The ESPN Junior 300 not only has a new look, but a unique one as well. You would have to go back to 2014, when Leonard Fournette did it, to find the last time a running back has finished atop the ESPN 300 rankings. That was only the second time in the history of the rankings a running back was No. 1.
There is still a long way to go before the Class of 2020 rankings are sealed for good, but the final edition of the Junior 300 before these athletes become seniors has a new No. 1, Zachary Evans out of North Shore High School in Houston. Evans is coming off an impressive junior season in which he rushed for over 1,700 yards and nearly 30 touchdowns while helping his team to a state title.
He has a nice blend of size and speed and an aggressive, slashing style. He not only is a load to try to stop, but also has some wiggle to him. Evans also shows good vision and patience to set up and follow blockers, and he has solid hands as a receiver. It is not common for a running back to top the 300 rankings, but the uncommitted Evans, who released a list of 11 top schools in January, is showing he can be a load-carrying, big-play back.
There was a wide receiver among the five-star recruits for the 2019 cycle, and it is looking as if Julian Fleming could continue the trend for 2020. Fleming currently sits within the top five overall and is coming off an outstanding performance at the Future 50 Camp in January. He is a big, explosive receiver with quick feet and is a good route runner with excellent ball skills. Uncommitted, Fleming continues to rake in offers from Power 5 programs and is establishing a strong case to be one of the most sought-after offensive weapons in this class.
The 2019 class had one of the best collections of offensive line talent in the ESPN 300 era, and while that group will be hard to follow, the 2020 class is not showing signs of a steep drop-off. Three OTs rank among the top 10 overall, and several more have found their way into the top 50. Ohio State verbal Paris Johnson Jr. and the massive Myles Hinton, who is committed to Stanford, are joined by Georgia commit Broderick Jones in the top 10. Jones is an impressive prospect with good quickness, flexibility and heavy hands. He has consistently impressed with each opportunity to elevate.
Mitchell Mayes was a big mover among the OTs, trending up into the top 20. He not only has a big body and very good strength, but he also possesses good feet and balance and can be a nasty finisher. His rise up the rankings may not be done.
While the 2020 offensive line class looks strong, so does its counterpart, the defensive line. Bryan Bresee may no longer be at No. 1, but he still sits within the top five. He can be a powerful, high-motor presence in the trenches.
Myles Murphy out of Georgia made a jump up and sits close behind. He possesses a nice frame, good initial burst and promising upside.
Coming off a strong performance at Future 50, Jordan Burch is another riser. A prospect with nice length and initial burst and a high ceiling for development, the uncommitted DE displays the tools to grow into a dangerous pass-rusher.