247Sports is pleased to announce the first 25 prospects to be ranked for the 2014 recruiting cycle, including the nation’s top overall prospect for that class, defensive end Da’Shawn Hand of Woodbridge (Va.).
Da'Shawn Hand is the nation's top overall prospect for the 2014 cycle and is one of three Virginia prospects to be rated five stars by 247Sports in the class.
Look for this list to be built out into a 2014 Top247 in the coming weeks.
This list is the most accurate of its kind, but discovery and performance are two catalysts for change in any prospect ranking, so as we discover more talent for the 2014 cycle and as prospects perform on the field and in other settings moving forward, there will likely be movement.
Releasing this list reinforces our belief that prospect rankings are not static. They are constantly evolving, just like any sort of ranking, rating, hot board, etc. We understand that it’s common for a mock draft two years in advance to look nothing like the actual draft, that preseason Top 25 polls rarely resemble the final ones and that, yes, recruiting rankings in their traditional sense change over time as more prospects emerge, games are played, more is learned, college programs offer, etc. Given that and the speeding up of the recruiting cycle in college football, we feel it is important for fans to get a look at the rankings process as it evolves and get a better lay of the land two classes at a time. With approximately 100 prospects in the 2013 Top247 already committed, it’s obvious that there is more news and a greater need for fans to familiarize themselves with top talent at an earlier date.
As was previously noted, this list will change, perhaps significantly. A prospect that begins in the top 10 could end up just inside the top 100. A prospect that is not in the Top247 could end up within the top 50. Though prospect rankings are long-term projections, players develop their baseline skill set at the high school level and mature physically at different rates, therefore, it’s plausible that within a span of almost two years, a national list of top prospects will change.
With that, we are pleased to introduce the Class of 2014 Top 25.
-The state of Virginia is absolutely loaded in 2014. Much like the state of Georgia prior to Reuben Foster’s transfer to Auburn (Ala.) High, the commonwealth of Virginia boasts the nation’s top two prospects in that cycle, including Hand and defensive tackle Andrew Brown (Chesapeake, Va./Indian River). Safety Quin Blanding (Virginia Beach/Bayside) is a third representative of Virginia at No. 12. Taking it a step further, if you wanted to throw in Maryland and D.C. prospects, that three-star area accounts for 20 percent of the current Top 25 prospects for the ’14 cycle. Hand, five-star tackle Damian Prince (District Heights, Md./Bishop McNamara) and cornerback Jalen Tabor (Washington, D.C./Collegiate) all are in the D.C. metro area, an underrated pocket of talent for going on 5-6 recruiting cycles now.
-Louisiana and Alabama both boast some of the top prospects at their positions in the country. Running back Leonard Fournette (New Orleans, La./St. Augustine) is the nation’s top prospect at his position and is an excellent blend of size and speed. Likewise, offensive tackle Cameron Robinson (Monroe, La./Ouachita) edged out several elite tackle prospects for tops in the nation honors. One college coach who was in Monroe this past week said Robinson simply was “the real deal”. In Alabama, Bo Scarbrough (Tuscaloosa, Ala./Northridge) is just behind Fournette at running back and cornerback Marlon Humphrey (Hoover, Ala.) is the nation’s top pure cornerback prospect (the country’s No. 3 prospect, Jabrill Peppers (Paramus, N.J./Paramus Catholic) could potentially play either side of the ball, though corner is his most likely position in college).
-At first glance, it appears to be a great year at safety. What makes it potentially special, though, is that many of the players in the early Top 25 that play that position are also talented enough to possibly play cornerback. We’ve seen Edward Paris (Mansfield, Texas/Timberview) and Quin Blanding display the hips and fluidity needed to play cornerback in camp settings this spring. Likewise, Laurence Jones (Monroe, La./Neville) has shown that ability as well, even at 210 pounds. Nathan Starks (Las Vegas, Nev./Bishop Gorman), who checks in at No. 25, also could project as a safety, though for right now he’s listed as a running back.
-There were also several elite offensive tackles, including three five stars. In addition to Robinson, Braden Smith (Olathe, Kan./South Olathe) and Damian Prince (District Heights, Md./Bishop McNamara). Smith has an excellent frame and is extremely impressive on film while Prince passes the eyeball test in person and on film looks like a 6-foot-3, 275-pounder moving around out there at 6-foot-6, 300 pounds. Bentley Spain (Charlotte, N.C/Providence) is No. 17 overall and has been a Division I prospect since last summer, when he camped and received multiple offers as a rising sophomore.
-The current top two quarterbacks are Tyler Harris (Blackshear, Ga./Pierce County) at pro-style and DJ Gillins (Jacksonville, Fla./Eagle’s View Christian) at dual-threat. The 6-foot-3, 200-pound Harris has a howitzer for an arm and makes some uncanny throws on film. Gillins is a prospect that caught our eye at the Atlanta Elite 11 Regional Workout last week. In fact, he blew us away. Then, after reviewing his film, he backed it up and then some. He’s the top dual-threat. There are other quarterbacks we have our eye on, too- including a couple of talented passers from California and Pennsylvania that should make their debuts in the 2014 rankings in the coming weeks.
-Speaking of California, we’ve spent a lot of time in the Golden State in recent months and we found only one prospect that we’d currently rank in the Top 25- tight end/outside linebacker Tyler Luatua (La Mirada, Calif.)- who checks in at No. 18 overall. The 6-foot-4, 230-pounder has great size/athleticism and on film, he’s dominate. Every scout or coach we checked with in terms of general great prospects in that state for 2014 immediately mentioned his name.
-The top receiver prospect, Ermon Lane (Homestead, Fla.) reminds some on film of current Clemson star Sammy Watkins, who was 247Sports’ top receiver prospect in the 2011 class.
-State breakdowns in the Top 25- Florida (4), Louisiana (3), Virginia (3), Texas (2), Alabama (2), Georgia (2), California (1), D.C. (1), Kansas (1), Maryland (1), Michigan (1), Nevada (1), New Jersey (1), North Carolina (1), Ohio (1).
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