Rivals Rankings Week: Breaking down the 2025 athlete rankings

Nick Lucero/

With the updated 2025 Rivals250 being unveiled Tuesday, it's time to dive into the position rankings. The defensive position rankings are being released today and next up are the athletes:

NEW 2025 POSITION RANKINGS: Pro-Style QB | Dual-Threat QB | Running Back | All-Purpose Back | Wide Receiver | Tight End | Offensive Tackle | Offensive Guard | Center | Defensive Tackle | Weakside Defensive End | Strongside Defensive End | Inside Linebacker | Outside Linebacker | Cornerback | Safety | Athlete



Sunday: Who should be No. 1?

Monday: Five-Star Countdown | Meet the new five-stars

Tuesday: New Rivals250 released | Gorney goes position-by-position | Biggest movers

Wednesday: New offensive position rankings | QB rankings breakdown | RB rankings breakdown | WR/TE breakdown | OL breakdown

Thursday: New defensive position rankings | DL rankings breakdown | LB rankings breakdown

Friday: New state rankings

Saturday: Rankings roundtable


CLASS OF 2024 RANKINGS: Rivals250 | Team | Position | State

CLASS OF 2026 RANKINGS: Rivals100

TRANSFER PORTAL: Latest news | Transfer search | Transfer tracker/player ranking (football) | Transfer team ranking (football) | Transfer tracker/player ranking (basketball) | Transfer team ranking (basketball) | Rivals Portal Twitter


WHO'S NO. 1?

The Floridian remains a top-10 prospect in the updated Rivals250, but the position switch to athlete moves him from the top-ranked safety to the top-ranked athlete. Pickett has a claim to both posts, but when it comes to his college projection we’re running into more questions than answers at this time. It’s not a knock on the lengthy talent’s athleticism, it’s more of a nod to it. Some programs are courting him in the secondary, generally, while others have had the safety and/or cornerback discussion. Pickett, himself, prefers working at corner.

There is also a contingent of college coaches that see Pickett developing into a wide receiver come his college days. Either of the wrinkles away from the safety spot could have warranted the move to athlete on their own, so both being present forces our hand some. Either way, there is no doubting the five-star potential Pickett will bring to a college no matter what position he begins his career at.

A legitimate, fluid athlete at taller than 6-foot-3, Pickett also has requisite length and the ball skills to affect a given football game in a major way when it’s in the air. Of course, there aren’t many NFL cornerbacks at his height and length in the league right now, but it may not be out of the question for Pickett – he is that special of an athlete. Safer bets at safety or wide receiver would still see his star shine on Saturday’s and likely beyond. At this time, the junior has Georgia, Oregon, LSU, Miami, Clemson and Michigan among others high on his list.



On the move: While Pickett occupies the new No. 1 spot having moved over from the safety rankings, many athlete projections in the Rivals250 made the opposite style move. Among the elites no longer listed as an athlete include Texas commitment Lance Jackson (moved to strongside defensive end), Jaylan Morgan (cornerback), Darrell Johnson (outside linebacker), Bryce Fitzgerald (safety), Nick Townsend (tight end) and Iowa commitment Thomas Mayer (tight end).

A New No. 2: Cameron Sparks was a top-50 prospect in the last update, but now the jumbo pass-catcher moves over to the athlete projection given how programs are courting him from various standpoints. Some like him as a big wideout, and others at tight end while at least two programs in his standing top group court him on defense at linebacker. Sparks is considering Auburn, Florida State, Georgia, Miami, Michigan and Tennessee.

Brown’s big rise: Another former wide receiver projection, Vernell Brown III moves over to athlete and surges up the overall and position rankings in the process, checking in at No. 58 nationally and the No. 3-ranked athlete to date. Brown was dominant, mostly on offense, in 2023 and early on in 2024 he has shined as a secondary player as well in helping South Florida Express win three 7-on-7 tournaments before the end of February. Brown is wide open in his recruitment at this time.

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