Three-Point Stance: Receiver rankings, five-star candidates, OT7

Rivals national recruiting director Adam Gorney takes a look at the 2023 wide receiver race, three prospects that outplayed their ranking at OT7 and five players who could be in the five-star discussion after that loaded event in Las Vegas over the weekend.

1. THOUGHTS ON 2023 RECEIVERS

Over the last few days while being able to see a workout at Las Vegas (Nev.) Bishop Gorman and covering the OT7 event in town, a lot of the elite 2023 receivers were in attendance and I’m learning more than ever that it’s going to be a position that could still see significant movement through the rest of the summer, through their senior seasons and into the all-star events.

In the last 2023 rankings release, we decided to flip Carnell Tate to No. 1 and Brandon Inniss to No. 2 and while I’m still OK with the move, Inniss is so reliable and skilled that he could push for that top spot again. I do wonder what time he will run at the combine and how he will test but from a football perspective, no one can defend him one-on-one and he is Mr. Reliable when the ball is thrown his way.

Inniss always finds open space, South Florida Express QB Malachi Nelson always looks for him because there is chemistry there and Inniss also does a great job of making tough catches especially in the back of the end zone where he gets his feet down.

Tate was phenomenal at the Pylon Los Angeles event earlier this offseason and was a little quieter in Las Vegas but is still a special talent. With his speed, length and playmaking ability he could definitely end up No. 1 at the position.

New five-star Hykeem Williams was not at this tournament but many other elite receivers were and I thought Johntay Cook II was the best of the high four-stars. He’s electric, dynamic, sudden and an aggressive route runner. Miami (Fla.) Gulliver Prep’s Jalen Brown was also similar in many ways and has an incredible first step to beat cornerbacks as he glides through his routes but he does need to bulk up some.

In the Gorman workout, Zachariah Branch showed what he always does – that if USC coach Lincoln Riley is inventive in getting him the ball (and there’s no reason to think he won’t be) then the new five-star is a highlight-reel waiting to happen. Yes, he is undersized but he covers so much ground so quickly and is a threat in the short game and deep along with jet sweeps. He could be special in the Pac-12.

*****  

2. FIVE AT OT7 WHO COULD BE FIVE-STARS

Jaden Rashada

Jeremiah Smith: It could be easy for a 2024 receiver to get lost on a South Florida Express team with Tate, Inniss, usually Williams and others out there but the Hollywood (Fla.) Chaminade Madonna recruit is one of the best out there. Numerous times, Smith went deep for touchdown passes. He has great size, length, speed and hands. Even though he’s a class behind, Smith fit right in with those five-star receivers and he will push for the No. 1 receiver spot in 2024.

Joshisa Trader: The same could be said for Trader, who is another South Florida receiver who completely fits in with that loaded group and definitely looked the part of someone who should be in five-star consideration. While not the physical specimen of Smith or Williams on the outside, Trader does an excellent job of getting deep, picking his spots, fooling cornerbacks with great route running and then catching everything thrown his way. Based on this weekend alone, I prefer Smith a little more than Trader but both are great.

Jaden Rashada: We’re going to be in a difficult position going into the next rankings cycle because after seeing Clemson commit Christopher Vizzina at the Steve Clarkson QB Retreat and now Rashada at that event and here in Las Vegas, both could 100 percent make an argument that they’re worthy of five-star consideration. But there could also be only so many five-stars in a recruiting class and how many quarterbacks do we believe are potential first-round draft picks down the road? Either way, Rashada has such excellent touch and precision on his passes and almost never makes a bad throw even into tough windows.

Johntay Cook: It was late Friday night and Cook’s Trillion Boys team was playing in one of the final games of the night and one play in particular stuck out. Cook was on the outside, ran a go route and the ball was overthrown, but the DeSoto, Texas, four-star ran under it for the touchdown. That speed, that attitude of never giving up on a ball, that focus and intensity Cook plays with makes him really special. If Texas A&M signee Evan Stewart ended up as a five-star last recruiting cycle at around the same size, why isn’t Cook more in the conversation?

KJ Bolden: Some people like the athlete category, some hate it because it’s not an actual position on the football field but Bolden is the perfect example of someone who fits into that spot. When I watched Hustle Inc. play on Friday night the team was struggling and never got it going but Bolden is so impressively physically and how he moves that playing defensive back or receiver looks like a perfect fit. Ranked No. 30 overall in the 2024 class right now, in terms of projection Bolden should be moving higher.

*****

3. PROSPECTS THAT OUTPLAYED THEIR RANKING IN VEGAS

Jurrion Dickey

Jurrion Dickey

There were many prospects who definitely impressed and not all can be mentioned here but three guys in particular that I want to point out as having clearly outplayed their ranking at the Overtime event in Las Vegas are Tennessee tight end commit Ethan Davis, Oregon receiver pledge Jurrion Dickey and 2024 four-star receiver Nicholas Marsh from River Rouge, Mich.

Dickey was one of the best receivers at the entire event and arguably the biggest surprise. Filled out physically, the San Jose (Calif.) Valley Christian prospect was Rashada’s favorite target for the Miami Immortals and he was unstoppable at times. There’s no chance 22 receivers should be ranked ahead of him in this class and when 2023 rankings are redone in a few months, Dickey should make a major jump.

Davis looked like a million bucks. He’s tall and built out physically and can move for his size so it’s easy to see why Tennessee wanted him so badly and why Ole Miss and others have been trying to flip him. The Suwanee (Ga.) Collins Hill recruit has great hands, can win 50-50 balls and put in the proper positions could be a huge asset in the Vols’ offense. The tight end class is loaded in 2023 but Davis deserves consideration to move up and might be the best-looking tight end in the class not named Duce Robinson.

What struck me about Marsh – other than his light purple Bass Pro Shops trucker hat – was just how physically impressive he was on the field, his surprising speed for someone that size and his ability to routinely beat cornerbacks and create space. If he was playing on a 7-on-7 team with an elite quarterback throwing him the ball then Marsh would’ve been a top three or four receiver at the event. He was still very impressive and far better than his current ranking suggests.