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January 22, 2013
Plenty of ups and downs in final Rivals250
The all-star season is finished and signing day is only a few weeks away, a perfect time for Rivals.com to release its final rankings for the 2013 class.
Clemson linebacker commit Dorian O'Daniel dropped 59 spots, Stanford quarterback commit Ryan Burns fell 65 positions, and Florida State and South Carolina linebacker pledges E.J. Levenberry and Larenz Bryant, respectively, went down 72 spots each.
There were others who fell in that range from 101 to 115, but after that a bunch of players made tremendous leaps up in the rankings after strong performances during the all-star events.
"Folston blends together toughness and outstanding instincts into an exceptional football player," Rivals.com Southeast analyst Kynon Codrington said. "After rushing for 1,722 yards and 16 touchdowns on 222 carries, Folston lined up at cornerback for Team Highlight at the Under Armour All-America Game. The four-star running back more than held his own, nabbing an interception and displaying rock-solid cover skills.
"He committed to Notre Dame and should give the Irish a versatile, heady athlete who can contribute on either side of the ball. It wasn't an easy task for Folston to play defense against some of the nation's premier receivers. He met the challenge and was rewarded with a bump in the rankings."
Following Folston in making big moves up are Maryland commit Derwin Gray, who advanced 44 spots to No. 126, and UCLA pledge Christian Morris, who moved from No. 163 to 128 after a strong showing at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl.
"Gray dropped in the last rankings because of poor pass-blocking technique but showed a lot of improvement during the all-star season to get moved back up," Rivals.com Mid-Atlantic analyst Adam Friedman said. "It was easy to see that Gray had been working on his footwork because it was much smoother. Gray's punches were also much more effective because it was easier to time and aim the punches because of the better footwork. Gray continued to be very effective when it comes to run blocking and is doing a slightly better job of staying low when taking on defenders at the second level."
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Rivals.com national analyst Mike Farrell said: "Christian Morris is a huge kid with long arms and great upside. He had the unenviable task of going against players like Jonathan Allen, Frank Herron and Al-Quadin Muhammad in practice at the Army Bowl and held his own. In the game itself, he showed the ability to pull from his right tackle spot, as well as hold the edge and use his athleticism in pass protection. He's still raw, but his upside is tremendous."
From 130 to 160, there was some movement up and down but not a significant bunch. A group of players later on made big jumps.
Leading that group is USC defensive end commit Torrodney Prevot, who showed his speed and versatility at the Army game and moved up 46 positions. Purdue quarterback pledge Danny Etling bounced ahead 33 spots. Uncommitted defensive tackle Andrew Billings and Irving, Texas, lineman Rami Hammad, whose recruitment has taken off in recent weeks, moved from unranked to No. 168 and No. 172, respectively.
"Prevot is a bit undersized for a defensive end, but he plays with great explosiveness and leverage," Rivals.com Southwest analyst Jason Howell said. "His ability to get into his opponent and into the backfield is elite, and it was on full display when he was in San Antonio for the Army All-American Bowl.
"When it comes to strength, Billings is one of the strongest. He is very aggressive and smart in his play and uses his long arms to separate and get off blocks and to the ball carrier. His size was initially something that caused some concern, but he has shown over and over again, between his power and his quick feet, he is a force in the trenches.
"Nasty is the one word that used to come to mind when talking about Hammad. He is mean and will grind his opponent into the ground. However, he showed a more diversified skill set over the course of his senior season while working at offensive tackle. Then, at the Semper Fi All-American Bowl, he put it all together against some of the nation's best."
Sandwiched between Billings and Hammad is new UCLA cornerback pledge Johnny Johnson, who shined during the all-star season and moved up 41 spots to No. 169.
"Johnson was one of the stars of Semper Fi week and established himself quickly during practice," Rivals.com West analyst Rob Cassidy said. "He was the top overall performer during the game's first workout and kept that momentum up throughout the week. It's Johnson's instincts that set him apart. All of the physical tools are there as well, but he breaks on the football as well as anyone. He jumped routes with regularity, and it often looks as though he knows what receivers are going to do well before they do it."
Leading the way into the No. 170 range is Notre Dame wide receiver pledge William Fuller (up 47 spots), new South Carolina offensive line commit Na'Ty Rodgers (up 52 spots) and Nebraska linebacker pledge Josh Banderas, who moved up 21 spots to No. 182.
"You'd be hard pressed to find a wide receiver who had a better all-star season than Fuller," Friedman said. "He drew rave reviews from all of the coaches at the Semper Fi All-American Bowl for good reason. Fuller caught almost everything thrown his way and displayed great route-running and change-of-direction abilities. Fuller has a ton of potential, but he needs to fill out his frame.
"During the all-star season, Rodgers showed off his improved footwork and ability to block effectively at the second level. Rodgers still needs to be lighter on his feet when pass blocking to be a regular contributor at the next level, but there was definite improvement. Rodgers also brought a newly found aggressiveness and mean streak to the all-star games, playing 'til the echo of the whistle and getting in at least one scuffle."
Rivals.com Midwest analyst Josh Helmholdt said: "Physically, there were few linebackers who looked better than Banderas down at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl in San Antonio this month. He has the size and the speed college coaches covet at the linebacker position, but we were also impressed with how Banderas threw himself into special teams during the Army Bowl week. He took as much pride in running down on kickoffs as he did calling the defense, and he was one of the top special teams performers on the week. Overall, there are very few weaknesses in Banderas' game."
"Ford was on the outside looking in for his fourth star," Codrington said. "His senior season went well as he ran for 1,466 yards and 24 touchdowns on 109 carries in eight games. The Vanderbilt pledge was a standout at the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Classic and showed why he is the top-rated running back in the Yellowhammer State. He has a rocked-out body to go with above-average linear speed. Ford has a great feel for the game and knows how to set up blocks. In the all-star event, his best run came on a third-and-long draw play with his team holding a five-point lead. He was able to bounce to the edge, break a tackle and pick up a crucial first down that allowed his team to run out the clock. It's his reliable running ability and field awareness that proved he deserved a jump following his senior campaign."
Cassidy said: "Allen's biggest asset is obviously his speed, and it was on display at the Semper Fi Bowl. He torched cornerbacks, including L.J. Moore, at practices and made a diving touchdown grab during the game. The four-star receiver is so much more than a track star playing football; he's one of the fastest wide receivers in the West and showed he can get it done against high-level competition during all-star season."
Some more notables include uncommitted linebacker Jermaine Grace, up 48 positions, UCLA linebacker commit Deon Hollins Jr., who moved up 44 spots, and Clemson linebacker pledge Ben Boulware, who went from unranked to No. 207 after a strong Under Armour performance.
"Ben Boulware isn't the kind of guy who stands out during warm-ups, but once things go live there's no doubt that he was made to be a linebacker," Rivals.com Southeast analyst Woody Wommack said. "He loves to lay the lumber, and he always finds himself around the ball. During the Shrine Bowl, he also showed above-average coverage skills, even against bigger, faster skill-position players. His momentum continued into Under Armour, where he paired very well with five-star linebacker Alex Anzalone."
Other movers up include Oklahoma State commit Fred Ross, uncommitted wide receiver Sebastian LaRue, Cal offensive tackle commit Cameron Hunt, South Carolina pledge D.J. Park and Nebraska pledge Adam Taylor.