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December 1, 2011

Analyzing changes in positional rankings

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POSITION RANKINGS: PQB | DQB | APB | RB | FB | WR | TE | OT | OG | OC | DT | WDE | SDE | ILB | OLB | CB | S | ATH | K

For the past three months, the class of 2012 has played out its senior season, and Rivals.com analysts have been watching and evaluating every step of the way. Prospects across the country have proven themselves worthy of higher consideration, while others did not meet expectations. Here is a look at the notable movements within each position ranking.

Pro-style quarterbacks

Notable riser: Philip Nelson, Mankato (Minn.) West (new addition)
Notable dropper: Bart Houston, Concord (Calif.) De La Salle (down six spots)
Comments: It is no surprise that five-star Gunner Kiel remains the top pro-style quarterback in the country, and his hold on the top spot has only strengthened after the fall. Two new additions to the list are Nelson and Glen St. Mary (Fla.) Baker County's Thomas Sirk, who made jumps based on the strength of their senior seasons.

Dual-threat quarterbacks

Notable riser: Tommy Armstrong, Cibolo (Texas) Steele (up eight spots)
Notable dropper: Jared Johnson, Grand Prairie (Texas) South Grand Prairie (outside top 25)
Comments: The top seven spots remain the same, but Armstrong moves up from No. 16 to take over the No. 8 position on the list. Allentown (Pa.) Central Catholic's Brendan Nosovitch was previously unranked, but made a big jump to the No. 21 spot following his senior season.

All-purpose backs

Notable riser: Shaquille Powell, Las Vegas (Nev.) Bishop Gorman (up three spots)
Notable dropper: None
Comments: Everett (Wash.) Mariner's KeiVarae Russell was previously the No. 4 all-purpose back, but moved to athlete after showing the potential to play multiple positions. Chesapeake (Va.) Oscar Smith's J.C. Coleman now assumes the No. 4 spot and moved his Rivals Rating from 5.8 to 5.9 while Powell rose three spots and is now a four-star prospect. The rest of the list stayed pretty static.

Running backs

Notable riser: Akeel Lynch, Athol Springs (N.Y.) St. Francis (new addition)
Notable dropper: Dominic Bryan, North Bethesda (Md.) Georgetown Prep (outside top 50)
Comments: There was a lot of positive movement in the running backs group, with two prospects earning their fifth stars and two others in the top six improving their Rivals Rating. Lynch made the biggest jump into the ranking, landing at the No. 26 spot. Indianapolis (Ind.) Warren Central's Deionte Buckley also makes his first appearance on the list, coming in at No. 31.

Fullbacks

Notable riser: Clay Norgard, Highlands Ranch (Colo.) Mountain Vista (new addition)
Notable dropper: E.J. Fatu, Klein (Texas) Oak (outside top five)
Comments: Colorado commitment Clay Norgard has moved into the list from the inside linebacker position, and checks in as the nation's No. 4 fullback. Decatur (Ga.) Columbia's Kenno Loyal moves up one spot, replacing Fatu, and is now the No. 3 fullback in the country.

Wide Receivers

Notable riser: Blake Tibbs, Lithonia (Ga.) Martin Luther King (new addition)
Notable dropper: LaMarlin Wiggins, Plant City, Fla., (down 25 spots)
Comments: The wide receiver group nationally is extremely deep, with 51 players ranked four stars or better. New five-star Nelson Agholor moves over from athlete and takes over the No. 3 position on the list. Tibbs is the highest-ranked new addition to the list that did not come from another position, with Lakeland, Fla., three-star Ricquan Southward also making a new appearance at No. 62.

Tight ends

Notable riser: Kurt Freitag, Buford, Ga. (up seven spots)
Notable dropper: Sam Grant, Lakewood (Ohio) St. Edward (down 15 spots)
Comments: The tight end position saw new additions with Lyndhurst (Ohio) Brush's Pharaoh Brown and Hyattsville (Md.) DeMatha's Brent Wilkerson moving over from strongside defensive end and assuming the Nos. 11 and 18 spots, respectively. Mesquite (Texas) Horn's Vincent Hobbs is a new addition to the list, coming in as the No. 29 ranked tight end.

Offensive tackles

Notable riser: Ereck Flowers, Miami (Fla.) Norland (up 23 spots)
Notable dropper: Robert Conyers, Miami (Fla.) Braddock (down 18 spots)
Comments: No position in the country boasts more elite talent, with six offensive tackles now ranked five stars after three new additions in the latest update. Others making big moves include Flowers, Brentwood (Tenn.) Academy's Graham Shuler, Vandalia (Ohio) Butler's Taylor Decker and Powhatan (Va.) Blessed Sacrament Huguenot's Augie Conte.

Offensive guards

Notable riser: Daniel Isidora, Weston (Fla.) Cypress Bay (up 15 spots)
Notable dropper: Duaron Williams, Orlando (Fla.) Jones (down 14 spots)
Comments: With Jordan Simmons moving to the offensive tackle group, Texarkana (Texas) Texas High's John Michael McGee takes over as the new No. 1 offensive guard prospect. The next 11 players remain in order, but Isidora, Anaheim (Calif.) Servite's Travis Averill and Baltimore (Md.) Gilman's Brian Gaia make moves into the top 20.

Offensive centers

Notable riser: Carl Hulick, Anaheim (Calif.) Esperanza (up eight spots)
Notable dropper: None
Comments: The offensive center rankings saw few changes in the latest update. Cincinnati (Ohio) St. Xavier's Brandyn Cook was a new evaluation, and he arrives at the No. 8 ranking. Hulick made the biggest upward move, but the rest of the list stays pretty much intact from the previous update.

Weakside defensive ends

Notable riser: Josh Dawson, Tucker (Ga.) (up 13 spots)
Notable dropper: Dante Fowler Jr., St. Petersburg (Fla.) Lakewood (down from top spot)
Comments: Few positions saw as much movement as weakside defensive end, where Harrisburg (Pa.) Bishop McDevitt's Noah Spence now assumes the top spot. Cincinnati (Ohio) Taft's Adolphus Washington and Virginia Beach (Va.) Ocean Lakes' Eli Harold jumped into the top five, while further down the list Dawson, Southfield (Mich.) Lathrup's Jamal Lyles and Katy (Texas) Morton Ranch's Danielle Hunter all made moves into four-star territory.

Strongside defensive ends

Notable riser: Francis Kallon, Lawrenceville (Ga.) Central Gwinnett (new addition)
Notable dropper: Faith Ekakitie, Lake Forest (Ill.) Academy (down five spots)
Comments: While weakside defensive end saw a big shake-up, the strongside rankings stayed pretty much intact. The top eight spots remain unchanged, but two prospects were lost out of the top 20 to other positions. Kallon, Lakewood (Ohio) St. Edward's Darryl Render and Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) St. Thomas Aquinas' Bryan Cox Jr. each made moves into the top 40.

Defensive tackles

Notable riser: Greg Kuhar, Lakewood (Ohio) St. Edward (up 22 spots)
Notable dropper: Nick James, Long Beach, Miss. (down 23 spots)
Comments: Despite a big move from Kuhar and a big drop by James, defensive tackle only saw a few minor changes. Just three prospects dropped out of the top 20, with Venice (Fla.) four-star Dante Phillips, Indianapolis' Sheldon Day and Louisville's Thomas Chapman sliding into spots 18-20. Seffner (Fla.) Armwood's Sheldon Lewinson made a nice move this fall to round out the top 50.

Inside linebackers

Notable riser: Schyler Miles, Tampa (Fla.) Berkley Prep (new addition)
Notable dropper: Royce Jenkins-Stone, Detroit Cass Tech (down 6 spots)
Comments: The top 10 saw some shuffling, with a couple players moving out and two senior year standouts - Camren Williams at No. 7 and Antonio Morrison at No. 10 - moving in. Miles, Anaheim (Calif.) Servite's Butch Pauu and Ramsey (N.J.) Don Bosco Prep's Mike Strizak also made nice moves in the rankings.

Outside linebackers

Notable riser: Steve Longa, Saddlebrook, N.J. (up 25 spots)
Notable dropper: Lorenzo Phillips, Patterson, La. (down 15 spots)
Comments: Stone Mountain (Ga.) Stephenson's Raphael Kirby and Wisconsin Rapids (Wisc.) Lincoln's Vince Biegel used strong senior seasons to move into the top five. New Orleans (La.) Jesuit's Deion Jones, Leland (N.C.) North Brunswick's Keilin Rayner Clarksburg (Md.) three-star Stefan Houston and St. John's (Ind.) Lake Central's Ike Spearman each made big moves into the rankings.

Cornerbacks

Notable riser: Najee Murray, Steubenville, Ohio (new addition)
Notable dropper: Devontre Parnell, Winnsboro (S.C.) Fairfield Central (down 12 spots)
Comments: The top 20 prospects from the last update remain in that range, with a slight shuffling of the order in some spots. Murray is the highest-ranked new addition, followed closely by Hampton (Ga.) Lovejoy's Rico McWilliams, who moved over from athlete and also got a bump in his rating.

Safeties

Notable riser: D.J. Singleton, Jersey City (N.J.) St. Peter's Prep (up 22 spots)
Notable dropper: Austin Lee, Sandy, Utah (outside top 55)
Comments: The safety group was already deep with talent, but the list has grown with several additions following the fall football season. Defonta Lowe makes the most impressive debut on the list, coming in at the No. 18 position. Other notable new additions include Euless (Texas) Trinity's Ilaiu Moeakiola, Redford (Mich.) Thurston's Eric Wilson and Broken Arrow (Okla.) three-star Levi Copelin.

Athletes

Notable riser: Adrian Colbert, Mineral Wells, Texas (new addition)
Notable dropper: Canaan Severin, Worcester (Mass.) Academy (down 9 spots)
Comments: Josh Harvey-Clemons moves over from outside linebacker and takes over as the top-rated athlete while KeiVarae Russell comes in from all-purpose back and lands at No. 7. Memphis (Tenn.) East's Will Redmond received a nice bump thanks to his senior year performance, while Colbert is the highest-ranked new addition to the list.



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