The spring evaluation period is right around the corner, and with that in mind Rivals.com is pleased to announce the release of the first Rivals250 list for the class of 2009.
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The pre-evaluation period Rivals250 expands on the Rivals100 that was released two months ago. Previously released initially as an alphabetical list, Rivals.com has ranked the top 250 players in order.
Rivals.com recruiting analysts seem to be on the road constantly, and that hasn't changed since Signing Day. We've been to combines, camps and Five-Star Academies around the country. On top of that, we have done a great deal of film analysis – which has led to us ranking the initial list of 250 instead of going the alphabetical route. The rest of rankings, including star rankings for positions, will be unveiled later in the spring.
There is no change at the top of the list, with Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei quarterback Matt Barkley remaining at No. 1 overall. There also weren't too many dramatic changes near the top of the list, but the most noteworthy move came with Corona (Calif.) Centennial linebacker Vontaze Burfict moving to No. 15 overall and earning a fifth star.
"He's just a guy that hustles all over the field," Rivals.com recruiting analyst Barry Every said. "I saw him run 40 or 50 yards in the state title game to keep a kid out of the end zone. To run like that for a big kid is amazing. He also hits you, and you leave your feet. He's a natural at linebacker with killer instincts."
Craig Loston from Aldine (Texas) Eisenhower was another big mover, climbing to the No. 20 spot overall. Loston was the Region 19-5A defensive player of the year and is cousin of five-star athlete Russell Shepard.
Another California player that made a significant jump up the list was Los Angeles Cathedral receiver/defensive back Randall Carroll. The 5-foot-11, 175-pounder is now ranked as the No. 22 player overall.
"He's one of my favorite players to watch," Every said. "He's tough. He's fast, and he's cocky. He's got everything that's needed from a top-ranked cornerback, but he might also be good enough to be a special receiver. I just love the whole combination of toughness, speed and bravado that he has."
After not being ranked in the first Rivals100 editions, Pickerington (Ohio) Central safety Jamie Wood debuts at No. 32 overall. He's just behind Marcus Hall at No. 26 for the top player honors in Ohio, and there's plenty to like about Wood's game. Wood recorded 65 tackles and had 550 yards receiving in 2007. He is an early Ohio State commitment.
"He's just a football player," Every said. "He reminds me a lot of Mark Barron from last year's class. I'm not sure that he's as quick as Mark Barron, but he's does it all just like Barron did. He'll come up and strike you on defense. He then will make plays on offense at receiver or even quarterback. He's got it all."
Other new players to the national top 50 include Jenks, Okla., cornerback Gabe Lynn at No. 35, Jacksonville (N.C.) Northside defensive end Donte Moss at No. 39, Upland, Calif., quarterback Josh Nunes at No. 45, Clayton (Ohio) Northmont cornerback C.J. Barnett at No. 47 and Oak Park, Mich., running back Edwin Baker at No. 50.
Florida, California and Texas dominate the Rivals250. In what is developing into a very deep year in the Sunshine State, there are 37 players that made the list. Texas was next with 28 players on the list, followed closely by California with 27. It also looks to be a very solid year in Georgia, Ohio and Louisiana. Georgia has 14 prospects on the list, and both Ohio and Louisiana placed 13 players in the initial 250.
From a position standpoint, the skill positions of running back and receiver dominate. There are 33 receivers on the list, followed by 29 running backs and 26 defensive tackles. Offensive line also looks deep with 19 tackles, 16 guards and two centers making the initial 250.