College Football Future: Top 5 AAC recruits for 2020
The American Athletic conference had 17 players drafted to the NFL during the 2020 NFL Draft. As College Football recruiting begins the process of replacing that lost talent, and providing the next wave of superstars, College Football Future looks at the Top 5 AAC recruits for 2020.
Evan Prater - QB - Cincinnati
Cincinnati finished top of the team recruiting rankings for the 2020 cycle as per 247 Sports, with the Bearcats landing the jewel in the conference crown in dual threat quarterback Evan Prater out of Wyoming High School.
Prater lands on our list of Top 5 AAC recruits for 2020, as a four star quarterback who is rated by 247 Sports as the number two ranked dual threat quarterback in the nation. He showcased his dual threat ability with 5,699 passing yards and 72 touchdowns combined with 4124 rushing yards and 73 touchdowns during his career at Wyoming.
Prater became the first Cincinnati native to be named Ohio Mr Football since 1992.
Cincinnati landed the hometown hero, who was twice name Cincinnati Hills Offensive Player of the Year, despite offers from Power 5 programs such as Michigan State, Louisville, and Oklahoma State.
Although Prater is one of the Top 5 AAC recruits for 2020, he is unlikely to lead Cincinnati in 2020 with Desmond Ridder expected to start under center.
The future is bright for the Bearcats regardless.
What he says:
“I see it as a good fit for me especially being close to home. It’s somewhere I could see myself. Just the whole atmosphere down there at UC and the tradition that he (head coach Luke Fickell) is creating. The great season and the success that he’s had – it just really stuck with me.”
What they say:
“Evan is a tremendous kid who works extremely hard. He is a great leader for our program and he’s a very talented football but he’s also just a tremendous kid. I couldn’t think of anybody else to represent the program really on a national level. The kid is a national prospect and pretty special football player to have ” – Aaron Hancock (High school head coach)
Mason Garcia - QB - ECU
The list of Top 5 AAC recruits is extremely quarterback heavy, with Mason Garcia being the second highest ranked quarterback to head to the conference. The 3* prospect is one of 26 headed to East Carolina for 2020 in a class that sees the Pirates ranked fifth in the AAC.
Although Garcia is the highest rated quarterback recruit in recent times for the Pirates, he is expected to sit behind Holton Ahlers this season.
There can be no doubt that if required to play then Garcia could step into Ahlers shoes, and may even push him for the starting job if results don’t go the right way early on for the Pirates.
Garcia has shown consistent development in his game. In his sophomore season he contributed 2100 all purpose yards. By his senior season he was throwing for 2149 yards and Garcia added 760 yards on the ground for Carolina Forest.
Although he is defined as a Pro Style quarterback, showcasing a big arm, he isn’t afraid to use his legs to make plays. Garcia has a reported 4.72 40 yard dash time.
Like Evan Prater at Cincinnati, Garcia turned his back on the Power 5 to come to ECU after building an early relationship with the Pirates coaching staff.
What he says:
“Even though I had these big schools offer me and stuff like that, ECU was still always there. I’ve always wanted to go there. I’ve been there a couple of times and I felt very comfortable. There was no hesitation with my decision.”
What they say:
“I think he is as good of a high school prospect at the quarterback position that I have personally recruited. I think Coach Kirkpatrick, he would say that he probably is coming out potential-wise maybe the best quarterback that East Carolina has signed. Given the history and the track record at that position here at this school. That’s pretty impressive.” – Mike Houston
Angelo Anderson - DT - Tulane
Behind East Carolina, Tulane ties UCF for the most 3* recruits with 20, helping them to a third place ranking in the AAC behind Cincinnati and Memphis. The highlight of their 2020 class is defensive dominator Angelo Anderson.
Anderson is one of the Top 5 AAC recruits for 2020 after a prolific high school career at John Curtis.
As a junior he tallied 19 quarterback hurries, 11 sacks, and 19 tackles for loss as the Patriots won the Louisiana State Division I title. In his final year with the school he added 10 quarterback hurries and increased his sack production to 14.
Although he is listed as a defensive tackle as per 247 Sports, he has played across the defensive line at John Curtis and a recorded 4.58 40 yard dash time would suggest he could easily play as a pass rushing defensive end at the college level.
As Anderson references below, playing close to home was a factor in the decision to commit to Tulane. He could have played in the SEC, entertaining offers from both Tennessee and Arkansas.
Instead he’ll spend the next few years terrorising some of the other Top 5 AAC recruits on this list.
What he says:
“I always liked Tulane’s football program but I really thought about my family. A lot of people don’t know, but I have a younger six-year old sister. I knew how important it was for them to come to my games and see me play, so that played a big role in me picking Tulane.”
What they say:
“This guy is going to be the bell cow of our recruiting class. He might have been a four-star guy, and then he committed to us and dropped down a star without playing a game. He was the No. 12 player in the state and now he’s 37th. I don’t know what happened. He led the state in sacks and had an unbelievable year. We identified Angelo early as a guy who could help take us to the next level.” – Willie Fritz
Thad Johnson - WR - SMU
Not only is Thad Johnson one of the Top 5 AAC recruits for 2020, he is the top ranked SMU recruit in this cycle and the 6th ranked recruit in Mustangs history.
After losing talented wide receiver James Proche to the Baltimore Ravens in the 2020 NFL Draft, Johnson will come in and challenge for game time immediately alongside Reggie Roberson and Rashee Rice.
Johnson is a speed receiver, regarded as one of the fastest wide receivers in the state of Texas. He has a reported 10.78 time in the 100 metres, and a 4.39 40 yard dash.
Johnson put that to good use with back to back 1000 yard seasons for West Brook. In his junior season he helped lead West Brook to be runners up in the state championship.
After a successful 2019, Johnson will contribute to an offense that ranked in the Top 20 behind quarterback Shane Buechele.
Keilon Brown - QB - Memphis
Although they currently lead the way in the AAC for 2021 recruting, Memphis were some way behind Cincinnati in the 2020 recruiting cycle. After winning the AAC Championship in 2019, the Tigers have become accustomed to winning.
The same can be said of their top rated recruited, dual threat quarterback Keilon Brown. The final player in our list of the Top 5 AAC recruits comes with a winning heritage at Zachary High School.
During his time there, Brown has a 28-8 record as the starter. He has an impressive 16-2 record in the playoffs and led Zachary to two state titles.
Over the course of his high school career, Brown has accounted for 13,000 yards of offense and 160 touchdowns. Even early on in his Zachary career he was showcasing his abilty to make plays with both his arms and his legs, with 2129 passing yards and 1175 rushing yards in 2017 alone.
Like the other two big names in this AAC quarterback class, Brown will have to wait for his opportunity behind an established starter in 2020 but he is set to make a splash in the AAC when he does take to the field.
What he says:
“I got to sit down and watch film with Coach Johns when I visited. A lot of things they do are pretty much like the things we do (at Zachary). That is another reason why I think this is a good fit for me.”
What they say:
“He’s phenomenal. He can run the ball, pass the ball, he’s accurate, dynamic and tough, so he really fits everything you want in a quarterback. I can’t wait to get him here because I know he’s going to be dynamic in all phases.” – Ryan Silverfield
OLIVER HODGKINSON IS A COLLEGE FOOTBALL WRITER FOR THE TOUCHDOWN. HE ALSO WRITES ON THE NFL FOR THE PRO FOOTBALL NETWORK. YOU CAN HEAR HIS OPINIONS ON ALL THINGS COLLEGE FOOTBALL AS ONE THIRD OF THE COLLEGE CHAPS PODCAST.