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May 30, 2012

Twenty new faces highlight latest Rivals250

As with the new Rivals100 released Tuesday, the updated Rivals250 has a bunch of changes after evaluations, hours of film review and a more complete understanding where the prospects should fit in the rankings from top to bottom.

So it should come as no surprise that there was a lot of movement as some players went up, others went down, and many who were not ranked in the first round of rankings moved into the 250.

There were 20 new additions to the Rivals250 led by Honolulu (Hawaii) Moanalua defensive tackle Scott Pagano, who named LSU his favorite this past weekend and has picked up nearly 50 offers. The 6-foot-3, 280-pound prospect checks in at No. 104.

"Pagano has some of the best junior film in this class," Rivals.com West analyst Adam Gorney said.

"The reason he wasn't included in the initial rankings was because we had not seen his highlight tape; right after the release, we got our hands on it and knew he was going to be an immediate addition this time around. Pagano has size, strength, speed and he plays with ferociousness. And we always like to see that from defensive tackles."

Others moving into the rankings include Huntsville (Ala.) offensive guard Grant Hill at No. 110, St. Louis (Mo.) John Burroughs School running back Ezekiel Elliott at No. 144, Milton (Fla.) wide receiver Isaiah Jones at No. 150, Rossville (Ga.) Ridgeland safety Vonn Bell at No. 155 and Kentwood (La.) Jewel Sumner safety Jeremy Cutrer at No. 169.

"Although we have yet to see [Hill] in person, his film is too outstanding to ignore," Rivals.com Southeast analyst Keith Niebuhr said. "Simply put, he's a people mover. Grant is big, strong, physical and athletic. He gets to the second level well and is an absolute mauler at times. We think he has the makings to be an outstanding guard at the next level. We can't wait to see him up close this June.

"Bell is a good-looking defensive back who probably could play either safety or corner at the next level. While he isn't that big - he doesn't look to be as tall as his listed height of 6-1 - he makes up for it with excellent speed, great instincts and uncanny ball skills. Bell has the hips to play corner at a BCS school, and the toughness to protect the back end at safety."

Fellow Rivals.com Southeast analyst Chris Nee had a chance to see Jones after the initial rankings release and said the Milton wide receiver needed to be high on the updated list.

"Jones emerged and was evaluated after the initial rankings release," Nee said. "He has a great mix of size, physicality and athleticism. He has good top-end speed, especially when working vertically down the field, but also shows the ability to create separation on his routes and work to the middle of the field. Jones does an excellent job of winning the ball in the air and is very good at adding significant yardage after the catch."

There was an abundance of prospects who made significant moves up in the latest round of rankings, starting with Kettering (Ohio) Archbishop Alter quarterback Malik Zaire, who jumped 25 spots to No. 111.

"Zaire was out at the Rivals.com/VTO Cincinnati camp less than 24 hours after stepping off a plane from spring break and hardly missed on a single throw all day," Rivals.com Midwest analyst Josh Helmholdt said.

"He also had a solid showing at the Columbus NIKE Camp and is really coming along as a passer. His footwork is outstanding, his motion is efficient and he's a much more accurate passer than he's been given credit for in the past."

Other big movers up the list included Bellflower (Calif.) St. John Bosco offensive tackle Nico Falah (97 spots to No. 119), Jacksonville (Fla.) Sandalwood defensive end Demarcus Walker (32 spots, No. 120), Cordova (Tenn.) St. Benedict running back Jordan Wilkins (81 spots, No. 128) and especially Marietta (Ga.) Walton center Brandon Kublanow (112 spots, No. 131), who recently committed to Georgia.

"[Kublanow] isn't the biggest offensive lineman out there but he's nonetheless one of the very best," Niebuhr said. "He plays with a mean streak for 48 minutes, and isn't satisfied unless he finishes off a play with a pancake. Brandon bench presses well over 400 pounds and also derives great strength from his legs. He uses terrific technique to produce excellent leverage play after play, and doesn't stop blocking until the whistle blows. He's always looking for someone to get his hands on and punish.

"Wilkins is someone we've liked since first seeing him in person last summer during a camp at Ole Miss. He's as physically put together as maybe any running back in this class. And at our Alabama VTO camp this spring, he showed that he also has legitimate 4.5 speed and can catch the ball out of the backfield. At 6-feet-1, 203 pounds, he's a big-bodied back with the agility of a smaller guy."

Recent USC commit Eldridge Massington, a four-star receiver from Mesquite (Texas) West Mesquite, moved up 104 spots to No. 141. Shreveport (La.) Green Oaks athlete Tre'Davious White also jumped 57 spots to No. 158 in Rivals.com Southwest analyst Brian Perroni's region.

"Massington was seen as more of a possession receiver prior to this spring," Perroni said. "A top sprinter in track, the big 6-foot-3, 205-pound prospect really came into his own this spring. As he has gotten used to the game of football he has shown more of his speed on the actual field. His combination of size and speed made him one of the hottest prospects in the country over the past few months.

"Originally thought to be a wide receiver at the next level, White has really shown himself well as a cornerback prospect this spring. He has been a standout at 7-on-7 and shown that he is able to hold down some of the top receivers in the state of Louisiana."

One player who continues to be a lightning rod of attention is Kingsland (Ga.) Camden County quarterback Brice Ramsey, who was off his game at the U.S. Army National Combine but bounced back at two events this spring. Rivals.com moved him up 86 spots to No. 163 overall.

"Ramsey impressed at two events this spring, and was particularly sharp in his most recent outing at the Charlotte Nike Camp," Niebuhr said. "The ball is coming off his right hand beautifully, and with a ton of zip. His motion just gets smoother and smoother and he gains experience. When he gets into a rhythm he can really wow you. The other thing that stands out is his footwork."

One of the biggest movers in the Northeast was Randolph (N.J.) offensive tackle Brendan Mahon, who committed to Penn State in March. Mahon rose 25 spots to No. 165.

"Mahon is a big, physical kid who is a mauler in the run game and has good feet as a pass protector," Rivals.com national analyst Mike Farrell said. "He is aggressive and not afraid to mix it up and I think he'll be a very good guard at the Big Ten level. He's not afraid to compete and he doesn't back down and I like the way he learns quickly from any mistakes he might make."

The biggest fallers included Midland (Mich.) offensive tackle Steve Elmer (58 spots), Elysian Fields (Texas) defensive tackle Isaiah Golden (63 spots), Rosedale (Miss.) West Bolivar running back Kailo Moore (56 spots), Sherman Oaks (Calif.) Notre Dame running back Khalfani Muhammad (72 spots) and Peoria (Ill.) Manual offensive tackle Logan Tuley-Tillman (126 spots). Belle Glade (Fla.) Glades Central cornerback Will Likely and Westlake Village (Calif.) Westlake cornerback Dashon Hunt both fell more than 100 spots in the latest readjustments.




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