Rivals national recruiting director Adam Gorney and national recruiting analyst Ryan Wright along with Rivals social media lead Woody Wommack and Matt Moreno of GoAZCats.com tackle topics and determine whether they believe each statement is FACT or FICTION.
After seeing him in the state championship game, Julian Armella has an argument to be the No. 1 offensive tackle in the 2022 class.
Gorney’s take: FACT. I don’t know if Julian Armella is the best offensive tackle in the 2022 class. But I’m not sure anyone is supremely confident on who is – and that’s why the all-star events are going to be so important to figure that out. There are so many players in the running from current No. 1 Kelvin Banks to Armella to North Carolina signee Zach Rice to Kiyaunta Goodwin and Alabama signee Elijah Pritchett should be in the conversation as well. Offensive tackle is one of the positions that has not been figured out yet.
Wright’s take: FICTION. St. Thomas Aquinas wrapped up an impressive 2021 season with a 42-14 win over Tampa Bay Tech winning the Florida 7A state championship on Friday. Maybe there was a hangover effect from his late Early Signing Day commitment to Florida State on Wednesday, but Armella did not look like a five-star tackle or the top player at his position in the 2022 class. He has the size and potential to be a longtime NFL player but still has a long way to go with his development and technique. Against Tampa Bay Tech, he wasn’t holding his blocks, missed blocks, and took bad angles to get to defenders. His early development with the Seminoles may be on the inside where he can maul and be physical without facing speed defenders on the outside.
2. Five-star Tetairoa McMillan made the right choice for his future by flipping to Arizona.
Gorney’s take: FACT. Arizona went 1-11 this season and had some decent receivers led by Stanley Berryhill but Tetairoa McMillan brings an entirely different level of playmaker to the Wildcats’ offense. What makes McMillan so special is that he doesn’t care about records, he cares about going into Arizona and dominating people, being competitive and that drive is going to be a huge catalyst for the Wildcats if they’re going to turn around the program. Teams will scheme against him and double team and do all the things to slow him down and force other players to beat them but McMillan in some ways will still get his catches and make things happen. Playing at the biggest program didn’t intrigue TMac. Playing at the program where he has the best relationships is most important and he has those at Arizona plus he will be able to compete with his Servite teammates. It was the right choice.
Moreno’s take: FACT. When in doubt, go with your gut. McMillan’s gut told him that Arizona is the right place, and it’s clear there is a comfort level with the Wildcats that he simply didn’t have with the new coaches at Oregon. McMillan has been the top target on the board for Jedd Fisch since early in the year, and the Arizona coaching staff never stopped recruiting him. That mattered in the end. You also can’t overlook the importance of his three high school teammates signing with Arizona as well. In one decision he’s become the face of the program whether he knows it or not. That should give him an opportunity to be the first Arizona player with a notable NIL deal. On the field, McMillan will be the focal point of the offense moving forward, and he knows he can be successful with Noah Fifita throwing him passes. Finally, he is not someone who has searched for the limelight. Tucson will be a great place for him to find comfort without being too highly scrutinized. Hindsight will always be 20/20, but this feels like the right choice for McMillan.
3. Travis Hunter could go down as one of the best handful of players to come from an HBCU.
Gorney’s take: FACT. To say Travis Hunter will be one of the handful of players ever from an HBCU is pretty presumptuous considering the long list of exceptional NFL players from those schools. Doing some research for this question, I knew about Jerry Rice and Walter Payton and some others that played at an HBCU but the list is incredible with Art Shell, Jackie Slater, Deacon Jones, Steve McNair, Michael Strahan and Shannon Sharpe being some of the names that stood out most. Still, Hunter can join that group. His athletic ability and playmaking skills are so extraordinarily special that he is going to be a star on the college level and beyond. It is an incredibly interesting storyline that Hunter chose Jackson State over Florida State or flipping to Georgia which was also rumored and I think he can have a phenomenal career there.
Wommack’s take: FICTION. This is a really tough question to answer, especially because I love Hunter’s game as much as anyone and I fully expect him to be a star at Jackson State. But to be among the best players to come from an HBCU he would literally have to be one of the greatest players in football history and a lock for the Hall of Fame. Even though I’m confident in our evaluation, so many things have to go right for that to happen. Let’s not forget that HBCU’s have a long and storied history of producing elite talent. From Walter Payton (Jackson State) to Jerry Rice (Mississippi Valley State) to Shannon Sharpe (Savannah State) and Michael Strahan (Texas Southern) the number of stars to come from HBCU’s in football history is incredible. Hopefully Hunter has the ability to put his name among those greats but it’s tough to project that this early in the process.