Breitbart Sports was right on where 90 percent of the top-rated prospects would sign. Now the question is whether the rating services were right on which players were the best prospects.
When correct, those highly regarded players change the dynamic within the NCAA and help the school of their choice compete for national championships. However, it seems that every year, some of the nation’s top performers are players whose faxes often went unnoticed by even their own fans.
This year’s Heisman Trophy winner, Johnny Manziel was ranked by Rivals.com as a three star prospect and the nation’s #14 dual threat quarterback. They even had him pegged as only the 45th best player in the state of Texas.
In fact, since recruiting rankings became prevalent, only three (Cam Newton, Tim Tebow, and Reggie Bush) of eight Heisman winners were regarded as “five-star” (top thirty level) players in their class by Rivals.com. Three others (RGIII, Mark Ingram, and Troy Smith) were ranked by Rivals with the lowest level of four star ranking, and the other two (Manziel and Sam Bradford) were lowly three star prospects.
With recruiting rankings being such an inexact science, here is a look at seven three star prospects, often unnoticed in the recruiting discussions this year, who have the potential to be Heisman contenders if the stars align.
QB Joshua Dobbs 6’3”, 190lbs (Alpharetta, GA) #20 pro-style quarterback; SIGNED WITH Tennessee- Dobbs has the skill set to compete immediately for a starting job in Butch Jones’ offense. He has great pocket awareness and intangibles with a quick release and an accurate ball. He has played two sports in high school, and additional focus on football could give him the strength he needs to be an elite SEC quarterback who could potentially revive the Vols and emerge in the Heisman conversation.
QB Devante Kincade 6’1”, 185lbs (Dallas, TX) #26 pro-style quarterback; SIGNED WITH Ole Miss- Even though he is not even the most heralded quarterback in the Rebels class, Kincade could be one to watch as his career progresses. He is a prospect who has great presence in the pocket and plenty of elusiveness to escape if need be. He makes some great throws, and he is a smart player who has faced some tough competition in high school. With Ole Miss starter Bo Wallace entering his junior season, Kincade should have a couple of seasons to learn, develop, and adapt to the college game. With what Hugh Freeze is building at Ole Miss, Kincade could help turn the program into a contender and be on the Heisman Watch.
QB Nick Marshall 6’2”, 190lbs (Garden City, KS) #43 overall Junior College prospect; SIGNED WITH Auburn- Remember the last time Gus Malzahn signed a former Division I athlete out of the Junior College ranks? Cam Newton brought some magic to the Tigers, and Malzahn hopes Marshall can do the same at Auburn. After starting at safety as a freshman for the Georgia Bulldogs, Marshall had some off the field issues that led him to Garden City Community College where he got the chance to play quarterback. He made the most of it by accounting for over 4,000 yards and 37 touchdowns. Marshall will compete for a starting job at quarterback this fall, and, if he wins, he could put up some big numbers in Malzahn’s offense and launch another Heisman campaign on The Plains.
QB Jake Waters 6’2”, 215lbs (Council Bluffs, IA) #20 overall Junior College prospect; SIGNED WITH Kansas State- Waters is the frontrunner to win the starting job as the Wildcats seek to replace Collin Klein. He has great vision as a runner, and he is a threat as a passer. Klein proved that a Kansas State quarterback can be a Heisman frontrunner and Coach Snyder has the Kansas State program on a roll. With Waters at the helm, the Wildcats could have another Heisman contender in the fold.
QB Damion Hobbs 6’2”, 190lbs (Cedar Hill, TX) #23 dual-threat quarterback; SIGNED WITH Oregon- A perfect fit for the Oregon offense, Hobbs is a dynamic and powerful runner with a big arm. The Texas native will have the opportunity to put up big numbers with the Ducks, and, with Marcus Mariota entering his sophomore season, Hobbs will be able to develop at a slower pace. He has the potential to be really special, and he could run a very strong Heisman campaign if Oregon continues to perform as they have under Chip Kelly.
RB Jacky Marcellus 5’8”, 175lbs (Immokalee, FL) #18 all-purpose back; SIGNED WITH West Virginia- Watching Marcellus, it is easy to see why he chose the Mountaineers. He is the electric, slippery, speedster that has so often thrived in the West Virginia attack over the last several years. Simply put, the kid made plays at the high school level, and I expect him to do so at the next level. He runs with a passion and an edge, and he never slows down. If the Mountaineers continue to have the same high powered offensive attack, Marcellus could be lethal as a runner, pass catcher, and return man. The statistics that this prospect could put up could potentially get his name in the Heisman discussion.
RB Wayne Gallman 6’1”, 191lbs (Loganville, GA) #30 running back; SIGNED WITH Clemson- Overshadowed by his heralded teammate, Robert Nkemdiche, Gallman is certainly a big-time player in his own right. Gallman will join a strong tradition of outstanding Clemson running backs, and brings great size, speed, and pass catching ability to the Tigers. I expect Gallman to put up nice numbers for the Tigers, and, if the stars align, be mentioned for the Heisman Trophy.