Rivals national recruiting director Adam Gorney along with national recruiting analysts Adam Friedman and Ryan Wright and Paul Strelow of TigerIllustrated.com tackle three topics and determine whether they believe each statement is FACT or FICTION.
1. Nyckoles Harbor should be a top-10 recruit based on his track times and athletic ability alone.
Gorney’s take: FACT. Let’s not rethink this: Nyckoles Harbor should be in the top-10, if not higher. He is one of the most incredible track stars I’ve ever seen at his size – just please go YouTube some of his races – and he has a competitive drive, he has great physical traits and his athletic ability is simply off the charts. Sure, Harbor is not the cleanest or the most technically sound football player right now but here’s what I know: You can teach technique but you can’t teach speed and burst like Harbor has and once those two things come together, we’re looking at someone super special. Rankings are based off expected college performance and NFL Draft positioning and Harbor is going to be loved not only at the college level but by pro tastemakers as well.
Friedman’s take: FICTION. I’ve been stumping for Harbor for a long time and love his potential but I’m not sure he’s a top-10 prospect right now. Athletically, he’s the most gifted prospect in this class but on the field he is still very raw. Harbor looks much more natural on the defensive side of the ball as an end or outside linebacker. He regularly gets into the backfield but he relies on his speed more than technique. Harbor hasn’t taken the next step in that area yet but he knows that’s his focus should be once track season is over.
2. After seeing him over the weekend in a camp, Francis Mauigoa should be a five-star.
Gorney’s take: FICTION. Here’s where I see the difference: Francis Mauigoa could be a five-star but should he be? Not yet. I want to see more consistent dominance from his game especially in pads before I’m convinced he’s a five-star prospect. Look, we all know Mauigoa is incredibly special but for an offensive lineman to be a five-star we have to think he would dominate on the college level and then dominate the combine as well, impress in team meetings, be the total package. There’s a very good chance Mauigoa has all those tools and I have no doubt he’s a great football player but we need more opportunities to see him against elite competition for me to be completely convinced.
Wright’s take: FACT. Mauigoa has all the tools to be that future first-round pick in the NFL Draft. Having seen Mauigoa a handful of times over the last eight months, each time I’ve seen him he has added muscle mass to his frame transforming his body towards that five-star prospect. His physicality is where it needs to be along with his athleticism. Like all high school players, his technique is still evolving but the foundation for five-star greatness is there.
3. Four-star DE Matayo Uiagalelei visits Clemson again this weekend. His brother plays there. The Tigers are a serious contender for the younger Uiagalelei as well.
Gorney’s take: FICTION. I just don’t see how this happens. Matayo Uiagalalei has enjoyed his visits to Clemson and especially seeing his brother as the starting quarterback but I’ve never been given the impression that the four-star defensive end was yearning to follow D.J. to Clemson for his college career. Some brothers follow each other no questions. But I look more at the St. Brown brothers in this instance where all three – Equanimeous, Osiris and Amon-Ra – all chose different teams despite being close friends. USC gives Uiagalalei the football and music industry connections that could be important. Oregon has a lot to like and the Ducks are a player. Ohio State and Georgia are up there, too. Clemson is definitely in his recruitment but I’d be surprised if he ends up there.
Strelow’s take: FICTION. Here’s where we get into semantics and defining what constitutes a serious contender. Can you rule out Clemson as a legit candidate? No. There is considerable respect for Clemson within the Uiagalelei camp, and the manner in which D.J. has been nurtured through challenging personal times has added to its equity. Do we consider the Tigers one of the front-runners as circumstances stand? No. Ohio State has always held more sentimental appeal, while it’s easy to understand why USC and/or Oregon might have his eye more. So, we’re going with the odds that Matayo goes in a separate direction from his brother.