Is CJ Stroud a five-star? I wouldn’t be surprised to see his name come up when we start to work on the Top247’s final 32. The Ohio State signee burst onto the national scene with an MVP showing at the Elite 11 Finals over the summer and proceeded to nearly double the production from his junior to senior seasons. Stroud’s rapid ascent continued in San Antonio. There was little if any drop-off from Young and Uiagalelei to Stroud. The Rancho Cucamonga (Calif.) product is a natural passer with the ability to locate the ball with zip and touch to all levels of the field. Stroud didn’t run much at the high school level, but he showed some better than average mobility over the course of the week. We were also impressed with his willingness to step up and move within the pocket in the face of pressure. Stroud is currently No. 95 in the Top247.
The top-ranked prospect at Under Armour was Julian Fleming. The Ohio State commit has the best combination of on-field resume and athleticism at wide receiver in this cycle. Fleming had the best catch I saw all week, with a diving grab in the corner of the end zone at Monday’s practice. He also had the most explosive offensive play of the game, easily winning out of the slot on a vertical route for a long score. As good as he is, Fleming still has a high upside and room to improve his route-running and overall consistency.
After Fleming the next two best receivers I saw were his fellow Ohio State signee Jaxon Smith-Njigba and LSU signee Kayshon Boutte.
Smith-Njigba had a ridiculous senior season with 2,132 yards and 34 touchdowns in 6A Texas high school football. He was arguably the best wide receiver nationally during the high school season and continued to look like it in All-American Bowl practices before going down with a leg injury mid-week. I could count on one hand the times I saw the Ohio State pledge effectively covered over the course of the week. His burst off the line, ability to separate within different levels of his routes while also winning at the catch point with the ability to make acrobatic adjustments in-air. Smith-Njigba runs with outstanding body lean with his shoulders over his pads, making it tough for defensive backs to get a read on his intent. The pace within his routes is exceptional. He also had some of, if not the most reliable hands I saw during the week. For my money, he is currently the most skilled wide receiver in the 2020 cycle and looks to be the most ready to contribute next season. There isn’t a discernible weakness to Smith-Njigba’s game and he’s among up there with Calvin Ridley as one of the most polished receivers I’ve seen in an all-star setting.
Paris Johnson entered the week as the top offensive tackle and looked the part of a top prospect at the position. Johnson wasn’t perfect and has room to improve, particularly in his pass set technique. He has a rare combination of length and athleticism at the position. The Ohio State pledge did a nice job during the game on Saturday surrendering little pressure off the left side.