RICHMOND, Va. – The first Rivals.com Junior Day held in the state of Virginia brought together a collection of talented players from the Dominion State as well as from Maryland, Washington, D.C. and North Carolina to Highland Springs High School. More than 100 players made their way to the event to learn more about the recruiting process.
While national recruits like defensive tackle Marvin Austin and Arrelious Benn highlighted the event, some new names emerged as well, players who will certainly garner looks from college recruiters on the East Coast and elsewhere.
Austin and Benn, from Coolidge and Dunbar respectively in Washington, D.C., certainly looked the part of five star players. Austin, who checked in at 6-foot-3 ¼ has clearly been working hard in the weight room and on the track in preparation for combines in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Arguably the nation's top defensive tackle, Austin has offers from more than 30 schools with Notre Dame, Southern Cal, Maryland and a few others looking good early. Austin has clearly gained at least an inch in height since we saw him last.
Benn shot up a bit in height, measuring 6-foot-2 and he's even more rock solid than ever while carrying 210 pounds. His heavily muscled frame, leaner and longer than ever before, gives him the big receiver look coveted by colleges. He'll do his work this year at the NIKE Camp in State College, Pa. and plans on emerging as the nation's top wideout. Notre Dame and Southern Cal seem to be two schools out in front of the rest at this point.
Highland Springs was nice enough to allow Rivals.com to use their facilities and they also boast two of the best players in the state of Virginia. Cornerbacks C.J. Fleming and Chris Hill are both shutdown cornerbacks who are attracting recruiting interest daily. Fleming, who measured 5-foot-10 1/2, has nearly double digit offers, the latest coming from Georgia. Hill, who checked in at 5-foot-11, also has a full mailbox daily with interest early offers from Tennessee, West Virginia, Virginia, NC State and Maryland.
Rivals100 linebacker J'Courtney Williams from Christchurh (Va.) Christchurch School made an appearance and his frame and athletic build show why college coaches are fighting over him. Williams measured 6-foot-4 and 212 pounds and has long arms. He has a handful of offers, the latest coming from North Carolina.
Other top players in attendance included offensive lineman Lamar Milstead and running back Dwan Thornton. Milstead is a huge lineman at 6-foot-6 and 270 pounds and has been working against Austin for the last two years. He has offers from Maryland, North Carolina, Virginia, Auburn, Georgia and others. Thornton, also from Coolidge, may be shorter than traditional backs at 5-foot-7 but has thick legs and carries 166 pounds well. He has an early offer from Kent State.
D.J. Thomas from Ashland (Va.) Patrick Henry was also in attendance and is one of the state's top athletes. His future is at cornerback and on special teams with his 5-foot-9 ½, 170-pound size and he's already received his first offer from Virginia Tech. Safety prospect Davon Morgan, from Varina in Richmond, has offers from Michigan and Virginia Tech early and looks the part at 6-foot-0 and 188 solid pounds.
Washington (D.C.) Dunbar athlete Nathan Bussey checked in at a solid 200 pounds on his 6-foot-2 frame and has early offers from Kent State and Illinois with South Carolina close to offering as well. Bussey would prefer to play quarterback in college and certainly has the size.
Defensive end Anthony Mihota from Fredericksburg (Va.) Massaponax has a long frame at 6-foot-6 ½ and 255 pounds and could grow into an offensive tackle on the other side of the ball. Marshall has offered him early.
Two players from Fort Washington (Md.) Friendly impressed physically as well. Defensive end Lawrence Brewer stood 6-foot-5 and weighed in at 251 pounds and is receiving interested from Virginia, Louisville and Kansas State amongst others. Tight end Ricky Jenkins has one of the biggest set of hands we've seen in recent years and a 6-foot-3, 216-pound athletic frame as well. UConn and some MAC schools are showing interest early, but that will increase quickly.
Germantown (Md.) Seneca Valley defensive tackle Donald Langley has an early offer from Temple and interest from Maryland, Tennessee, Penn State and others due to his 6-foot-2, 267-pound frame. Surrattsvile, Md. Athlete Andre Johnson is a sleeper to keep an eye on. At 5-foot-10 ½ and a strong 192 pounds, he could play wide receiver, running back or defensive back in college.
The future of the area was also well represented as some top underclassmen made appearances. Varina High School athlete Justin Thorpe, who could be a wide receiver, running back or quarterback gave us a look ahead to 2008 with his impressive 6-foot-1, 185-pound frame. Other 2008 prospects to remember include a duo from Stonewall Jackson High School in Virginia, running back John Carter (5-foot-8, 196 pounds) and linebacker Ryan Williams (5-foot-10 ¼), both of whom are still growing. Surrattsville, Md. running back Davin Meggett, the son of former NFL star Dave Meggett will also be one to watch in 2008. And proof that it's never too early to scout, 2009 quarterback prospect Kevin Newsome from Chesapeake (Va.) Western Branch is already 6-foot-2 and 188 pounds.
Special thanks to our featured speaker Scott Burton, the head coach at Highland Springs, for his detailed talk on academics and on what to expect during the recruiting process. Thanks also goes out to 2006 top recruits Jarrell Miller and Brandon Minor for taking questions from the crowd and to local trainers Shane Sykes and Myron Flowers for their tips on conditioning and training.