Vero Beach (Fla.) High's Zeke Motta is moving up the charts, both on college recruiting boards and in the newly released Rivals250 rankings.
Motta, a 6-foot-2, 207-pounder, was rated as the most physical safety in the country in July. After a standout performance at the Football University Top Gun Camp, he now can be labeled as one of the most physical and impressive linebackers in the nation.
Zeke Motta makes his debut in the Rivals250 at No. 143.
Motta, who earned the nickname "Baby Hercules" at the FBU Top Gun Camp because of his chiseled frame, makes his debut at No. 143 in the latest Rivals250. At the camp, Motta showed off the frame of a future outside linebacker despite playing safety in high school. His physical presence - along with excellent lateral movement and ball skills - made him one of the most impressive prospects at the FBU event.
"Motta has the athleticism to play safety but the body structure to play linebacker," said recruiting analyst Barry Every, who scouted Motta at Top Gun. "His frame will allow him to add at least 25 more pounds, and he is one of the hardest hitters in the country."
As for the move up in the rankings, Motta doesn't really pay that much attention. "It's cool and a confidence booster," he said. "But I don't really get into all of that stuff. I don't really follow rankings, but it's pretty cool to be the No. 143 player in the nation."
Motta, who carries a 4.0 grade-point average, currently lists Auburn, Boston College, Clemson, Florida, Florida State, North Carolina, Notre Dame, Stanford, West Virginia and Wisconsin as his college choices. Only the Gators have yet to extend an offer.
When it comes to what position he'll play in college, Motta doesn't care. "Wherever they tell me to play, that's where I'll play," he said. "I don't care if it's safety or linebacker or whatever, I'll just do my best and give it 100 percent."
OTHER BIG DEBUTS
In addition to Motta, some other players - most of them on offense - made impressive debuts in the Rivals250.
Wide receiver Rodney Smith used to be one of the best-kept secrets in the Sunshine State, but the 6-6, 202-pounder from Miami Archbishop Carroll is moving up. He makes his Rivals250 debut at No. 172 and showed off great athleticism to go along with his size at the Seminole Showcase in late July. He committed to Florida State shortly after the event and undoubtedly will be compared to current 'Noles receiver Greg Carr.
Running backs Waymon James and Dasarte Yarnway also cracked the Rivals250. James, a 5-8, 190-pounder from Sherman, Texas, committed to TCU in May over programs such as Nebraska and Georgia Tech. Yarnway, a 6-0, 215-pounder from San Francisco Sacred Heart Cathedral boasts offers from UCLA, Cal, Oregon, Colorado, Arizona State and others. James checks in at No. 186 while Yarnway debuts at No. 233.
Quarterback Bryn Renner from West Springfield (Va.) High also cracks the 250 for the first time, making his debut at No. 187. The 6-3, 192-pounder earned his lofty ranking with an impressive showing at the Elite 11 Camp in California.
"Renner had an excellent showing," Every said. "He showed surprisingly good accuracy and excellent foot quickness. He also has good height and a nice frame, even though he's a tad thin at this time."
Renner committed to North Carolina in March over offers from Virginia Tech, West Virginia, Maryland and others.
DON'T FORGET THE DEFENSE
It wasn't just offensive players moving into the Rivals250.
Mesquite (Texas) High cornerback Marcus Trice now is the No. 167 player in the country following the adidas 7-on-7 Championship in early August. Despite his smallish 5-8, 167-pound frame, Trice is strong for his size and plays a physical, tough brand of football. Trice, who has committed to Oklahoma, also can return punts.
Gaithersburg (Md.) Quince Orchard cornerback Travis Hawkins has had impressive offers from the beginning of the recruiting process, but the 5-10, 181-pounder didn't show his defensive prowess until Florida's Friday Night Lights Camp in late July. Hawkins, who has offers from Florida, Ohio State, Michigan, Georgia, Oklahoma, Penn State and plenty of other heavyweights, worked out as a wide receiver the two previous times he was evaluated in person. But in The Swamp under the lights, he showed why he's one of the nation's top cornerback prospects. Hawkins checks in at No. 192.
Greenville (Ala.) High defensive tackle Jamontay Pilson checks in at No. 234 after a dominating performance at Auburn's summer camp. The 6-3, 265-pounder committed to Auburn in March.
Tucson (Ariz.) Palo Verde Magnet athlete Adam Hall and Plantation (Fla.) High athlete Josh Robinson could play on either side of the ball in college, and their versatility helped them land in the 250. Hall checks in at No. 235, and Robinson is No. 243.
Robinson, a 5-10, 178-pounder, has offers from Florida and Michigan but currently favors USF and UCF. He can play wide receiver, cornerback or even strong safety.
Hall, a 6-4, 195-pounder, has offers from USC, Arizona, Arizona State and others. He can play wide receiver or safety, and has the frame to potentially turn into a tight end or linebacker. Hall was especially impressive at the USC Rising Star Camp in July.
Beyond those making their debuts, a few players made leaps within the Rivals250, led by quarterbacks Allan Bridgford and Andrew Maxwell - who were both impressive at the Elite 11.
Bridgford moved from No. 157 to No. 109. Bridgford, a 6-3, 213-pounder from Mission Viejo (Calif.) High, has committed to California. Maxwell made an even bigger jump, going from No. 239 to No. 132. Maxwell, a 6-3, 192-pounder from Midland (Mich.) High, will play his college ball at Michigan State.
"Bridgford has excellent mechanics and very good accuracy on short to mid-range passes," Every said. "Maxwell possesses a very quick release and really good footwork; he just needs to fill out."
Two running backs also raised their stock and moved up in the rankings. Cross City (Fla.) Dixie County's Rodney Scott, a 5-9, 185-pounder committed to Auburn, moved from No. 206 to No. 150. Leesville (La.) High's Michael Ford went from No. 211 to No. 156. Ford, a 5-10, 200-pounder, has committed to LSU.
Rounding out the big movers on offense are wide receiver Nu'Keese Richardson and tight end Arthur Fontaine. Richardson, a 5-9, 151-pound burner from Pahokee (Fla.) High who has committed to Florida, jumped from 165th to 144th. Fontaine, a 6-5, 240-pounder from Dartmouth (Mass.) High, moved up from 186th to 140th. Fontaine just committed to Georgia.
• Chesapeake (Va.) Great Bridge wide receiver Logan Heastie, who fell from the top 50 to No. 225 in the last rankings after a subpar performance at the Chapel Hill Nike Camp, already is making his way back up the charts. Heastie, a 6-2, 192-pounder who is committed to West Virginia, looked much better in a couple of 7-on-7 tournaments this summer and has moved up to No. 183.
• Aside from the "big three" states – Florida, Texas and California – Ohio, Georgia, Louisiana and Virginia check in with double-digit prospects in the Rivals250. Ohio had 18, Georgia 14, Louisiana 12 and Virginia 10. Maryland/D.C., one of the areas that has really improved in producing top talent over the past few years, has only five players in the Rivals250.