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Rivals.com – Rivals Rankings Week: Roundtable on defensive position rankings

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Rivals Rankings Week continues to roll on Thursday as we address the defensive position rankings. There is still plenty to debate before the final position rankings are locked into place.

Who is the next five-star defensive end?

Who’s the next rising star at the defensive tackle position?

What prospects would make up a dream secondary?

Our analysts – Adam Friedman, Adam Gorney, Josh Helmholdt and Sam Spiegelman – sit down at the Rivals Roundtable and discuss.

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Here is the full Rivals Rankings Week schedule:

MONDAY: Five-Star Countdown

TUESDAY: Full Rivals250 revealed

WEDNESDAY: QB rankings | RB rankings | WR/TE rankings | OL rankings

THURSDAY: DL rankings | LB rankings | DB rankings | ATH rankings

FRIDAY: State rankings

MORE 2022 RANKINGS RELEASE: Roundtable on the offensive position rankings | Biggest movers in updated Rivals250 | Gorney’s thoughts | Meet the new five-stars | Schools most repped in the new R250 | Who should be the top-ranked DT? | What to do with Travis Hunter? | Who should be the top-ranked CB? | How things stand with uncommitted five-stars

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Who is the next five-star defensive end?  

Quency Wiggins
Quency Wiggins (Nick Lucero/Rivals.com)

If I could buy stock in one player in the 2022 class right now, it would be Quency Wiggins. The defensive end out of Louisiana is an absolute monster and is as athletic as they come for a player of his size at his position. He is drawing comparisons to former five-star Calais Campbell, the perennial NFL Pro Bowler and All-Pro. What’s so exciting about Wiggins is that he’s still starting to understand effective hand techniques. Once he’s really filled out his repertoire there’s going to be no stopping him. – Friedman

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The state of Florida is absolutely loaded at defensive end in the 2022 class and the one prospect who has the best possibility to move up to five-star status is Shemar Stewart. The Opa Locka (Fla.) Monsignor Pace standout does not work out at many events, so the justification might have to come through his senior season and the all-star events but he has elite athleticism, he can move so well for his size and in the last few days Stewart was super impressive working out at Ohio State. I also think Gabe Dindy is a name to watch in Florida, but I’m leaning Stewart right now. – Gorney

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The more I hear about Wiggins, even in the last week, the more I like him. I like that he has the fire to fly up to New Jersey the day after his spring game to compete at a Rivals Camp. I like his physical tools and his upside potential. He is a standout right now, and I think he continues to develop going into his senior year. – Helmholdt

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Jeremiah Alexander. The state of Alabama’s No. 1 player for the 2022 class and a one-time Crimson Tide commitment is a uniquely explosive edge-rusher that’s capable of playing with a hand in the dirt or a stand-up rusher. His versatility – paired with elite closing speed and explosive get-off – is special, which is why schools like Alabama, Clemson, Florida, Auburn and Georgia all covet him. In the right situation, Alexander has a chance to be a dominant edge-rusher, particularly with his blend of speed and athleticism for the position.

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Who’s the next rising star at DT?  

Hero Kanu
Hero Kanu

This position is absolutely loaded and the top 20 players at the position are really talented. I wouldn’t be surprised if a player like Jaray Bledsoe, Hero Kanu or Nick James made their way up the rankings in the next update. Bledsoe is a prospect many are still trying to figure out. Kanu is blowing people away at a number of college camps this month. James has a chance to really prove himself this fall when IMG Academy plays a national schedule. – Friedman

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Originally from Germany, Kanu has now established himself not only at Rancho Santa Margarita (Calif.) Santa Margarita Catholic but as one of the best defensive tackles in the 2022 class, and his stock could only continue to rise. The 6-foot-5, 293-pound four-star has traveled the country over the last week or so seeing some top programs and working out at some schools and completely dominating the competition. He does not have an extensive resume against elite competition yet, but that will change over the next many months and Kanu could keep moving up. – Gorney

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We were out early with a four-star rating on Missouri commit Marquis Gracial, but I am not sure we have him high enough. He is a homebody, but hopefully we can see him live sometime in the near future. That live evaluation will give us a better feel for his frame and physical growth potential as well as his movement skills. – Helmholdt

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There are a handful of good candidates here, from Oklahoma product Chris McClellan (RCS Dallas DL MVP) to Alabama’s Antavious Woody (RCS Atlanta DL MVP), but my pick is small-town defensive lineman Jaray Bledsoe. Bledsoe clocked a 4.7-second 40 time this spring at 6-foot-5 and 280 pounds. He plays running back for his high school, but he’ll be corralling backs behind the line of scrimmage when he arrives at Oklahoma or Alabama or Texas or Texas A&M. Bledsoe possesses an elite skill set, and he’s just tipping the scales of his potential. His best football is still ahead of him. – Spiegelman

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Build your dream secondary  

Jaheim Singletary
Jaheim Singletary (Sam Spiegelman)

Versatility is key when building a secondary, but nothing makes it easier on a defense than when they don’t have to worry about an outside receiver because they have a lockdown cornerback shadowing him on every play. I’ll take Jaheim Singletary and a healthy Denver Harris at cornerback and Xavier Nwankpa and Bryce Anderson at safety. I’d want Travis Hunter in my secondary, too, but we have him listed at athlete so I’d take Daylen Everette as my fifth defensive back. – Friedman

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I want a long, rangy cornerback and a physical hitter who can run, so I’m taking Singletary and Domani Jackson at cornerback. They’re the two best corners in this class by my vote, and with their speed and length on the outside not many passes are going to be completed. Safety is also a very loaded position, but my particular favorites are Nwankpa and Sam McCall. Nwankpa can cover ground and he’s a headhunter back there, while McCall is an athletic specimen who is rangy and a playmaker. They might not be right at the top of each position group, but I’ll take my chances with those four. – Gorney

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I am apparently partial to those Big Ten commits, but I want a physical phenom like Singletary on one side and a big, lockdown corner like Will Johnson on the other. I want a safety who puts fear in wide receivers, so I’m taking Nwankpa, and then I like the range and athleticism of Jacoby Mathews at the other safety spot. Finally, I want a nickel corner who has that competitive fire to get in the face of slot receivers and still has the athleticism to stay with them through their routes, so I’m going with Arkansas commit Myles Rowser. – Helmholdt

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I don’t even need to leave the South to put together this star-studded secondary. At cornerback, Harris, a five-star, and Julian Humphrey give a defense sub-4.4 speed on the outside. On the back end, Mathews, a five-star LSU commitment, is a modern-age strong safety that can cover, play the run and give the defensive coordinator some position flexibility to use him as an athletic outside linebacker or a more traditional, in-the-box safety. Plug Anderson, a Rivals100 safety, in at the nickel. There may not be a more versatile defensive back in Texas than Anderson, who is being recruited by Texas, Texas A&M and LSU to play corner and safety. Round out this group with Rivals250 safety Bryan Allen from Aledo (Texas) in centerfield. With Anderson in the nickel and Mathews as a moveable Jenga piece, Allen — a Texas commitment — patrols the back end of the unit with five interceptions and two state titles over the past two seasons. – Spiegelman

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Rivals.com – Five-star Zach Rice talks this week’s two unofficial visits

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Five-star Zach Rice talks this week’s two unofficial visits

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From skateboarding for fun, Margielyn Didal relishes being an Olympian

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PH skater Margielyn Didal is headed to the Tokyo Olympics. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO/RED BULL

MANILA, Philippines—Margielyn Didal is stepping into the biggest stage of her career when she represents the Philippines in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

But Didal never expected to be an Olympian when she started skateboarding.

Skateboarding had not been a part of the Olympics until Tokyo with the sport making its first appearance in the Summer Games.

“I mean not like till three years ago because skateboarding before was a lifestyle that I do for fun or I can do until I can earn money,” said Didal Friday in a virtual press conference.

It was only in 2016 that skateboarding was approved to be part of the 2020 Olympic program along with baseball, softball, karate, surfing, and sport climbing.

Two years later when skateboarding became an approved Olympic discipline, Didal made history after winning the gold medal in the street event of the Asian Games in Indonesia.

“I’m really happy and excited that this is happening and it’s less than a month away,” said Didal. “We’re preparing for the past three years and I’m just really excited that this is the first time that skateboarding will be in the Olympics.”

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WTC Final: “Don’t change Rishabh Pant” – Graeme Swann’s passionate plea to Indian fans

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Former England off-spinner Graeme Swann has requested Indian fans to not be too critical of Rishabh Pant in the wake of his failure in the World Test Championship (WTC) final against New Zealand.

Rishabh Pant was dismissed for 4 and 41 in his two innings in Southampton against the Black Caps. Both times he perished trying to take on the bowling. He was particularly criticized for his wild hoick against Trent Boult on the last day of the Test.

According to Swann though, Rishabh Pant is a match-winner because of his aggressive stroke play and India will do a disservice to themselves if they ask the dashing wicketkeeper-batsman to tone himself down.

Speaking exclusively to Sportskeeda, Swann opined:

“India have got an absolute superstar in Rishabh Pant going in at 6 or 7. Just go back one Test mach in India’s history. That magnificent century he scored against England (in Ahmedabad) that won them that series. Never forget that. It was a counter-attacking innings, played against the grind, playing against the spin a lot of times. It was a brilliant hundred. Had he got in there and “played the situation” and tried to block it, India would not have won that game. It is as simple as that.”

“He is a match-winner. All I want to say to cricket fans in India – don’t fix what isn’t broken. You have some absolute goldmine ready to be unearthed and used well for 10 years. Don’t change Rishabh Pant. Let him fail. Let him be. He is absolutely worth it,” Swann further added.

Virat Kohli had backed Rishabh Pant after WTC loss

Rishabh Pant had come under fire over his failure to adapt to the challenging conditions in England during the WTC final. Like Swann though, Indian captain Virat Kohli too had thrown his weight behind the young cricketer after India’s defeat to New Zealand.

Speaking at a virtual press conference post the WTC final, Kohli had said about Rishabh Pant:

“Rishabh Pant is definitely going to be a very expressive player, whenever he gets an opportunity. Whenever there is a situation that needs to be understood, he assesses it really well. When things don’t come off, you can say that it was an error of judgment. That’s acceptable; it’s sport. But, we don’t want him to lose his positivity or his optimism in changing the situation for the team. That’s where his USP lies ,and we will definitely continue to back him to play that way, find ways to put pressure on the opposition and score runs, which is his natural game.”

Just 23, Rishabh Pant has featured in 21 Tests and has 1403 runs to his name at an average of 43.84 with three hundreds. He was one of India’s chief heroes in the Test triumph Down Under earlier this year. He took on the Aussie bowlers and came out on top.

Edited by Sankalp Srivastava

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