Tuesdays with Gorney: Prospects in the mix for five-star status

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Rivals analysts are making rankings calls as the senior season for the 2023 class wraps up, and a lot of big moves are expected heading into the all-star events. With absolutely nothing guaranteed at this point – and a whole lot of changes to come after the all-star games – here are 15 prospects who could get consideration to move up to five-star status.

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This week I posed the question whether Arnold was the best quarterback in the 2023 class, and while opinions are varied, it is definitely under consideration to move him into the five-star stratosphere. The Oklahoma commit has been insanely good for his undefeated Denton (Texas) Guyer team this season while completing 69% of his passes for 2,859 yards and 31 touchdowns and tossing only three picks. He’s also run for 513 yards and 14 touchdowns.

Someone compared him with Baker Mayfield in on-field presence, but his accuracy is superior at the same stage.

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The Kansas State commit is definitely worth having a conversation about because he was impressive at the Elite 11 this summer, he’s a multisport star and now he’s having a huge senior season. Plus, Johnson provides dual-threat capabilities that are so rare. It’s why Notre Dame and others keep coming after him.

His Maize, Kan., team is undefeated, Johnson has thrown for 2,486 yards with 28 touchdowns and a pick, and has rushed for 732 yards and 14 more scores. Johnson is super talented and should be in the discussion.

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Is there going to be a five-star running back in this class? The Alabama commit from Buford, Ga., is currently the top-rated player at the position. He comes from an NFL pedigree (his dad Verron played at Georgia and then in the pros) and Haynes finished with 1,695 rushing yards and 28 total touchdowns this season.

There’s no doubt the position has been devalued in the NFL Draft, but Haynes is special.

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The Louisville commit had an incredible senior season – 1,781 rushing yards and 25 touchdowns on 213 carries – to cap off an incredible high school career. At the next level it’s expected Owens will also line up in the slot to catch passes to make himself even more dangerous.

But, again, the question becomes whether we want to be liberal with handing out five-star rankings to running backs, or has that position slid in importance at the NFL level so much that it will be hard to do?

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After having a long conversation with someone close to Robinson recently, I was convinced of something. It’s kind of unfair to list him as a tight end because the Phoenix Pinnacle prospect doesn’t really play that position. He splits out much more often and he can be an in-line blocker, but he is more of a matchup nightmare on the outside.

Because he shouldn’t be pigeonholed into that one position that isn’t as important as others – plus the fact that he’s having a great senior season – Robinson should be in the five-star talks.

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A no-nonsense, all-business attitude is what Penn State is getting in Birchmeier, who committed to the Nittany Lions in July 2021 and really has never looked back. The four-star is not about playing games on the field. He’s about dominating his opponent.

He’s a great run and pass blocker and his physical nature should hold up well in the Big Ten. Only Texas A&M commit TJ Shanahan Jr. is ranked ahead of him in the offensive guard rankings.

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No one is going to beat Adebawore to the edge as the Oklahoma commit shows incredible explosiveness and speed when attacking the ball carrier. And that’s what he does.

The North Kansas City, Mo., standout doesn’t just look to get players on the ground, he wants to hit them hard and go after them on every play. Adebawore can play with his hand in the dirt or standing up and playing in space, and that versatility is rare.

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What makes Russaw so special is that he can line up as an edge rusher, as a middle linebacker – basically anywhere on the field – and he plays with such controlled aggression that he is a tackling machine.

The four-star from Montgomery (Ala.) Carver attacks, hits people with intensity and tracks from sideline to sideline like maybe nobody else in this class. Russaw can get pressure on the quarterback, run down the ball carrier and he packs a punch with almost every tackle.

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The Venice, Fla., standout has size, length, athleticism off the edge, the ability to go inside or outside and beat every kind of offensive linemen to put pressure on the quarterback.

Once the play is flushed out, Wilson can close and make the tackle because of his speed and his relentless pursuit to the ball carrier. If there is a natural-looking edge rusher in this class – that 21st century model player at the position – it’s Wilson.

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Not only is Uiagalelei huge but he’s also surprisingly athletic for someone his size, completely comfortable in his own skin at 6-foot-6 and 270 pounds. In Bellflower (Calif.) St. John Bosco’s game earlier this season against fellow powerhouse Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei, Uiagalelei was completely unstoppable off the edge and dominated the game. He was unblockable.

That level of ability has not gone unnoticed, and even though he hasn’t been used much at tight end this season it’s another outstanding aspect to his game.

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The Notre Dame prospect is so productive from his linebacker position making tackles, knocking people around, chasing down the ball carrier, tipping passes and everything else that it cannot go unnoticed that he’s one of the most impactful players in high school football.

Even at running back, Bowen bowls people over, he muscles through their tackles and he plays with incredible intensity and toughness.

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There are still a lot of questions and debates when it comes to rankings at the cornerback position and something we need to figure out is whether the Texas commit should be among the five-stars at the position.

Muhammad is smooth in coverage, physical when he needs to be, can redirect receivers with his length and then when the ball is in the air he can attack it and win a lot of 50/50s. There are currently three five-stars at corner in Cormani McClain, Desmond Ricks and Javien Toviano. Muhammad could make an argument as well.

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There might not be a defensive back in the 2023 class who is just a straight baller like Downs, who always is in the right position, always is there to make the play and has the physical and athletic tools to make things happen.

The Alabama commit from Hoschton (Ga.) Mill Creek is the brother of North Carolina receiver Josh Downs, who’s having a great career in Chapel Hill. The 2023 safety could be even more impactful for the Crimson Tide.

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If there is one player – especially on the defensive side of the ball – who could have an even bigger impact than Downs it is Bowen, who almost seems like he’s two steps in front of the offense, whether it’s coming up to make a tackle or picking off a pass or having a pick six.

The Notre Dame commit who’s being heavily pursued by Oklahoma and others has had a phenomenal senior season diagnosing what the offense is trying to do and then using his wide array of abilities to stop it.

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There might not be a prospect in the 2023 class as physically impressive as Coleman because of his size and length plus his versatility. He could legitimately be a wide receiver or defensive end at the next level.

The Nebraska commit glides through his routes, has surprising explosiveness for his size and is an excellent playmaker as well. I prefer him on the offensive side of the ball, just because of his size on the outside, but his length as a defensive end is unique as well.

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