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Who are the top 25 players in the nation in the class of 2013?
After over a year of evaluation that includes underclassman combines, spring and summer camps, the fall high school season and winter All-Star events, the 2013 Athlon Consensus 100 is finalized.
Names like Mississippi State’s Chris Jones, Alabama’s Derrick Henry and Oregon’s Thomas Tyner saw their stock sky-rocket in the final rankings while others like Michigan’s Shane Morris watched their names fall precipitously in the AC100.
Every prospect in the AC100 is an elite talent who is highly coveted by essentially every program in the nation. But only the best of the best earn “five-star” status by landing in the Top 25.
1. Robert Nkemdiche, DE (6-4, 285)
Loganville (Ga.) Grayson
Finalists: LSU, Ole Miss
From start to finish, the big defensive end from Georgia was the consensus No. 1 overall player in the nation by all four recruiting websites — Rivals, Scout, ESPN and 247Sports. He has an elite combination of size and speed to go with a motor that rarely slows down. He has offers from every major school in the nation and had previously been committed to Clemson. However, his older brother, Denzel, was a redshirt freshman at Ole Miss in 2012 and the Rebels have been arguably the hottest team in recruiting the last few months. It should come down to LSU and Ole Miss for Nkemdiche (pronounced Kem-dee-chee).
2. Jaylon Smith, LB (6-3, 220)
Fort Wayne (Ind.) Bishop Luers
Committed: Notre Dame
After a great showing in the US Army Bowl, Smith jumped to the No. 2 slot in the nation. He has an elite hybrid frame to play outside linebacker and defensive end on the next level. He led his team to four consecutive state championships for Luers High School playing both offense (150 yards rushing and 3 TDs in the title game) and defense. He is a hard worker, an excellent leader and a perfect fit at Notre Dame.
3. Vernon Hargreaves III, DB (5-11, 185)
Tampa (Fla.) Wharton
Much like Smith, Hargreaves III performed at an elite level in a national all-star event this winter. He posted five tackles, two pass breakups and an interception to earn MVP honors of the Under Armour All-America Game. He is the top coverman in the nation and is headed to Florida to continue the recent trend of outstanding young cornerbacks (Joe Haden, Janoris Jenkins, etc.). He is strong, fast, savvy and a near lock to contribute right away in 2013.
4. Laremy Tunsil, OL (6-6, 295)
Lake City (Fla.) Columbia
Finalists: Alabama, Ole Miss, Georgia, Florida State
The No. 1 offensive lineman in the nation is a highly coveted youngster from The Sunshine State. The massive Tunsil has all the necessary tools — size, power, strength, agility, killer instinct — to be a bookend left tackle at the next level. He will spend the final two months of the recruiting process visiting his finalists: Alabama, Ole Miss, Georgia and Florida State.
5. Su’a Cravens, DB (6-1, 205)
Murrieta (Calif.) Vista Murrieta
If fans are looking for the next great USC safety, Cravens is the guy. In the T.J. McDonald-Taylor Mays mold, Cravens has a big frame and speed to match. He can play all over the secondary giving him the chance to contribute early in nickel and dime situations. He is a hard worker and has been well coached by Vista head man and former star Trojans linebacker Chris Claiborne.
Related: Watch Athlon's interview with Su'a Cravens
6. Eddie Vanderdoes, DT (6-3, 300)
Placer (Calif.) High
Finalists: USC, Notre Dame, Washington, UCLA, Alabama
A long-time USC commitment, Vanderdoes reopened his recruitment late in December. The massive defensive tackle is the best player at his position nationally and has the ability to be a three-down interior lineman. He wanted to revisit some of his other options and it appears Notre Dame, Alabama, Washington and UCLA are now all in the mix for the D-lineman. Rumors are swirling that USC is still the team to beat when Vanderdoes makes his official announcement on National Signing Day (Feb. 6) at Placer High School.
7. Reuben Foster, LB (6-1, 250)
Auburn (Ala.) High
Finalists: Alabama, Auburn, Washington, Georgia
A burly linebacker, Foster is physically prepared to contribute right away on the college level. There is no doubting his rare athletic talents as a true interior thumper at middle linebacker. And following his recruitment has been equally as compelling as his tackling ability. He first committed to Alabama before switching to Auburn (and getting an AU tattoo to prove it). He then decommitted a second time from the Tigers and the race to the finish should be exciting. Both the Tide and the Tigers are still in the mix as Washington and Georgia will figure prominently as well. Stay tuned!
8. Matthew Thomas, LB (6-3, 210)
Miami (Fla.) Booker T. Washington
Finalists: Miami, Florida State, Georgia, Alabama, USC
A Miami area Defensive Player of the Year as a junior, Thomas developed into one of the best tacklers in the nation this fall. With added bulk and power, he should be a versatile weapon in any defensive front. It appears five schools will be in the mix for Thomas’ services: Alabama, Florida State, Georgia, Miami and USC. It may be hard to beat the state of Florida in this one.
9. Kenny Bigelow, DT (6-3, 300)
Elkton (Md.) Eastern Christian
Despite his excellent frame and overall size, Bigelow was athletic enough to excel at linebacker and tight end at Eastern Christian. This gives him the feet and quickness to be a disruptive force against the heart of the offensive line. He should be able to play all three downs at tackle and will be joined at USC by high school teammate and fellow AC100 prospect Khaliel Rodgers.
10. Montravius Adams, DT (6-4, 300)
Vienna (Ga.) Dooly County
Finalists: Georgia, Clemson, Alabama, Florida, Auburn
The No. 2 Peach State prospect is the third defensive tackle in the 2013 Top 10 making this a deep class at the nose guard position. Adams appears like an intense battle between Georgia and Clemson that will go down to the wire but Alabama, Auburn and Florida might be in the mix as well. He is an explosive player who posted 25 sacks over a two-year span at Dooly County (2010-11).
11. Max Browne, QB (6-5, 210)
Sammamish (Wash.) Skyline
The No. 1 quarterback in the nation hails from the same high school as the No. 1 quarterback prospect in the 2010 class, Jake Heaps. USC fans are hoping Browne pans out better than Heaps did for BYU. Browne is a poised, polished, mature leader and appears ready to challenge for early playing time in SoCal. He capped his high school career with an unbeaten 4A state championship by throwing for 4,526 yards, 49 touchdowns and just five interceptions on 73.5-percent passing. He finished with an Evergreen State record 12,947 yards passing and 882 completions. His performance earned him the Gatorade National Football Player of the Year award.
12. Derrick Henry, RB (6-3, 245)
Yulee (Fla.) High
A late riser in the recruiting rankings, Henry jumped Kelvin Taylor as the No. 1 running back recruit in the nation. The massive talent might not end his Alabama Crimson Tide career at running back, but he will go down as one of the best prep runners in history. He set the 59-year-old national high school rushing record with 11,610 yards in his YHS career (Ken Hall, 11,232 yards). Henry excelled in San Antonio at the US Army Bowl as a running back, but as his size, Nick Saban has to consider him an option at a variety of positions.
13. Christian Hackenberg, QB (6-4, 210)
Fork Union (Va.) Military Academy
Committed: Penn State
The race to be recognized as the nation’s No. 1 quarterback prospect ended up being much closer than anticipated. Hackenberg was clearly the best passer at the Under Armour Game and might have more upside than Browne. He has a big frame with room to grow, a powerful arm and is accurate with the football. His skill set is exactly what head coach Bill O’Brien is looking for at Penn State and having a talent like Hackenberg poised to step on campus had to be a big part of why the head coach stayed in Happy Valley.
14. Laquon Treadwell, WR (6-3, 195)
Crete (Ill.) Crete-Monee
Committed: Ole Miss
The No. 1 wide receiver in the nation is heading into the deep South to play his college football. The Chicago area talent recently committed to Ole Miss over Oklahoma and Oklahoma State. The surging Rebels are getting an electric prospect who is widely considered one of the most physically advanced and college-ready players in the class. Many also believe Treadwell is the best receiver to come out of the Chicagoland area in the modern recruiting era — which includes Kyle Prater, the No. 1 WR in the 2010 class.
15. Jalen Ramsey, DB (6-0, 190)
Nashville (Tenn.) Brentwood Academy
A unique and interesting personality, Ramsey has the size, speed, intelligence and work ethic to play all over the field in college. He projects as a cornerback currently but has the length and frame to grow into an elite safety should his coaching staff decide that is where he fits best. He is committed to USC but the Trojans will have to fight Vanderbilt, Alabama, Florida and others to keep the talented defensive back in the fold down the stretch.
16. Kendall Fuller, DB (6-0, 175)
Olney (Md.) Good Counsel
Committed: Virginia Tech
There was little doubt where this elite talent would be playing his college football. With three older brothers, Kyle, Corey and Vincent, making names for themselves in Blacksburg, Va., it came as no surprise that Kendall picked Virginia Tech over Clemson. The youngest Fuller is similar to current Hokie star Kyle in his ability to lock down receivers and play a physical brand of football.
17. Jonathan Allen, LB (6-3, 255)
Ashburn (Va.) Stone Bridge
If SEC fans are looking for the next Jarvis Jones, Allen might be the guy. He is an explosive up the field player who will terrorize opposing quarterbacks as well as ball carriers. He is one of the most decorated players in Virginia prep football and will undoubtedly be a star in Nick Saban’s linebacker-friendly system in Tuscaloosa.
18. Chris Jones, DE (6-5, 250)
Houston (Miss.) High
Committed: Mississippi State
The fastest riser in the nation this cycle is the big defensive end from The Magnolia State. He committed to Mississippi State back in the summer when he was listed as a three-star recruit by most services. After a stellar senior year and strong showing in the Under Armour Game, he has sky-rocketed to five-star status. He posted 160 tackles, 45 tackles for loss and 14 sacks as a senior and made it all the way to No. 2 in the nation by Scout.com. Either way, the talent evaluators are smitten with Mr. Jones.
19. O.J. Howard, TE (6-5, 220)
Prattville (Ala.) Autauga
The No. 1 tight end in the nation is headed to Alabama with an impressive resume. He was named AISA Lineman of the Year in The Yellowhammer State this fall after finishing with 12 touchdowns on offense and 57 tackles on defense. All of this while missing four games. He is already enrolled in classes at Alabama, and, with his impressive athletic frame, should provide instant help for Crimson Tide quarterback A.J. McCarron.
20. Thomas Tyner, RB (6-0, 205)
Beaverton (Ore.) Aloha
The big-time running back is a two-time 6A Offensive Player of the Year in the state of Oregon and set the single-season state rushing record with 3,415 yards this fall. He set two other state records by rushing for 643 yards and 10 scores in one game this season as well. To top it all off, Tyner holds the state 100m track record as well. He is currently committed to Oregon where he would have a chance to play in arguably the best offensive system in the nation — with or without Chip Kelly. His skills are a perfect fit for Mark Helfrich’s speed-based rushing attack.
21. Carl Lawson, DE (6-3, 245)
Alpharetta (Ga.) Milton
The big-time defensive lineman is currently committed to Auburn, although the coaching change on the Plains has created rumors that a host of other programs are making a charge. Ole Miss, Tennessee, North Carolina and Clemson could find themselves in the mix for Lawson should he look elsewhere. No matter where he signs, he brings prototypical size and skills to the defensive end position and should help a defense right away.
22. Kelvin Taylor, RB (5-10, 215)
Bell Glade (Fla.) Glades Day
If the last name is familiar for Gators fans, it should be. The son of Florida legend Fred Taylor, Kelvin has been a Sunshine State prep star for years. He rushed for 103 yards and three touchdowns on 14 carries in his first high school game — as an 8th grader. He has prototypical running back size, power and speed and will try to follow in his father’s footsteps in Gainesville. He finished his career with 10,688 yards and won two 2A state championships.
23. Robert Foster, WR (6-3, 190)
Monaca (Pa.) Central Valley
Nick Saban continues to recruit the Northeast heavily and with success. Foster is the No. 2 wide receiver in the nation and the No. 1 player in the state of Pennsylvania and he is headed to the two-time defending champs. A mature athlete, academics and competing for championships were atop Foster’s wish list. He has a big frame, can play inside or outside on offense and will be an option in the return game as well.
24. Keith Ford, RB (5-11, 203)
Cypress (Texas) Cypress Ranch
In a game filled with miscues and defensive dominance, Ford might have been the most productive offensive player in the Under Armour game. An electric kickoff return provided one of the few big plays of the game. It displayed all that Ford will be for the Oklahoma Sooners. He has wiggle in the open field, the speed to get to the edge and will develop plenty of power and strength to move the chains inside. The top player in the state of Texas totaled 2,368 yards from scrimmage and scored 28 total touchdowns as a senior.
25. Ricky Seals-Jean, ATH (6-5, 230)
Sealy (Texas) High
Committed: Texas A&M
Versatility is the name of the game for RSJ. The jumbo athlete projects as a wide receiver, tight end or at a variety of spots on defense. That said, his recent verbal commitment to Texas A&M has to indicate his desire to play offense. The former Texas Longhorn commitment tore up his knee early in his senior season, resulting in Mack Brown backing off. However, Seals-Jean recovered nicely to play well in the US Army Bowl and will now be a dangerous down the field target for reigning Heisman Trophy recipient Johnny Manziel.
View the complete 2013 Athlon Consensus 100
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AC100 On Campus: Torii Hunter Jr., Part II
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AC100 On Campus: Josh Banderas, Part II