The 2011 Rivals.com preseason prep school rankings have a South Carolina flair, at least at the top. Four of the top five prospects in this year's initial ranking have a connection to one of the two major programs in the state led by the nation's top prep prospect, wide receiver Martavis Bryant, who is committed to Clemson. While the 6-foot-4, 190-pounder leads yet another strong group of players at Chatham (Va.) Hargrave Military, there is quite a bit of balance in the top 50.
Bryant, originally from Anderson (S.C.) T.L. Hanna, was a U.S. Army All-American in 2010 and chose the Tigers over offers from Florida, Florida State, UCLA and others. Bryant leads a strong group of wide receivers in this year's prep ranking and makes it two years in a row that a receiver from Hargrave tops the prep rankings. In 2010, wideout Deon Long finished on top.
Checking in at No. 2 is another South Carolina native. Former Greenwood, S.C., defensive tackle Kelcy Quarles, a sign-and-place from the South Carolina Gamecocks is a 6-foot-4, 265-pounder who was also a U.S. Army All-American and is suiting up for Fork Union (Va.) Fork Union Military. Like Bryant, Quarles had many offers from programs such as Florida, Alabama, LSU, Tennessee and Florida State before deciding to stay close to home.
Following Quarles is Hargrave defensive end Corey Crawford who hails from Columbus (Ga.) Carver and will be joining Bryant at Clemson after a season together at Hargrave. The 6-foot-5, 235-pounder decided on Clemson over an in-state offer from Georgia and offers from Florida, Florida State, Auburn, South Carolina and others. And at No. 5 is yet another prospect heading to play his college football in South Carolina. Cornerback Brison Williams from Warner Robins (Ga.) Northside School will be prepping a year at Fork Union along with Quarles and brings his 6-foot-0, 180-pound size to the program.
Breaking up this Palmetto State party at No. 4 is former Washington (D.C.) Archbishop Carroll offensive lineman Nathaniel Clarke, a 6-foot-4, 282-pounder who was a sign-and-place by Maryland at Fork Union. Kansas State also offered Clarke out of high schools and many others showed interest.
While Hargrave and Fork Union boast the top five players in the pre-season prep rankings, New Berlin (N.Y.) Milford Academy comes on strong with three of the next five prospects. Former Hubbard, Ohio star Andre Givens, a Pitt sign-and-place to Milford, will be playing defensive back in prep school but could play on either side of the ball in college. The 5-foot-10, 180-pounder checks in at No. 6 and had offers from Louisville, Cincinnati, Michigan, Michigan State and others before deciding on Pitt.
His teammate at Milford is linebacker Rodman Noel, a 6-foot-4, 190-pounder who will be playing defensive end in prep school. Noel, who checks in at No. 7, was a standout at Everett, Mass., as a senior and is being actively recruited by Maryland, Boston College and others. And checking in at No. 10 from Milford is former Fort Myers, Fla., wideout Jeremy Davis, a Miami sign-and-place. The 5-foot-11, 162-pounder is one of the quickest players in prep school.
Two more Hargrave prospects break up the Milford string near the end of the top 10 as wide receiver Eddie Johnson Jr. checks in at No. 8 and defensive end Justin Taylor is No. 9. Johnson, a 6-foot-3, 194-pounder out of Midlothian, Texas, is a sign-and-place by Baylor while Taylor, a 6-foot-3, 222-pounder out of Norwood (N.C.) South Stanly, is a sign-and-place by Virginia Tech.
Wide receiver Marquel Wade, a 5-foot-11, 180-pounder out of Jacksonville (Fla.) Andrew Jackson, is suiting up for Milford and checks in at No. 11. The prolific receiver was signed and placed by Arkansas.
At No. 12 is the prospect that makes the biggest leap of anyone by far. Former Wake Forest (N.C.) Rolesville standout Terrell Hartsfield was on the radar early heading into his senior season averaging 12 tackles per game and earning an early offer from NC State and interest from North Carolina, Wake Forest, Clemson and others, but fell off due to academic concerns. Hartsfield, a 6-foot-4, 215-pounder, already received an offer from Texas Tech and has committed and is the talk of Hargrave already.
Checking in at No. 13 is former St. Matthews (S.C.) Calhoun County linebacker Brandon Golson who is suiting up at Fork Union. The 6-foot-2, 200-pounder is a sign-and-place with the South Carolina Gamecocks. Golson is undersized but very effective laterally and a great blitzer.
The rest of the 2011 Rivals.com preseason prep school top 50 consists of a few sleepers that will emerge throughout the prep season and turn into major recruits like offensive lineman Laurence Gibson and Josh Watson did last year, while others are well-known in recruiting circles and are either trying to get qualified or position themselves for bigger and better offers. And some are a combination of the two.
One such player is wide receiver Alonzo Russell from Washington (D.C.) H.D. Woodson at No. 14. The 6-foot-4, 180-pounder is at Milford Academy and has a great deal of interest from Virginia Tech, West Virginia and others. He will certainly get offers if he gets his academics in order and will emerge from a sleeper to a potential star if all goes well. Running back Marcus Hampton, originally from Williamstown, N.J., is another one who could become a college star. The 6-foot-0, 210-pound back has interest from Pitt and many others and could be the next great back at Milford following in the footsteps of LeSean McCoy and Graig Cooper. Hampton checks in at No. 15.
A few prospects on the sleeper side of things include No. 25, offensive lineman Joshua Campion, a 6-foot-5, 320-pounder out of Minnesota who got very few looks out of high school. Campion is now at Fork Union and has the potential to be a BCS recruit before all is said and done. The same can be said for Hargrave offensive linemen Frederick Ruff (No. 30) and Tevin Pearson (No. 50) as well as Fork Union speedster Aaron Sye (No. 31) and linebacker Kenton Adeymi (No. 46).
Some notable names that signed and are looking to qualify include three Rutgers commitments, defensive end Djwany Mera from Hargrave and athlete Tejay Johnson and defensive tackle Kenneth Kirksey from Fork Union. Mera checks in at No. 16 while Johnson and Kirksey check in at No. 19 and 20 respectively. Milford Academy defensive tackle Khaynin Mosley-Smith (No. 17) is a Pitt sign-and-place while Fork Union wide receiver Tyrek Cheeseboro (No. 18) and defensive back Kyrrel Latimer (No. 22) were signed-and-placed by Maryland and Virginia respectively.
Aside from the big three prep schools, there are a few others that have top prospects as well. Avon (Conn.) Avon Old Farms athlete Sean McQuillan is a 6-foot-4, 221-pounder who could play many positions in college and has already committed to UConn. Watertown (Conn.) The Taft School quarterback Malik Stokes had a Central Michigan offer last year but decided on the prep route while Princeton (N.J.) The Hun School offensive lineman Zachary Hundertmark was committed to Louisville last year but things fell apart between the two parties and he is back on the market. McQuillan is ranked at No. 23, Stokes at No. 26 and Hundertmark is No. 32.
Cheshire (Conn.) Academy boasts quarterback Cody Keith, who checks in at No. 37, who played his senior year in California but didn't earn any offers. Now he is committed to East Carolina and has schools like NC State and Tulane also very interested. Highstown (N.J.) The Peddie School also boasts a prospect in athlete Brendan Dudeck who has offers from Army, Navy and Tulane and interest from Iowa, Boston College, Northwestern and others. Dudeck is ranked No. 48.