Rivals national recruiting analyst Adam Friedman, Richie Schnyderite of HappyValleyInsider.com, Chris Peak of Panther-Lair.com and Charleston Bowles of InsideNDSports.com tackle three topics and determine where they believe each statement is FACT or FICTION.
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Kaj Sanders is the most underrated 2024 prospect in New Jersey.
Friedman’s take: FICTION. Sanders is underrated, but I’d say Emanuel Ross is the answer here. Ross is currently listed as a safety and ranked No. 13 in the state as a mid-level -star. He worked out as a receiver on Sunday at the New Jersey Rivals Camp Series in New Jersey and did a great job using his speed and strength to create a lot of separation and give quarterbacks big windows to throw into. With everything he showed as a receiver on Sunday, in addition to what he’s put on film, Ross should be inside the top 10 and closer to No. 5 than No. 10.
Schnyderite’s take: FACT. Although we only saw Sanders for a few reps this past weekend I was lucky enough to see him multiple times already this spring and with each appearance, he just becomes more impressive every single time.
Not only does Sanders already have a college-ready body, standing at a legit 6-foot-1, 185 pounds, but he uses that to his advantage on the gridiron with his very physical style of play at cornerback. On top of that, he has some solid speed and does a great job of reading and reacting to the play, timing just the perfect moment on whether to make a big hit or a play for the ball.
Not only do I think he’s underrated in the state of New Jersey I also think he’s underrated in the position rankings as a whole. Sanders has a shot to be a star at the next level no matter where he decides to attend college.
2. Jahsear Whittington should be in the top 10 of the defensive tackle position rankings.
Friedman’s take: FACT. As the top 10 stands right now, Whittington should be in the top 10 of the defensive tackle rankings. The Pittsburgh commit is in the same mold as former Panthers star and first-round NFL Draft pick Calijah Kancey. Whittington is on the shorter side, but he is by no means small. He is very strong and has elite quickness at the snap. He is very aggressive with his hands, using them to keep offensive linemen from slowing him down.
Peak’s take: FACT. Whittington has been committed to Pitt for so long that he might have slipped under the radar by now. But make no mistake about it: He’s one of the best defensive tackles in the nation. He’s not a big mauling nose tackle like Kamron Beavers or Tionne Gray or Hevin Brown-Shuler. In fact, he’s shorter than all 13 of the interior linemen ranked ahead of him, and he’s lighter than them, too (although he probably weighs more than the 255 he’s listed at). But Whittington has a lot of traits that make him very reminiscent of other recent Pitt defensive tackles: explosive and strong, using technique and quickness to break double teams and overwhelm single blocks from centers or guards. It’s not fair to compare Whittington to first-round Pitt products like Aaron Donald or Kancey, but he’s got a lot of their traits and is one of the top playmaking tackles in the class of 2024.
3. Notre Dame is still the clear favorite to land a commitment from offensive tackle Guerby Lambert.
Friedman’s take: FICTION. Notre Dame was the leader for Lambert’s commitment the moment they offered him, but the picture doesn’t seem as clear now. Boston College has recruited Lambert’s school very well over the years. They have a very real chance to keep Lambert home and get to roll the red carpet out for him during his June 9 official visit. Ohio State has made a concerted effort to move up his list, and the Buckeyes are set to host him for an official visit on June 16. Penn State and offensive line coach Phil Trautwein have a longstanding relationship with Lambert. The Nittany Lions will get him on campus on June 23 for his official visit with a chance to really gain some ground.
Bowles’ take: FICTION. After a quiet spring, I’m not a believer that Notre Dame is the leader for Lambert. However, things could change after his June 2 official visit. Notre Dame and offensive line coach Joe Rudolph have a chance to make a strong first impression before Lambert takes official visits to Boston College, Ohio State and Penn State. The Irish certainly have the pitch of development with their recent NFL Draft history and the prospects of Joe Alt and Blake Fisher potentially hearing their names called early in next year’s draft. As things stand today, I believe Notre Dame is in a better position to land 2024 offensive lineman target Styles Prescod. I think Lambert ends up at Penn State or Ohio State.
Adam Friedman, National Recruiting Analyst