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Rivals Rankings Week: Five-Star Countdown for 2026 class

With the 2025 class rankings updated last week, now it's time to turn our attention to the rising juniors. We kicked off the Rivals Rankings Week for the 2026 class today with the Five-Star Countdown. We counted down our eight 2026 five-stars throughout the morning, with recruiting director Adam Gorney offering his thoughts on each.

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RIVALS RANKINGS WEEK

Sunday: Who should be No. 1?

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

Tuesday: New Rivals250 unveiled | Gorney goes position-by-position | Biggest risers

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

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

Friday: New state rankings | Who is No. 1 in each state

Saturday: Rivals Rankings Roundtable

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1. JAHKEEM STEWART

Gorney's Take: Jahkeem Stewart might be the total package. He has NFL-ready size, strength, measurables and a competitive edge that is rare to see. The more he’s tested, the more he responds.

At camps, Stewart searches out the best offensive linemen to compete against. He has a serious focus when it comes to his recruitment and from his size and playing style we’ve compared him to Chris Jones of the Kansas City Chiefs.

Success is never guaranteed but the New Orleans (La.) St. Augustine standout is elite in so many ways it would be a shock if he didn’t have a long and productive career ahead of him.

LSU, Oregon, USC, Ohio State, Texas and many others are involved.

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2. JACKSON CANTWELL

From pedigree to mindset to on-field ability and projection, Jackson Cantwell has all the tools needed to not only be the top offensive tackle in the 2026 class but he could push to No. 1 overall as well.

HIs parents competed in the Olympics in track and field and Cantwell is also a state champion in shot put, breaking the sophomore national record by two feet. He’s all of 6-foot-8 and 300 pounds, has very little to no bad weight and he plays with a mix of athleticism and power that’s rare for someone so young.

We’d love to see him compete at more national events and over time we will, but the Nixa, Mo., prospect is elite in so many ways. He knows what it takes to reach the top of the mountain.

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3. CHRIS HENRY JR.

Gorney's Take: Last summer at the Elite 11, Chris Henry Jr. was catching passes alongside five-star Ohio State signee Jeremiah Smith and while maybe no one is as talented as Smith at that stage, Henry was not far off.

He has phenomenal size at 6-foot-5 but he’s smooth in his routes, not a lumbering runner, and he can go over the top of any cornerback in the country to high-point the ball.

Now playing at Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei, Henry will have a national stage to showcase his abilities as the No. 1 receiver in the 2026 class and as someone who has a lot of the same abilities as his late father by the same name – and maybe more. From length, to a huge catch radius, to speed down the line, Henry is a special receiver.

The Ohio State commit is still hearing from Oregon, LSU, Texas and others.

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4. RYDER LYONS

Gorney's Take: As a sophomore, Ryder Lyons threw for 3,578 yards with 38 touchdowns and eight interceptions and also rushed for 929 yards and 23 more scores at Folsom, Calif. But many quarterbacks have put up huge numbers at that high school because of the offense it runs.

What separates Lyons is that he did it at such a young age, and how he has such a phenomenal grasp of what the offense should look like. He’s a quarterback of today – someone who can sit in the pocket and make every throw possible. He’s comfortable freelancing and throwing on the run or escaping pressure and picking up yards with his feet.

After seeing him at the Rivals Camp in Southern California, we’re convinced he’s the top QB in this class now.

USC and Oregon have an edge in his recruitment but LSU just offered and Ohio State is getting more involved.

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5. BRADY SMIGIEL

Gorney's Take: The Newbury Park, Calif., five-star quarterback had a phenomenal sophomore season in which he threw for 4,222 yards with 52 touchdowns. He’s a coach’s son, a gym rat and very mature playing the position and he knows how to carry himself.

Brady Smigiel has great size and he’s most comfortable sitting in the pocket and throwing receivers open. But he can also throw on the run and still keep his eyes downfield to find open players.

Michigan and Florida State could be battling it out for him, as Smigiel isn’t going to rush a decision. He is looking for a place that will develop him with the best relationships. His dad, who played in the World League with Miami coach Mario Cristobal, will help along the way.

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6. TYLER ATKINSON

Gorney's Take: The question of whether Tyler Atkinson ends up as an edge rusher or standing up as an outside linebacker is almost moot because he can do both well. Atkinson has the speed, burst and power to blitz off the edge, and then he has the ranginess and cover ability to go sideline to sideline to track players down. In today’s game where athleticism and length matter most on defense, Atkinson has it all.

Georgia is probably the frontrunner but every team in the Southeast and beyond has been involved in his recruitment.

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7. KEENYI PEPE

Gorney's Take: Originally from Southern California, Keenyi Pepe has been on the national scene for years and he has refined his game, especially since getting to Bradenton (Fla.) IMG Academy where he has been tested against elite defensive linemen each and every day.

Now 6-foot-7 and 290 pounds, Pepe is both physical and fast. He's tough and able to move his feet to stay in position, counter double moves and keep the quarterback clean.

Miami and Florida State are two schools to watch as he played with former five-star Francis Mauigoa, now with the Hurricanes, at IMG.

Pepe is expected to drop his top 12 in the coming days.

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8. IMMANUEL IHEANACHO

Gorney's Take: Immanuel Iheanacho made a monumental jump from being a top three-star prospect to a five-star after performing at some regional events this offseason and simply dominating. The North Bethesda (Md.) Georgetown Prep offensive tackle is massive at 6-foot-7 and 340 pounds and moves surprisingly well for his size. He does a great job not lunging or guessing on what defensive ends are going to do.

Iheanacho is so big that he can swallow up any defensive lineman that comes right at him, powerful enough to dominate on inside moves and then shockingly quick enough to deal with edge rushers trying to get around his outside.

Georgia, Penn State, Tennessee, Alabama, Texas and others are involved in the early stages.

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CLASS OF 2025 RANKINGS WEEK

MONDAY: Who should be No. 1?

TUESDAY: Five-Star Countdown | Tavien St. Clair moved into five-star status

WEDNESDAY: New Rivals250 unveiled | Gorney goes position-by-position | Biggest risers

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

FRIDAY: New defensive position rankings released | DL rankings breakdown | LB rankings breakdown | DB rankings breakdown | ATH rankings breakdown

SATURDAY: New state rankings released | Who is No. 1 in each state?

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