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Tuesdays with Gorney: Quick thoughts on every 2022 five-star

After being on the road for two weeks at the Under Armour All-America Game in Orlando and the All-American Bowl in San Antonio, Rivals National Recruiting Director Adam Gorney offers some quick thoughts on every five-star in the 2022 class, many of whom he saw on the road one last time before the final rankings release later this month.

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It was a rather muted week for Hunter, who played both receiver and defensive back but didn’t really flash his dominant athleticism like he has at other events. There were times when he showed why he’s the No. 1 prospect in the country, other times when he was much quieter.

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The Texas A&M signee was basically dominant from start to finish and it looked like Nolen came to Orlando with a point to prove: That he should be considered for the No. 1 spot in the country. I was expecting a good week from Nolen but his burst off the ball, his intensity and his relentless pursuit were on an entirely different level.

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Of the three five-star defensive tackles, Shaw is the biggest but he had the most muted week from a performance standpoint as Nolen and Keithian Alexander looked better. Shaw was still good when he was on the field and he’s not just a space eater, the five-star is aggressive and gets after it. But he wasn’t as dominant as the others.

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After moving up to No. 4 overall in the last rankings cycle, I was expecting Alexander to completely dominate at Under Armour which didn’t happen but he had a solid showing. The week of practice is not necessarily designed for linebackers to do much so when the Alabama signee was coming off the edge he was better. He’s about two inches shorter than Will Anderson but still brings a similar physical intensity that’s rare to see.

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In my estimation, Burden locked up the No. 1 spot at receiver and he provides an immediate weapon in Missouri’s offense. He’s a physical, tough receiver that is a great route runner and fights for extra yards as we saw him take the first play of the Under Armour game for a long touchdown. He didn’t take over the week of practice but was solid and then had one of the plays of the all-star season in the game.

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The Clemson signee did everything possible to lock up the No. 1 quarterback spot in the 2022 class including throwing for more than 200 yards and three touchdowns in the All-American Bowl. Klubnik had a solid week of practice and then like always he delivers on the big stage with coolness and consistency that maybe no other quarterback has in this class.

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The top-rated cornerback missed the Under Armour week because of COVID-19 protocols.

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The Ohio State signee reclassified from the 2023 class to 2022 in December and was not eligible to play in an all-star event.

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Some might think Alexander is just a big body who takes up space in the middle of the defensive line but that was not the case in Orlando where the Georgia signee showed off excellent feet and quickness and was surprisingly active for someone his size. At 325 pounds, Alexander is powerful and built like a brick house but also showed off excellent quickness to beat interior offensive linemen.

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In a strange year for offensive tackles where none have absolutely locked in their five-star status, I thought Banks struggled at the Under Armour Game. The Texas signee didn’t deal with speed off the edge well and took too long to engage. It remains unclear if there’s a five-star offensive tackle among this group.

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The Arizona signee missed the All-American Bowl because of COVID-19 protocols.

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After arriving to Orlando late for the Under Armour game, Harris was solid during the week and showed why he’s a five-star prospect. The Texas A&M signee has length, ball skills, athleticism and he can run with receivers. Harris had his moments and looked fine but I don’t think he established himself as the No. 1 corner in the class or anything.

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The Florida signee did not participate in either all-star event.

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Jones was quiet on Day 1 but then really turned it up as the week went along and was an impressive force coming off the edge. He does a great job stunning offensive linemen and then attacking players in the backfield, he has length and power and speed to the edge as well. The Georgia signee proved to be one of the best defensive linemen at the All-American Bowl and in the country.

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The USC signee did not compete at the Under Armour Game as he rehabs from a knee injury.

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Arguably no offensive linemen in either game was as physically dominant as Campbell, who moved inside and was a wrecking ball of an offensive guard. He’s so physical, so barrel-chested and you can see it in Campbell’s eyes that his intention is to physically dominate his opponent on every rep. The No. 1 offensive guard in the 2022 class more than backed up that ranking as Texas and Oklahoma pursue him.

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The Florida State signee struggled with power coming right at him. He’s an athletic offensive tackle who can move but he doesn’t dominate physically with pads on and when defensive ends came straight through him they usually knocked him back. His athleticism stands out but he needs to improve his power base.

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The USC signee was exactly what we’ve seen from him for years – an undersized highlight-reel whether running the ball or catching it out of the backfield. Brown has an extra gear few others have, he made some incredible catches during one-on-one sessions and when given the opportunity in the All-American Bowl, made some nice plays.

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The speed is there, the route running is there and Stewart can make some tough catches as well. The question becomes how many five-star receivers can there be in one class because CJ Williams and Aaron Anderson and possibly Shazz Preston were all very impressive in their own right so this will be a discussion for the final rankings meetings.

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It’s tough to be a linebacker at these events because quite honestly they don’t do a ton in practice and then game situations are few and far between because there is so much substituting. But Hicks was very impressive at Under Armour practices as you can see his length, his ability to cover ground and his physical nature seeking out the ball carrier.

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Iowa will really trust Nwankpa on the back end as the Hawkeyes should because he’s smart, instinctive and athletic to make plays, be physical when needed and diagnose what’s going on and then make a play on the ball. He was solid all week at the All-American Bowl.

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Is Rice the best offensive tackle in this class? That’s going to be up for debate as he was solid if not spectacularly dominant at the Under Armour game. He handles speed and power well, doesn’t get knocked back because he is a massive kid but he’s a little bit of a waist-bender and guesses a little too much.

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An accurate evaluation was tough on Perkins because he played running back mainly all week at Under Armour which showed off his athleticism and playmaking ability but not his skill at linebacker. That’s fine, though, because while Perkins is a little smaller than I expected he can move and cover and his ranking is fine.

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There is no question about Robinson’s physical statute – he looks like Mr. Universe. But I wasn’t blown away by his explosiveness out of the backfield, he was sort of limited during the week and struggled a little bit catching the ball. Having five-star running backs are tough because they’re just not a huge priority in Round 1 of the NFL Draft and I don’t want to plummet him in the rankings but he will be discussed as a five-star because he didn’t blow me away.

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The Penn State signee was outstanding all week and was one of the biggest disruptive players in either game. He was more powerful than I expected and as fast off the snap as any defensive end in Orlando or San Antonio. I loved his aggressive and attacking style and he has star potential for the Nittany Lions.

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I don’t know why I was surprised at how good Johnson was all week but I was and he could be in contention as the No. 1 cornerback in the class. The Michigan signee is tall and strong but smooth as can be, so smart and really competitive – he never backed down from anybody and was out there at all times. Absolutely loved him.

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Howard did not participate in either all-star event because of injury.

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The Ponchatoula, La., safety arrived late to the Under Armour game and looked fine while there – he’s long, athletic, a playmaker and can cover ground as well as anyone in the class. But did he dominate in any way? There will be a discussion about his final ranking because he has looked incredibly impressive at times but there is only so much room for five-stars in every class.

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A fringe five-star coming into the All-American Bowl, Williams was one of the more impressive players at any position at the event. He has great size, great length and he’s more physical than I expected him to be against this level of competition. The Georgia signee had an excellent week and solidified his status as a five-star defensive end.

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