Keeshawn Silver

Rocky Mount High’s Keeshawn Silver, left, tackles West Carteret’s Josh Plisko in the backfield during the Gryphons’ 2018 playoff run. Silver announced that he will enroll at UNC early, meaning the senior will miss his final year of high school football which begins in February.

Rocky Mount High senior Keeshawn Silver has earned himself a spot on a number of high-profile football rankings.

ESPN rated the University of North Carolina-bound defensive end as a five-star recruit, as well as naming him among the top 10 prospects in the 2021 class. Silver, once again, found himself on yet another prestigious list, this one compiled by scouts at Sports Illustrated.

Silver landed on the magazine’s inaugural SI99 list, which attempts to rank the best 99 high school players coming out of the class of 2021. Silver made his appearance at No. 22. He was the highest-ranked athlete from the state, and the fifth defensive end in the country.

The 99 athletes on the list are among the frontrunners for SI’s prestigious All-American first team honor.

Sports Illustrated describes its list as “the widest, most in-depth analysis and breakdown of tape of any recruiting class ever.”

“Our ranking of the top 99 reflects where the game of football is going,” SI All-American recruiting director John Garcia Jr said. “We’ve refined position groups. We’ve eliminated the outside linebacker position, because those guys in today’s game are more edge rushers, and added the nickel position. We’ve broken receivers and tight ends into two groups each — slot and wide receivers, and traditional (Y) and hybrid (H) tight ends.

“But one part of the game that hasn’t changed is the focus on protecting and destroying the quarterback.”

Silver had 13 tackles for loss and a team-high seven sacks for the Gryphons as a junior. The 6-foot-5, 225-pound end also had three pass deflections and a fumble recovery.