It’s been a busy spring for college football coaches, talent evaluators and prospects alike. Scout.com presents a look at 13 elite class of 2017 and 2018 recruits who shined with their performances the past few months.
The spring evaluation period is not only for college coaches. With camps, combines and 7-on-7 events in every corner of the country, Scout’s team of analysts has been on the road checking out the best prospects. From five-star players to the unknowns, Scout’s analysts take a look at the best of the best in this Baker’s Dozen of top performers from the spring:
National Recruiting Analyst Chad Simmons says: “Cam Akers is a special talent and he was recently named a five-star after a very impressive showing at The Opening Regional in New Orleans. It is hard for a running back to shine in a setting like that, but when you can stop and start, make guys miss and run the 40-yard dash in 4.44 seconds, it was a no-brainer. His film speaks for itself and despite playing quarterback for his team, he shows great vision, balance and power as a runner. He is the complete package at running back.”
Recruitment update: Alabama does not lose too many commitments, but Akers did back off his pledge to the Crimson Tide. He thought he committed too early (last summer) and he is now looking at many options. Georgia, Ohio State, Mississippi and Tennessee look to be the main four at this time, but Alabama, LSU, Ole Miss and a few others are still in this race. The summer looks to be big for Akers because he wants to visit numerous schools, and a decision before his senior year is possible.
National Recruiting Analyst Greg Biggins says: “Fontana (Calif.) Summit running back Stephen Carr has been the most impressive player I saw this spring, and that is saying something since running backs do not usually shine as much as other positions during the spring 7-on-7 circuit. Carr made huge gains this spring in improving his burst, ability to make a defender miss in the open field and his top-end speed. He was always a strong, powerful back with a great frame but he now has elite-level quickness and the lateral mobility to embarrass a defender in the open field. He should have a monster senior season.”
National Recruiting Analyst Brandon Huffman says: “Carr, the No. 3 running back in the country and a soft USC verbal, was terrific at every event he went to, starring at The Opening Los Angeles to punch a ticket to the Finals and earning MVP honors at the Passing Down Best of the West. He and (running back) Najee Harris are the best two backs in the West and could be the best two prospects.”
Recruitment update: Carr is committed to USC but will take his official visits and already unofficially visited Miami and Michigan. The Trojans will be tough to beat here.
National Recruiting Analyst Brandon Huffman says: “Najee Harris is the No. 1 prospect in the country and nothing he did changed that. He is a gifted running back, but he shines all around; catching the ball, running with the ball, you name it. He is still committed to Alabama but Ohio State, UCLA and Washington continue to make a push for him.”
National Recruiting Analyst Greg Biggins says: “Corona (Calif.) Centennial receiver Tyjon Lindsey, who played at Las Vegas (Nev.) Bishop Gorman the last two years, was the top receiver in every event we saw him at, including the Opening Regional Los Angeles and multiple 7-on-7 events. He is an explosive player with great hands and route-running ability, and he might be the most dangerous player in the country after the catch.”
Recruitment update: Lindsey took unofficial visits to Nebraska, Ohio State and USC in the spring and those three, along with Oregon, look to have the inside track right now.
National Recruiting Analyst Greg Powers says: “Jeffrey Okudah, rated as the No. 1 safety prospect in the country, is a 6' 1", 190-pounder from South Grand Prairie (Texas), and he had a lot to live up to heading into The Opening Dallas ... but he lived up to the hype and more. He could play anywhere in the defensive backfield and showed that he has lockdown skills as good as any cornerback in the country. He reminds me a lot right now of what I saw from Eric Berry in the practices at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl.”
Recruitment update: Okudah listed Ohio State as his No. 1 choice, and he has many other of the top national programs in hot pursuit.
National Recruiting Analyst Allen Trieu says: “The Opening Chicago was my first time seeing four-star Amir Riep in person and he was outstanding. He has length, very quick feet and great ball skills. I saw him and Ambry Thomas back-to-back and they are, without question, among the best in the country.”
Recruitment update: Riep has many offers, but Ohio State and Michigan State seem to be the two battling it out.
National Recruiting Analyst Chad Simmons says: “Devonta Smith is really starting to come into his own as a wide receiver. He was labeled as an athlete early with some talk of playing defense in college, but he solidified himself as a five-star prospect and one of the top playmakers in the country. He makes things look simple. I watched him live twice this spring and he is explosive, he has excellent body control, his hands are reliable, and he is always one snap away from breaking the big one. He is being compared to Odell Beckham Jr. because, like Beckham Jr., he is from Louisiana. Smith could be a first-round NFL pick come 2020.
Recruitment update: Smith was committed to Georgia, but he opened things up and he says there is no leader. Alabama is thought to be the front-runner with Florida State likely running No. 2. LSU usually keeps its top talent in state, but Smith looks to be headed out of the Boot State.
National Recruiting Analyst Greg Powers says: “Marvin Wilson, a 6' 4", 329-pound defensive tackle from Bellaire (Texas) Episcopal, dominates every camp and combine he attends and this was certainly the case at The Opening Houston, where he earned an invitation to The Opening Finals in Beaverton, Ore., with yet another powerful showing in the one-on-one battles. The five-star has the size and quickness to be a versatile weapon up front, and offensive linemen have a hard time keeping him contained.”
Recruitment update: Wilson has offers and is considering schools like Alabama, LSU, Florida State, Oklahoma, Texas, Texas A&M and a host of others.
National Recruiting Analyst Brian Dohn says: “Chase Young was so dominant at The Opening Regional Washington, D.C., he was elevated to five-star status after it. He is incredibly quick off the ball and plays with great balance and his speed around the edge made him nearly impossible to stop. He was also quick with his hands and he was able to mix in an array of moves. At 6' 5", 226 pounds, his length also gives offensive linemen difficulties, and his flexibility and ability to get low allows him to win the leverage battle.”
Recruitment update: Young continues to take his time with his recruitment with a top 15, but a few of the schools to keep an eye on are Ohio State, Alabama and Maryland. Florida, Notre Dame, USC, Clemson, LSU and Michigan are also heavily involved, but do not expect a decision until after his senior season.
National Recruiting Analyst Chad Simmons says: “I named Trevor Lawrence a five-star at the end of his freshman year and he will likely be Scout’s No. 1 prospect in 2018 when those rankings are released this summer. Lawrence plays at a level well beyond his years. He has a big-league arm to go with his size (6' 5", 194 pounds), he makes great decisions, he throws with accuracy, and he is a winner (15–0 last season). Lawrence has everything you look for in a quarterback and he has future NFL first-rounder written all over him.”
Recruitment update: Lawrence’s plan is to commit this summer. All signs point to it being Clemson, Georgia or Tennessee, but Florida and Oklahoma are hanging around. He lives in Georgia, but he is from Tennessee, and the Vols were his favorite school growing up. Clemson’s play and player development, along with its offense, has his attention and Georgia coach Kirby Smart has made him a top priority for Georgia.
National Recruiting Analyst Brian Dohn says: “Micah Parsons was named a five-star prospect after his freshman season, and during The Opening Regional New York/New Jersey and during an East Coast Elite 7-on-7 he showed his top-1% athleticism. He played cornerback, middle linebacker, receiver and running back at the 7-on-7, and his twitched-up muscles were on display at The Opening Regional. He is incredibly quick, he changes directions like a safety, he is loose, he plays at a fast pace and he dominates in nearly everything he does. His speed and desire to compete stood out above everything else, and that is saying something given his immense talent. He ran the 40-yard dash in 4.76 seconds at The Opening Regional.”
Recruitment update: Parsons nearly committed to Penn State during his freshman season, but he held off ... until Feb. 27, which is when he committed to the Nittany Lions. If he gives an inkling he will listen to other schools, he will wind up with 50-plus offers, but that is not expected to happen. He loves Penn State, and is set with his recruitment.
National Recruiting Analyst Chad Simmons says: “The Opening Regional Atlanta was arguably the best regional ever when talking the amount of talent at one event. The offensive line was 10 deep with top-tier SEC prospects, and the best that day was Jamaree Salyer. He has a chance to be one of the top offensive linemen in 2018 and he could be a five-star offensive guard. He is a true road-grader who dominates the man in front of him because of his power, feet and technique. He is advanced for his age and shined over many that were older than him during that Sunday.”
National Recruiting Analyst Greg Powers says: “Salyer may have been the best offensive lineman at the deepest camp of top offensive linemen. Big and powerful, he won what seemed like every rep in the 1-on-1s at The Opening Atlanta. He was quick and athletic, but already has the size and power necessary to stand up to the strongest prospects in the class in front of him. He is Impressive all around.”
Recruitment update: Plenty of schools will have time to get in this race for Salyer, but it may be hard for anyone to jump Clemson or Georgia. Those are his top two schools and he is likely to end up a Tiger or Bulldog. His teammate, Scout 100 offensive tackle Andrew Thomas, is a class of 2017 offensive tackle, and Salyer recently said he is “85%” sure they will go to the same school. Thomas is high on Clemson and Georgia, too. Salyer could commit as early as next spring.
National Recruiting Analyst Allen Trieu says: “Michael Thompson, a defensive tackle from Missouri, surprised me with how big he is now. He must have grown since the fall and he is moving very well at his size. He potentially has special ability and I would expect his offer list to grow immensely over the next year based on what I saw at The Opening Regional Chicago.”
Recruitment update: Michigan, Missouri, Iowa State, Iowa, Louisville and others have already offered.