Top 25 College Football Recruits to Watch in 2015
Members of the 2014 recruiting class have only just put down their pens after signing national letters of intent, but it's already time to turn our attention forward. Coaching staffs throughout America are deep into their recruitment of high school juniors, who now step into the spotlight.
A class heavy on defensive line talent also features a few top-tier quarterback prospects who are sure to command attention all the way to their national signing day next February. Here's a peek at 25 players to watch from a talented 2015 class.
25. 4-Star QB Kyler Murray (Allen, Texas)
Kyler Murray is the son of former Texas A&M star quarterback Kevin Murray, and he continues to live up to the pedigree. The 5'11", 170-pound passer is a state champion and true dual threat.
Murray surpassed 3,600 passing yards and threw 46 touchdowns as a junior, per 247Sports. He added more than 1,200 rushing yards and 19 scores on the ground.
Unsurprisingly, the Aggies are in contention for his commitment, but the program has company. Murray also holds offers from Clemson, Ohio State, Florida and TCU.
24. 5-Star S Derwin James (Auburndale, Fla.)
Haines City Senior High School safety Derwin James is the top-ranked player at his position in 247Sports' composite rankings. He is a physically imposing specimen on the prowl at the back end of a defensive attack.
The 6'2.5", 200-pound prospect pulled the trigger on a commitment to Florida State during his freshman year and remains true to that pledge as other offers have poured in. However, he did attend a Florida Junior Day in January, according to 247Sports.
23. 5-Star WR Christian Kirk (Scottsdale, Ariz.)
Christian Kirk eclipsed the 1,000-yard receiving mark for the second straight season in 2013, according to 247Sports. His junior stat line featured 65 receptions and 30 total offensive touchdowns.
He is ranked the No. 1 overall 2015 receiver in 247Sports' composite rankings. Kirk's offer list continues to grow by the day, as Oregon, Michigan, Florida and Boise State have each extended scholarships since December.
22. 5-Star RB Soso Jamabo (Plano, Texas)
Plano West High School playmaker Soso Jamabo suits any style of offense as a speedy running back with soft hands in the passing game. The 6'3", 210-pound ball-carrier rushed for more than 2,700 yards and 34 touchdowns in the past two seasons, per 247Sports, while adding another 678 receiving yards and four more scores though the air.
His efforts have drawn attention from a variety of coaching staff, including Oregon, Notre Dame, Ohio State and Michigan. Big 12 rivals Baylor and Oklahoma could battle this out for the duration.
21. 5-Star CB Iman Marshall (Long Beach, Calif.)
Iman Marshall is the latest versatile defensive back to steal the spotlight at Long Beach Poly High School. The 6'1", 190-pound prospect could line up at free safety or cornerback, depending on how a scheme suits him.
He isn't afraid to step up into the box and lay a lick on the ball-carrier in traffic, but he's at his finest when forced to provide coverage on an island. Marshall has drawn interest from a wide base of programs, including Notre Dame, Ohio State, Stanford, LSU and UCLA.
20. 5-Star OG Jalin Barnett (Lawton, Okla.)
Oklahoma offensive lineman Jalin Barnett is rated America's top rising senior guard in 247Sports' composite rankings. His play warrants the accolades, as he regularly serves up pancakes and simply locks up defenders with incredible strength and solid technique.
The 6'4", 315-pound Lawton High School standout is versatile enough to slide out and play offensive tackle at the next level. He has strong local ties to the Sooners, but Stanford and Alabama are also in the mix.
19. 5-Star DE Mekhi Brown (Columbus, Ga.)
Carver High School star Mekhi Brown committed to Alabama as a sophomore but continues to survey his options. The 6'6", 230-pound defensive end journeyed to Clemson and Texas A&M last fall.
He accounted for 56 tackles and five sacks in 2013, per 247Sports. Brown is still filling out his large frame and will take his game to another level once he gains increased coordination.
18. 5-Star DE Shameik Blackshear (Bluffton, S.C.)
Bluffton High School defensive end Shameik Blackshear bullies blockers in his pursuit of the football. The 6'5", 240-pound prospect looks more like a wide receiver when he runs downfield, which is remarkable for an athlete just scratching the surface of his potential.
Blackshear is clocked at 4.54 seconds in the 40-yard dash, serving as evidence for his freakish skill set. He committed to South Carolina last May after fielding offers from Florida, Clemson, Florida State and several other programs.
“I was taking it slow for a good (while), actually, but I just got tired of it — all the buildup and all the thinking,” Blackshear told Bluffton Today writer Lawrence Conneff. “I knew where I wanted to be.”
17. 5-Star RB Damien Harris (Berea, Ky.)
Madison Southern High School running back Damien Harris is rated the nation's No. 1 running back in 247Sports' composite rankings. He exploded for more than 1,700 yards and 38 scores as a sophomore to assert himself among elite company in the 2015 class.
Harris returned to the open market midway through January when he decommitted from Michigan. The 5'11", 205-pound playmaker is considering Big Ten Conference foes Ohio State and Wisconsin, along with Kentucky.
16. 5-Star DT Rasheem Green (Gardena, Calif.)
Southern California football factory Junipero Serra perennially produces some of the nation's top prospects. Rasheem Green rises to the top of that list in the 2015 class.
The 6'5", 275-pound defensive tackle earned Lineman of the Year honors in the contentious Mission League and landed on the MaxPreps junior All-American team. USC and UCLA are obviously key players in his recruitment, while Alabama offered him a scholarship in late January.
15. 5-Star OLB Malik Jefferson (Mesquite, Texas)
Outside linebacker Malik Jefferson is an elite defensive playmaker at Poteet High School. The nation's top-ranked junior outside linebacker is a relentless force who instantly upgrades any defensive unit.
He is a sure tackler who brings the wood on every hit. Texas A&M is hot on Jefferson's trail, but the Aggies will face stiff competition from Oregon and Alabama. Charlie Strong likely intends to hit the recruiting trail hard in an effort to bring this defensive stalwart to Austin.
14. 5-Star DT Tim Settle (Manassas, Va.)
Virginia standout Tim Settle is a prototypical nose tackle prospect who can split double-teams and clog up an opponent's rushing attack. The 6'3", 305-pound prospect carries a mean streak in the trenches and doesn't linger long before reacting and penetrating into the offensive backfield.
He is listed as the top player in talent-laden Virginia in 247Sports' composite rankings. Settle spent time at Michigan, Maryland, Virginia and Virginia Tech last season.
13. 5-Star CB Kendall Sheffield (Missouri City, Texas)
Cornerback Kendall Sheffield patrols the secondary at Fort Bend Marshall High School. He has the hips and explosiveness to keep up with even the most slippery of receivers.
The 5'11", 180-pound prospect is clocked at 4.40 seconds in the 40-yard dash, according to 247Sports. Sheffield features offers from Texas, Alabama, Baylor, Texas A&M and several other squads.
12. 5-Star DE CeCe Jefferson (Glen Saint Mary, Fla.)
CeCe Jefferson has been the center of attention at Baker County Senior High School since he compiled 16 sacks as a sophomore, per 247Sports. He can play with his hand in the dirt or drop back to the next level.
His 6'2", 250-pound frame leaves room for growth, and he could ultimately end up moving inside to the three-technique position. Jefferson is weighing offers from Florida, Florida State, USC, Notre Dame, Alabama and others.
11. 5-Star DT Daylon Mack (Gladewater, Texas)
Defensive tackle Daylon Mack is considered the top recruit in Texas for the 2015 cycle. He proved his worth in 2013, registering 97 tackles and six sacks, per 247Sports.
Mack committed to Texas A&M in October. The Aggies edged out Alabama, LSU and Notre Dame for his services and hope to hold onto the valuable pledge all the way to next signing day.
10. 5-Star DE Terry Beckner (East St. Louis, Ill.)
Terry Beckner Jr. is rated the nation's No. 1 strong-side defensive end in 247Sports' composite rankings. The 6'4", 268-pound East St. Louis High School star spends his games chasing after the quarterback while setting the defensive edge with authority.
He is already deep into the recruiting process, paying a recent unofficial visit to Illinois and receiving offers from various conferences; Beckner holds offers from Florida State, Missouri, USC and Ohio State.
9. 5-Star OT Martez Ivey (Apopka, Fla.)
Simply put, Martez Ivey is a man-child. The Apopka High School star stands at 6'6", 280 pounds and doesn't carry much unnecessary weight.
His long reach and effective slide step keep defenders at bay, and Ivey finishes plays through the whistle. He is already acclimated with the recruiting trail, spending time on campuses at UCF and Florida last fall.
Ivey's offers include Auburn, Wisconsin, Clemson and Alabama.
8. 5-Star DT Shy Tuttle (Lexington, N.C.)
Shy Tuttle is the nation's top interior pass-rusher in this 2015 class. The 6'2", 314-pound defensive tackle dominates at North Davidson High School.
An explosive first step sets the stage for evolved block-shedding moves. His stack of scholarships includes North Carolina, Alabama, Clemson, Tennessee and Texas.
7. 5-Star DT Trent Thompson (Albany, Ga.)
Westover High School defensive tackle Trent Thompson hasn't looked back since erupting for 65 tackles and five sacks as a sophomore. The 6'4", 292-pound prospect pounds opponents with raw power and a high motor.
He's attracted coaches from across the country, including his home state Bulldogs. Georgia's Mark Richt views him as a top priority.
“(Richt) told (Westover coach Octavia) Jones that...I am still their No. 1 guy,” Thompson told The Albany Herald reporter John Millikan. “They are ready for me to commit and get up there.”
6. 5-Star ATH George Campbell (Tarpon Springs, Fla.)
East Lake High School standout George Campbell committed to Michigan early in his recruitment but backed off that decision during the 2013 regular season. He is a top target for teams across the country and caught in the middle of the latest tug of war between Florida and Florida State.
Expect Campbell to take his time when it comes to reaching a decision after rushing into his first pledge. He figures to garner the most interest at receiver, where he caught 31 passes for 769 yards and seven touchdowns last season, per MaxPreps.
Aside from Sunshine State schools, his offer sheet features Penn State, Notre Dame, Texas A&M and Alabama.
5. 5-Star QB Ricky Town (Ventura, Calif.)
Ricky Town is already making major noise in a nationwide recruitment process. The 6'4", 205-pound St. Bonaventure High School quarterback decommitted from Alabama in late January, just days after Nick Saban spent time at his school.
Shortly after he backed off the pledge, Town became Steve Sarkisian's quarterback of the future at USC. He immediately lifts the Trojans prospects for an impressive 2015 class after the team's late surge this year.
"I chose USC because of the tradition, the academics and the incredible coaching staff," Town told 247Sports reporter Scott Schrader. "This is an amazing opportunity to be a part of something really special."
4. 5-Star DT Daron Payne (Birmingham, Ala.)
Disruptive defensive tackle Daron Payne hails from the heart of SEC country. His recruitment is likely to produce another bitter recruiting battle between in-state rival Alabama and Auburn.
The 6'2", 316-pound prospect is more athletic than any man of his physical stature should ever be. He displays crafty footwork on film and runs the 40-yard dash in 4.80 seconds, according to 247Sports.
Payne's stock soared after a dominant display at camp in Tuscaloosa last summer, according to AL.com. His offer list also includes Clemson, Georgia and South Carolina.
3. 5-Star OT Mitch Hyatt (Suwanee, Ga.)
Mitch Hyatt has the makings of that prototypical left tackle every quarterback dreams of playing behind. The 6'5.5", 271-pound lineman plays for Georgia powerhouse North Gwinnett and helped pave the way to a 13-win season last fall.
He is rated the nation's top offensive tackle in 247Sports' composite rankings. Hyatt opted to join in the signing day festivities with a commitment to Clemson, according to ClemsonInsider.com writer Will Vandervort.
He spent multiple unofficial visits at Clemson last season.
2. 5-Star CB Kevin Toliver (Jacksonville, Fla.)
Kevin Toliver II is the latest star defensive back to emerge in Northern Florida. He is absolutely dominant in pass coverage, with an approach that almost appears effortless.
The 6'2", 185-pound Trinity Christian Academy prospect can body up physical receivers and shut them down. His range makes him a dangerous foe for any quarterback and as a result, Toliver is rarely targeted.
He committed to LSU during his sophomore season, providing an excellent centerpiece for Les Miles' next recruiting endeavor.
1. 5-Star QB Josh Rosen (Bellflower, Calif.)
Southern California quarterback Josh Rosen led St. John Bosco High School to a state championship as a junior. The 6'4", 205-pound passer picked apart opponents throughout the season, throwing for 3,200 yards and 39 touchdowns, per MaxPreps.
Rosen already displays a polished throwing motion, which he matches with exceptional footwork. Those traits helped him complete 69 percent of his pass attempts in 2013.
Several schools are already lined up for his services, including Texas, Tennessee and Michigan. Rosen's recruitment ultimately comes down to a California turf battle between California, UCLA and Stanford.