Rivals Rankings Week: Who should be No. 1 in the 2026 class?

The initial top 100 for the 2026 class is set to be unveiled this week and there are plenty of candidates for the top spot. The sophomore class is loaded with elite prospects on both sides of the ball. The national analyst team – Clint Cosgrove, Adam Friedman, John Garcia Jr., Adam Gorney and Cole Patterson – give their takes on who they think should be the top prospect in the 2026 class.


A quarterback has been selected first in 14 of the past 20 NFL drafts and the 2026 class features an absolutely elite signal caller in Julian Lewis making him my pick here. The Carrollton (Ga.) phenom’s game is well beyond his years and as a sophomore he is already one of the nation’s best regardless of class. USC‘s quarterback of the future is dominant in every facet of his game with the arm talent to make every level of throw, the accuracy and field vision you rarely see from a player his age and the on field production to match his incredible skill-set. Lewis could be challenged by players like Jahkeem Stewart, Jackson Cantwell and Chris Henry Jr. for the 2026 crown, but as things stand today – Lewis is undoubtedly the top player in this class.




There are really two names that seem to rise above the rest when I think about the top player in the 2026 rankings. The value of the quarterback position makes me think Julian Lewis should begin the 2026 rankings cycle at No. 1 overall. The USC commit has all the tools to be an instant impact quarterback at the next level and he still has a few years to develop physically. Dominant sophomore defensive lineman Jakheem Stewart would get my vote if it weren’t for Lewis.


GARCIA’S TAKE: Julian Lewis

It’s tough to imagine a more polished resume as a 10th-grade quarterback than the one Lewis has already compiled on the field, with plenty of winning and great numbers to boot, but the top ranking goes well beyond the tangible here. Lewis has been known as a mature leader, processor and executor since before high school and he’s ripped up the competition in talent-rich Georgia ever since. Several top coaching staffs value what’s in between the ears at the game’s most important position more than the physical, but Lewis can also flat-out spin it with the best of them. Them mechanics are strong, he is efficient, mobile and has little issue making all the throws in the route tree. Outside of general youth, there’s not much to nit-pick with Lewis’ game, especially from a projection standpoint. It would be shocking if he wasn’t the face of his college program at the next level.


GORNEY’S TAKE: Julian Lewis

This is easy. Julian Lewis is a phenomenal quarterback with tremendous upside and with the NFL Draft history of quarterbacks going No. 1 over the last few decades, Lewis is the player that makes the most sense. It would be a heavy debate whether Lewis is the best prospect in any class right now but he’s definitely the No. 1 prospect in 2026 although Jahkeem Stewart is really special and others could get serious consideration along the way because there are some loaded positions among this group.



Julian Lewis deserves the status as the No. 1 overall prospect in the initial 2026 recruiting class rankings. Lewis is well-beyond his years on the field as a signal caller, as he demands the huddle, the moment is never too big for him and he rises to the occasion each time that he steps onto the field. Already committed to USC, Lewis holds offers from nearly every major program nationally and looks primed to be the next star pupil of Lincoln Riley assuming he continues his already impressive trajectory at the game’s most important position.

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