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Rivals.com recruiting analysts had the opportunity to scout some of the nation's top prospects in games this past weekend.
Chesapeake (Va.) Oscar Smith linebacker Jerod Askew showed his skills in a 48-7 win over Chesapeake (Va.) Western Branch.
Here are some rundowns on the top Class of 2009 defensive prospects they saw in person, listed alphabetically.
PROSPECT EVALUATIONS: DEFENSE
LB JEROD ASKEW (6-1/230), Chesapeake (Va.) Oscar Smith
»FARRELL'S PLAYER OF THE WEEK
COMMITTED TO: Tennessee
PERFORMANCE: Askew had six tackles, including one for a loss, and a tipped pass in a 48-7 win over Chesapeake (Va.) Western Branch.
STRENGTHS: Askew plays with good leverage and is physical. He has impressive closing speed and takes on blockers well. He's effective against bigger blockers because he gets so low.
WEAKNESSES: Size is the main issue with Askew, as he's closer to 6-0 than 6-1. He also made a few false steps on misdirection plays. – MIKE FARRELL
S LoVANTE' BATTLE (5-11/190), Hampton (Va.) Phoebus
COMMITTED TO: Virginia
PERFORMANCE: Battle had five tackles and an interception in a 65-13 win over Gloucester (Va.) High.
STRENGTHS: Battle is active in run support and a sure tackler. He also has good ball skills.
WEAKNESSES: Battle is a bit undersized as a safety and doesn't have the coverage ability of a cornerback. He's a bit of a 'tweener. – M.F.
S DARREN BATES (6-1/195), Olive Branch (Miss.) High School
»SIMMONS' PLAYER OF THE WEEK
CONSIDERING: To be determined.
PERFORMANCE: Bates was all over the field, keeping Olive Branch in the game against Batesville (Miss.) South Panola and putting in work on both offense and defense. There wasn't a better performer on the night for either team in a game South Panola won 21-13.
STRENGTHS: Bates has good size and plays with tremendous effort. He is anxious to make plays in run support and had the best tackle of the night when he stopped big back Nicholas Parker cold in the hole on the goal line. Bates is capable in pass coverage, particularly with his rangy frame. He diagnoses plays quickly and is a ballhawk. He also showed value on the offensive side of the ball on several occasions.
WEAKNESSES: The only weakness that Bates showed was that he may lack elite speed. Other than that, his only weakness is a non-existent offer list. – BARTON SIMMONS
ILB MARVIN BURDETTE (5-11/225), Batesville (Miss.) South Panola
CONSIDERING: Memphis, Southern Miss, Ole Miss.
PERFORMANCE: He delivered several big hits and spearheaded a physical South Panola defense in a 21-13 win over rival Olive Branch (Miss.) High.
STRENGTHS: Burdette is a compact downhill player. When he hits you, he is explosive into his tackles and sends ballcarriers backward. He engages blockers well and has good strength at the point of attack.
WEAKNESSES: Burdette is somewhat limited by his size. Because of that, he needs to become better in pass coverage. Right now, he is very much a downhill 'backer. – B.S.
DT MARJARVIN CHAPMAN (6-0/300), Batesville (Miss.) South Panola
CONSIDERING: To be determined.
PERFORMANCE: He helped to control the line of scrimmage against a massive Olive Branch (Miss.) High offensive line in South Panola's 21-13 win over its region rivals.
STRENGTHS: Stocky and sturdy, Chapman is tough to move and active. He showed a great punch that knocked bigger linemen backward on a few occasions Friday night.
WEAKNESSES: Chapman is better at occupying blocks than he is at penetrating, and he probably is limited to nose guard at the next level. – B.S.
S DAVID CONNER (5-9/185), Batesville (Miss.) South Panola
COMMITTED TO: Auburn
PERFORMANCE: Was all over the field for South Panola, particularly in the offensive backfield, where he wreaked havoc against Olive Branch (Miss.) High in a 21-13 win.
STRENGTHS: Conner runs well. He plays his game on the offensive backfield and shows terrific ability to blitz and come off the edge. He is a sure tackler and a disruptive defender. He shows good instincts, play recognition and pursuit.
WEAKNESSES: Conner lines up at linebacker for South Panola, but he will be a safety in college. Even as a defensive back, he is small. He spends most of his time at the high school level moving forward and coming off the edge. He will need to prove he can work out of the secondary and defend slot receivers and tight ends at the next level. – B.S.
CB KESHUN COWAN (5-10/165), Olive Branch (Miss.) High School
CONSIDERING: Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Southern Miss, Navy
PERFORMANCE: Cowan played on both sides of the ball for Olive Branch and helped the Conquistadors rally from a 21-3 deficit before falling to Batesville (Miss.) South Panola 21-13.
STRENGTHS: Cowan is a rangy, wiry athlete who showed a willingness to support against the run and some good instincts at defensive back. He also demonstrated good ball skills on offense.
WEAKNESSES: Cowan needs to work on his strength and explosiveness. His change of direction and acceleration will improve as he gets stronger in his lower body. – B.S.
DT DOMINIK DAVENPORT (6-0/268), Hampton (Va.) Phoebus
COMMITTED TO: West Virginia
PERFORMANCE: Davenport had three tackles in a 65-13 win over Gloucester (Va.) High. He also rushed for a touchdown.
STRENGTHS: Davenport is a physical player with an excellent motor. He loves contact and plays with natural leverage. He also has excellent leadership skills.
WEAKNESSES: Davenport is never going to be a big defensive tackle, as his frame will hold about 280 pounds. He can get lost on double teams. – M.F.
ATH JAVANTI SPARROW (6-0/190), Chesapeake (Va.) Western Branch
CONSIDERING: Virginia, North Carolina, NC State and others
PERFORMANCE: Sparrow had three tackles on defense, a 30-yard kickoff return and a couple of catches on offense.
STRENGTHS: Sparrow has good size and speed, and he's solid in man-to-man coverage.
WEAKNESSES: Sparrow muffed a punt return and his hands are questionable. He has good speed but lacks that extra gear. – M.F.
S ROD WOODSON (5-11/200), Olive Branch (Miss.) High School
COMMITTED TO: Alabama
PERFORMANCE: Woodson was a warrior in a 21-13 loss to Batesville (Miss.) South Panola. He had close to double-digit tackles in the first quarter and had a 60-yard run called back on a penalty. If not for cramping problems, Woodson may have had 20-plus tackles. He lined up at middle linebacker for Olive Branch despite being projected as a safety.
STRENGTHS: You won't find a player that plays with a higher intensity level or better effort than Woodson. He is a lights-out hitter, and he plays the game at a different speed than everyone else on the field. He is awesome in pursuit and plays with intelligence.
WEAKNESSES: Woodson tries for the "kill shot" on every tackle and doesn't wrap up at times. That will cost him against better players. There is a good chance he will develop into a linebacker at the next level, but he will be undersized at that position. If he does stay at safety, he needs to learn to temper his aggression and work on his coverage ability. – B.S.
UP NEXT: Underclassmen from the weekend.