Each year there is debate on who is number one in the country.
Da'Shawn Hand is the #1 player in the East.
Half the time, though, there is debate on who is number one in each region.
In the 2013 class, Robert Nkemdiche was the top ranked player nationally by Scout.com, as well as the top prospect in the Southeast. But Reuben Foster was right behind him in the South and nationally. And Nkemdiche never had a firm grasp on that top spot, with Foster nipping at his heels.
The Midwest had long maintained Jaylon Smith as it's top prospect in 2013, but the Midlands bounced between A'Shawn Robinson and Ricky Seals-Jones, the East from Kenny Bigelow to Derrick Green and the West with Max Browne and Su'a Cravens.
In 2014, there is still some debate in several regions on who is the top guy.
In the East, it's Da'Shawn Hand, the hands-down, top prospect in the East.
Size, speed, explosion, powerful, length, athleticism …the assets are numerous and are accentuated by the fact Hand plays fast and has a terrific motor. He sheds blocks and makes tackles, can chase a play down from behind, get into the backfield, change direction quickly and so on. In short, he can do it all.
But who is behind him? That would be Jabrill Peppers.
The Midwest's top player in 2014 is Drake Harris
Peppers would be a four-star running back, and a four-star receiver, but he is best in the secondary, where he would be a five-star safety if his best position was not cornerback. He is physical on the jam, has the acceleration to play off a receiver and then close quickly to break up a pass. He has loose hips and the ability to close, and he enjoys shedding blocks and making tackles.
In the South, national recruiting analyst Chad Simmons likes a pair of Louisiana natives at the top of his list.
Fournette is an elite running back that you just don't see on a regular basis. He is big (6-2/227) back, but runs very smooth and has that rare blend of size, power, quickness, balance, and speed. He is a special player and a running back that could be suiting up for a college team tomorrow and making a difference. He just doesn't lose yards. He gets positive yards no matter what and he is great at getting yards after contact.
Robinson is a true offensive tackle that has all the attributes you look. He has very good feet, he can slide with those quick defensive ends, and he can overpower in the run game. He is a very nimble player, he is a natural bender, and he has great length as well that you like in a tackle. Robinson is one of those kids that you want to lead your team off the bus. He just doesn't look the part though, he plays it.
Tony Brown is the top player in Texas and the Midlands in 2014.
Harris is a great athlete who is very natural at going up and getting the ball and does everything on the field as smooth as can be. He answered questions about his level of competition in the state title game, where he dominated despite being double teamed by a good team.
Garrett's film is full of big hits and physical style of play. My question was, how would he be in space and in coverage and he has really improved in that area, which he showed at several events this off-season. He's definitely one of the hardest hitters we've had in the Midwest the last few years.
In the Midlands,a prospect from the Lone Star State is at the top and Kansas has it's top player right behind him.
Beaumont (Texas) Ozen cornerback Tony Brown holds his grip on the top spot in the Midlands. He is a fierce and fiery competitor. He has the size and physique of an elite college player and has already developed a strong work ethic off the field. Additionally, he is a nationally rated track talent and a bonafide speedster posting 4.34 forty-yard dash time to go along with a 60-meter hurdle time of 7.76. Brown holds a hefty offer list and is considering schools like Alabama, LSU, Texas and Texas A&M.
Olathe (Kan.) South offensive lineman Braden Smith is a monster, with a mean streak. He is a beast in the weight room and that strength shows on tape. He has quick feet and good athleticism which allows him to pull effectively. Even though he is very muscular he is not robotic with his movement. He plays low, with good pad level. One of the most physically impressive looking specimens in the county. He is considering offers from schools like Michigan, Oklahoma, Ohio State, Texas, Texas A&M, TCU and a host of others.
Adoree Jackson (left) and John "Juju" Smith are the top two players in the West in the 2014 class.
Out West, two traditional powers, that have had their share of elite, five-star prospects, are again, at the forefront in 2014.
Gardena (Calif.) Serra cornerback Adoree Jackson is the region's top-ranked player in this class, the versatile Jackson not just elite as a corner, but as a playmaker on offense and on special teams (not just as a returner, but as a punter too, where he had a backbreaking fake punt for an 80+ yard touchdown in the state championship game. Like former Cavs Marqise Lee and Robert Woods before him, Jackson could be a star on either side of the ball, and is the most electric player in the region. An elite hurdler too, Jackson also plays basketball for the Cavs' and has a chance for a rare triple this year, a state title in football (which they already won), basketball and track.
But Long Beach (Calif.) Poly safety Juju Smith can make a case as well, the two-way prospect also starring on both sides. While several schools like Smith as a receiver, and he made a decisive impact on that side of the ball as a junior, physically, safety may be his best spot, and in fact, Smith thinks his best position, long term, is safety. But Smith, who is reminiscent of Lee both physically and in ability, won't pigeon-hole himself yet on defense, and he's already got plenty of options for college. Like Jackson, Smith is also an elite track star for one of the premier track programs in the country.
Scout.com national scouting director Scott Kennedy and national recruiting analysts Allen Trieu, Brandon Huffman, Brian Dohn, Chad Simmons, Greg Biggins, Greg Powers and Jamie Newberg contributed to this story.