Depth at positions that involve catching the football, a bevy of talented offensive tackles and a baker's dozen of elite prospects from the Lone Star State highlight the first release of the Class of 2008 Rivals100. Rivals.com analysts have traveled the country during the past six months scouting, observing and gathering as much information as possible to put together this list.
The Rivals100 is the premier list of the nation's top 100 college football prospects. Multiple top-ranked prospects have been high NFL draft picks, including former Oklahoma running back Adrian Peterson (rated No. 1 in the Class of 2004), who was a first-round pick of the Minnesota Vikings in this year's draft. Others include Tennessee Titans quarterback Vince Young (No. 1 in the Class of 2002 and the first round pick of the Titans out of the University of Texas last year) and former Florida State linebacker Ernie Sims (No. 1 in the Class of 2003 and the first-round pick of the Detroit Lions in last year's draft).
The Class of 2007's top-ranked prospect was Notre Dame freshman quarterback Jimmy Clausen of Westlake Village (Calif.) Oaks Christian. Clausen is competing for the starting quarterback job in South Bend, Ind. Percy Harvin of Virginia Beach Landstown, the top-ranked prospect in the Class of 2006, was a freshman All-American and helped lead the University of Florida to the National Championship last season.
While it is arguably the most anticipated, this release of the Rivals100 won't be the last. Look for updates throughout this recruiting cycle and a final release just before National Signing Day, 2008.
An extremely deep and talented pool of wide receivers and tight ends highlights the list, which includes five-star selections Julio Jones of Foley (Ala.), A.J. Green of Summerville (S.C.) and Deion Walker of Christchurch (Va.) at wide receiver. Kyle Rudolph of Cincinnati Elder is the top-rated tight end. All told, wide receivers (18) and tight ends (seven) count for 25 percent of the list. Green is a Georgia commit while Rudolph is committed to Notre Dame.
Offensive tackle also is a deep position in this recruiting cycle. There are 15 prospects at that position on the list (a 16th, Virginia prospect Kyle Long, would have been included had he not chosen to play college baseball rather than football). This included five-star selections Michael Brewster of Orlando (Fla.) Edgewater, Tyron Smith of Moreno Valley (Calif.) Rancho Verde, Matt Kalil of Anaheim (Calif.) Servite, Baker Steinkuhler of Lincoln (Neb.) Southwest, Stephen Good of Paris (Texas), Lucas Nix and Tyler Love of Mountain Brook (Ala.). Brewster has committed to Ohio State, Kalil to Southern California, Steinkhuler to Nebraska - where his father won the Outland Trophy and Good to Oklahoma.
A dozen linebackers (eight inside, four outside) made the list. The top prospect in the state of Florida and the top linebacker in the country is Nigel Bradham. Pennsylvania's Shayne Hale and Arthur Brown from Wichita (Kan.) East are also five-star selections. It should be no surprise that Bradham, who is committed to Florida State, is the top prospect in Florida when you consider he's the top prospect at the deepest position in that state. There are five Sunshine State linebackers in the first edition of the Rivals100, including Bradham, Nigel Carr (who also is committed to the Seminoles) of Jacksonville First Coast, Jordan Futch of Hollywood Chaminade-Madonna, Marcus Robinson of Homestead and Etienne Sabino of Miami Krop.
Right now, it appears to not be as strong of a year as it typically is for quarterbacks. The top prospect in the country, Jeanette (Pa.) star Terrelle Pryor is the only dual-threat quarterback on the list. E.J. Manuel of Virginia Beach Bayside, Blaine Gabbert of Ballwin (Mo.) Parkway West, Andrew Luck of Houston Stratford and Dayne Crist of Sherman Oaks (Calif.) Notre Dame round out the representation from that position. Unlike last year, when most of the nation's top quarterback prospects were committed early, only two have made decisions. Gabbert has pledged to Nebraska, while Crist picked Notre Dame.
The defensive tackle class isn't that deep, either. After Statesboro (Ga.) five-star DeAngelo Tyson and Miami Northwestern standout Marcus Forston, there is a dropoff. Kaneohe (Hawaii) Castle's Solomon Koehler is an intriguing prospect. The 6-foot-2, 315-pounder ran a 5.0-second 40-yard dash and a pro shuttle in less than five seconds at the Oakland NIKE Combine last month. Those are outstanding numbers for a prospect that size.
The state of Texas is the most well-represented on the list. There are 13 Lone Star State prospects in this first release. Five-star running back Jermie Calhoun of Van is the top overall prospect in the state. Calhoun is headed to Oklahoma. Two other future Sooners, defensive end R.J. Washington of Keller Fossil Ridge and Good, earned the coveted five-star rating. Garland defensive end Chancey Aghayere rounds out the five-star representation from Texas. Angleton cornerback prospect D.J. Monroe, a University of Texas commit, rounds out the top five in the Lone Star State.
California and Florida follow Texas with a dozen each. From the Golden State, Ventura Saint Bonaventure running back Darrell Scott is the nation's top overall prospect at his position and the No. 2 prospect overall. Offensive tackles Smith and Kalil, explosive Anaheim Servite athlete D.J. Shoemate, and Orange Lutheran tight end Blake Ayles round out the top five prospects from the Golden State.
Bradham leads the Florida prospects, followed by Brewster and cornerbacks T.J. Bryant and Patrick Johnson - from Tallahassee Lincoln and Pompano Beach Ely, respectively. Forston rounds out the Florida top five, followed closely by Seffner Armwood tackle Matt Patchan.
It's one of the deepest years on record in the state of Alabama. Seven prospects from the Yellowhammer State, led by Jones and Love, are in the first Rivals100. Prichard Vigor athlete Burton Scott, Hoover Spain Park defensive end William Green, Mobile Saint Paul's athlete Mark Barron, Anniston offensive tackle Antoine McClain and Auburn safety Dee Finley round out the Alabama contingent in the Rivals100.
There is no doubt that state of Ohio also is loaded this year. That's no surprise, given that the Buckeye State only ranks behind California, Florida, Texas and Georgia in terms of producing NFL players. There are eight prospects from that state in the Rivals100, led by Rudolph. Massillon Washington athlete Devoe Torrence, Cincinnati LaSalle receiver Devier Posey, Youngstown Cardinal Mooney running back/linebacker Brandon Beachum, Trotwood Madison tight end Brandon Moore, Dublin Coffman tight end/receiver Jake Stoneburner, Cleveland Glenville receiver Cordale Scott and Dublin Coffman offensive tackle Mike Adams round out the representation from the Buckeye State. Torrence and Adams have committed to Ohio State, while Moore has committed to Michigan.
Georgia also is well-represented in this year's first edition. Tyson is the lone five-star from the Peach State, but Cartersville Cass running back/athlete Richard Samuel, Louisville Jefferson County offensive guard A.J. Harmon, Franklin Heard County running back Dontavius Jackson, Mount Airy Habersham Central receiver Tavarres King, Norcross receiver Brice Butler and Waynesboro Burke County defensive end Cornelius Washington round out the contingency from Georgia. Tyson, Samuel, King and Washington all are committed to the University of Georgia.