Tuesdays with Gorney: Prospects show out at 7-on-7 events


There have been a bunch of top-tier, national tournaments in recent weeks featuring elite prospects so in this week’s Tuesdays with Gorney, national recruiting director Adam Gorney offers his thoughts on what he’s watched.


As the 2023 recruiting cycle plays out, how the quarterback position shakes out is going to be heavily debated and really interesting to watch.

Five-star USC commit Malachi Nelson played with South Florida Express at Pylon Los Angeles this past weekend and every time he led the offense, the team scored easily because he hardly ever misses a throw. Nelson teamed with five-stars Brandon Inniss and Carnell Tate and high four-star Hykeem Williams was incredible to watch.

But then right down the road at Long Beach (Calif.) Poly is 6-foot-6 Nico Iamaleava who plays so loose and free and has some of the best arm talent in the country. He’s also a freak athlete (check out some of his volleyball video) and just a rare, special talent that doesn’t come along very often.

The two other five-stars are absolutely more-than-capable players who can do it all as well in Arch Manning and Dante Moore but how these four jostle for that No. 1 spot will be incredible to watch.

After seeing him throw again at Pylon Atlanta over the weekend it’s easy to see why Ohio State, Clemson and others are making such a serious run at Christopher Vizzina as well. He is big, has a great arm and does a phenomenal job timing up with his receivers to anticipate throws.

Sixth at pro-style quarterback seems low for Vizzina but who could he overtake? Texas A&M quarterback commit Eli Holstein cannot be lost in this shuffle because the Zachary, La., standout is also insanely talented.

A lot of debate is ahead at the position.



Carnell Tate

Carnell Tate (Rivals.com)

I saw four of the top five receivers in person this past weekend (Shelton Sampson was unfortunately not at Pylon Los Angeles) and there is a whole lot to consider now.

Based off this weekend alone, I thought Carnell Tate was the most impressive receiver all-around and he had numerous highlight-reel catches deep that he made look easy. The Bradenton (Fla.) IMG Academy receiver has huge hands, he’s deceptively fast and just looks and plays like that No. 1 guy.

Then there are a lot of buts…

Brandon Inniss is a phenomenal route runner who gets open at will and the current No. 1 receiver made multiple tough catches as the ball was thrown behind him or low or high. The Plantation (Fla.) American Heritage standout brought in everything.

Then there is Zachariah Branch from Las Vegas Bishop Gorman who is clearly the smallest of the group but also the fastest and most dynamic. Other than Cormani McClain – who is a freak show unto himself – there isn’t a corner in the 2023 class who can consistently stay with Branch through his routes.

And we cannot forget Hykeem Williams, either. The Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) Stranahan receiver is not a five-star at this point but he has legit size, he’s fluid and smooth and in terms of high-pointing the ball in the red zone, no one is better in the class than Williams. That’s why Alabama, Texas A&M, Georgia and so many others are after him.

As the offseason rolls on, it’s clear the wide receiver spot is loaded and we haven’t even talked about Jalen Brown, Jalen Hale, Johntay Cook or other elite players at that position.



Cormani McClain

Cormani McClain (Rivals.com)

There is no guarantee how the rankings will play out and what moves will be made especially with so many other evaluation opportunities ahead but there have been some players we’ve seen in recent weeks who could definitely make an argument to move up in the next round of rankings. Here are some quick hitters:

Cormani McClain is ranked fourth overall in the 2023 class. That is incredibly respectable. It also feels too low. The Lakeland (Fla.) Lake Gibson standout is one of the best cover corners in at least a decade, runs so smoothly he makes other elite corners on the field look slow and his length and competitiveness make him even more special. He probably doesn’t end up No. 1 overall because of position value but after that, anything is up for grabs.

At receiver, Carnell Tate will push for the No. 1 receiver in the country and Zachariah Branch could easily make an argument for five-star status. Branch is so fast and so athletic he’s like a mix between Marquise “Hollywood” Brown and Deebo Samuel where he can be used all over the offense. The goal will be to just get the ball in his hands and let him work.

Three other receivers to watch are Johntay Cook (No. 9 at the position), Kyler Kasper (No. 11) and Deandre Moore, who at No. 22 is finally healthy and dominating this offseason. He was phenomenal at the Rivals Camp Series in Los Angeles a few weeks ago and tough again at Pylon LA over the weekend.

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