The general feelings in recruiting circles has been that the top quarterback in the Class of 2016 is either Shea Patterson or Jacob Eason, but look out for K.J. Costello.
The Santa Margarita Catholic (Calif.) signal-caller is ranked No. 14 overall in the latest ESPN 300 released Tuesday. Eason from Lake Stevens, Wash., is ranked No. 16 overall and Patterson from IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., is ranked No. 18. Costello is listed as the No. 1 pocket passer over Eason; Patterson is listed as the No. 1 dual-threat quarterback.
Costello was ahead in the last rankings and all three have moved up overall, but Eason has jumped Patterson. In the last rankings, Costello was No. 18, Patterson was No. 20 and Eason was No. 25.
Coincidentally, Costello and Eason were roommates at the Elite 11 semifinals last summer and all three took part in the Elite 11 finals and The Opening finals in Oregon. All three also have been selected for the U.S. Army All-American Bowl; Eason and Costello are scheduled to play for the West and Patterson for the East.
“The biggest thing I took from the offseason — going to the Elite 11 and The Opening and competing with the best athletes in the country — is I found my niche, found my place,” Costello said. “I need to have the grit to get better in some areas. I saw a lot of good things from a lot of good quarterbacks. You see maybe some areas that you have to work on and some areas that are your strengths. I got to compare myself to the other top guys and see where I was and I found that all the training and everything I did was on point.”
Some other interesting items of the new ESPN 300:
- The biggest mover was IMG Academy’s Drake Davis, who went from outside the 300 to No. 76 and the No. 10 wide receiver. Davis did not play football last year and instead played soccer at his previous school before transferring to IMG. “He really only has 14 games of experience,” ESPN recruiting analyst Craig Haubert says. “He has such impressive tools. The word that comes to mind is, ‘Wow.’ His upside is off the charts. … To see why (he moved up) all you have to do is click on his film. He has managed to score five different ways this season. He made a deserved jump and might not be done.”
- The only change in the top 10 is that Ed Oliver, a defensive tackle from Westfield (Houston), moved up one spot to No. 4 and swapped places with Willie Allen, an offensive tackle from John Curtis (New Orleans). “That’s no reflection on Willie Allen. He has all the tools to be an outstanding college tackle. We feel Ed Oliver has the ability to contribute a little bit quicker. He is so athletic and so explosive that he brings a lot of versatility to a front seven. He can line up in so many different spots and create so many problems. He’s one of those guys sometimes you watch in amazement at how disruptive he can be.”
- Two defensive linemen lost their fifth stars — tackle Shavar Manuel from IMG Academy and Shane Simmons from DeMatha Catholic (Hyattsville, Md). Manuel is now No. 22 overall. He is the No. 8 defensive tackle in a class heavy on high-end DTs led by No. 1 overall player Rashan Gary of Paramus Catholic (N.J.). Simmons is No. 19 overall and the No. 3 end.
- Overall, 13 new players made their way into the ESPN 300.