Home News Rivals Rankings Week: Storylines To Follow With Top 2025 Athletes

Rivals Rankings Week: Storylines To Follow With Top 2025 Athletes

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The new position rankings for the 2025 class are being released and so it’s time to look at storylines at each spot. Today, we conclude the position rankings spotlight with the athletes.

PICKETT PACES THE POSITION

The sole five-star athlete will also have one of the more dramatic recruitments in the coming months. Pickett stays put at athlete for a variety of reasons, many of which lead to why he is so coveted by programs from coast to coast. The 6-foot-4 prospect is a legitimate two-way talent, with head-turning tape at wide receiver and throughout the secondary to his name. Most envision Pickett as a safety due to his size, but the cornerback conversation is not dead and neither are his prospects on offense as a vertical wide receiver threat. Safety remains the safest position to project Pickett at, and he would open up as the top-ranked prospect at that position should that move get made.

On the recruiting front, it’s crunch time. Pickett has Miami, LSU and Oregon at the forefront of his recruitment with Georgia and Florida still in the mix to a degree. Official visits to the bulk of those programs begin this weekend with the program running first or second in the race at the moment – depending on who you talk to – in LSU. Pickett getting back to the Bayou to set the tone for his official visits will be fascinating to follow as he could be the highest-ranked recruit to tab any one of his finalists when he is ready to make a commitment later this summer.

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SMITH MAKING HIS WAY UP THE RANKINGS

Derrick Smith

Derrick Smith (Rivals.com)

There are just four athlete projections in the updated Rivals250 and Derrick Smith is the one of that group to have made his collegiate commitment. The in-state Alabama commitment out of Selma (Ala.) Southside is tabbed as one of the top two-way prospects in the class, with legitimate scholarship offers to play wide receiver or defensive back in college. Word is the Crimson Tide like Smith on defense, at least initially, so the former wide receiver projection on Rivals was in need of change.

Even if Smith stuck to the position, the rising up the ranks notion should continue for the four-star. He is not an overexposed prospect in the offseason considering he has varsity reps under his belt in basketball and baseball, too, so few have laid eyes on him despite such impressive tape from the 2023 season and prior.

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WHAT WILL GILBERT DO?

Jontae Gilbert

Jontae Gilbert (Nick Lucero/Rivals.com)

One of the highly-ranked athlete projections, Jontae Gilbert, was once committed to Ohio State as an underclassman prospect. He has since all but admitted he was much more likely to stay closer to SEC or ACC country by the time he comes off the board for good. Louisville has already hosted him for an official visit and UCF will do the same this weekend before a return trip to South Carolina.

Gilbert has secondary projections from many more programs, too, despite South Carolina working as the public leader for the Georgia native. It could mean more room for official visits in the summer and even some that leak into the 2024 college football season itself. NC State is aiming to bring him in during the October game slate in Raleigh, so the door for others to crash the party seems plenty wide open between mid-June and the first six weeks of the season should another program begin to make a late push.

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ATHLETE RANKS SHRINKING AS CYCLE PROGRESSES

Eric Winters

Eric Winters (Nick Lucero/Rivals.com)

With most bigger updates, there are fewer and fewer projected athletes not moved to another position. Plenty made the move away from the tag this time around, beginning with one of the highest-ranked prospects at any position in Vernell Brown III. The Orlando (Fla.) Jones standout is being looked at as a multi-phase impact player on Saturdays, but now he’s down to a quartet of programs – Florida, Florida State, Miami and Ohio State – and each projects him at wide receiver.

The athlete to receiver move is possibly the most typical among movers throughout the cycle, and the secondary likely claims the next bulk of the updates. One of the most notable this time around was Eric Winters, the Enterprise (Ala.) High School star that embodies the projection, having played quarterback and a variety of defensive positions (as well as basketball) with plenty of flash. Winters looked to be building into an off-ball linebacker, but after his Defensive Back MVP run at the Rivals Camp Series in Atlanta, the Alabama native gets the nod to move to the secondary as he inches closer to the top 100 overall. Georgia, Auburn, Miami and others are in the mix for Winters.

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