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Ranking the all-time five-stars: Virginia

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With a tip of the hat to Derrick Williams the year before, the skill set of
Virginia Beach (Va.) Landstown prospect Percy Harvin catapulted him to
the No. 1 position in the Rivals100 presented by Under Armour
in the class of 2006.
Harvin displayed a similar combination of speed, instinct and ability to the one
that Williams showed the season before. In back-to-back classes, athletes who
could do many things were chosen as the best in the nation and the
highest-ranked players to come out of their states during the Rivals.com era.
Harvin went on to have a special career in college and the NFL -- despite
numerous, lingering injuries -- and he stands unquestioned as the best to come
from Virginia.
Following the summer evaluation period, the Rivals.com team of analysts is
meeting this week to discuss how to reshape the rankings for the class of 2014
Rivals100 presented by Under Armour. This presented a perfect opportunity to
look back at former five-star prospects and re-rank them among the other elite
prospects from their home states.
HOW FARRELL RE-RANKS THEM
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From the class of 2002 -- when Rivals.com established the Rivals100 -- to the
class of 2013, there have been 11 states to have double-digit players earn
five-star rankings. This week, it is time to turn back the
clock and put those players in order based on what they did in high school.
None of the players identified as midseason five-stars for the class of 2014 is
considered for this ranking. Each is subject to change through the regular
season and all-star game evaluations.
Virginia ebbs and flows with its prospects. Every few years it produces multiple
five-star athletes, and then it goes back off the radar. It has totaled 13
five-star athletes in the first dozen years of evaluations, and with
Da'Shawn Hand,
Quin Blanding and
Andrew Brown -- three players in
the top 10 of the class of 2014 -- it will push close to 20 soon.
Rivals.com national recruiting analyst Mike Farrell said that
excluding the elite prospects from this class makes it tough to judge the
remaining group.
"Virginia is loaded with talent every few years, and of course 2014 is probably
the most talented at the top since I've been doing this," he said. "However,
this is a really enigmatic list."
Harvin was an easy choice for the top, but the mix of older and younger players
leaves a lot up in the air.
Marcus Vick,
Vidal Hazelton, Kai Parham and
Michael Johnson were busts, and only Ahmad Brooks seems to
have developed into what many expected.
Curtis Grant was in the class of 2011 and has not broken through yet,
while Derrick Green,
Jonathan Allen and
Christian Hackenberg have yet to play in college.
"Harvin turned out to be amazing, Grant only has a couple years to figure things
out, and Parham, Johnson and Hazelton were all busts," Farrell said. "Vick was a
freak athlete who was his own worst enemy, and Ahmad Brooks turned out to be
much better than others ranked ahead of him that year. Green, Allen and
Hackenberg can make this list go from enigmatic to special, but we won't know
for a few years."
The only players not to make the list were equally as problematic to rank.
Taquan Mizzell has yet to play in college, but Virginia has
high hopes. Tyrod Taylor was a fan favorite one week and a scapegoat
the next at Virginia Tech.
Victor Harris was one of the better
cornerbacks in the ACC but was unable to translate that talent to the next
level.
One player who battled for a fifth star and maybe should have earned one was
E.J. Manuel, Farrell said.
"Manuel was the top quarterback not named Terrelle Pryor in 2008, and some felt
he should have been a five-star with ease," Farrell said. "We had him at No. 43
overall that year so we liked him quite a bit, but we weren't sold on the entire
package. After an up-and-down career at FSU with more ups than downs, it turns
out he was the first quarterback drafted this April and a first-rounder."
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