The Scout 300 for 2016

The first release of the Scout 300 for the Class of 2016 is dominated by defense...

Scout 300 for 2016

Offers go out earlier and earlier. Commitments come earlier and earlier.

So it's only natural that rankings for prospects come sooner than ever before.

The earliest Scout has ever released rankings for a class still nearly two years away happens with the Class of 2016, with today's release of the Scout 300 for that class.

"With nearly two years until National Signing Day for this class, there is going to be a lot of room for changes, but as the recruiting cycle continues to come earlier and earlier, the players who are working 12 months a year on their craft are getting ranked earlier and earlier as well," said Scout's Director of Scouting, Scott Kennedy.

Looking across the country for the top player in the initial release of the Scout 300 for the class of 2016, conversations centered on defense.

Keion Joyner

With half of the top ten players in the country defensive linemen, it was an outside linebacker who tops the list.

When it was all said and done, Havelock (N.C.) outside linebacker Keion Joyner stood atop the rankings, giving the Tar Heel State early bragging rights on the nation's best.

"Early on the depth in this class appears to be in the defensive front seven. The No. 1 player is an outside linebacker, and seven of the Top 9 players overall are either defensive linemen or linebackers," said Kennedy.

Joyner leads a strong group out of the South, which is deep on defense.

"The south is very strong again, especially on the defensive side of the ball and the top prospect in the region is Joyner," said national recruiting analyst Chad Simmons, who covers the South. "The long and lean Joyner is athletic with so much room to grow physically. He plays fast, he is explosive, and he is one that can change a game."

And Simmons thinks his best football is still ahead of him.

OLB Keion Joyner Sophomore Highlights

"Joyner is extremely humble, he is a two-time state champion, and he is what a five-star is all about. You look at him now and see what he can do, then you think about how he will grow in the years to come, and it is scary. Joyner is not only the top prospect in the south, but he is the top prospect in the country. He is a special talent with an extremely high ceiling," said Simmons.

Just behind Jenkins was Allen (Texas) offensive tackle Greg Little, the top offensive prospect in the 2016 class and the Midlands' top prospect.

Greg Little

The 6-foot-6, 280-pounder played for arguably the top high school team in the country in 2013, helping block for a powerful offensive attack and 16-0 state title season.

"Little is a well-schooled player, who is superior in his pass protection assignments and strong enough up front to push defenders out of running lanes. He is battle tested at a young age, holding his own against former Class of 2014 Scout five-star defensive end recruits like Solomon Thomas and Myles Garrett," said national recruiting analyst Greg Powers, who oversees the Midlands.

But it was close with Little and Killeen (Texas) Shoemaker defensive tackle Kendell Jones, who comes in at No. 3 in the country and leads a run of defensive lineman in the top ten.

Scout 100 Positional Breakdown:
Centers: 1
Cornerbacks: 7
Defensive Ends: 9
Defensive Tackles: 10
Middle Linebackers: 2
Offensive Guards: 4
Outside Linebackers: 8
Offensive Tackles: 9
Quarterbacks: 6
Running Backs: 10
Safeties: 7
Tight Ends: 6
Wide Receivers: 21

Tampa (Fla.) Blake defensive end Shavar Manuel is ranked No. 4 in the early rankings one of three Florida natives in the top ten and one of two on the defensive line, along with Nicholas Bosa from Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas.

Nate Craig is ranked No. 8 and the top skill prospect in the top ten nationally.

"It's shaping up to be a super year at the top from the state of Florida with defensive line titans like Manuel and Bosa and some unbelievable wide receiver prospects led by the big and smooth Nate Craig (Tampa Catholic). Right now the nod goes to Manuel. He's your classic edge guy that is big, long and fast and he can really get after the quarterback. As a sophomore he finished with 19 sacks. He's the state's top dog but that's far from cemented. Any of these guys can step up and take the top overall spot before it's all said and done.

Rashan Gary

The East's top prospect is Rashan Gary, a defensive tackle from Scotch Plains (N.J.), and the No. 5 overall prospect.

"The class is shaping up interestingly in the East as there is a lot of receiver depth at the high end," said national recruiting analyst Brian Dohn, who oversees the East. "Also, it is getting close for a kid like five-star Rashan Gary to move heavily into recruiting. As crazy as it sounds, people in New Jersey recruiting circles have known about him since the seventh grade, and he has long been a top figure in the class. Now, he will get plenty of attention."

The third defensive tackle in the top six, Hammond (La.) St. Thomas Aquinas' Ed Alexander is followed by another Southern defenders with Montgomery (Ala.) Carver outside linebacker Lyndell Wilson at No. 7.

Malik Henry

The West's top prospects is also the nation's top quarterback, Westlake (Calif.) five-star Malik Henry, the first of three straight California natives,

Henry is followed by outside linebacker Caleb Kelly from Fresno (Calif.) Clovis West and defensive end Breland Brandt from Los Angeles (Calif.) Windward.

"Malik first caught our eye at the Edison Passing Tournament last summer," said national recruiting analyst Greg Biggins, who covers the West. "He looked raw but had an athletic body, a very live arm and could put the ball in to some very tight windows. He had a solid junior season and then made a big jump this past summer. He was arguably the top quarterback at the 100 team Pylon 7v7 in Las Vegas and then had a great showing at the SoCal NIKE Camp. Henry's arm strength is really impressive and he can make every throw on the field. For a young quarterback, he also shows very good poise and calmness in the pocket and can throw with touch when he needs to as well. He can get a little emotional at times and we saw that in Vegas but you have to love his competitiveness and passion for the game. He's already a top level athlete and adds the ability to scramble not just for first down yards but long plays down the field. The best thing with Henry is he's still learning the position and has a ton of growth left in him."

Houston (Texas) Westfield defensive tackle Ed Oliver, the No. 13 prospect in he country is the fourth defensive tackle in the top 15.

Ben Bredeson

The top prospect from the Midwest is also the nation's top offensive guard, Hartland (Wisc.) Arrowhead's Ben Bredeson, who comes in at No. 14.

"The Midwest is known for pumping out quality offensive linemen, so it should be no surprise that the top of the 2016 class is filled with the big boys," said national recruiting analyst Allen Trieu, who manages the Midwest. "Ben Bredeson takes the top overall spot. He has great technique and plays the game with an intensity you like to see in top flight linemen. He may not be 6-foot-6 like some of his counterparts, but it is tough to find many weaknesses in his game."

In fact, there is a whole slew of offensive guards, top tier ones at that, in the Midwest, one of the themes in this class.

"One of the other things that stands out to me is the glut of guards from the Midwest," said Kennedy. "There are 12 offensive guards in the Scout 300, and a whopping nine of them are from the Midwest, including the Top 8. Obviously some of these guys could grow into tackles over the next two years or move one more position inside and play center, but as it stands now, that's an unprecedented run at a single position from one region."

Rounding out the top 15 is Wayne (N.J.) De Paul Catholic running back Kareem Walker, who's also the top ranked running back nationally.

Kennedy said the quarterback position could be interesting to watch in this class.

"The glamour position of quarterback is going to be interesting again in 2016," said Kennedy. "Henry holds the position now, but there isn't a guy out there that stands out as a lock for the No. 1 position."

Scout 300 for 2016


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