Comparisons are an inevitable part of college football recruiting. In this week’s series, National Recruiting Director Adam Gorney breaks down each of the top 50 players in the 2022 class and National Columnist Mike Farrell provides a current college or NFL player that would be a great comparison.
CLASS OF 2023 RANKINGS: Rivals100
RIVALS CAMP SERIES: Info/coverage on 2021 camp series
20. Kevin Coleman
Gorney’s analysis: Speed and elusiveness are the biggest assets in Coleman’s game but he’s also a terrific route runner who can set up defensive backs and then create separation, he has great hands and the five-star receiver is a natural playmaker at all times. Florida State, Oregon, Alabama and others are involved with Coleman, who lines up in the slot and can make things happen in any offense.
Farrell’s comparison: Tavon Austin. Coleman is a tad taller and longer than Austin, but he’s dominant in high school so far and makes a ton of big plays. Austin was one of the more dynamic players in recent Rivals history and Coleman is up there as well. This is lofty territory because of how good Austin became in college.
19. Zach Rice
Gorney’s analysis: There is so much to like about Rice’s game but what comes to mind is that he’s the complete package. The five-star offensive tackle is agile, he plays with a mean streak, he keeps his head on a swivel to always look to knock someone around and he has very little bad weight. Rice has heavy hands and light feet but great power mixed with an ability to get to the second level and block, which makes him extra special. North Carolina, Virginia and others are still involved with him.
Farrell’s comparison: Mike Adams. Adams had as high a ceiling as anyone coming out of high school and was a physical specimen for Ohio State. He still had success in college and beyond, and Rice could be a superstar if he stays focused.
18. Kam Dewberry
Gorney’s analysis: What stands out most about Dewberry is that at the Dallas Rivals Camp he struggled on his first few reps, refocused, got mad and then absolutely dominated every defensive lineman from his right tackle spot. He could probably stay at right tackle or he has the power and toughness to move inside as well and that position versatility makes Dewberry even more attractive to Oklahoma, Texas A&M, Ohio State and others.
Farrell’s comparison: Jedrick Wills. Dewberry is an agile offensive lineman who could play guard or tackle, and he has a similar reset and feet to Wills. His upside is that high, as Wills was one of the best in the country at the college football level and a star at Alabama as well as a first-rounder.
17. Gabe Powers
Gorney’s analysis: The big question this offseason when it came to Powers was whether he could play in space and run with receivers downfield. The Ohio State commit showed that it was a resounding yes as Powers really surprised with just how fast and athletic he is for someone his size. Powers can definitely stay as an outside linebacker and he has special qualities that should translate well in the Buckeyes’ defense.
Farrell’s comparison: Joe Bolden. I like Powers better than Bolden at the same stage, but both were tall and athletic linebackers who worked well downhill. Powers is more of a natural pass rusher but the former Michigan star is a solid comparison.
16. Branson Robinson
Gorney’s analysis: One of the best-looking and most physically impressive running backs in at least a few years, Robinson is all muscle and while he doesn’t have elite speed, the Georgia commit can plant his foot and make people miss, and he will definitely gain extra yards with his power running style. Georgia has recruited players like Robinson over the years and developed them into better players running behind a talented offensive line. This isn’t hyperbole: He looks and plays just like Nick Chubb.
Farrell’s comparison: Trent Richardson. The sheer physical presence of Robinson does remind me of Chubb but I’m going with Richardson here because of the running style. He should be a star in college and a potential first-rounder like Richardson.
15. Will Johnson
Gorney’s analysis: Johnson is big and filled out but he’s not one of those cornerbacks who always dreamed of playing the position but really should be playing safety. The Michigan commit can be physical at the line of scrimmage but he can turn and run with receivers and when the ball is in the air his size and length is just something you cannot teach.
Farrell’s comparison: Eli Apple. Apple may not be a success story in the NFL but he was a big, multi-talented corner out of high school who had a great college career and became a first-rounder. I could see the same with Johnson.
14. Jacoby Mathews
Gorney’s analysis: He’s long, he’s rangy and he’s filled out so Mathews looks like a lot of SEC safeties who become big-time players at the next level. Until recently, the five-star was committed to LSU and he fit the mold of so many great defensive backs in Baton Rouge. But he has reopened his recruitment and is looking at Texas A&M, Ohio State and some believe it’s likely he will end up back in the Tigers’ recruiting class.
Farrell’s comparison: Derwin James. This is high praise from me and perhaps a bit of a reach as James was the best safety I’ve ever seen at the high school level, but Mathews has similar size and the ability to play multiple positions. Could he star in college like James and become a first-rounder? Yes.
13. CJ Hicks
Gorney’s analysis: Every school in the country has been going after the top-ranked outside linebacker but he seems locked in more than ever with Ohio State, which could be compiling one of the best linebacker groups in recent memory. Hicks does it all well from playing in space to covering receivers to coming up and filling gaps, blitzing, everything.
Farrell’s comparison: Jaylon Smith. I originally compared Hicks with Shaq Thompson as a safety who would likely grow into a linebacker. But now it’s Smith, who was one of the best cover linebackers in Rivals.com history and a sure tackler at Notre Dame and now with the Dallas Cowboys.
12. Kelvin Banks
Gorney’s analysis: A debate over who is the best offensive tackle in the 2022 class will continue through the final rankings release and Banks is going to be in that discussion. He’s big, he’s tough and physical, he looks to play through the whistle, and for someone his size he can move really well. It was one of the biggest recruiting surprises of the cycle when he picked Oregon over Texas, Texas A&M and others. The Ducks got a great one.
Farrell’s comparison: Cam Robinson. Banks has the size and athletic ability of Robinson and should have as successful a career as the former Alabama star.
11. Dani Dennis-Sutton
Gorney’s analysis: Penn State scored a major victory over Georgia and Alabama when the Nittany Lions landed a commitment from Dennis-Sutton in July because he is a special athlete off the edge, physically impressive and has the potential to be a years-long contributor in Happy Valley. Dennis-Sutton has a great first step, he has inside and outside moves (he’s best getting to the edge) and he’s going to give offensive tackles a lot of headaches.
Farrell’s comparison: Drake Jackson. I’ll go recent here as Jackson is a good example of what we could see from Dennis-Sutton. Jackson could play all over the line of scrimmage and was an athletic big body who emerged as a threat in the Pac-12 at USC early. Dennis-Sutton is a bit more raw at the same stage, but the upside is there.