National Signing Day 2011: Jadeveon Clowney and the Top Unsigned Recruits
Will Clowney pick National Champion Auburn on signing day?
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It's almost Christmas for college football crazies: National Signing Day for the nation's top high school prospects.
Many have already given a verbal commitment to their schools, but many top players, including No. 1 overall defensive end Jadeveon Clowney of South Carolina are keeping their choice secret until Wednesday's deadline.
Here is a list of the top remaining prospects and the schools still with a fighting chance to improve their 2011 recruiting class.
1. Jadeveon Clowney, DE
This isn't Clowney (it's Everson Griffen), but it looks a lot like the kind of player he is.
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Remember freak athlete Everson Griffen from the Class of 2007? Griffen, at 6'4" and over 250 pounds was big enough to steamroll offensive tackles on his way to the quarterback, quick enough to catch smaller offensive players, and fast enough to break away from defensive backs with 4.5 speed when he lined up at running back.
Well, Clowney is a similarly transcendent athlete out of Rock Hill, South Carolina. He's a little taller (6'6") and leaner (247 pounds), but boasts identical speed and quickness. Scouts say that his explosion out of his stance is what makes him special, along with his long reach to bring ball carriers down.
All eyes will be on his announcement Wednesday, with Alabama and South Carolina as favorites to land him and Auburn, Clemson, Florida State and LSU close behind.
2. Cyrus Kouandjio, OT
Kouandijo is reminiscent of Raiders' tackle Bruce Campbell
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The exact numbers vary by recruiting database, but the consensus is that the No. 1 offensive lineman in 2011 is massive. ESPN has him at 6'7" and 325, while Rivals puts him similarly at 6'7", 322.
The knocks on Cyrus are his speed and agility, which, at that size, is no wonder. Some think he might have trouble with smaller and quicker defensive ends, but he compensates with unparalleled size, wide shoulders and chest and above-average strength. Many scouts think that he will fill out his tall frame even more as he hits the weights on campus in the summer.
Kouandijo has been extremely busy on the official visit circuit over the last month or so, making trips to Iowa and Auburn in the last week and Alabama back in December. Those schools are clear-cut favorites to land him, with unexpected New Mexico in the mix as a darkhorse.
3. Isaiah Crowell, RB
Crowell reminds the guys at Rivals of Colts RB Joseph Addai in size and style.
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The 5'11", 210-pound Crowell is an explosive dual threat back who can do damage on the ground or by reception. The No. 1 running back in the class from Georgia possesses the speed and strength to be an every down back in the SEC, but the punishing nature of that league, and his comparatively low work load in high school raises questions about his durability and ability to stay healthy.
If he stays healthy, the SEC will quickly learn of his deceptive strength, quickness in daylight and pass-catching chops.
Crowell has narrowed his options to Georgia and Alabama, both of which he has visited in the last two weeks. Either school will receive a huge lift by getting his name on a letter of intent.
4. Tony Steward, MLB
Steward reminds scouts of Titan linebacker Will Witherspoon.
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A middle linebacker in high school, Steward displays the speed (4.5) and athleticism to play outside at the highest level. He doesn't possess transcendent gifts above others, but is very strong across the board in size, strength, quickness and side-to-side pursuit of ball carriers.
Another reason he might not be suited for the middle in college is his penchant for being over eager to stop the run, which makes him susceptible to misdirection and play-action passes.
Otherwise, he has the physical tools to play any of the linebacker positions and should be a difference-maker from day one on whatever campus he selects.
Steward's top choices are Florida State, Clemson and UCLA with Alabama, Auburn and Georgia also in the mix.
5. Timmy Jernigan, DT
Jernigan, though not as filled out, is reminiscent of the Falcons' Jonathan Babineaux
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The No. 2 defensive tackle in the Class of 2011 is probably an in-between player: too big and slow to play linebacker, not big enough to dominate at d-tackle.
His speed, quickness, and athleticism are better than most defensive linemen, and he moves very well at 272 pounds. These positives are direct outcomes of being undersized for his position, which might hamper him at the next level.
If he can put on 15-20 pounds while maintaining most of his speed, Jernigan could wreak havoc in SEC backfields for the next few years.
The major competition for his signature is Florida, Florida State, Tennessee, LSU and Alabama.
6. Curtis Grant, ILB
The comparison of Grant to Raven Ray Lewis is lofty.
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The discrepancy in rankings was the greatest for Grant of any player among Rivals, ESPN, and Scout. Rivals has him at No. 2 overall, Scout has him 19th and ESPN has him 46th. Hard to tell which is the most accurate projection, but it doesn't really matter: Grant's size and speed combo is in high demand.
The 6'3", 220-pound linebacker is fast, but will not blow you away. His major strengths are his equal ability to play the run and the pass, his height and toughness to go inside when necessary.
Grant is oozing with potential and will be a huge addition to the linebacking corps of whoever signs him. The contenders are Florida, North Carolina, Virginia and Ohio State, all of whom he has visited in the last six weeks.
7. Stephone Anthony, OLB
Anthony's size and athleticism bring Tampa Bay linebacker Geno Hayes.
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The 6'2", 220-pound Anthony has the look and feel of a big running back. He is smooth, fast, and has good quickness to the ball. Scout.com and ESPN agree that his instincts are elite, which sometimes end up being more important than any athletic gift or skill.
Speaking of athletic gifts, it's not like Anthony is short on those. He runs a 4.5 40-yard dash and has the upper-body build of a defensive end, according to Rivals. Overall, his advanced ability in pass coverage and ball-hawking show a linebacker that is beyond his years.
Clemson and Florida have the best chance to land him, with Virginia Tech and North Carolina receiving visits in January as well.