Clemson signed such a deep, talented class. Plus, there's a defensive lineman even ahead of him on all the lists.
But the Power Springs, Georgia, native has plenty of ability in his own right and is going to be a lot of fun to watch as part of one of the best defensive line hauls ever, coming in with Brian Bresee and Demonte Capehart.
At 6'5", Murphy seems a lock to stay on the edge, even though he's not the blazing fast edge-rusher you are used to seeing. He's athletic and possesses good enough awareness to chase down ball-carriers. He can also shift inside, if needed.
Murphy may not have quite the upside of some of the other guys as a pro, but he's going to be an exceptional college player who is very smart and fits best as a 3-4 defensive end.
The best thing about Murphy is his best football is in front of him, and he has a raw ability that will be maximized by Brent Venables. No matter where he winds up playing on the defensive line, Murphy is going to be a big part of the future and probably even the present for the defending national runners-up.
3. Kelee Ringo, CB, Georgia
Height/Weight: 6'2", 205 lbs
High school: Saguaro (Scottsdale, AZ)
247Sports composite ranking: No. 4
Status: Signed with Georgia
When you're ranked this high, it's just a matter of semantics who is picked over whom, but I'm higher on Kelee Ringo than a lot of the recruiting services. He has a similar weight as last year's Georgia breakout star freshman in the secondary, Tyrique Stevenson, but he wears it even better.
Ringo is a couple inches taller than Stevenson and is a bouncy, quick-twitch athlete who holds the weight well and hits like a ton of bricks.
It's going to be fun to watch how defensive coordinator Dan Lanning swings him around the secondary. Is he a big, press-coverage cornerback who is physical off the snap and bumps receivers off their routes? Is he more of a nickelback who can roam the field? Or is he going to be a ball-hawking safety?
The best guess here is he's a cornerback because he can do so much damage in the passing game and possesses elite ball skills. Because of his size and athleticism, he gets the slight nod over Elias Ricks as being the best defensive back in this class.
He's going to have a massive career in Athens if used correctly. The best thing for the Dawgs is there may not be an incorrect way to use him.
2. Justin Flowe, ILB, Oregon
Height/Weight: 6'2", 225 lbs
High school: Upland (Upland, CA)
247Sports composite ranking: No. 6
Status: Signed with Oregon
The prototype interior linebacker in this class is Oregon's Justin Flowe, who may wind up being the top overall playmaker in the entire 2020 cycle. He's got that type of ceiling.
He looks like an athletic receiver or tight end through his upper body and is physically developed. But he has a thick lower body that enables him to go sideline to sideline or accelerate into the hole and stuff running backs.
It's going to be extremely hard to keep him off the field for the Ducks, despite coach Mario Cristobal having a deep, young linebacking corps.
The best thing about him is many of the recruiting services talk about how he's a natural-born leader who elevates the play of others around him. His 247Sports profile discusses this, for instance, and that is the type of player whom others gravitate toward.
He could have stayed in California and gone to USC and made the Trojans' disappointing class much better, or he could have gone to Georgia, Alabama or Clemson and battled for starting jobs on those elite programs, too. Instead, he's Cristobal's latest huge recruiting win in Cali.
Last year, it was Kayvon Thibodeaux. Now, he's got another fellow Golden State star alongside him who is going to do big things.
1. Bryan Bresee, DT, Clemson
Height/Weight: 6'5", 290 lbs
High school: Damascus (Damascus, MD)
247Sports composite ranking: No. 1
Status: Signed with Clemson
Out of all the electric athletes and can't-miss, second-level playmakers in the 2020 recruiting class, you wonder what sets a guy like Brian Bresee apart.
He probably projects to defensive tackle, after all, and while that's an extremely important position, it's not as sexy as those edge-rushers or second-level defenders who get after the passers.
Then you watch his film, and everything jumps out. You see why he's so revered by the recruiting services; he's simply one of the most college-ready prospects in the entire class, and it's not even really close. He looks like a veteran defender out there.
This is a kid with all the moves. He has the strength to get through blockers, surges once he gets past them using a variety of moves and is wildly productive. His quickness is what sets him apart, and on whatever stage he's played on, he's thrived.
There may be a knock on him that he hasn't played the best high school competition, which is true, but skills like his don't come around very often at this age. There's a reason why everybody wanted him, and he is a player who will be a force up the middle for a long time to come.
He has that motor coaches love and everybody talks about, and he's going to surge up the depth chart and make plays right away for Clemson.