With just under six months to go before signing day 2014, Scout has 27 prospects with five stars beside their name. That number will likely change in the coming months as we continue to evaluate that class through mid January.
You cannot evaluate just one class at a time anymore, so we have been studying the 2015 prospects for at least a year now as well. We announced our early five-star prospects in that class Monday and 21 names are on that list.
It is another strong year in the South and that region leads the way with eight prospects on the list.
"Out of the eight prospects on this list, five are linemen and the other three are skill prospects," said Chad Simmons, a national recruiting analyst based in the South. "It is another great year at the top and defensive line is very strong with five-stars CeCe Jefferson, Daron Payne, and Trenton Thompson leading the way. Jefferson is a very athletic defensive end who is quick off the ball while Payne and Thompson control their gaps, use their power, and can get up the field."
A trio of skill guys out of the southeast are among the best in the country as well. Kevin Toliver and Terry Godwin are two of the best corners in the country and George Campbell is an elite playmaker on the other side of the ball.
Godwin is right around 6-feet tall and he has great feet and he is an elite athlete. He is looking to play both ways on the next level.
There may be eight five-star prospects coming out of the South, but the West is right there with seven.
Brandon Huffman, a national analyst based out West feels this class is very strong at the top.
"Ventura (Calif.) St. Bonaventure quarterback Ricky Town is one of the top prospects in the West, and also one of the top-ranked quarterbacks in the country and he continues to get better and better," said Huffman. "The Alabama commit had a great sophomore year and as he enters his junior year, is primed for a big season. He's got a good arm, decent mobility but all the intangibles you want from a five-star passer."
Quarterbacks have to have guys to throw the ball to and Alize Jones is another highly thought of 2015 prospect out west.
"Jones is likely the top-ranked tight end in the country, this would be the second time in five years the top tight end comes from Las Vegas (Nev.) Bishop Gorman, but Jones is a better prospect than Xavier Grimble, now the starter at USC, was at the same stage. He's a big and physical tight end, but runs like a receiver with incredible body control, soft hands and pinpoint route running and will be a redzone threat for years to come."
"Long Beach (Calif.) Poly cornerback Iman Marshall has been one of the elite defensive backs in the West since he was a freshman and despite sharing the secondary with five-star safety Juju Smith (2014), is the one defensive back quarterbacks try to avoid. Marshall has been playing at a high level for three years and is he could be the top defensive back in the region not just in the 2015 class but maybe period," Huffman said.
15 of the 21 five-star prospects comes out the south and west at this time, but some of the best of the best are also in the midlands and the east.
Virginia has three of the top 20 prospects in the 2014 class on Scout and that state again has two of the best in the country.
"People across the nation know about Da'Shawn Hand and Andrew Brown from Virginia's 2014 class, and now everyone will know Tim Settle in the 2015 class," said national recruiting analysis out of the east Brian Dohn. "He is as dominant an interior defensive lineman as there is in high school. He has speed off the ball, he is powerful, he uses his hands well, has versatility in his moves and is crazy-athletic.
"Settle runs plays down from behind, he overpowers offensive linemen, he beats them with his explosion at the snap and he plays with a low pad level to win leverage battles. If it sounds like there is a ton to love about Settle, well, there is."
Settle was in the discussion for the top 2015 prospect in the country on Scout. The order will be released on Tuesday, so you can see just where Settle and the other 20 prospects sit in the Scout 100.
Ricky DeBerry is another prospect out of Virginia and like Settle, he likely will play with his hand down on the next level.
"DeBerry is versatile, which only helps his ranking. He can be a defensive end in a 4-3 who drops into coverage or an outside linebacker in a 3-4 who gets up the field after the quarterback. But he also has the ability to play outside linebacker in a 4-3 because of his ability to run. DeBerry is quick and gets off blocks well. He can run down a running back from behind and also push past an offensive tackle. His athleticism and quickness stands out," said Dohn.
A couple of prospects from Texas have been talked about among the best in the country.
"Malik Jefferson and Daylon Mack are two top-rated players in the Midland and they are separated by the ever slimmest margins," said Powers. "I have actually been calling them 1a and 1b. Jefferson is an outside linebacker with top-level speed and tremendous burst and Mack is a defensive tackle who gets off the ball very quickly and can control the gap. Either of these two could end up as the No. 1 player by the time it is settled and done."
A prospect known for scoring touchdowns and making big plays on the offensive side of the ball is Powers' third five-star.
"Running back Sotonye Jamabo is nipping at the heels of Jefferson and Mack. He is the region's first offensive five-star and he could be a top 10 prospect in the country. He is a taller (6-1, 190 pounds) back with uncanny athleticism and a nose for the end-zone."
Scout will release the 2015 Scout 100 on Tuesday. We will name prospects 1-100 in order at noon EST and then on Wednesday at the same time, we will name the Scout 300. We will then have a chat to answer all questions an hour later at 1pm EST.