Nearly half of the first round draft picks in this weekend's NFL draft played high school football in the Southeast.
Products of the states of Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana South Carolina and Tennessee accounted for 15 of the first round picks Saturday.
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Of particular note is the state of Alabama, which is quickly emerging as one of the top football talent-producing states in the country. The talent in Alabama always has been good (one look at the success of both Southeastern Conference in-state programs will tell you that), but during the past two years, it seems as if it has reached a new level.
In this year's draft, Alabama had three first round picks and the top overall pick in quarterback JaMarcus Russell of Mobile.
The state, which this recruiting cycle (2008) has enough talent to rival traditional heavy-hitting talent producers like Georgia and Louisiana, also had a good draft last year. Three of the top 34 picks in the draft played high school football in the Yellowhammer State.
SEC teams check on Hatcher, Lejiste
Three programs, including two from the Southeastern Conference, sent coaches by Atlantic Community High in Delray Beach, Fla., last week to check up on prospects at that school.
The top prospect at Atlantic Community this year is hard-hitting safety Karnell Hatcher. Assistants from Georgia, South Carolina and Louisiana-Lafayette all made their way by the Palm Beach County school last week to check on Hatcher.
Gamecocks assistant Robert Gillespie definitely took a look at Hatcher's teammate, Jon Lejiste. An offer from South Carolina could be in the works for the 6-foot, 190-pounder with 4.44 speed in the 40-yard dash.
"He told my coach they are still deciding about an offer," he said. "They said that my spring game may count a lot."
Interest picking up in Davis
Suwanee (Ga.) Peachtree Ridge running back Brandon Davis, a Rivals250 to watch selection, has been getting increased attention from a number of programs, including one from the West Coast.
UCLA and assistant coach Dino Babers have stepped up their recruitment of Davis and plan to head to the Atlanta area to check up on the 5-foot-9, 190-pounder next week.
Other programs also plan to check on Davis. Michigan, Oklahoma, LSU, Rutgers and Penn State should be by the school this week.
Davis holds scholarship offers from Duke, Maryland, Vanderbilt, South Carolina, Virginia Tech and Central Florida. He rushed for 1,300 yards and 13 touchdowns as a junior and has been timed as fast as 4.58 seconds in the 40-yard dash.
First two schools see Love
Florida and Louisville were the first two schools to stop by and check on pre-evaluation Rivals100 offensive tackle Tyler Love of Mountain Brook (Ala.) High. Gators and Cardinals coaches stopped into the Birmingham-area school last week.
This week, the 6-foot-7, 290-pounder expects more.
"A lot are coming this week," he said.
Love is one of the top offensive line prospects in the Southeast in this year's class.
Wells continues to get offers
Miami (Fla.) is the most recent team to extend a scholarship offer to Gainesville (Ga.) defensive end Keith Wells, who continues to receive loads of attention after a strong showing at the Athens NIKE Camp last weekend.
The 6-foot-5, 225-pounder was offered by Florida and Alabama last week and sources close to his situation say that the Gators could have the early lead, though at this stage with Wells getting a new offer seemingly by the day, a lot can change between now and his time to make a final decision.
The Canes, Tide, Gators, Boston College, Georgia Tech, Louisville, North Carolina and South Carolina
Wells could be on the verge of another big-time offer this week as Ohio State assistant coach Luke Fickell is expected at Gainesville High School to check up on Wells.
Two offers in for Tampa WR
Ole Miss and Arizona State became the first two programs to extend scholarship offers to Tampa (Fla.) Chamberlain receiver Fred Sykes.
The 6-foot-1, 175-pounder added that Purdue and South Carolina also are showing him serious attention.
Sykes caught 36 passes for 551 yards during his junior season.
This, that and the other
Miami (Fla.) is showing strong interest in Auburn (Ala.) safety Dee Finley and could be on the verge of extending an offer. …Marietta (Ga.) Sprayberry safety Brynden Trawick picked up his fourth scholarship offer last week when Connecticut pulled the trigger. The 6-foot-2, 201-pounder also holds offers from Ole Miss, Mississippi State and Boston College. …Alabama, Ole Miss, Middle Tennessee State, Central Florida, and Michigan have been by to check on sleeper all-purpose back Jamal Paige of College Park (Ga.) Woodward Academy. Vanderbilt and Wake Forest are supposed to check in this week. …Wellington (Fla.) Palm Beach Central running back David Ahola picked up his first offer, from Air Force, last week. …Texas Tech was by to check on defensive lineman Lavunce Askew of Camden (Ark.) Fairview. … Clemson assistant coach Billy Napier was in Nashville last week to check on offensive lineman Preston Bailey of Montgomery Bell Academy and running back/linebacker Chris Jordan of Brentwood Academy. The Tigers are in Jordan's top two and Bailey described the visit as having "gone well" even though he didn't speak with Napier (coaches are not allowed to communicate directly with the prospect during their time on campus). …Coaches from Clemson, South Carolina and Duke stopped by to check on Johnsonville (S.C.) offensive lineman Justin Lewis. Lewis has an offer from North Carolina State.