Southeast Spotlight: Five prospects who are tough to rate

Robert Woodyard
Rivals.com

The Rivals Rankings for the 2021 and 2022 classes will be updated over the next two weeks after an offseason that offered fewer opportunities for evaluations than any previous year. Questions we hoped to get answered about many top players were left largely unanswered. Here are five prospects from the Southeast who were among those most difficult to rate.

RELATED: Five Midwest prospects who are tough to rate

CLASS OF 2021 RANKINGS: Rivals250 | Position | Team | State

CLASS OF 2022: Top 100

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This one comes down to seeing live games. We’ve seen Archie a lot in practice, camps and getting individual quarterback work in, so now, we just need to see him in pads and in live action. He is set to be a first-year starter at McEachern High in Powder Springs (Ga.), and if he plays like expected, his recruiting will take off and his ranking will rise. He’s shown he’s a four-star type talent and now it just has to come together between the lines on Friday nights. Florida Atlantic and Florida International have offered, but Archie should add many more in the coming months.

Klein is a very intriguing prospect for multiple reasons. He’s an exchange student from Germany now playing in the northeast Georgia mountains at Rabun-Gap Nacoochee School. We’ve yet to lay eyes on Klein due to the pandemic, and the competition he plays isn’t the best, so we still want to see him in person. His film jumps out though due to his size, athleticism and ability to make plays. In the last few months, he’s added offers from Colorado, Florida State, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Nebraska and West Virginia. He’s a very intriguing talent.

Another prospect with a lofty ceiling, Watson is as productive at defensive tackle as there is in the country. The issue here is that he carries more than a little bad weight that may prevent him from adjusting to the speed of the college game. That said, Watson has the strength and athleticism to become a star if he sheds the weight. The situation is not much different than that of former Florida offensive tackle Jawaan Taylor, who carried a lot of bad weight to Gainesville, only to reshape and eventually become a second-round pick.

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Fact or Fiction: Trevor Lawrence will make history

National recruiting director Mike Farrell and national recruiting analyst Adam Gorney tackle three topics daily and determine whether they believe the statements or not.

MORE FACT OR FICTION: MAC shutdown is first step toward canceled season

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CLASS OF 2022: Top 100

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1. Trevor Lawrence will make history.

Trevor Lawrence
AP Images

Farrell’s take: FICTION. But he’s trying. Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence, who needs his junior football season like I need a second nose, is the leader of the #WeWantToPlay movement for college football players based on his name and impressive statements on social media.

Lawrence makes some great points like players are safer under constant supervision in college than they would on their own, but it likely won’t matter. A shutdown of the season has a lot of momentum and Lawrence leading this charge is admirable but it would be a miracle if it worked.

But here’s hoping it does. The man who needs college football the least this season wants it the most. Lawrence will be the No. 1 pick in next April’s NFL Draft regardless, but he is still leading this charge. What does that say about the passion of college football players? Impressive.

Gorney’s take: FACT. He already has changed history. He might not get his way as conferences could shut down the season, but the attention Lawrence’s statements have gotten on social media, the coordinated approach of many elite college football players and the voice that they now have because of their social media presence and the continuing trend of name, image and likeness shows the power that college athletes have to shape the discussion.

Lawrence does not need college football and some could argue it’s ridiculous that he has to go through the charade of playing three years. But he wants to play and his voice has been heard. It won’t soon be forgotten.

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2. Ohio State would be hurt the most in the Big Ten by a postponement to
the spring.

Ryan Day
AP Images

Farrell’s take: FACT. The roster is loaded with potential NFL players led by Justin Fields, Shaun Wade and Wyatt Davis and many of them would have to sit out a spring of football with the NFL Combine in February and the NFL Draft in April. The Buckeyes have a deep lineup and would still likely win the Big Ten in the spring, but it would not be the runaway I see it as now.

Gorney’s take: FACT. This is not just an Ohio State story: I believe every elite national power would be negatively affected the most by moving the season to the spring because anybody who could leave for the NFL probably would not play. You’re telling me Alabama’s Najee Harris, DeVonta Smith and Alex Leatherwood are going to play a spring season and then jump right to the NFL Combine and NFL Draft with millions of dollars on the line? I wouldn’t even be certain Trevor Lawrence would play college football in the spring.

Ohio State would be hurt tremendously because a lot of its top players would understandably sit out. It’s unfortunate all around, but the Buckeyes and other title contenders would be hurt the most.

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McVay, others turn heads at InfiniT camp outside Atlanta

Miles McVay
Nick Lucero/Rivals.com

DACULA, Ga. — Prospects from multiple states traveled to Hebron Christian Academy on Saturday to take part in the InfiniT Football Elite Series Camp.

Here is a close look here at several standouts on the day from the offensive side of the ball.

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CLASS OF 2022: Top 100

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MILES MCVAY

This St. Louis product made the trek to the Peach State, immediately capturing the attention of the coaching staff and media observers. He’s a massive prospect with power and movement abilities. After a breakout performance, he earned an offer from Arizona State on Sunday. The Georgia Bulldogs followed.

COLLIN SADLER

This 2022 offensive tackle prospect has seen his recruitment explode this calendar year, collecting one of the most impressive offer lists at his position in the country. Sadler proved his worth on Saturday, moving well in one-on-ones and turning in a strong performance in pass-blocking.

WALTCLAIRE FLYNN


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Georgia DE Khristian Zachary set on commitment date

Rivals.com

CARROLLTON, Ga. — In just over two months, all should know where 2021 pass rusher Khristian Zachary will be playing college football. For him, it is more than just football when it comes to his decision, but we will let him tell you what is more important to him a little deeper into this update.

A date has been circled on his calendar and it comes in the middle of October.

“I am set on committing October 15,” said Zachary. “I have been praying on this, waiting for God to give me an answer, and He has given me the vision to commit October 15.

“I expect to know my decision before then, but October 15 is when I will announce my commitment. I am not sure when exactly it will hit me, but I know I will be ready on that day. Even if I knew next week, I would not announce it until October 15. That is the day for me that God has shown me.”

Two and a half months ago, in the second half of May, Zachary came out with a top six of Alabama, Colorado, Georgia, Missouri, Oklahoma and Tennessee. Most of those schools are still being considered, but there is a new school in the mix.

“Things have changed a little bit for me. Florida State has jumped up there for me. I am attracted to that program because they are re-building something. They have a great opportunity for me and being able to help re-build something is very attractive to me.

“Florida State has been messaging me a lot, hitting me up on Twitter a lot and over the last couple months, they have made a move up my list. They have kind of put their name on my list of schools.”

Mike Norvell’s program is new to the list, but the others on it have been in the mix for some time. At the beginning, it was about selling their programs, showing off the NFL players, showing Zachary how he can make an impact, but over time, that has shifted to much more personal calls.

“On most calls now, it is about my visions, the church I want to build, name and likeness and things around that. It is not much about recruiting anymore.

“I had a great call with coach Nick Saban last week about Alabama’s structure, the culture there and the accountability. It is stuff like that, that means the most to me.

“Coaches are aware of that, and that is what we talk mostly about. It is about how they can help me, how they can get to know me as the person, and how they can help my visions come true.”

The brand means so much to Zachary. He is about the 7-Nation, and that is something the schools in pursuit must be aware of.

“The name and likeness, helping the image and things like that have changed the game,” said Zachary. “How a school can help there will play a big role in this for me. It is now more like we are individual’s first, then a team, so our brand and image is very important to me. Now we have to be even more selfish with our decision due to this.

“Tennessee actually had a Power Point to show me about the brand, how they can help me build that and do what I want to do with my visions, so that was cool. Alabama has talked about that too.

“Schools are being looked at for much more than football now. We have to think about who can help us most as individual’s too. I have to find the right platform for me. What school can help my brand? That is now a big part of my decision.”

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Outside of name and likeness, Zachary wants coaches to know him. No, not the 6-foot-3, 238 pound athlete that sacks quarterbacks. The person behind those pads.

“Who has done the best job of getting to know me is going to be most important. I am really looking to see who has gotten to know me, who knows my personality, who knows what I stand for and who really is recruiting me, not the football player.

“The coaches that have taken the time to do that really stand out. Some coaches still recruit me as a typical football player, but that is not me. I am different, so those that are getting to know me, those that understand me and those that know what I represent really stand out to me.”

Zachary mentioned Shelton Felton (Tennessee), Charlie Harbison (Missouri), Brian Michalowski (Colorado) and Holmon Wiggins (Alabama) are coaches Zachary specifically mentioned as those who have really gotten to know him.

That is so important as he moves forward towards a decision this fall.

“I am praying on this a lot,” said Zachary. “This is a decision that will change my life. If a recruit chooses a school for the wrong reasons, they will be miserable, so I am praying on this hard.

“It is all about being led for me. I am taking my time, talking to the right people, putting weight on the right things to get me there, and I feel confident I will make the right decision.

“The church and vision is first for me, so that is going to play a big role in my decision. I know God will lead me to that.”

Zachary said there is no order of schools and that his list is set at seven. He does not plan to cut his list again and he feels “certain” that he will commit to one of the seven schools he’s listed.

The recruitment of 2022 4-star Sam Brown is picking up steam

Sam Brown
Rivals.com

Athlete Sam Brown isn’t a prospect that many people have followed yet but the 2022 prospect has impressed plenty of college coaches. A star athlete at Philadelphia (Pa.) La Salle on the basketball court and football field, Brown brings plenty of athleticism to the field. A few schools have done a good job recruiting him so far but there’s still a long way to go.

CLASS OF 2021 RANKINGS: Rivals250 | Position | Team | State

CLASS OF 2022: Top 100

MORE: Rivals Transfer Tracker | Rivals Camp Series

IN HIS OWN WORDS…

“Right now Rutgers, Nebraska, Pittsburgh, and West Virginia are doing well with me,” Brown said. “I have a good relationship with the coaching staffs.

“I visited Rutgers and that was my only visit before everything was shutdown,” he said. “I had a really good time there. Coach Hoffman and coach Fran are staying in touch.

“I’d like to visit the schools that are close to home like West Virginia, Rutgers, Pittsburgh, and a few other schools,” said Brown. “Michigan State and Wisconsin have offered me. I talked to Wisconsin not too long ago and I talked to Michigan State a while ago but that was always a dream school of mine.”

RIVALS' REACTION…

Brown is exceptionally talented and brings plenty of impressive physical attributes to the table. As a running back, he shows great burst and does a good job catching the ball out of the backfield. At 6-foot-1, almost 200 pounds, Brown is an imposing running back that should make it tough for linebackers to consistently tackle him. While some schools have done a good job making a first impression on Brown, there still a long way to go and he has plenty of offers to sift through.

New Jersey 2022 LB Nyair Graham looking at teams in the ACC, Big Ten, SEC

Nyair Graham
Rivals.com

Camden, N.J linebacker Nyair Graham has been picking up some some big offers lately. The 2022 prospect hasn’t done a ton of research into these programs just yet but is continuing to build relationships with some of these coaches.

CLASS OF 2021 RANKINGS: Rivals250 | Position | Team | State

CLASS OF 2022: Top 100

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IN HIS OWN WORDS…

“Right now I have about 15 offers,” Graham said. “The ones I like right now are Miami, Penn State, Boston College, and Maryland.

“Coach Baker from Miami, coach Baker from Maryland, and the whole Penn State coaching staff are making me feel really comfortable right now,” he said. “They’re making me feel at home with them.

“I went to Syracuse before the pandemic shut everything down,” said Graham. “I did some virtual visits to Miami, Penn State, and Boston College.

“LSU, Ohio State, and Georgia would be big offers for me,” he said. “I haven’t talked to those coaches yet but some of them follow me on Twitter.”

RIVALS' REACTION…

Graham is a very athletic linebacker that can make plays all over the field. He doesn’t have much mass on his frame at this point but still plays with plenty of physicality and can make some big hits. His ability to cover a lot of ground is really impressing college coaches but he also does a good job filling running lanes. Expect Graham to pick up more offers once he shows college coaches he can bring the same athleticism to the field with more mass on his frame.

Mind of Mike: Nebraska’s big stand

Nebraska coach Scott Frost
AP

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The Mind of Mike is a dangerous place. Here are the latest thoughts from Rivals National Director Mike Farrell about Nebraska’s big stand.

*****

HUSKERONLINE.COM: Frost makes one last stand to save 2020 CFB season

MIND OF MIKE: This is all about liability | Outlook is dim

YAHOO SPORTS: More coaches state their case | Players deserve answers

*****

Others said it in the Big Ten. Parents and players from Ohio State, Michigan, Penn State, Iowa and others rallied against the rumor of a postponed season in the Big Ten. Ryan Day, Jim Harbaugh and James Franklin all voiced their wishes to play football in different ways.

But no one said it like Scott Frost at Nebraska and no one threatened, subtly or not, in public to leave the conference and play football anyhow. Frost and Nebraska are the heroes we needed on Monday to save the season from the brink, at least temporarily and hopefully permanently.

Let’s review. Rumors began over the weekend that the Big Ten was going to pull the plug and postpone the football season until the spring. The Pac-12, with its expected lack of spine, was rumored to be following whatever the Big Ten does. Numerous sources I spoke to had no idea what was happening from head coaches to assistant coaches to administrative folk.

The rumors got stronger Sunday and on Monday the Detroit Free Press wrote that the Big Ten season was postponed per “sources”.

Then all hell broke loose.

Coaches came out in support of players who started the #WeWantToPlay movement the evening before. But it was Frost who really moved the needle.

Frost was emphatic about having a football season for Nebraska and even became emotional when talking about his players and what they don’t have outside of football. He said the Huskers would look to play football regardless of the Big Ten’s decision. And then suddenly everything slowed down.

The Detroit Free Press was ridiculed for moving too soon on rumors, Kirk Herbstreit from ESPN (and others) said on social media that any talk by Big Ten officials was about a postponement of the start of the fall season and not a push to the spring and on and on. What became a certain cancellation turned into hope by the end of the night … thanks to Frost.

Here’s my theory:

The powers that be at the Big Ten used the Detroit Free Press to float the rumor of the season being postponed to gauge reaction from the public and other conferences. They likely had the Pac-12 in their corner but the Big 12, SEC and ACC were a different story. The hope was to force the hand of others with the rumor of their cancellation. After all, no one else would play football without the mighty Big Ten right? This is the follow along culture we live in so they must have assumed things would go just fine.

Except, it backfired.

Not only did the Big 12, SEC and ACC not bite on this early ridiculousness but their own Big Ten members revolted, especially Nebraska, which threatened to play elsewhere.

“Our university is committed to playing no matter what,” Frost said Monday. “We want to play no matter who it is or where it is.”

Imagine the optics on that? Nebraska moving to the Big 12 for a season, the conference from which the Big Ten stole the school. Ohio State and others joining the Huskers or heading to the hated SEC?

Not what was planned at all for the Big Ten.

“We want to play a Big Ten schedule,” Frost said. “The only reason we’d look at options is if the Big Ten wasn’t playing …. if that’s the case we are prepared to look at any and all options.”

So Frost and Nebraska – who were still the talk of Tuesday morning – may be the next in line to save the college football season (Notre Dame joining the ACC, Trevor Lawrence speaking up, etc.) and at the very least they took us off the ledge.

Thank you Scott Frost and those at Nebraska that want player safety AND football and think it can be done. It’s too important to these young men and to our society to give up on in the second week of August.

Nice try Big Ten, but Frost says go pound sand.

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THAMEL: Pac-12 follows Big Ten; cancels fall football for 2020

AP

The Pac-12 has canceled its fall football season, sources tell Yahoo Sports. The conference will attempt to play a season in the spring.

The decision comes a little over an hour after the Big Ten made its own decision to cancel its fall sports. With the virus inhibiting numerous Pac-12 schools’ ability to practice, it was expected that the Pac-12 would follow the Big Ten’s lead.

GET YAHOO SPORTS’ FULL STORY HERE

THAMEL: Pac-12 follows Big Ten; cancels fall football for 2020

AP

The Pac-12 has canceled its fall football season, sources tell Yahoo Sports. The conference will attempt to play a season in the spring.

The decision comes a little over an hour after the Big Ten made its own decision to cancel its fall sports. With the virus inhibiting numerous Pac-12 schools’ ability to practice, it was expected that the Pac-12 would follow the Big Ten’s lead.

GET YAHOO SPORTS’ FULL STORY HERE