Head of the class
Every once in a blue moon a position will be so loaded with talent throughout the nation the class has the potential to reshape the landscape of college football because it's so stacked.
The quarterback class in 2007 could be one of those earth shattering groups, and Rivals.com presents a look at 100 prospects from the junior class to keep an eye on with everybody's golden-armed signal-caller Jimmy Clausen leading the way.
Clausen, the amazing junior from Westlake (Calif.) Oaks Christian is the third and likely the best from the Clausen clan. He was potent as a sophomore, leading his team to a perfect 14-0 record by passing for 3,665 yards and 58 touchdowns with only six interceptions.
"The most important thing for recruiters to remember when it comes to recruiting Jimmy Clausen he wants to play in a system that has a history of developing NFL quarterback," Rivals.com regional analyst Rick Kimbrel said.
"Jimmy's dad always said that his youngest would be his best, and we know how successful Casey and Rick were on the collegiate level. So when you hear that, you know that he's special."
With offers from virtually everybody in college football already, it's very clear Clausen will be an interesting recruiting battle to watch in 2007.
But he's not the only player with major bloodlines. It just seemed like yesterday when Chris Simms was the nation's No. 1 ranked player out of New Jersey. The left-handed son of NFL legend Phil Simms spurned Phil Fulmer and the Tennessee Volunteers and went on to sign with Texas and have a successful career for the Longhorns.
Now his younger brother Matt Simms out of Ramsey (N.J.) Don Bosco Prep is ready to step up and carry the family name to greatness.
"Simms, as expected, has a very live arm and understands the game very well," Rivals.com national analyst Mike Farrell said.
"His accuracy is excellent and he has a bit of mobility, he just needs to handle pressure a bit better and use his quick release to combat blitz packages. Obviously learning from his father (Phil) and brother (Chris), Matt is ahead of many other quarterbacks when it comes to the little things that are hard to teach."
In 2005, Michigan signed Jason Forcier out of San Diego St. Augustine and now his little and very talented brother is ready for his chance to shine. Chris Forcier is next in line, and the 6-foot-2, 176-poundner has the tools to be a talented college quarterback. There are already whispers from the college coaches that Chris might end up being better than his brother.
What would a story about great quarterbacks be without mentioning a stud from Pennsylvania?
The top quarterback in the 2007 class from the state is Pat Bostick, and the 6-foot-3, 196-pounder already has impressive scholarship offers from both Penn State and Pittsburgh, along with interest from Maryland, UConn, Michigan, Syracuse and Virginia.
Last year as a sophomore Bostick completed 188 of 315 attempts and threw for 2,278 yards. He tossed 28 touchdown passes while throwing only eight interceptions. His coach says he has a chance at being one of the best in the nation.
"Pat has a quick release," Township coach Mike Melnyk said. "We have a sophisticated offense that requires a lot of reads. He is very good at his progressions. He also has good footwork. This spring we had many schools stop by like Florida that would not normally call on our school.
"Make no mistake about it, he will be a national recruit."
Another star that will be a national recruit is Ryan Mallett of Texarkana (Texas) Texas High. The 6-foot-6, 230-pound Mallet first made a name for himself when he took over the starting job at Texas High as a freshman, an impressive feet considering that his team is one of the top programs in the Lone Star State.
Rivals.com first saw him in person at the Nebraska elite quarterback camp last year when he won the long throw competition. He just missed throwing the ball 80 yards at the camp heading into his sophomore season, and also had strong showings at Michigan, Texas and Arkansas' camps this year.
"If I go to a school in Washington that can get me to the NFL, then that's where I'll go," Mallet said. "I think that's every kids dream. If you're getting recruited out of high school you know that you probably want to continue your career on at that level.
"My mom is a teacher though, so I know the importance of a good education. If football turns out not to work, I need to get a good education. She's always taught me that."
In the Southeast, Will Korn of Duncan (S.C.) James F. Byrnes ended things early when he committed to Clemson before he even started his junior season. The 6-foot-2, 200-pounder had offers from Florida, Georgia Tech, North Carolina and South Carolina when he committed to the Tigers.
"He's just an amazing player," Byrnes coach Bobby Bentley said. "He has such mental and physical character. He's the kind of kid that is able to walk up to the line of scrimmage and see the field and change the play at the line. I can't say enough great things about him. He is going to make Clemson very happy."
In Florida, Stephen Garcia of Tampa (Fla.) Jefferson makes the list.
Georgia quarterback Eric Berry is one of the more versatile quarterbacks on the list. The 6-foot, 180-pounder is a true dual-threat quarterback that timed at 4.55 seconds in the 40-yard dash as a sophomore at the NIKE Training Camp.
When looking for the top talent at the running back class of 2007, you have to start in the Southeast.
Everybody in the nation already knows about Noel Devine of North Fort Meyers, Fla., but many local observers believe that Chris Rainey of Lakeland, Fla., and Armando Allen of Hialeah (Fla.) Miami Lakes could be better.
Caleb King of Lilburn (Ga.) Parkview blew people away at the Athens NIKE Training Camp and easily is one of the best players in Georgia already. With offers from Auburn, Clemson, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina and others, it's easy to see why people are getting excited over the 5-foot-11, 186-pounder.
A dynamic duo from Texas also makes the 2007 running back class solid. Sam Proctor of Pasadena (Texas) Dobie is considered by many the top player in Houston for 2007, and Joseph Reese of Pflugerville (Texas) Hendrickson are also very impressive. And people have been raving about Malcolm Smithof Woodland Hills (Calif.) Taft for years because of his explosive speed.
Wide receiver/tight end
Clausen's top target Marshall Jones is one of the top junior receivers in the nation, but he's not the only top target. Florida receivers Alphonso Bryant of Homestead, Dion Lecorn of Ocala Trinity Catholic and Deonte Thompson of Belle Glade Glades Central are special players with gamebreaking ability.
Kyle Jefferson of Cleveland Glenville and Jon Ditto of Pittsburgh Gateway represent the Big 10 area. Jefferson is the next in line at an always loaded Glenville program.
It's hard to identify talented tight ends two years ahead of when they're going to be recruited by Rob Gronkowski of Williamsville (N.Y.) North, John Keye of Jackson, Ga., and Zach Smithof West Depford, N.J., stand out.
Once again the Southeast headlines the 2007 offensive line class with Florida leading the way.
Florida State pledges LaShawn Pounceyand James Pouncey of Lakeland, Fla., got offers before everybody in the nation. Ernest McCoy of Belle Glade (Fla.) Glades Central is a massive man that should have plenty of national offers to pick from.
Elsewhere in the South, coaches are already salivating over Chris Little of Jeffersonville (Ga.) Twiggs County, Ryan Pugh of Hoover (Ala.) Spain Park, Derrick Sherrod of Caledonia, Miss., Tanner Strickland of Nashville (Ga.) Berrien County and Alex Williams of New Orleans (La.) Landry. Strickland is already committed to Georgia.
Ryan Miller of Littleton (Colo.) Columbine is the top 2007 player from Colorado and Kris O'Dowd of Tucson (Ariz.) Salpoint Catholic blew up at a NIKE Camp this spring.
Fans in the Midwest are going to love watching the recruiting battle for Cincinnati (Ohio) LaSalle standout Ben Martin. Many are calling him Ohio's best prospect in 2007, and you can be sure the big boys like Ohio State and Michigan are ready to try and land him.
Andre Jones of El Paso (Texas) Andress might be the top junior in the Lone Star State and the best prospect to come out of El Paso since Rufus Brown several years back. He's rivaled in state by Stephen Thomas of Mesquite (Texas) North Mesquite. One Big 12 college coach called Jones and Thomas the top two players in Texas for 2007.
Marvin Austin of Washington (D.C.) Coolidge is one of three District of Columbia prospects that made the 100 to watch list. After a down 2006 class it's definitely clear that DC is back with full force in 2007.
The 2007 linebacker class in California is strong, just like it is in 2006. Chris Galippo of Anaheim Servite, Robert Mullins of Los Angeles Dorsey and Marc Tyler of Westlake Oaks Christian made the list.
Mississippi also has two strong linebackers represented on the list. Antwon Dixon of Terry, Miss., is a talent that should be as heavily recruited as his older brother is this year. Chris Strong of Batesville (Miss.) South Panola carries on a great tradition at one of the best programs in the South.
Two Louisiana prospects highlight the 2007 to watch list – Stefoin Francois of Reserve (La.) East St. John and Joe McKnight of River Ridge (La.) John Curtis.
However, one of the best of the best at the position is Ronald Johnson of Muskegon, Mich. Johnson already has offers from both Michigan and Michigan State and will be one of the most highly sought after players in the nation.
Morgan Burnett of Clayton (Ga.) North Clayton has been called by many observers in Georgia the closest thing to D.J. Shockley since D.J. Shockley. He's joined on the list from the south by Mark Barnes of Columbia (S.C.) Richland Northeast and Kodi Burns of Fort Smith (Ark.) Northside.