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Rivals Rankings Week: The top five-star candidates

Terrence Lewis
Terrence Lewis (Nick Lucero/Rivals.com)

As Rivals prepared to unveil its final installment of rankings for the Class of 2021, the national analysts debated a handful of elite prospects as to whether or not they would crack five-star status. Regional analysts Chad Simmons and Sam Spiegelman, as well as National Recruiting Director Mike Farrell, weigh in on the top candidates for a fifth star to close out this recruiting cycle.

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MORE: Who should be the No. 1 prospect in 2021?

CLASS OF 2021 RANKINGS: Rivals250 | Position | Team | State

CLASS OF 2022 RANKINGS: Rivals250 | Position | Team | State

COVERAGE: Rivals Transfer Tracker | Rivals Camp Series

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WR JOJO EARLE

Certainly, there's an argument to be made that slot receivers shouldn't be five-star candidates, but Earle is one of the few exceptions. The Alabama signee is a home-run threat from anywhere on the field with the ability to make plays in space and keep defenders off-balanced in small windows. Earle has continued to improve as a route-runner and with his hands and was routinely dynamic every time he touched the rock for Aledo these past three years. - Sam Spiegelman, South-Central recruiting analyst

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LB TERRENCE LEWIS

Lewis has played at a high level for his entire high school career and shows so much speed and explosiveness to the football. He has been under consideration for a fifth star during every rankings meeting of this cycle. Lewis overcomes a lack of great size with pure quickness. - Mike Farrell, National Recruiting Director

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CB GA'QUINCY MCKINSTRY

McKinstry, known to most in the industry as “Kool-Aid,” is a smooth, gifted, and versatile athlete. He made more big plays on offense as a senior, and some think he could be just as good on the offensive side of the ball, but his home in Tuscaloosa will be the defensive secondary. He is a long, rangy athlete that plays with confidence, quickness and aggression.

He is an explosive athlete with so much natural, raw ability, and Alabama will develop his game at cornerback and put him in position to be successful on the back-end of their defense. He is an athlete that always showed up and made big impacts in games, and he should be moved up to a five-star in this rankings update. - Chad Simmons, Southeast recruiting analyst

ATH JA'TAVION SANDERS

Whether he's a tight end or a defensive end at the next level, there is no doubt that Sanders has proven to be one of the most unstoppable athletes in the country as a senior. The 6-foot-4, 230-pounder made plays on both sides of the ball, showcasing insane grabs as a receiver with the ability to make plays after the catch and create mismatches all over the field. Defensively, in spot duty, Sanders flashed with his motor and athleticism off the edge with a pick-six in Week 1 that turned heads. We anticipate Sanders to be a difference-maker whether it's offense or defense. - Spiegelman

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LB CLAYTON SMITH

Like Sanders, Smith made a bevy of plays on both sides of the ball for Texarkana (Texas) High as a senior. He capped his prep career with 20 TFL and 10 sacks and seven touchdowns on offense. The future Sooner should add a wealth of athleticism to their defense. He's a long, physical force off the edge that's difficult to contain. Smith plays with an attacking, downhill style, and his athleticism was definitely evident on his offensive snaps. - Spiegelman

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