The Opening: Naming the No. 1 player not as easy as it looks

Photo: Troy Wayrynen/USA TODAY Sports

The Opening: Naming the No. 1 player not as easy as it looks


The Opening: Naming the No. 1 player not as easy as it looks


BEAVERTON, Ore. — Rivals, 247Sports, and Scout all say that Cartersville (Ga.) quarterback Trevor Lawrence is the top high school recruit in the 2018 class. ESPN has IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.) defensive end Xavier Thomas.

Who’s right? Four or five years from now, the answer is most likely neither. That’s not to say they won’t both be good college players and possibly NFL players, it’s just that more often than not, the No. 1 guy in the recruiting rankings won’t be the No. 1 in the NFL draft.

In the past 20 years, the consensus No. 1 players in the rankings wound up being the top pick in the NFL draft only once: Jadeveon Clowney, who was the top player in the 2010 class and the No. 1 overall pick in the 2014 NFL draft.

Who’s the top player in the 2018 class? It’s impossible to know which of the players at The Opening will have the biggest impact in college football and beyond. Players get stronger, some develop beyond expectations and others get sidetracked by injuries or other difficulties.

That didn’t stop us from asking the players who the top dog is, however.

Notre Dame commit Ovie Oghoufo, a linebacker from Harrison (Farmington Hills, Mich.), agrees with the recruiting services.

“I would pick T Lawrence,” Oghoufo said. “He can throw the ball. If I had a second pick, I would probably pick Al Blades because he’s a savage. If I could pick a third, I would said Bookie Radley-Hiles (of IMG Academy), he and Blades (from St. Thomas Aquinas in Fort Lauderdale) are animals at the DB position.

Thomas disagrees for obvious reasons.

“I would pick myself,” Thomas said. “That’s not arrogance. That’s just from the work I’ve put in. If I couldn’t take myself, who would be the guy? I would have to say my boy Trevor, just his overall accuracy and he can run too.”

Others say none of the above. Belleville (Mich.) offensive lineman Devonte Dobbs may be showing bias with his pick of fellow Detroit area player Tyrone Sampson, an offensive lineman from East English Village Prep (Detroit).

“He’s has a great character and is a great player,” Dobbs said. “He has a great work ethic and is just someone you might have on your team.”

Christian Morgan, a defensive back from Porter (Texas), also goes with another in-state player.

“I would say Anthony Cook (a defensive back from Lamar High in Houston),” Morgan said. “He’s just a dog who makes him and everyone around him better. He’s a hard worker and doesn’t want to get beat.”

American Heritage (Plantation, Fla.) defensive back Patrick Surtain II doesn’t want to make that choice.

“There’s a lot of good players here,” Surtain said. “I would take the whole South Florida team with me, or guys like Bookie (Radley-Hiles) and Tyreke Johnson (a defensive back from Trinity Christian in Jacksonville).”


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