B/R Faceoff: Re-Ranking The Top 50 College Football Recruits of 2011
Now that we've had longer to evaluate the prospects of the 2011 college football recruiting class, Bryan Kelly and I have collaborated on another B/R Faceoff.
Instead of offering our predictions on where the top uncommitted recruits will land, this time we've each offered our opinion and analysis of who we believe the top 50 players of the 2011 class are.
Like all good arguments, Bryan and I disagree on almost everything. In some cases our difference are minor and in others they're polar opposites, but that's the beauty of opinion.
Check out the Updated B/R Top 50.
No. 50: Michael's Pick: Sedrick Flowers / Bryan's Pick: CJ Uzomah
Michael's Pick: Sedrick Flowers, OG (Texas)
One thing immediately stands out about Flowers the moment you see him in drills or on the field: He is almost unnaturally strong and super athletic for his size.
He's so quick off the ball and has one of the best initial bursts in the country. He hits his man square in the chest on first impact and drives him into the ground.
Flowers' ability to succeed as a pulling guard is what's most intriguing about his game. He can get to the second level of defenders as fast as anyone his size can and has an unstoppable motor.
But he's not the best pass-blocker, so he gets snubbed the five-star grade you'd expect to see from a prospect like him.
Bryan's Pick: CJ Uzomah, ATH (Auburn)
CJ Uzomah is a 6'5", 230 lb athlete out of Suwannee, Georgia, who could line up at tight end, wide receiver or even quarterback.
He played wide receiver for most of high school, but switched to quarterback as a junior and led his team deep into the state playoffs.
Uzomah completed 63 percent of his passes for 11 touchdowns and rushed for five more. Film of him can be found here—I especially liked his pocket presence.
Uzomah just committed to Auburn, where recruitniks suggest he'll fulfill the Kodi Burns Wildcat role. Frankly, I thought that role was a thing of the past in Malzahn's new offense, but if they can get the best of both worlds out of him, more power to them.
No. 49: Michael's Pick: Michael Bennett / Bryan's Pick: Kris Harley
Michael's Pick: Michael Bennett, DT (Ohio State)
Bennett is Rivals' No. 1 defensive tackle but earns only four stars because of his inexperience on that side of the ball. He's a two-way player who lines up at offensive guard and tackle as well as at defensive tackle.
He's got a nasty side to him you love to see in lineman and has an attacker's mentality that allows him to thrive in the trenches and push his body around with intensity.
Bennett is one of the strongest DTs in the class and does a great job of staying low and getting underneath his opponent. Some scouts see him as a raw prospect who would need time to develop—a view that tends to overlook the serious potential he brings to the table.
Bryan's Pick: Kris Harley, DT (Virginia Tech)
Surprise greeted DT Kris Harley's decision to commit to Virginia Tech in early April. The Indianapolis native held offers from Oklahoma, USC, Nebraska and was on the verge of an Ohio State offer when he decided.
Harley is 6'2" and 256 lbs and posted 91 tackles and five sacks as a junior. From the DT position, that is outstanding production. I'm coming up short on film, but his offers and the buzz around his commitment (Scout's No. 13 DT, an ESPNU 150 watch list member) suggest he'll be a high four-star player and an All-American invitee.
In retrospect, Harley is just the type of top-tier defensive recruit Virginia Tech can build a great defense on, as they're hoping to do this year with DT John Graves.
No. 48: Michael's Pick: Nick O'Leary / Bryan's Pick: Kiaro Holts
Michael's Pick: Nick O'Leary, TE (Uncommitted)
O'Leary might be the best tight end in the 2011 class. He's a receiver and lineman mixed into one body.
He has the all-around skills to be an immediate force on the football field. O'Leary is an elite blocker, has a great set of hands, moves downfield well, and runs crisp routes.
There really aren't any issues you can find with his game besides his height. Listed at a generous 6'4", O'Leary doesn't have prototypical size for the position. If he were three inches taller he might have been a unanimous choice for No. 1 at his position.
Bryan's Pick: Kiaro Holts, OT (UNC)
Along with Harley, Kiaro Holts is Warren Central's other great prospect for 2011, albeit on the offensive line.
The 6'5", 270 lb tackle is Scout's fifth-best tackle, has an impressive offer sheet and landed an invite to the Army All-American Bowl.
Holts committed to UNC last month and will be part of one of the top offensive line hauls in the country for the Tar Heels.
Highlight video here.
No. 47: Michael's Pick: Jeff Driskel / Bryan's Pick: Ben Koyack
Michael's Pick: Jeff Driskell, QB (Florida)
Driskel is Rivals' and ESPN's No. 1 quarterback in 2011, but neither lists him at five stars, and it's very difficult to believe that there's not a single quarterback in the class worthy of the rating.
He's described as a pure pocket passer but has the athleticism and speed to make plays happen with his legs when he needs to. He's got a very strong arm and is an accurate passer who can make all the throws a college quarterback needs to make.
Statistically he won't wow you though, and that's the main reason he tends to be left behind in the quarterback discussion when in reality he's not far off the pace of other five-star prospects.
Bryan's Pick: Ben Koyack, TE (Notre Dame)
Oil City, Pennsylvania tight end Ben Koyack is a tight end in-name-only. The 6'5", 230 lb player is more like a wide receiver in disguise.
Koyack posted 743 yards and five touchdowns in abbreviated action for his high school team (he missed the end of the season with a knee injury).
He's the perfect fit for Brian Kelly's system. His size and speed will present match-up problems, and he has the hands and the endurance to catch upwards of 10-15 passes a game when healthy.
Watch his highlight film below.
No. 46: Michael's Pick: Trevon Randle / Bryan's Pick: Trey DePriest
Michael's Pick: Trevon Randle, LB (LSU)
Randle is a statistical monster who had 176 tackles, five sacks, three picks, four forced fumbles, and 14 touchdowns as a junior.
When you see numbers like that, you have to pay attention. He takes over games with his playmaking ability and roams the field like a predator when he's chasing down ball carriers.
One of the best tacklers in the class and a player who has a great knack for turnovers, Randle will probably stand out as one of the best linebackers of the class when we look back on this in a few years.
That's why its a bit hard to accept when a slow 40-time takes the 5-Star label from him.
Bryan's Pick: Trey Depriest, OLB (Alabama)
Outside linebacker Trey DePriest is one of the headliners in a banner year for Ohio state talent.
As a junior, the 6'2", 231 lb linebacker compiled 101 tackles, 10 TFLs, seven sacks and three forced fumbles for Springfield HS.
Over the in-state Buckeyes, DePriest chose Alabama, a decision I think suits his talent for blitzing a lot better than Ohio State.
His speed puts him in the backfield right off the snap, and he sheds blocks like the elites. Comparisons to last year's Jordan Hicks are apt—both can lay the wood on a scrambling QB, and both will be studs if allotted a redshirt year.
No. 45: Michael's Pick: Trey Metoyer / Bryan's Pick: Jameel Poteat
Michael's Pick: Trey Metoyer, WR (Oklahoma)
Trey Metoyer is one of the highest-rated receivers of the 2011 class. He's rated top-five at his position by both Scout and Rivals and presents a great combination of size and speed.
He doesn't have the breakaway speed of a George Farmer, but he still runs a 4.5-second 40 and has enough quickness to break loose for a big play if you let him get into space.
At 6'2" and 185 lbs, he needs to put some weight on his frame, but he's already a very strong athlete who uses his strength to avoid getting jammed at the line and to ward off defenders downfield and create separation.
He's a solid route-runner and a reliable receiver with a great set of hands.
Bryan's Pick: Jameel Poteat, RB (Pitt)
Poteat takes a huge leap from the original B/R 100 due to his outstanding choice of school.
Lacking only true breakaway speed to complete an outstanding repertoire, Harrisburg, PA running back prospect Jameel Poteat is a true up-the-middle buster with balance and power, who also flashes the lateral speed to do damage on tosses on the outside.
He reminded me of Michigan State's Javon Ringer, a one-cut-and-go workhorse who can wear down defenses with time. He's a perfect fit for the Panthers in that regard.
Cue the Rocky theme:
No. 44: Michael's Pick: Desmond Jackson / Bryan's Pick: Jon Davis
Michael's Pick: Desmond Jackson, DT (Texas)
One of the top overall prospects in the country, Jackson is a hulking five star defensive tackle that dominates the trenches about as good as any prospect in the country.
He does a great job of penetrating the offensive line and consistently finds his way into the backfield to blow up run plays or force quarterbacks out of the pocket if he can't sack them himself.
A high effort, great motor player, Jackson is relentless in pursuit and never gives up on a play. At 6'1" and 280 pounds, he'll chase ball-carriers 10 or 20 yards down the field without skipping a beat.
He has great hand movement and stays low and drives with his legs, taking up a lot of space and commanding a double team on most plays. From a technique standpoint, Jackson is rock solid.
Bryan's Pick: Jon Davis, TE (Kentucky)
As an advocate of parity in all conferences, I was happy to see just how good TE Jon Davis is on film. He'll be able to provide Kentucky with some serious firepower on offense.
Davis is another tight end in-name-only; he can rush, receive, return, play free safety or take snaps at quarterback.
There's no way of predicting the effect the 6'3", 233 lb Louisville native will have on the Wildcats except to say, watch his highlight film. Then imagine him doing what he does against the rest of the SEC.
No. 43: Michael's Pick: Brandon Williams / Bryan's Pick: Anthony Zettel
Michael's Pick: Brandon Williams, RB (Oklahoma)
Williams is a great all-around running back who contributes not only in the running game, but also as a legitimate weapon in the passing game. He doesn't have elite size or speed but makes up with it with a gamer's mentality and playing style.
Some guys are just meant to be observed on the football field, not in the weight room or with timing numbers. On the field he's a home run threat who picks his cuts and holes so well that defenders are left 10 yards behind him before they even know it.
The biggest question about his game is his ability to break tackles, as right now he often goes down on first contact. That's something that can easily be corrected with a college weight program, though.
Bryan's Pick: Anthony Zettel, OG/DE (Uncommitted)
Anthony Zettel has had an interesting summer.
He was Michigan's top target on the offensive line, but some good performances at strongside end—where Rivals lists him currently—have him rethinking where he'd like to play most.
Scout's No. 6 guard out of West Branch, MI, Zettel has been favoring the in-state Wolverines for some time, but is now off on making his commitment official in favor of official visits to UCLA and others.
I'm sure Michigan will make no bones about offering him as a DE—we need help on the D-line, too. But as is becoming clear, it could take until this fall, or later, before he's 100 percent.
No. 42: Michael's Pick: Ben Koyack / Bryan's Pick: Nick Waisome
Michael's Pick: Ben Koyack, TE (Notre Dame)
Koyack is one of the top tight ends from the 2011 recruiting class and the top player on Notre Dame's commitment list to this point. He's basically a wide receiver in a tight end's body.
He runs very smooth routes, has a great set of hands and presents a mismatch for practically any defender on the field. He can beat you in flats, down the middle, downfield, and on the sidelines.
He'll fit right into the Irish's new offense and could quickly develop into one of Dayne Crist's favorite targets in a couple years.
Bryan's Pick: Nick Waisome, CB (Uncommitted)
Nick Waisome out of Groveland, FL will remind many of Florida State's true freshman cornerback, LaMarcus Joyner, who committed to the Noles in the 2010 class.
Both lack ideal size but make up for it by sticking to receivers like glue.
In a CB class strong on heavy hitters with poor jamming technique, Waisome flashes true cover corner ability. He can play bump-and-run, keep up with the fastest receivers and has a 35-inch vertical that will be tough to throw over. Here's a good read on him flashing his skills at the Gridiron Kings event, where he took an interception to the house.
Waisome is on the verge of committing to either Florida or Florida State, a decision expected to be made this month.
No. 41: Michael's Pick: Mike Blakley / Bryan's Pick: Herschel Sims
Michael's Pick: Mike Blakely, RB (Uncommitted)
Blakely might be on the small side, but he makes up for it with an elusive style of rushing and great cutback ability.
He's a four-star running back, but he's also a serious receiving threat out of the backfield and has great hands that open up the passing game a lot, with constant dump-offs and fade routes that are difficult to contain.
He needs to get stronger and learn to block better, but besides those concerns, there aren't many holes in his game.
There's doubt he has the size to ever be an every down back, though, and it hurts his rating a little more than it should.
Players with the type of natural ability like Blakely tend to find a way to overcome their physical limitations and do big things. That makes him a five-star guy to me.
Bryan's Pick: Herschel Sims, RB (Oklahoma State)
After waiting on a Texas offer that never arrived, Abilene running back Herschel Sims chose the Oklahoma State Cowboys over TCU and Texas Tech in April.
Sims is a bruising 5'10", 190 lb back who will remind some of former Iowa RB and current New York Jet Shonn Greene. He can bowl defenders over on a run out of the I-formation or break containment and do damage on the outside.
No. 40: Michael's Pick: Brey Cook / Bryan's Pick: Kenny Hayes
Michael's Pick: Brey Cook, OT (Arkansas)
Cook is one of the top-rated offensive tackles in the country, and at 6'7" and 310 pounds, he has elite size and a frame to build off of that just can't be taught.
He's an extremely strong run blocker and has a great push at the line of scrimmage. As a pass-blocker he struggles somewhat with faster and more athletic defenders, but it's more a matter of consistency than anything else. He has the footwork, hand usage, and agility to get it done.
He's just a notch behind guys like La'El Collins or Christian Westerman and rates out as a top seven offensive tackle prospect by both Rivals and Scouts. A solid senior season will undoubtedly make him a 5-star prospect by the time he hits his college campus.
Bryan's Pick: Kenny Hayes, DE (Ohio State)
A huge prospect on the defensive line, 6'5", 255 lb Kenny Hayes will be a force for the Buckeyes for years to come.
Hayes attacks the defensive end position almost like a tackle, eating up double teams with strength and stringing the play out. His aggressiveness is a great match for the Buckeyes, who rely so much on their defensive line to open up tackling lanes for their linebackers in lieu of blitzing.
No. 39: Michael's Pick: Leroy Scott / Bryan's Pick: Demetrius Hart
Michael's Pick: Leroy Scott, CB (Texas)
He's one of those rare players that's looked like a man among boys since he was freshman in high school. At 5'10" and 190 lbs, he's a very physical player who tackles well and is always on the lookout to land a big hit.
His coverage skills are probably the top in the country. He glues himself to his receiver and has great instincts when it comes to jumping in front of his man and making a play for the ball.
His speed also helps him make up for missed gambles, but that doesn't happen often; Scott doesn't make many mistakes.
Bryan's Pick: Demetrius Hart, RB/ATH (Uncommitted)
Hart was absent of the original B/R 100, but reservations about his size weren't enough to prevent him from cracking the Rivals' top 50...and truthfully, the only reason I didn't include him was to avoid looking like a homer.
That's because Hart favors the Michigan Wolverines 75/25 over Alabama after an unofficial visit.
No. 38: Michael's Pick: Trey DePriest / Bryan's Pick: DeAnthony Arnett
Michael's Pick: Trey DePriest, LB (Alabama)
DePriest has the natural build of a linebacker and a natural ability to read snap counts, get out of his stance quickly, and beat his man off the ball.
He's got a great motor and is excellent in pursuit; not many prospects can cover the field from sideline to sideline the way he can.
And look out for the big hit, DePriest can really put a licking on a ball-carrier in the open field.
He has a bad tendency to play high and gets away with it because of his strength, but that's going to get him in trouble at the next level. His tackling technique needs to be scrapped and proper form needs to be drilled into him by the coaching staff or there could be an issue there.
Bryan's Pick: DeAnthony Arnett, WR (Uncommitted)
There's a ton of film of Saginaw, MI wide receiver DeAnthony Arnett out there, but none shows off the variety of moves he has at the line of scrimmage better than the one from the 7-on-7 Showcase.
Watch how Arnett uses his hands and an arsenal of double moves to get open. That's NFL-grade stuff.
Arnett has committed himself to rising to the level of a five-star wide receiver, winning MVP honors at a Nike Camp in Columbus in early summer.
He's announce USC as his leader, but will visit his other favorites, Cal, Tennessee, Michigan State, Iowa, Miami and Oklahoma, before deciding...which could happen this month.
If that highlight film isn't enough, check this one out:
No. 37: Michael's Pick: Gregory Robinson / Bryan's Pick: Quandre Diggs
Michael's Pick: Gregory Robinson, OT (Uncommitted)
Robinson was one of the top performers at the U.S. Army All-American Combine. At 6'5" and 296 lbs, he's a big and physical player with a lot of upside.
He's a workout warrior that really impresses with his strength and agility, though his technique as a blocker is still a bit raw. He often struggles to stay low and doesn't adjust his feet very well.
Robinson relies on his natural ability right now, but that won't cut it in college. If he can learn to balance himself better and slide his feet against speed rushers, there won't be much stopping him from being an elite tackle.
It's coming down to Auburn and LSU, but there's no indication who holds the edge at the moment.
Bryan's Pick: Quandre Diggs, ATH (Texas)
Quandre Diggs is a four-star athlete out of Angleton, Texas that most UT recruiting followers believe will play cornerback for the Longhorns.
His junior year statline is incredible: threw for 399 yards, three touchdowns and five interceptions; rushed for 1,257 yards and 13 touchdowns; caught one touchdown pass; posted two return touchdowns; intercepted three passes...
Like athlete DeMarco Cobbs in the 2010 class, I can picture Texas's defensive coaches molding Diggs into a great corner or free safety, but he's just as adept at grabbing the edge on offense. On pure talent alone, he's a top 50 player...and not just in my eyes.
No. 36: Michael's Pick: Kiehl Frazier / Bryan's Pick: James Vaughters
Michael's Pick: Kiehl Frazier, QB (Auburn)
Kiehl Frazier is a dangerous dual-threat quarterback who could run a spread, an option, a pro-style, or pretty much any offense you could dream up.
He throws the deep ball with excellent power and accuracy, and he can really do some damage when he gets loose in open space.
He's a pass-first guy that will beat you with his arm first and mostly takes off when the defense allows him to, much like a Braxton Miller. He's not as big or as strong as Miller, though, and there are some technical issues with his throwing motion.
Frazier is a just a straight gamer though and will lift his team onto his back and carry them to victory if he has too. That's something that can't be quantified with stats.
Bryan's Pick: James Vaughters, LB (Stanford)
Vaughters, a Tucker, Georgia native who stands 6'2" and weighs 233 lbs, touched off a wave of surprising commitments when he chose Stanford in June.
Vaughters' four finalists, Ohio State, Georgia, Georgia Tech and Alabama, give you a sense of the magnitude of that recruiting upset.
His highlight film shows him playing a lot on the defensive line, which led to my belief that he'd be a great outside linebacker in a 3-4, but Scout and Rivals list him as an inside linebacker. At any rate, he shows great speed on the blitz and intelligence in his play diagnosis.
Watch his video and see where you think he fits best.
No. 35: Savon Huggins / Bryan's Pick: Teddy Bridgewater,
Michael's Pick: Savon Huggins, RB (Uncommitted)
There's no one from the 2011 class who can juke quite like Savon Huggins. He has such a broad array of moves that you really never know what he's going to do on any given play.
When you watch him play, you immediately think Barry Sanders. He's got the vision, the balance, the change-of-direction ability, and simply the unwillingness to go down.
He's got such a good low center of gravity and body control that most defenders struggle to get a clean hit on him. Once he learns to block better and participate in the passing game, he'll be a compete back.
Bryan's Pick: Teddy Bridgewater, QB (Miami)
Early in the recruiting cycle, Miami native Teddy Bridgewater was discussing opting out of playing quarterback and lining up at receiver.
But the overwhelming attention he received from schools who wanted him at QB convinced him otherwise.
Now, the 6'3", 185 lb QB with 4.6 speed is among the top five dual-threat quarterbacks in the country. In fact, to independent recruiting website ThaRinger, he's the number three prospect overall in the 2011 class.
Bridgewater attends Northwestern High School, a factory for Miami recruits. Not surprisingly, he chose the Hurricanes in May. He'll enroll behind a senior Jacory Harris if the latter decides to stay. If not, I could see him challenge Harris's backups as a true freshman, with a little bit of swagger.
No. 34: Michael's Pick: Sammy Watkins / Bryan's Pick: Josh Turner
Michael's Pick: Sammy Watkins, WR (Uncommitted)
Sammy Watkins is one of the best prospects from the state of Florida and a game-breaker at the receiver position.
He's the complete package in terms of size and speed and a dangerous weapon in the return game as well; he's a threat to take it the distance on any play and has that sixth gear you look for in elite prospects.
The only knock on Watkins is that for someone of his size and catching ability, he hasn't been much of a redzone threat to this point in his career and that's a bit troubling.
Bryan's Pick: Josh Turner, CB (Texas)
Turner is a 6'0", 175-lb cover corner who impressed scouts at a Nike Combine on TCU's campus. He had 83 tackles and six interceptions as a junior, very good tackling numbers for a defensive back.
Turner chose Texas despite hailing from Oklahoma, marking the second year in a row that Oklahoma's top in-state prospect chose the Sooners' biggest rival (last year it was four-star athlete DeMarco Cobbs).
No. 33: Michael's Pick: Greg Townsend / Bryan's Pick: Karlos Williams
Michael's Pick: Greg Townsend, DE (Uncommitted)
Townsend has the athleticism and size to play anywhere from linebacker to defensive tackle on the next level. He's got great instincts and strength, but his body control and balance are what stand out the most when you watch him play.
Not many prospects his size are able to maneuver around blockers and contort their body without losing footing or balance. Townsend just squeezes past his opponent and sets himself up to make a play.
At this point, his technique is raw and more polished collegiate tackles won't have much trouble handling him. But the potential is there and the ceiling is sky high for him.
Bryan's Pick: Karlos Williams, S (Florida State)
Williams is a four-star safety with the speed of a defensive back and the hitting power of a linebacker.
The 6'2", 210 lb athlete carved up the Gridiron Kings seven-on-seven, winning Defensive MVP after picking off three passes, including one he returned for a 100-yard touchdown.
He's a soft commitment to Florida State, taking trips to Alabama and others. His tweener status as a safety/outside linebacker hybrid means he'll have to find the right defense to be used innovatively.
No. 32: Michael's Pick: Christian LeMay / Bryan's Pick: Sammy Watkins
Michael's Pick: Christian LeMay, QB (Georgia)
LeMay is one of the top quarterback prospects in the country, rated top three at his position by both Rivals and Scout. It doesn't take long for you to realize this kid is the real deal.
He's a natural winner and leader, the type of quarterback who stays calm under pressure and makes plays when it really counts. There aren't many quarterbacks with as much athleticism and throwing ability on the run.
If there's a knock on his game, it's that he tends to not feel pressure coming at times and holds the ball too casually. That usually equals turnovers, but what's great to see is that it doesn't frazzle him; he just plays through it.
Bryan's Pick: Sammy Watkins, WR/CB (Uncommitted)
Fort Myers, FL wide receiver Sammy Watkins is a five-star talent and Scout's third-best player at the wideout position, but depending on his choice of school, he may wind up at cornerback.
Beyond a knack for speed, Scout praised his versatility and great hands. He's a receiver that can go deep or do damage on short routes, hauling in 46 receptions for a solid 1192 yards and 14 touchdowns as a junior.
What I saw in his film was a great use of hands, not as a receiver, but as a blocker. Watch how he latches on to defensive backs and runs them right out of the play.
Miami and Clemson lead for him, with Michigan, LSU, Florida and Alabama hoping for officials.
No. 31: Michael's Pick: Austin Seferian-Jenkins / Bryan's Pick: Viliami
Michael's Pick: Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE (Uncommitted)
Seferian-Jenkins presents a near-ideal target to throw to at 6'7" and 245 lbs. Because of his size, strength, and athleticism, he is almost always open and rarely has to beat out his defender for the ball.
His route-running is polished and he does a great job of getting off the line of scrimmage fast, generally embarrassing anyone who tries to jam him.
When he's extending his arms and using his hands to catch the ball at it's highest point, there's no way to stop him from making a play.
Seferian-Jenkins isn't perfect though; he struggles as a blocker and needs to improve a lot in this category or he'll be a liability on running-downs.
Bryan's Pick: Viliami Moala, DT (Uncommitted)
At first it seemed Moala, a 6'2", 326 lb gentle giant, planned on staying close to home, with his interest high in Cal and USC, where some familial relations are also playing.
But the Sacramento, CA recruit emerged as one of Alabama's top targets after keeping a low recruiting profile for most of spring.
Moala registered 104 tackles and 15 sacks as the anchor of Grant High School's defense, and also played offensive lineman.
Moala is a true one-tech DT, so he might be a great fit in Alabama's 3-4. Highlights (some on the offensive line) here.
No. 30: Michael's Pick: Herschel Sims / Bryan's Pick: Christian LeMay
Michael's Pick: Herschel Sims, RB (Oklahoma State)
Sims is one of the most talented running backs in the country and a five-star prospect that would have done special things no matter where he ended up playing.
He's the definition of a home-run hitter and is one of the most exciting players to watch in the country. It seems like he only plays better the bigger the stage is and gains momentum throughout a game rather than wearing down like some backs.
Sims is on the small side at a generous listing of 5'9" and 190 lbs, but when you're drawing comparisons to LaDainian Tomlinson that isn't something to be too worried about.
Bryan's Pick: Christian LeMay, QB (Georgia)
Matthews, North Carolina QB Christian LeMay committed to Georgia in April. His decision came just as half of Georgia's QB depth was pondering a transfer, something I interpreted as meant-to-be-ness acting on UGa's behalf.
I think he's one of the most technically sound QBs in the class, less of a dual-threat QB and more just an old-school Fran Tarkenton type who can use his legs to buy time and avoid the rush.
He's a few inches underneath the ideal QB height, but he's one of the hardest workers on the circuit, showing up at multiple camps and arranging to enroll early and compete for the starting job at Georgia.
No. 29: Michael's Pick: Brent Calloway / Bryan's Pick: Nick O'Leary
Michael's Pick: Brent Calloway, LB (Alabama)
Calloway is a player that won't wow you in drills or in the weight room.
But the game film speaks for itself. Some guys are just gamers.He's one of those guys.
He plays defensive end in high school, but he's better suited as a linebacker in college.
Calloway is a versatile athlete, though, a high energy guy who led his team to a state championship last season by dominating quarterbacks and bulldozing defenses to the tune of over 1,400 yards rushing last season.
If you get past the scouting numbers, such as his slightly slow 40-time and lack of strength lifting, Calloway is a special player.
Bryan's Pick: Nick O'Leary, TE (Uncommitted
Nick O'Leary, a West Palm Beach native, stands 6'4" and weighs a shade over 220. He's primarily a receiving threat, winning offensive MVP honors against some elite competition at the Gridiron Kings Event in July. But He has the frame and strength to develop as a blocker on the line of scrimmage.
You can see him deliver a few outside blocks to cornerbacks and safeties in this highlight film.
He holds Miami and Florida State in high esteem, and is also hearing from Alabama.
No. 28: Michael's Pick: Anthony Johnson / Bryan's Pick: Garrett Greenlea
Michael's Pick: Anthony Johnson, DT (LSU)
Johnson is a big, physical, bull-rushing defensive tackle that prefers to plow straight through his opponent rather than try to get around them.
He's definitely on the raw side and doesn't have a wide array of moves; which is why he relies so much on his strength. The tools are there for a devastating anchor for LSU's line in a couple years, but he needs to polish off his skills first.
Johnson is very quick off the ball and has a tremendous motor that never seems to quit on him.
Bryan's Pick: Garrett Greenlea, OT (Texas)
Greenlea's film can be found here.
No. 27: Michael's Pick: J. Rasco / Bryan's Pick: C. Westerman
Michael's Pick: Jermauria Rasco, DE (Uncommitted)
Rasco has improved tremendously every year and that's something to take note of when looking at a prospect. He's an elite defensive end with a very high ceiling and his only getting better as he ages.
He's got great instincts and discipline, but his technique and movements are still on the raw side. If he can learn to add some weapons to his arsenal and get off the ball quicker, he could end up being the best defensive end in the class.
For someone with so much to work on, seeing how fast he's able to disengage from his blockers and engage ball-carriers is eyebrow raising.
Bryan's Pick: Christian Westerman, OT (Texas)
No. 26: Michael's Pick: Jeoffrey Pagan / Bryan's Pick: Jarvis Landry
Michael's Pick: Jeoffrey Pagan, DE (Florida)
Pagan played running back, receiver and defensive end in high school, but based on his natural ability as a pass rusher and his size he's a perfect fit as a defensive end.
Pagan didn't even start playing the position until this past season, and immediately he looked like a natural out there who'd been doing it his whole life.
He's strong and athletic and gets into the backfield in a hurry. He's still very raw and needs to be polished, which means a redshirt year might be in his best interest, but the potential is there.
Bryan's Pick: Jarvis Landry, WR (LSU)
Lutcher, Louisiana wide receiver Jarvis Landry is another of LSU's commits to wow me so much on film that I had to rank him higher than the experts.
He's a far cry from the huge, hulking receivers LSU's offense has been leaning on recently.
Watch how smoothly he cuts through over-pursuing defenders on film. He combines great vision with lateral speed.
If you don't like that video, there's two more 10 minute highlight reels to consider. As one Rivals headline put it, Jarvis Landry is legit.
No. 25: Michael's Pick: Kenny Hilliard / Bryan's Pick: Colt Lyerla
Michael's Pick: Kenny Hilliard, RB (LSU)
LSU has collected playmakers for its 2011 class and has a few guys that simply perform on the field. When you see what they're capable of out there, 40-times and bench press totals fly out the window.
He has a great power game and seemingly breaks tackles at will. If you're looking for a North-South runner, he's your guy. Hilliard won't make a lot of fancy moves, but he's a smart player with great instincts who hits his holes hard and fast.
He doesn't have the breakaway speed you like to see from top running back prospects, but he's a decisive runner who gets the most out of each carry.
Tigers' fans will quickly grow to love this player.
Bryan's Pick: Colt Lyerla, DE/TE/RB/ATH (Uncommitted)
I'm not sure what position Hillsboro, OR athlete Colt Lyerla will play at the college level, but I don't think that should inhibit his standing as one of the most athletic and multifaceted talents in the class.
Scout's No. 3 defensive end was also an all-state linebacker. Oh, and he produced 1,800 rushing yards and 900 receiving yards for a total of 39 touchdowns. as a junior He's drawing comparisons to Ndamukong Suh, another native of Oregon.
If he signs up with the in-state Oregon Ducks, it will be hard to resist that level of production on offense.
No. 24: Michael's Pick: Jay Rome / Bryan's Pick: Kiehl Frazier
Michael's Pick: Jay Rome, TE (Uncommitted)
Jay Rome is the No. 1 ranked tight end recruit in the country and has been linked to over a dozen programs to date.
An extremely athletic tight end with NFL potential, Rome has all the intangibles to be very successful wherever he ends up playing.
He has tremendous blocking skills and can line up at receiver or tight end. If Rome can improve his strength, he'll has the potential to be one of the biggest impact freshman in the country in 2011.
He has a ton of offers on the table, but it looks like it's going to come down to Georgia and Alabama at the end of the day.
Bryan's Pick: Kiehl Frazier, QB (Auburn)
I'm sticking to my comparison of Springdale, Arkansas QB Kiehl Frazier to a young Steve McNair.
Frazier, 6'3", 215 lbs, carved up defenses with his arm and his legs, passing for 3800 yards and 48 touchdowns and running for 764 yards and 14 more scores as a junior.
He committed to Auburn in May; the Tigers were the first to offer him, and offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn successfully sold the young QB that his offense was indeed the perfect fit.
Having found a system that suits him effortlessly I think he could be the most successful QB of the 2011 class.
No. 23: Michael's Pick: Ray Drew / Bryan's Pick: Aaron Green
Michael's Pick: Ray Drew, DE (Uncommitted)
Ray Drew is not just a high school football star who's one of the best pure pass rushers in the country, he's also a licensed minister.
That speaks volumes about this young man's character.
Drew isn't the type of player you need to worry about causing problems off the field.
He's a hard-worker, a vocal player and a natural leader.
He'll step in from day one and grind it out at 100 percent from the the minute the whistle is blown until the end of the day.
He's very good at getting to the quarterback and has a great skill set of power and finesse moves.
Bryan's Pick: Aaron Green, RB (Uncommitted)
San Antonio, Texas running back Aaron Green lacks only elite size to compliment speed, durability, fluidity and explosiveness. In any other year, he would coast to a top ranking as a running back or all-purpose back.
Green took up a lively interest in Nebraska. He caught the Huskers' spring game and welcomed the coaches on an in-home visit a few weeks later. But while a lead might be present, Green's recruitment seems to have slowed down and he now looks destined to take at least one or two officials during the season.
His highlight film should tell you more about his game:
No. 22: Michael's Pick: C. Westerman / Bryan's Pick: Braxton Miller
Michael's Pick: Christian Westerman, OT (Texas)
At 6'5", 285 lbs, Westerman is projected as either a guard or right tackle at the next level.
He's a very strong blocker and moves his feet well.
But the fact that he never played left tackle in high school probably means it just doesn't suit his skill-set.
He overpowers defenders with quick hits and a very low stance, but the way he's able to move suggest he'd be very successful as a pulling guard.
This guy could open up a highway on counters.
Bryan's Pick: Braxton Miller, QB (Ohio State)
There are two schools of that out there on Ohio State commit Braxton Miller. One camp says he's all hype, that his so-so numbers (88 completions on 166 attempts for 1,091 yards and nine touchdowns) foreshadow a mismatched career in the historically buttoned-down Buckeye offense.
Other, more optimistic followers recognize his enormous potential and emphasize his talents on the ground, where he rushed for 18 touchdowns.
I find myself somewhere in the middle, and think it might come down to whether he has a chance to redshirt, and whether things can get just a little weird with the Buckeye offense.
No. 21: Michael's Pick: Ha'Sean Clinton-Dix / Bryan's Pick: K. Hilliard
Michael's Pick: Ha'Sean Clinton-Dix, S (Alabama)
Clinton-Dix is an elite prospect who really has an ideal skill set for a safety. There's almost nothing about his game not to like, except for some minor footwork issues.
He's very physical and has great natural instincts, which lead to a lot of big hits and turnovers. His coverage skills are about as good as any defensive prospect in the class, but he's also very good in run support as well.
Clinton-Dix is the type of player that craves contact, and really could succeed as either a strong safety or free safety. Based on his size, 6'2" and 190 lbs, if he can define his man-to-man coverage skills a bit, he could develop into a once in a lifetime-type cover corner
Bryan's Pick: Kenny Hilliard, RB (LSU)
Hilliard, 6', 208 lbs, certainly looks the part of the bruising tailback Tiger fans have come to expect from their offense, and he's got bloodlines that really have the fan base excited. His uncle, Dalton, is currently fifth all-time in rushing touchdowns from his days in Baton Rouge.
His highlight reel is a mess of missed tackle, but I loved his speed and the energy he runs with most. He just seems to fit through gaps most running backs don't see.
Highlight film here.
No. 20: Michael's Pick: Steve Edmond / Bryan's Pick: A. Seferian-Jenkins
Michael's Pick: Steve Edmond, LB (Texas)
Edmond is a tackling machine who exploded for 184 tackles his junior year, with 34 of them coming for a loss.
He dominates all over the field and at his size, 6'3", 225 lbs, he can play inside or outside linebacker and potentially could bulk up a bit to play end. There are very few prospects as physically-ready as Edmond and probably no one in the nation who can tackle with as much consistency.
He reminds me a lot of Sergio Kindle when he rushes the passer, but he's a better tackler in open space and brings more to the table in run support.
A guy who tackles as well as Edmond has middle linebacker written all over him.
Bryan's Pick: Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE (Uncommitted)
Tight ends don't have the monumental impact on the game that hyperbolists like myself can appreciate. But nevertheless, Seferian-Jenkins has the athleticism and ball skills to create the kind of mismatch opportunities that can break a game wide open.
Highlight film of him eating defensive backs alive, ho!:
No. 19: Michael's Pick: Jarvis Landry / Bryan's Pick: Ray Drew
Michael's Pick: Jarvis Landry, WR (LSU)
Landry is one of those prospects that fits into the "needs to bulk up" category more than the "will always be undersized" category. No matter how much weight he's able to put on, he'll always be a sub-six foot receiver though, and scouts tend to undervalue you immediately when you fit into that category.
He makes up for that with solid route-running and great movement in closed spaces, but that doesn't even begin to describe how much of a playmaker he is.
Landry is a sure-handed player that demands the ball on big plays and will quickly develop into a third-down conversion machine. Give him the ball anywhere on the field and he's a threat to turn it into an instant six-point highlight.
Bryan's Pick: Ray Drew, DE (Uncommitted)
Thomasville, Georgia defensive end Ray Drew has one of the most impressive offer sheets I've seen, a testament both to his talent and to how wide-open his recruitment is.
Scout's No. 6 defensive end is drawing rave reviews for everything from his pass-rush technique to his uninhibited play on special teams.
His production—72 tackles, 16 TFLs, seven sacks and three forced fumbles—earned him an invite to both the Under-Armour and Army All-American games.
There's not even an inkling of a leader for him even with the summer coming to an end. He's visited Georgia, South Florida, Florida, Florida State, Tennessee, South Carolina, Clemson and others, and still maintains it will come down to signing day.
Film of him is hard to come by, so just admire those long arms until some makes the rounds.
No. 18: Michael's Pick: Kasen Williams / Bryan's Pick: Mike Bellamy
Michael's Pick: Kasen Williams, WR (Uncommitted)
Kasen Williams is ranked as the top receiver in the nation by Scout. He's a big, strong receiver who runs very good routes and creates great separation down-field by overpowering and out-maneuvering defenders.
He's also so strong at the line of scrimmage that its nearly impossible to jam him; when it's attempted he usually makes the defender pay big-time.
Because of his size and strength he is one of the hardest players to take down and when he gets loose in open space, he's a threat to take it to the house every time.
Add in his pass-catching ability and you're looking at a polished elite prospect.
Bryan's Pick: Mike Bellamy, RB (Clemson)
Bellamy, a sub-4.4 talent, had over 3000 all-purpose yards and 31 touchdowns as a junior for Charlotte HS last season.
Over Florida, Alabama and Georgia, the Clemson Tigers landed him in June. It's no coincidence that Bellamy and former Clemson all-purpose back CJ Spiller have struck up the friendship that many credit with landing him.
Size has become the only concern, but I don't see it inhibiting anything but his ability to run it up the gut, which Clemson doesn't do a lot of anyway.
No. 17: Michael's Pick: Mike Bellamy / Bryan's Pick: H. Clinton-Dix
Michael's Pick: Mike Bellamy, RB (Clemson)
Bellamy is one of the fastest prospects in the state of Florida, clocking in at 4.3 seconds on his 40-time.
He rushed for over 2,000 yards his junior year and just under 2,000 his sophomore year.
Bellamy is a five-star recruit considered by all experts to be one of the top prospects of the 2011 class. He's a top-five running back on pretty much every list that matters.
He's a playmaker who will light up scoreboards and burn defenders regularly. He's one of the fastest running backs in the nation. Bellamy is incredibly elusive and has tremendous balance and body control.
Bryan's Pick: Ha'Sean Clinton-Dix, S (Alabama)
Orlando, FL native HaSean Clinton-Dix premiered as the top safety to Scout and added to his fame by becoming Alabama's first big-time defensive back commitment.
The 6'2", 190 lb safety packs a punch and has terrific closing speed, though he's a better strong than free safety. He takes good angles in run support and is a punishing tackler.
Alabama will hone his skills at taking drops into coverage. He couldn't have chosen a better school for developing his secondary skills, or for maximizing his ability to disrupt at the point of attack.
No. 16: Michael's Pick: Stephone Anthony / Bryan's Pick: Isaiah Crowell
Michael's Pick: Stephone Anthony, OLB (Uncommitted)
Stephone Anthony is a natural pass-rusher with a knack for causing turnovers.
There aren't many players who can make the ball come loose more often than this kid.
When he gets his hands on someone, there's a chance he'll make something happen any given play.
He plays with great instincts and is very athletic, attacking the ball with purpose and precision, and shedding blockers with impressive strength.
Anthony has the smarts and the skill to get on the field right away and will likely do that wherever he ends up.
If he isn't starting as a freshman, expect him to be a special teams demon.
Bryan's Pick: Isaiah Crowell, RB (Uncommitted)
An interesting note on Columbus, Georgia running back Isaiah Crowell mentioned that he's "never had to carry the load" as an every-down back because he's been part of a talented backfield.
That's the only knock on the 6', 210 lb running back's outstanding game, which takes less than a minute to appreciate via film. He has it all as a running back.
Georgia and Alabama are jockeying for position with him—he just emerged from a visit to Georgia and reaffirmed as much—and that battle will likely last into the season.
A talented backfield would be what was waiting for him in Tuscaloosa...and Athens, too.
While we wait on the answer, let's watch some of the craziest highlight film of the class:
No. 15: Michael's Pick: Doran Grant / Bryan's Pick: Curtis Grant
Michael's Pick: Doran Grant, DB (Uncommitted)
Grant is the best cornerback prospect in the country, rated No. 1 by Rivals and No. 2 by Scout. Considering his smallish frame, the rankings say a whole lot about the talent this kid brings to the table.
Grant is probably better than advertised and definitely fits the bill at a generous 5'10" and 175 lbs.
He's lighting-fast, tests are off the charts athletically, tackles with a lot of power, and has a great nose for the ball.
He’s got over 25 offers and claims they’re all even at the moment. The coaches at Cal loved him when he recently visited and said he’ll get the chance to start if he works hard; seems they have the inside track.
Bryan's Pick: Curtis Grant, LB (Uncommitted)
ThaRinger's glowing breakdown of Curtis Grant mentioned only size as a potential problem.
Size, weight, muscles come and go, but instincts like his are rare. Grant is terrific at reading offensive linemen and forcing them into whiffs.
Forgoing the gripes about his size, he could be a four-year starter...especially if he picks Virginia, his in-state school, whom he just said would make his upcoming cut to six.
FIlm of him trying to jam some RBs in camp here.
No. 14: Michael's Pick: George Farmer / Bryan's Pick: Lawrence Thomas
Michael's Pick: George Farmer, WR (Uncommitted)
He has the speed to get past pretty much anyone and the size to ward off stronger defenders without much effort.
Farmer has an ideal combination of skills and natural ability, but needs to fine tune his game some.
He'll make the spectacular catch, but then drop an easy one. Some scouts question his level of concentration and desire to go all out on every play; that's troubling. If he can improve on his consistency though, Farmer has the goods to be a special talent.
Right now USC is at the top of this California native's list and you have to think that won't change.
Seems like a perfect fit.
Bryan's Pick: Lawrence Thomas, LB (Michigan State)
Scout's No. 1 middle linebacker is Detroit, MI linebacker Lawrence Thomas, possibly the best defensive prospect to emerge from the state of Michigan since fellow Detroiter Brandon Graham.
Thomas is a monstrous 6'4", 232 lbs as a junior, and could add another 10 or 15 pounds to reach his peak weight. But I'm not convinced middle linebacker is his final destination. He's so good on the blitz that a move to outside linebacker or end has been discussed.
Regardless of position, he hits like a brick wall and has unreal speed off the edge.
Comparing him to current Michigan State linebacker Greg Jones only captures the speed in the backfield. Thomas also has natural instincts and has started for Detroit Renaissance since his sophomore season.
No. 13: Michael's Pick: Curtis Grant / Bryan's Pick: George Farmer
Michael's Pick: Curtis Grant, LB (Uncommitted)
Grant plays like a professional, which is very impressive for someone his age.
He can play both inside and outside, reads plays and reacts very fast, and can cover a whole bunch of ground as quickly as any linebacker prospect out there.
There are very few players who can defend the field from sideline to sideline as well as Grant can.
At 6'2", 234 lbs, he has the size to play a number of positions. But because of his ability to get in the backfield, as well as cover, he's best suited to be an outside linebacker.
Grant has nearly 30 offers on the table, most notably from Alabama, Florida, LSU, Miami, Nebraska, Ohio State, Tennessee, and West Virginia.
Bryan's Pick: George Farmer, WR (Uncommitted)
Gardena, CA wide receiver George Farmer played opposite Scout's No. 1 athlete in 2010, Robert Woods, and looked as good as his teammate on film.
While Woods does bring the speed, Farmer is the total package at receiver. He's heavier than Woods was, is just as fast when he hits all of his gears and has outstanding body control through the air. I've heard easy catches in traffic are an issue, but then I've lived through Braylon Edwards and know that sometimes comes with the territory.
For now, enjoy this clip of Woods and Farmer torching Redondo High School last fall. Farmer wears No. 3:
No. 12: Michael's Pick: Lawrence Thomas / Bryan's Pick: Trevon Randle
Michael's Pick: Lawrence Thomas, MLB (Michigan State)
At 6'3" and 236 lbs, Thomas presents a unique prospect with the size and speed to play a variety of positions. He can play defensive end, linebacker, safety, and even receiver.
He's projected as a defender on the next level mostly because it would be a shame to let his ball hawking and punishing tacking go to waste.
Look for him to find a home as an outside linebacker who can drop into coverage or cause havoc in the backfield depending on the down.
Thomas just might be the best linebacker of the 2011 class and has the chance to be the next Greg Jones for the Spartans.
Bryan's Pick: Trevon Randle, LB (LSU)
He's not the top linebacker in the class, or even the top athlete, but few players impressed me more on film or on the stat sheet than this League City, Texas linebacker.
Check out this production: 176 tackles, five sacks, three picks, four forced fumbles, 14 touchdowns, countless plays on special teams.
On film, Randle is all over the field, breaking up passes, tracking QBs eyes and running down backs behind the line of scrimmage.
Do I think he'll be the most successful linebacker? No. But I feel he's worthy of a top 10 ranking on his upside alone. LSU coaches will have a good time getting the most out of him.
No. 11: Michael's Pick: Aaron Green / Bryan's Pick: Doran Grant
Michael's Pick: Aaron Green, RB (Uncommitted)
Aaron Green is the complete package when it comes to running backs. He runs with purpose, can make the first man miss, gets downfield in a hurry, and breaks tackles with surprising speed.
He's undersized at 5'11", 185 lbs, so he needs to bulk up or he just won't stay in one piece at the next level, but that's about all there is not to like about this kid.
There might not be anyone in the country who can change direction quite as fast as he can. Defenders are regularly left staring at the dust.
Green has narrowed down his choices to Texas, Nebraska, FSU, and Cal.
Bryan's Pick: Doran Grant, CB (Uncommitted)
Akron, Ohio cornerback Doran Grant set the SPARQ rating (a measure of raw talent that combines 40 time, shuttle time, power-ball throw and vertical leap) record at a Nike Camp in Massillon, OH and hasn't taken his foot off the pedal since.
He shot up to Scout's No. 2 CB ranking after some more great camp performances and is now Rivals' top cornerback in the class.
Grant puts those physical gifts to good use, harassing receivers and relying on his speed in man coverage. He favors the Buckeyes over Michigan State, Michigan, UCLA and others. When he plans to make his decision is not clear yet, but it should last until fall to clarify itself.
No. 10: Michael's Pick: Tim Jernigan / Bryan's Pick: Kasen Williams
Michael's Pick: Tim Jernigan, DT (Uncommitted)
At 6'2", 275 lbs, Jernigan is an athletic big man who moves extremely well for his size and can get into the backfield in a hurry. He's a disruptive force who recorded 131 tackles including 27 for loss as a junior and commands a constant double-team.
He has all the tools to become an elite college defensive lineman. He's strong, stays low to the ground, drives with his legs, and has a relentless motor. On top of that, he has a solid array of power and finesse moves to shed blocks and penetrate the line of scrimmage.
Jernigan is a monster in pursuit and never gives up on a play, even if it means chasing a ball carrier 20-30 yards downfield.
Bryan's Pick: Kasen Williams, WR (Uncommitted)
Ranking Kasen Williams No. 1 overall in my first B/R 100 was more about making a bold statement than anything else.
Do I still think he'll be a great receiver? Absolutely. I believe he has the size, speed, hands, lateral quicks and acceleration to be great, even if his speed is a question mark.
Williams caught 74 passes for 1209 yards and 20 touchdowns as a junior, and was an all-state selection for his Sammamish, Washington team.
Watching him take a jailbreak screen the distance reminds me of Crabtree, one of my favorite and the most exciting players in college history.
I predict that he'll select Notre Dame over Washington, Florida, LSU and Cal, the rest of his top five, later this month.
No. 9: Michael's Pick: Isaiah Crowell / Bryan's Pick: Steve Edmond
Michael's Pick: Isaiah Crowell, RB (Uncommitted)
There's nothing to dislike about Crowell's game.
He has great breakaway speed, is very elusive, has top of the line instincts, makes lightning-fast cuts, doesn't hesitate, and can break tackles with the best of them.
Seems too good to be true, right?
He is, somewhat.
Crowell has played with a talented stable of rushers his entire high school career behind a very good offensive line. He's never carried the load himself and there are serious questions about his ability to ever be able to.
Bryan's Pick: Steve Edmond, LB (Texas)
If he hadn't committed to Texas so early, Daingerfield, TX native Steve Edmond might not only be the top linebacker in the Lone Star State, but in the class.
That's the nature of hype in recruiting. But where else can you find kids that record 189 tackles in a single season outside of Texas?
Scout's No. 3 inside linebacker, Edmond is a "man amongst boys" at the high school level. He could use a redshirt year to bulk up if, at 6'3", 225-lbs, he's moving to defensive end as some predict.
No. 8: Michael and Bryan's Pick: La'El Collins
Michael's Pick: La'El Collins, OT (LSU)
At 6'5", 285 lbs, Collins is 15-20 pounds away from being an off the charts prospect at left tackle. His strength, athleticism and blocking skill is about as good as anyone's in the class.
From a physical standpoint, he's an imposing specimen who can knock back a defender a full yard with a single push.
Collins excels at both pass-blocking and run support, and does a great job of getting to the second level. He also has that bit of nasty you like to see in offensive linemen; not to mention great character and a motor that runs hard every single play.
If you're looking for a polished lineman that can not only start as a freshman, but get in their and perform at an All-American level, this is your man.
Collins is basically a coach's dream
Bryan's Pick: La'El Collins, OT (LSU)
Flip a coin with La'El Collins on one side and Cyrus Kouandjio on the other and you'll have some idea of how close these two are to each other in terms of talent and upside.
My coin comes up with Kouandjio, so Collins goes first. I think he'll be a better run-blocking tackle than a pass-protector...but that still means he'll be a great run tackle. Collins is a physical freak who can bait ends into mistakes or just bulldoze them off the line.
He's agile, mobile and already very cut. He'll need some refinement setting up in pass protection, but four years facing off against the best defensive ends in the business should forge him like few other conferences can.
No. 7: Michael's Pick: Braxton Miller / Bryan's Pick: Cyrus Kouandjio
Michael's Pick: Braxton Miller, QB (Ohio State)
Miller is an idea dual-threat quarterback who possesses great quickness, elusive ability, and a powerful arm that really puts a lot of pressure on defenses. He runs a 4.47-second 40-yard dash and can change direction on a dime.
There are very few prospects capable of dominating a defense the way he does. Miller doesn't force plays, but rather lets his opponent choose how they're going to play him and then take advantage of whatever they offer.
If you crowd the line of scrimmage, he'll throw over you all night. If you give him space to run, he'll burn you for a quick fifteen without any hesitation.
He committed to Ohio State in early June and the chance to play behind Terrelle Pryor is the perfect position to watch and learn.
Bryan's Pick: Cyrus Kouandjio, OT (Uncommitted)
The ideal left tackle in any offense, Hyattsville, Maryland offensive tackle Cyrus Kouandjio is a 6'7", 322 lb man-mountain with offers from every school with a working printer.
Though I'm praising his pass blocking, it's more a function of how much he can absorb without losing his balance. DeMatha keeps him on the run in run-blocking, as well, so there's no faulting him there.
Where will he go? I've tackled that question to the best of ability earlier this year, and there hasn't been much buzz since.
Alabama will be a major player until the end. They took his brother, Arie, in last year's class.
No. 6: Michael's Pick: Malcolm Brown / Bryan's Pick: De'Anthony Thomas
Michael's Pick: Malcolm Brown, RB (Uncommitted)
As a junior, Brown rushed for over 2,000 yards with 33 touchdowns. He's a powerful rusher that will put his shoulder down and punish defenders, wearing them down as the game goes on.
He won't wow you with his speed, but as a downhill rusher he's about as impressive as they come. Brown explodes into defenders and keeps his legs moving relentlessly, winning battles more times than not.
At 6' and 210 lbs, he's big enough to get on the field and make an impact right from day one.
Right now, his favorites are Texas, Alabama, and Oklahoma with the Longhorns his expected destination.
Bryan's Pick: De'Anthony Thomas, CB/RB (USC)
Crenshaw HS running back DeAnthony Thomas plays with a ton of confidence. He's not listening to the doubters who question his size.
And why should he? The five-star athlete is a top prospect at two positions, cornerback and all-purpose back.
I'm starting to think Thomas, a soft verbal to USC, will seek out a school where he can see snaps at both positions, much like South Carolina CB Stephon Gilmore lines up in the Wildcat package for the Gamecocks.
He won the defensive backs MVP award at a Los Angeles Nike Camp and might project better long-term at corner, but it will be hard to keep him off the field if he wants to see time in the backfield or slot.
No. 5: Michael's Pick: De'Anthony Thomas / Bryan's Pick: Tony Steward
Michael's Pick: De'Anthony Thomas, RB/CB (USC)
Thomas has the potential to play any number of positions, from running back to cornerback, safety, and even linebacker.
Most experts agree he'd be a five star prospect regardless the tag put on him.
If he wasn't listed at 5'9" and 160 lbs, Thomas would most likely be the top prospect in the country.
Plenty of prospects have overcome their physical limitations though, so that isn't really cause for concern. Growing up in Crenshaw, Thomas has dealt with adversity his whole life.
He can become a dominating rusher and would do just as well on the other side of the ball playing corner.
Bryan's Pick: Tony Steward, LB (Uncommitted)
I missed linebacker Tony Steward on my first go-round, but his film really does stack up.
The usual signs of a great linebacker to-be are there—big hits, great speed, great instincts—but what I noticed most about Steward was how smoothly he made his drops into pass coverage.
Any linebacker with size and speed can blitz and look great, but Steward shows true balance in his game, and it's little wonder he's tabbed as highly as he is.
No. 4: Michael's Pick: Tony Steward / Bryan's Pick: Malcolm Brown
Michael's Pick: Tony Steward, LB (Uncommitted)
At 6'2" and 225 lbs, Steward is one of the most physically imposing prospects in the country.
The kid is built like a body builder, with hardly an ounce of fat. He's incredibly strong and is one of the most athletic prospects in the country at any position, let alone linebacker.
Based on the way he's built, and his natural ability to sniff out the football, Steward is likely to make a big impact as a freshman.
What's most impressive about his game is his ability to get out in open space and cover a ton of ground in pass protection.
Bryan's Pick: Malcolm Brown, RB (Uncommitted)
Want to upset a nearby Texas Longhorns fan? Predict that Cibolo, TX running back Malcolm Brown will commit to the Crimson Tide over the Burnt Orange.
Despite holding the hands-down strongest recruiting class in the country, many feel the elite five-star running back is the must-get of the class. Brown is the recruit destined to turn Texas' offenses from a five-wide set back to the pounding, bruising days of yore.
Brown can do it, too. One look at the 6', 203 lb running back's film shows you how complete his game is. Speed, cuts, vision, and size are all there, and there's a maturity in his game that bodes well for early contributions to whomever he chooses.
I chose Alabama in an upset, but given Texas isn't sweating options B and C, it's possible this one has been decided in the Horns' favor all along.
No. 3: Michael's Pick: Cyrus Kouandjio / Bryan's Pick: Tim Jernigan
Michael's Pick: Cyrus Kouandjio, OT (Uncommitted)
At 6'6", 322 lbs, Kouandjio is one of the most athletic big men in the country.
He has a huge wingspan and at times appears to move as swiftly as someone half his size.
When it comes to natural ability as a blocker, Kouandjio has top-end balance and moves his feet as swiftly as any high school player I've ever seen. He goes a great job staying low to the ground and using his tree trunk-like arms to manhandle defenders.
Kouandijo is polished and as ready to compete at the college level as anyone in the 2011 class.
He's not rushing into his decision to pick a school, but plans on cutting down his list to a few choices before the start of his senior season; right now he holds over 50 offers and seems open to a lot of options.
Bryan's Pick: Tim Jernigan, DT (Uncommitted)
I go back and forth between rewarding production at the high school level and projecting upside at the college level.
With Jernigan, it's possible to do both. The Lake City, Florida defensive tackle registered a jaw-dropping 136 tackles as a junior.
For a DT, that's beyond All-American production. That's straight to the jersey retirement ceremony and the College Football Hall of Fame.
The 6'2", 275 lb tackle has an explosive first step that splits double teams with ease, and his speed enables him to track down running backs from behind. That explosiveness will only get more disruptive with time and conditioning.
He's considering Florida, Alabama, Florida State, Michigan, LSU, and Southern Cal. He will take officials to a group of five among those six schools.
No. 2: Michael's Pick: James Wilder / Bryan's Pick: JaDeveon Clowney
Michael's Pick: James Wilder, ATH (Uncommitted)
James Wilder has off the charts strength and, pound for pound, is probably the strongest prospect in the country.
He's a two-way player who projects as a running back, linebacker or defensive end.
He's a leader on and off the field and plays hard every down.
Wilder seems best suited to play defense. He's a ball hawk with great instincts, and could do a lot of damage as a pass rushing outside linebacker/defensive end hybrid—but he insists he wants to play running back.
And obviously, teams are listening.
Bryan's Pick: JaDeveon Clowney, DE (Uncommitted)
It isn't daring to suggest JaDeveon Clowney will have an outstanding career no matter where he chooses to go. His film passes every eye test out there—motor, check; size, check; strength, check; instincts, check.
But it helps that he's considering South Carolina and Alabama, two schools who have shown they know how to develop talent along the defensive line.
Alabama's defense requires no introduction, but I think the Gamecocks have done just as well developing their elite defenders with half the hype. For what it's worth, it's looking like Bama.
As for Clowney, he moves like an attacker in a dream: flailing arms, jittery motions and a pursuit that will terrorize quarterbacks on every snap. With 20 more pounds, he could play with the pros in no time.
No. 1: Michael's Pick: JaDeveon Clowney / Bryan's Pick: James Wilder
Michael's Pick: JaDeveon Clowney, DE (Uncommitted)
At 6'5", 225 lbs, Clowney is an athletic freak and a playmaker in every sense of the word.
He gets into the backfield in a hurry, has great natural pass-rushing instincts, and can chase down ball-carriers with his tremendous speed.
No matter where the ball goes, or where Clowney lines up, he can make something happen. There's game film of him chasing down wide receivers twenty yards down the field.
Rivals is calling him the most athletic defensive end since Julius Peppers. Spend just a few minutes watching him play, and you'll understand why.
He's one of those players that just always ends up in the thick of things, jarring balls loose, knocking quarterbacks on their back, scooping up a fumble, and generally causing about as much trouble as you can ask from a defender.
Bryan's Pick: James Wilder, ATH (Uncommitted)
Wilder has had one of the strongest summer showings of any recruit. He showed up to camps in Gainesville and Tuscaloosa and shut down the competition at linebacker...then decided he wanted to play running back at the next level.
Along with DeAnthony Thomas, Wilder is the only other recruit on the board who legitimately could be called the top prospect at both RB and LB.
His running style...no, attitude...is really something to be admired. He's quick yet bruising, nimble but determined, chaotic, and perfectly balanced. I really hope he ends up at Florida State like the recruitniks are suggesting. He'd be what the Seminoles' offense has been lacking, a player who exceeds the hype and leaves it all on the field on every play.
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