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December 3, 2013

Big movers in new Rivals250

THE LIST: Updated Rivals250

There were six new five-stars named and one taken away from that highest status in the Rivals100 presented by Under Armour released on Monday, but one noteworthy thing was that there were not a tremendous amount of other changes.

The same cannot be said for the latest Rivals250 and the major changes start just outside the Rivals100 with Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) St. Thomas Aquinas defensive tackle Anthony Moten moving up 61 spots to No. 102.

"On a team full of role players, Moten did what his coaches asked him to do and more," Rivals.com Southeast analyst Kynon Codrington said. "The four-star defensive lineman played some end along with his normal tackle spot. Moten plays with good technique and is very coachable. He is active with his hands to go with a strong lower base. The Miami pledge finished his season with a reported 40 tackles, 14 for loss, five sacks, and a fumble recovery. He missed one game due to an upper extremity injury but that didn't stop him from a productive season along the front four for the perennial powerhouse program from South Florida."

Big changes continue on with Gainesville, Fla., all-purpose back Tony James, an Oregon commit, getting bumped 49 positions to No. 108.

"James finished his senior season with close to 1,400 all-purpose yards and 10 touchdowns," Codrington said. "The speedy back will take his talent to Eugene next fall in what appears to be a perfect marriage for Oregon's offense and his dynamic skill set. James will likely run track this off-season and his linear speed is second-to-none. Not only will James help on the offensive side of the ball for the Ducks, he is a tremendous kick returner. His versatility and world class speed make him an ideal fit for UO when he arrives to campus in 2014."

Two other big movers early in the Rivals250 are Texarkana (Texas) Liberty-Eylau athlete Davion Hall (up 20 spots) and El Dorado, Ark., defensive tackle Bijhon Jackson, who moved up 28 places to No. 113.

"Hall continues to improve as a receiving threat and as a big presence in the Liberty-Eylau defensive backfield," Rivals.com Southwest analyst Jason Howell said. "He is still a bit on the unrefined side, but his size and athleticism continue to shine through as well as his natural instincts on the field. He projects to either side of the ball and can also be a nice weapon on special teams with his track speed.

[ THE LIST: Updated Class of 2014 Rivals250 ]

"Jackson has been pretty steady in his ranking for much of the year, and now he takes over the No. 1 spot in Arkansas. He is explosive and quick in the middle of El Dorado's defense and more times than not he is fighting through multiple blockers. He is more than an athletic big man. He also plays with great leverage and technique to go along with a strong motor."

A little further down the list starting at No. 122 are three prospects who made tremendous leaps up. First is Cleveland (Ohio) Glenville's Erick Smith, who moved up 73 spots.

Kingsland (Ga.) Camden County's Kalvaraz Bessent blasted up 122 positions to No. 124. Right behind him is Immokalee, Fla., recruit J.C. Jackson, who moved all the way up to 125 from 249.

"While four-star teammate Marshon Lattimore has gotten most of the national recognition, an argument could be made that Smith was more impressive this season," Rivals.com Midwest analyst Josh Helmholdt said. "The 6-foot, 191-pound safety plays a fast and physical brand of football and was a standout on both sides of the football for Glenville this season. Physically, he looks like a college safety right now, and athletically there are few limitations."

"Bessent was already a guy in the 250, but he showed that he belongs to be even higher based on his ability to lock down some of the best receivers in the region," Rivals.com Southeast analyst Woody Wommack said. "He has tremendous potential at the next level, mainly because of physicality. He doesn't back down from a challenge and at 6-foot-1 he has the size to match up with pretty much any target he faces."

Codrington on Jackson: "Jackson is a multi-purpose star for Immokalee that could play both ways in college depending on the school. This fall, Jackson hauled in 31 pass receptions for 862 yards to go with a stellar 27 yards per catch average and 14 touchdowns. On defense, he collected over 50 tackles, two interceptions, one forced fumble, and one fumble recovery. The Florida commit's recruitment doesn't appear to be over. He is listening to Florida State and Miami along with others. At one point he was committed to the 'Noles and UM feels they have a legit shot to flip him. The lucky school that lands him is getting a sensational athlete with outstanding ball skills."

The first prospect to go from unranked into the Rivals250 is St. Louis (Mo.) Christian Brothers College High Brian Wallace, who was placed at No. 136. Right behind Wallace is another major mover in Highlands Ranch (Colo.) Valor Christian all-purpose back Christian McCaffrey, who jumped 72 positions in the rankings.

"Wallace is one of those players who you have to see on Friday nights to truly appreciate," Rivals.com West analyst Rob Cassidy said. "He looks the part, and has a near-perfect physique for an offensive lineman. When the lights come on, though, he can blow you away. Wallace's upper-body strength combined with his athleticism and long arms make him a nightmare for any sort of defensive lineman. There aren't many weaknesses to speak of, as Wallace is as well-rounded as linemen come.

"McCaffrey certainly has the stats (and the surname) of a blue-chip prospect and his athleticism is no joke, either. His vision and bust are what make him a can't-miss prospect, but his versatility is often undersold. McCaffrey could be successful playing any number of positions on Saturdays and is as much of a threat catching the ball out of the backfield as he is taking a handoff."

Other big movers in this area of the Rivals250 include River Ridge (La.) John Curtis outside linebacker Kenny Young (up 51 spots), Marrero (La.) John Ehret running back Darrel Williams (up 60 spots), Carol Stream (Ill.) Glenbard North running back Justin Jackson (up 75 spots), Bellflower (Calif.) St. John Bosco's Jaleel Wadood (up 62 spots) and Broken Arrow, Okla., outside linebacker Gyasi Akem, who moved up 54 positions to No. 157.

"Young is a key leader of another stout John Curtis defense," Howell said. "At 6-foot-2, 220 pounds, Young has been a big presence on the second level of the Patriots' defense. He has a natural nose for the ball and does not shy away from a challenge. He has shown sideline-to-sideline speed and also does a good job of fighting through traffic to make the play.

"Williams entered the season with a chip on his shoulder and he more than proved his worth as a senior. The 6-foot-1, 200-pound back was a versatile weapon for the John Ehret Patriots and a big reason why the team went from winless in 2012 to district champs in 2013. His bread and butter is the power running game. He is a strong one-cut runner with a quick initial burst and the ability to hit the edge or be a solid receiver out of the backfield."

Rivals.com West analyst Adam Gorney said: "Wadood has been one of the most special prospects I've seen all season because he is a major contributor at wide receiver, safety and on special teams. He plays for arguably the best high school team in the country and it seems like on every down he has an impact on the game whether it's a big catch or blocking for another receiver or making a play on defense or taking a punt and returning it for big yardage. Few players in the country have such an impact in all three phases like Wadood does at Bosco."

[ THE LIST: Updated Class of 2014 Rivals250 ]

Another big group of formerly unranked prospects dot the Rivals250 in this area. Ventura (Calif.) St. Bonaventure tight end Bryce Dixon moves to No. 160, Suwanee (Ga.) North Gwinnett defensive end Dante Sawyer goes to No. 164 and Houston (Texas) Westside tight end Frank Iheanacho gets placed at No. 165.

"Iheanacho was an unknown coming into his senior season, but he certainly made his presence known very quickly in 2013," Howell said. "The 6-foot-7, 220-pound standout is a pass-catching threat who could line up at tight end or receiver on the college level. He is raw at this point, but his ceiling is definitely a high one. He recorded a team-high 46 receptions and 15 TDs to go along with 618 receiving yards on the season.

"Sawyer was in the 250 prior to the spring, but an injury-plagued spring and summer led to him slipping behind some of the nation's other top defensive players. Once he got healthy, Sawyer returned to his dominant form, anchoring the defense of one of the top high school teams in the country. His athleticism gives offensive linemen fits and I expect as he only gets stronger he'll continue to be a disrupter in college."

Another big mover in this area of the rankings is Brentwood (Tenn.) Brentwood Academy Derek Barnett, who moved up 68 spots to No. 167.

"Barnett may end up sliding inside at the next level but for now he's dominating as a defensive end," Wommack said. "Early in his recruitment, many teams wanted Barnett as a tight end, and this season he's taken several snaps as a short-yardage back. His versatility clearly isn't an issue and he'll likely play from Day 1 at Tennessee, where his size and speed will pay early dividends."

There are six other formerly non-Rivals 250 prospects who moved up into the list. They are Troy, Ohio offensive guard Alex Dalton (No. 172), Fayetteville (N.C.) Pine Forest defensive end Harold Landry (No. 174), Texas City, Texas, wide receiver Armanti Foreman (No. 176), Central (S.C.) D.W. Daniel running back Jae'lon Oglesby, Los Angeles Loyola offensive tackle Chris Brown (No. 186) and Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei cornerback Jonathan Lockett (No. 197).



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