This week marks the first release of the class of 2019 Rivals100, so we take a look around the country at the top storylines for the current sophomore class, with the Mid-Atlantic region in the spotlight today.
RELATED: Top Midwest 2019 storylines
Mid-Atlantic becoming a running back hotbed
Most people don’t associate the Mid-Atlantic region with top-tier running back talent, but looking over the past couple years could change their minds. In 2016, the top running back, Alabama signee B.J. Emmons, and top all-purpose back, Penn State signee Miles Sanders, were from the Mid-Atlantic region. Georgia signee D’Andre Swift was the third-ranked running back in 2017 while Florida State signee Khalan Laborn and Maryland signee Anthony McFarland were ranked Nos. 1 and 3 in the all-purpose backs rankings. All three were from the Mid-Atlantic. In the current 2018 class rankings North Carolina native Zamir White is the top-ranked running back and Penn State verbal commit Ricky Slade hails from Virginia.
The 2019 Rivals100 Watch List features Virginia native Devyn Ford. He is one of the top three rated running backs in this class and athlete Quavaris Crouch is being recruited as a running back by many schools. There are more very talented backs in the Mid-Atlantic that many people don’t know much about yet. As the process moves forward, expect more running backs from the Mid-Atlantic to move up the rankings and gain more notoriety.
Pennsylvania falling off?
Over the past two or three recruiting cycles, the state of Pennsylvania has become a consistent producer of top-tier talent. In 2015 there were seven four-star prospects, five in the Rivals250 and one in the Rivals100. In 2016 there were nine four-stars, five in the Rivals250 and three in the Rivals100. In 2017, led by five-star Lamont Wade, there were six four-stars, six in the Rivals250, and four in the Rivals100. The 2018 class is a banner year for the Keystone State. Five-star Micah Parsons leads the way with nine four-star prospects right now. There are currently nine Pennsylvanians in the Rivals250 and four in the Rivals100.
The talent level in Pennsylvania’s 2019 class seems to be taking a down turn. There are about 10 prospects with offers in Pennsylvania’s 2019 class. That number will surely go up, but it could be hard them to hit five in the Rivals250 or get six or seven four-star prospects. There will be some that separate themselves from the pack, but overall it looks like Pennsylvania’s 2019 class will take a step back compared to recent years.
Will New Jersey have a five-star in 2019?
The state of New Jersey has been riding high over the past few years. In 2014 it produced two five-stars in Jabrill Peppers and Quenton Nelson. The 2015 class had Minkah Fitzpatrick and the 2016 class had Rashan Gary. Since then the Garden State has yet to see another five-star prospect. Class of 2017 linebacker Drew Singleton had a chance early in the process but fell short after tearing his ACL. New Jersey’s best chance in the 2018 class right now is defensive lineman Tyler Friday. He is the only player from New Jersey currently in the Rivals100.
The 2019 class has two five-star candidates from New Jersey. Oradell (N.J.) Bergen Catholic defensive lineman Antonio Alfano has been on the scene for a long time and has developed into a physically imposing edge presence. Offensive lineman Caedan Wallace is a 6-foot-5, 305-pound offensive lineman that can dominate the point of attack and has great lateral quickness. He could play guard or tackle at the next level.
In the history of Rivals.com, New Jersey has had two three-year stretches (2005-07 and 2009-11) without a five-star prospect. If there isn’t one in the 2019 class, the Garden State would have its third such three-year drought.
Offensive line heaven, West Virginia?
West Virginia doesn't typically produce major talent, but last year was a great one in the state. The 2017 recruiting class from West Virginia had seven players that were rated at least three-star prospects. That’s the most in Rivals.com history. The key position in last year’s class out of West Virginia was the offensive line, with four-star Riley Locklear signing with Tennessee, three-star Billy Ross signing with North Carolina, and three-star Seth Stewart signing with LSU.
The 2019 class from West Virginia could make history again. Offensive linemen Darnell Wright and Doug Nester have been named to the initial 2019 Rivals100 Watch List. West Virginia has never had two players finish inside the Rivals250, let alone the Rivals100. In fact, the 2017 class was the first time West Virginia ever finished with two four-star prospects. Wright and Nester look like they could be among the best offensive linemen in the nation and certainly two of the best to ever come out of West Virginia.
Mid-Atlantic coming up empty on quarterbacks
Over the past three recruiting classes, there have been five Mid-Atlantic quarterbacks to finish in the Rivals100 and a total of six to finish in the Rivals250. In 2015 Notre Dame landed Rivals100 prospect Brandon Wimbush. Tennessee signee Jarrett Guarantano, Oklahoma signee Austin Kendall and Ohio State signee Dwayne Haskins Jr. were all Rivals100 prospects in the 2016 class. Maryland signed 2017 Rivals100 quarterback Kasim Hill in February and Wisconsin did the same with 2017 Rivals250 quarterback Jack Coan. The top 2018 quarterback in the Mid-Atlantic is Rivals100 Notre Dame commit Phil Jurkovec.
The 2019 quarterback class in the Mid-Atlantic is a bit fuzzier. There are good players such as Sam Howell, Garrett Shrader and Ta’Quan Roberson, but nobody has separated themselves from the pack. The Mid-Atlantic has had a quarterback finish in every Rivals250 since 2002, so we’ll see if somebody can elevate themselves.