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Southeast Spotlight: Four big rankings questions heading into the summer

Jeff McCulloch/Rivals.com

The post-spring rankings update is getting large on the horizon. Plenty of new information has come to light during the spring camp season and soon the rankings will be updated to reflect the national analyst team’s latest projections for the 2025 and 2026 classes.

This week the national analyst team will examine their biggest questions heading into the upcoming rankings meetings. Next up is the Southeast region.

RELATED: Four big rankings questions in the Mid-South | East Region

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

CLASS OF 2025 RANKINGS: Rivals250 | Team | Position | State

CLASS OF 2026 RANKINGS: Rivals250 | Position | State

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1. Will Julian Lewis hold onto the top quarterback spot?

It seems like this question is popping up more than ever since Julian Lewis made the move to the class of 2025. To his credit, Lewis has done his part to hold the top spot despite being younger than just about every challenger he is up against, taking home MVP honors at the Rivals Camp Series in Atlanta and earning a ticket to the Elite 11 Finals not long after.

Not so much in the South region, but nationally, there are clear challengers to the top-ranked QB spot, and that conversation begins with five-star LSU commitment Bryce Underwood. He held the honor before Lewis made the reclassification and has only impressed with his in-person showings since. Ohio State commitment Tavien St. Clair, Texas commitment KJ Lacey and Notre Dame commitment Deuce Knight, among others, will continue to filter into the conversation, too.

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2. Will any new five-stars come from the South?

Nick Lucero/Rivals.com

There are currently 18 five-star recruits in the class of 2025, a number we know will eventually expand beyond 30 by the time the cycle winds down, so who are the most likely candidates to make that move from the Southern states? The state of Florida may have some of the most interesting arguments heading into the next update.

Positional rankings help to drive conversation when splitting hairs between the best of the best and No. 1 weakside defensive end recruit Javion Hilson has an argument to move closer to that fifth star. He was dominant at the Rivals Camp Series in Miami as a lengthy and twitchy speed rusher, also showcasing some power and counter moves along the way. Nathaniel Owusu-Boateng has held the No. 1 outside linebacker tab and he looks to be the ideal modern off-ball 'backer in the class, showcasing speed and range at every turn.

If there is a sneaky prospect near the top of his positional ranks with a puncher's chance at jumping up further, do-it-all athlete Vernell Brown III may have the resume for it. He all but dominates every setting he participates in, including a Wide Receiver MVP run at the Miami Rivals Camp Series event in April.

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3. Which defenders will crash the party in the Rivals250?

Nick Lucero/Rivals.com

There are considerable moves to be made in both the 2025 and 2026 class, pretty much across the board, but the rising-senior group may see the most movement up the ranks from prospects on the defensive side of the ball. Some are already tabbed as four-star recruits while coming off of strong offseason efforts, like Alabama linebacker commitment Luke Metz, fellow Peach State prospect and cornerback Shamar Arnoux as well as safety Lagonza Hayward.

In the state of Florida, the defensive line group has some trend-up to it, particularly on the interior with prospects like Floyd Boucard, Jarquez Carter and Mandrell Desir, among others. Both the Peach State and Sunshine State contingent figure to see swift rises for this update, unfortunately pushing some currently in the Rivals250 right back outside of it.

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4. Where do the 'big' cornerback recruits sort out?

Caleb Jones/Rivals.com

Rankings updates are about more than just who moved up and who moved down, of course. Fresh, in-person evaluations afford the chance to call our shot on positional projections themselves. Most move because of a re-shaped body, maybe a growth spurt or major weight change. But with others we need every evaluation we can get because the line between two positions is just that close.

Cornerback is always in that conversation. At the highest level, it has trended towards bigger players at the position, too. There are several in the conversation in the thick of the blue-chip conversation, too, beginning with five-star DJ Pickett, who currently checks in as the nation's top-ranked athlete. In the South, Na'eem Offord, Gregory Thomas and Ben Hanks are all 6-foot-2 or taller as current cornerback projections. All but Hanks is already in the Rivals250, but not all will hold onto that position projection as the evaluations roll on.