Scout: Nkemdiche tops final player rankings
For the second time in three years, there is a wire-to-wire top-ranked player in the Scout 300.
Robert Nkemdiche, ranked as a defensive end, was the top player from the get-go in the 2013 class, and he stands alone at the top in the final rankings for 2013, released Wednesday.
Linebacker Reuben Foster was ranked second behind Nkemdiche from beginning to end, and the debate between Nkemdiche and Foster will likely continue into college.
After those two, though, there was plenty of movement, as the top 10 looks markedly different than the mid-fall update.
Notre Dame linebacker commit Jaylon Smith comes in at No. 3, defensive back Su'a Cravens, a USC verbal, is at No. 4 and defensive lineman A'Shawn Robinson, a Texas pledge, is at No. 5.
Running back Derrick Green, offensive lineman Laremy Tunsil, quarterback Max Browne, defensive lineman Eddie Vanderdoes and wide receiver Ricky Seals-Jones round out the top 10.
All have been in the top 25 for most of the year.
Then there are the newcomers, like Chris Jones, the 6-foot-6, 255-pound Mississippi State commit who wasn't even in the Scout 300 two months ago and is now a five-star prospect, the second-ranked defensive end nationally and No. 24 overall.
"(Jones) has one of the highest ceilings in the class," national recruiting analyst Chad Simmons said. "He is so quick off the ball, he has great range on the edge, and he has so much room to improve. He is now the top prospect in Mississippi."
LSU defensive line commit Greg Gilmore also received a fifth star.
"Gilmore played at around 265 pounds as a junior, but he is now pushing 290 pounds, and he has gotten so much better," Simmons said. He has been a Scout 100 prospect from day one, but with the added weight and strength, his game has really elevated, and he is going to continue to improve in Baton Rouge under (LSU defensive line coach) Brick Haley."
And Gilmore is happy about that fifth star.
"Being a five-star just shows me that my hard work is being recognized," Gilmore said. "I have worked hard, I have a great work ethic, and it is nice to know that people are seeing that."
Christian Hackenberg, the Penn State-bound quarterback, ended the year with a fifth star, the second-ranked quarterback in the country.
"It’s an honor," said Hackenberg, who moved from No. 57 to No. 33 in the rankings. "I don’t pay a lot of attention to the rankings, but it’s nice to get recognition for the work that you do and how you play."
The Midwest didn't have too many changes, but there was a new five-star added to the mix.
"The biggest change was Crete-Monee (Ill.) wide receiver Laquon Treadwell moving to a five-star and into the national top 30 after a big senior year," said national recruiting analyst Allen Trieu.
Other players who made moves up include Michigan commit Jourdan Lewis, Michigan State commit Jon Reschke, and Ohio State commit Gareon Conley. Northwestern verbal Godwin Igwebuike jumped into the 300 recently.
The Midlands ended with a new player at the top of the region in Robinson, who ranks in the top five nationally.
"After sitting down with the Scout.com experts in San Antonio following the postseason All-American contests, it would be A’Shawn Robinson who rose to the top of the rankings heap in the Midlands after a stellar performance," said national recruiting analyst Greg Powers. "He backed his solid MVP type of showing at The Opening with another impressive set of feats at The Army Bowl. He showed an extreme amount of athleticism and filled in at defensive end, showing that he has a high amount of explosion in his 6-foot-4, 305-pound frame."
Robinson originally made a commitment to Texas, but has taken visits to FSU and USC and has one for Alabama on tap.
Five players have earned a fourth star for the first time in the rankings process.
The highest riser is Belton (Texas) tight end Durham Smythe, who is a big physical tight end prospect with a soft set of hands. Next in line is Matt Dimon, a powerful throwback defensive end from Katy (Texas) who went on a torrid run to help his team win a state title. Maliek Collins, who recently made a commitment to Nebraska, got a nice bump after his senior tape was reviewed. He is an explosive big man.
Tanner Wood from Conway Springs (Kan.) had a senior game in which he accounted for over 600 yards of offense while also playing defense at middle linebacker. He has freak athleticism in his 6-foot-5, 240-pound frame.
Last, but certainly not least, is Irving (Texas) offensive lineman Rami Hammad, who caught the eye of analysts for his dominating performance at practices and in the Semper Fi Bowl. Rated as a guard, he earned the starting tackle position after showing the coaching staff that he had the best feet of any prospect there.
Out West, there are no new five-stars, but two four-stars made big position jumps -- Washington commit John Ross at receiver (95 spots in the Scout 300) and running back Terrell Newby, who will announce his commitment on Wednesday, jumping 77 spots.
UCLA commit Poasi Moala jumped into the Scout 300 and is now the top offensive tackle in the region, one of four new four-stars in the region.
"Moala is the prototype of what you’re looking for in an elite college tackle prospect," said national recruiting analyst Greg Biggins. "He has a long, lean frame that he’ll easily grow in to. He has great athleticism and moves like a player half his size, plays with a mean streak and his upside is off the charts. RV head coach Pete Duffy said Moala compares favorably to former Mustang offensive lineman Tyron Smith, who was a first-round pick by the Dallas Cowboys out of USC."
Joining him as a newly crowned four-star is Arizona quarterback commit Anu Solomon, along with Oregon tight end commit John Mundt and Arizona running back pledge Pierre Cormier.
"Arizona has three quarterbacks in this class, but few fit the mold better than Anu Solomon, who is one of the best dual-threat quarterbacks in the West," said national recruiting analyst Brandon Huffman. "What he doesn’t do with his arm, he does with his legs. And all the guy does is win. He engineered three consecutive state championships for Las Vegas (Nev.) Bishop Gorman and capped his career with a spot in the Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl."
Final regional and state rankings for 2013 will be released by Scout later this month. National Signing Day is Feb. 6.