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Fact Or Fiction: Malachi Nelson Can Turn His Career Around At Boise State

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Rivals rankings director and national transfer portal analyst Adam Friedman is joined by national recruiting director Adam Gorney, Ryan Young of TrojanSports.com and Jacey Zembal of TheWolfpackCentral.com to tackle three topics and determine whether they believe each statement is FACT or FICTION.

MORE FACT OR FICTION: Miami is the biggest threat to Georgia for Elijah Griffin

1.

More than 18 programs will sign a five-star in the 2025 recruiting cycle.

Devin Sanchez

Devin Sanchez (Nick Lucero/Rivals.com)

Friedman: FICTION. There have been 18 programs in each of the last two rankings cycles to sign a five-star prospect but it’s unlikely that trend continues. There are currently 18 five-stars in the Rivals250 and a total of four programs hold commitments from the nine that have already issued their verbal pledge.

The total number of five-stars will roughly double before the end of the rankings cycle. Check out the list of recruiting powerhouses that don’t have a five-star commitment yet who have landed at least one in the last two recruiting cycles: Alabama, Georgia, Oklahoma, Texas, Miami, Auburn, Clemson, Ole Miss, Oregon, Tennessee, Texas A&M and Notre Dame. If each of these five-star-less programs sign just one and the ones who have already verbally committed stay put, the 2025 recruiting cycle will still only feature 16 different teams with a five-star signee.

Gorney: FICTION. There is still a long way to go for a lot of the five-stars and potential five-stars in the 2025 class but I would be really surprised if it gets all the way to 18 teams that get players at that level.

USC is recruiting really well and even if some of those prospects flip to Georgia, the Bulldogs would be one of the teams that have lots of five-stars as well. Ohio State could be the team that really kills the 18 number because of how many five-stars the Buckeyes have so far.

Many of the top uncommitted elite players left should end up on a team that either has a five-star or will get one. Breaking down the players and the numbers and who’s left at the top, I’d suspect about 12-15 teams get five-stars.

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2.

USC transfers Malachi Nelson and Korey Foreman still have a chance to salvage their careers.

Malachi Nelson

Malachi Nelson (© Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports)

Friedman: FICTION. In the cases of former five-star recruits Malachi Nelson and Korey Foreman, “salvaging their careers” would mean turning into first-round picks in the NFL Draft. Nelson, by virtue of the value of the quarterback position, has a better shot than Foreman but it’s still hard to see that happening. His transfer from USC to Boise State after just one season was puzzling since he had a chance to be “the guy” for Lincoln Riley and the Trojans this season. Foreman has had his chances to live up to the hype in Los Angeles but he could never really put it all together and become the well-rounded impact defensive lineman we all thought he could be.

Young: FACT. Malachi Nelson’s career never went off track at USC — he just didn’t want to wait for his opportunity. Lincoln Riley and the Trojans were caught by surprise when Nelson transferred out after just one year. He was never expected to play that first season with Caleb Williams on the roster, and as Nelson was injured much of the year and showed he still needed development, he wasn’t expected to be the guy this year either. But he would have had every opportunity to grow into the starting role in due time, on a normal development schedule, had he stayed. He didn’t want to wait, so he sought out an opportunity to get on the field quicker. He’ll probably have some hiccups early on at Boise State because he does still need to develop and refine his game, but there’s no reason to think he can’t be very successful over the course of his college career. All the tools are there just as when he was a five-star prospect.

Foreman has more to prove as he had ample time and two different coaching staffs to evaluate him at USC. What made him a five-star talent was primarily his raw pass rushing abilities, and those shone through at times during his Trojans career. His PFF pressures per snap were respectable and while he didn’t rack up the sacks, he got in the backfield a good bit in his limited opportunities. The problem was that he didn’t earn the coaches’ trust as a complete player, so he was limited to a situational pass-rushing role that diminished over time. Whether he can round out his game at this point is hard to project, but he should have every opportunity at Fresno State to stay on the field — and that alone should lead to solid sack and TFL totals.

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3. Kendre’ Harrison could be the best dual-sport college athlete in the last decade

Kendre’ Harrison

Kendre’ Harrison

Friedman: FICTION. Kendre’ Harrison is an unbelievable talent who will play football and basketball at the next level. His focus will be on football and he knows that’s in his long-term future but he’ll spend at least some of his offseasons on the hardwood.

Harrison is the top-ranked tight end in the 2026 Rivals250 and has a good chance of staying there despite the impressive list of tight ends in next year’s class.

That being said, the bar is set extremely high when making the argument for the best dual-sport college athlete in the last decade thanks to Kyler Murray. There are others who deserve to be in this conversation but Murray’s resume tops them all. The former Oklahoma star is a Heisman Trophy winner, was the No. 1 pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, was a first team All-American and was drafted by the Oakland Athletics ninth overall in the 2018 MLB Draft.

Could Harrison turn out to be a first-round draft pick in football and basketball? The chances are slim. Could he win the Heisman? A tight end has never won the award so probably not.

Zembal: FICTION. Kendre’ Harrison is on pace to be the best football/basketball prospect over the last decade, when looking at Rivals.com rankings. The lone football standout, who flirted with being a Rivals150 hoops member, is current Tennessee freshman wide receiver Mike Matthews, who was ranked No. 30 in the 2024 Rivals250. However, Matthews won’t likely suit up for the Volunteers hoops squad, but if they had a rash of injuries, he should be their first call.

For athletes, who did two sports in college, quarterback Kyler Murray in the class of 2015, and wide receiver Nyckoles Harbor would be the standard bearers for Harrison.

Murray was ranked No. 71 overall in football by Rivals.com, and was drafted ninth overall by the Oakland A’s in the 2018 MLB Draft. He started off at Texas A&M and finished at Oklahoma.

Harbor was ranked No. 29 in the 2023 Rivals250 and was an elite prep sprinter, who has already made his mark collegiately this past spring in track at South Carolina.

For athletes, who were incredible at two sports in high school, you’d consider wide receiver/outfielder Jordyn Adams in the 2017 class at Cary (N.C.) Green Hope. Adams was ranked No. 72 in football by Rivals.com, and went No. 17 in the MLB Draft to the Los Angeles Angels, and signed with the latter over playing both sports at North Carolina.

Class of 2024 wide receiver/sprinter Galtin Bair of Burley (Idaho) High would be another, but has yet to suit up at Oregon due to his religious mission.

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