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August 21, 2012

Plenty of big movers in the new Rivals250

MORE: New Rivals250 | R250 live chat

The Rivals100 was released on Monday with many significant changes, and that story holds true with the new Rivals250 as players moved up, down and all around after numerous summer evaluations.

While there is not a tremendous amount of movement in the first handful of prospects outside the Rivals100, after that there are changes aplenty.

After seeing Miami (Fla.) Booker T. Washington offensive tackle Denver Kirkland at The Opening, he has been moved up 103 spots to No. 107. Right behind Kirkland is Bushnell (Fla.) South Sumter safety Keanu Neal, a Florida commit, who also shined at The Opening this summer and moves up 142 spots.

"Kirkland is a massive kid, and he was a lot more agile and mobile than we expected watching him at The Opening," Rivals.com national analyst Mike Farrell said. "He's an aggressive kid and physical but also smart and patient and knows when to attack and when to sit back and let the opponent come to him. With that size and agility, he has a very high ceiling.

"Neal is a big safety who can really move well in coverage, and his instincts are excellent. We knew he was a downhill guy who could hit, but we didn't know how he would handle elite receivers in a setting like The Opening, and he did very well. I was surprised at how fluid his hips were and how he was not only able to close on the ball well but also flip his hips and run with speedy wide receivers when needed. He has a great combination of size and athletic ability for the position."

Following Kirkland and Neal in the rankings is Clemson defensive end commit Elijah Daniel. The Avon, Ind., four-star moves up 63 spots to No. 109.

Two prospects who were outside the Rivals250 during the last rankings shoot up the chart as LSU quarterback commit Anthony Jennings jumps to No. 117 and UCLA offensive lineman pledge Christian Morris enters at No. 126.

"Jennings doesn't do anything great, but he does very little wrong, and his decision-making and accuracy are very impressive," Farrell said. "He has good mechanics, throws downfield and intermediate passes on the button and seems to lead his receivers consistently. And his footwork is excellent. He's not the biggest and doesn't have the strongest arm, but he has all the tools to be successful. He is a very smart quarterback who sees the field well, and that's crucial at the next level."

"Morris first made his mark at the B2G Elite Camp, where he was arguably the best offensive lineman," Rivals.com West analyst Adam Gorney said. "He was a little slowed by injury, but he showed great feet, great size and a lot of strength. If Morris was good at B2G then he was even better at The Opening against some really outstanding defensive linemen. He was consistently good everywhere we've seen him and deserved a significant move up."

Three other big movers in the top 140 are Penn State offensive line commit Brendan Mahon, who moves up 35 spots to No. 130; Maryland linebacker pledge Yannick Ngakoue, up 96 spots to No. 136; and Miami running back commit Alex Collins, who jumps ahead 46 spots to No. 139.

There are a chunk of California prospects who make big moves up, led by Cal quarterback commit Jared Goff, who moves from unranked to No. 153 after performing well at the Elite 11 and some 7-on-7 tournaments.

Oregon wide receiver pledge Darren Carrington, from San Diego (Calif.) Horizon, also goes from unranked all the way to No. 162. San Diego (Calif.) Lincoln linebacker Tyrell Robinson shined at the B2G Elite Camp and moves up 72 spots to No. 162.

Fresno (Calif.) Central East teammates L.J. Moore and Hatari Byrd had outstanding summers and are rewarded in the Rivals250. Moore and Byrd shined at the Rivals100 Five-Star Challenge, The Opening and Gridiron Kings. Up 50 spots is Moore to No. 163, and Byrd is right on his trail rising 61 spots to No. 168.

"Goff was really impressive this summer and deserved to be moved into the Rivals250," Gorney said. "He has nice size, throws a great deep ball and was consistently impressive during the Elite 11 week. With Carrington, he is a big-play threat and has taken games over at times. He plays at a small high school, so he didn't get lots of exposure leading into this off-season, but became known really quickly because he catches everything thrown near him.

"Byrd really impressed me this summer. He looks much more comfortable on the field, and because of that he's loosened up and plays more freely and gets to more balls. There is no doubt Byrd is one of the best-looking safeties in the country, and now he's starting to play that way which is encouraging. Moore is good at corner or safety, and he can excel at either position. He played more cornerback this summer and was always good. He has great length and plays with a lot of toughness. Sure, he could gain some weight but that shouldn't be a problem when he gets to college."

In that range, Clairton, Pa., wide receiver Tyler Boyd jumps 51 spots to No. 154; Georgia Tech offensive line commit Shamire Devine moves up 33 places to No. 155; Norcross, Ga., running back Alvin Kamara moves ahead 59 positions to No. 157; and Oklahoma athlete commit Stanvon Taylor jumps 38 spots to No. 161. Notre Dame offensive line commit Hunter Bivin is a big mover going from unranked to No. 158.

"There is a lot to like about Bivin from a frame standpoint," Rivals.com Midwest analyst Josh Helmholdt said. "At 6-7 he has ideal length, but he also has a wide build and is difficult for defensive linemen to get around. Bivin is extremely versatile and could play left tackle all the way down to center, depending on what his team needs."

As the list continues, more players have moved up after strong showings this summer. Alabama tight end commit Josh McNeil moves from out of the rankings to No. 169. Ole Miss running back commit Mark Dodson Jr. is up 44 spots to No. 174, and four-star offensive lineman Tyrone Crowder moves up 60 spots to No. 176.

"McNeil is very good at sitting down in the soft spots of the zone and finding open space," Farrell said. "He gets downfield well, provides a big target and he catches pretty much everything thrown his way. He's not super fast, but he can get open and I think he'll be a terrific possession receiver and dump down guy at the next level who will account for a lot of first downs."

After a strong performance at the Elite 11, Purdue quarterback commit Danny Etling cracks the Rivals250 at No. 185. Helmholdt said the upgrade is well-deserved.

"It has been a tremendous off-season for Etling, and he proved at the Elite 11 he deserves recognition with the top quarterbacks in the country," Helmholdt said. "There are very few weaknesses in the Purdue commit's game. He puts the ball where it needs to be, on time, throw after throw. He is also a good-sized kid who can hurt defenses with his feet when the situation calls for it."

Others on the rise include Louisville (Ky.) Trinity wide receiver James Quick (No. 182, up 25 spots), Piscataway, N.J., athlete Nadir Barnwell (No. 186, up 35 spots), Belle Vernon, Pa., offensive lineman Dorian Johnson (No. 187, up 46 spots) and Auburn quarterback commit Jeremy Johnson, who went from unranked to No. 191.

Florida linebacker commit Quinton Powell moves up 26 spots to No. 199, and USC defensive end pledge Jason Hatcher advances 28 places to No. 213.

Toward the bottom of the Rivals 250, 11 previously unranked players make the list: William Fuller (Notre Dame commit), Mike Williams (Clemson), Darius Latham (Wisconsin), Terrell Newby, Keelon Brookins (Wisconsin), Darius Allensworth (Cal), Torii Hunter Jr., Deon Hollins Jr. (UCLA), Rashard Robinson (LSU), Tavares Garner (Texas A&M) and Brendan Langley (South Carolina).




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