In this two-week series, Rivals.com is taking a look at the high school football talent in rival regions - breaking down the best prospects, best teams and giving our vote for which area is superior.
TODAY'S MATCHUP: Atlanta vs. New Orleans
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The Case for Atlanta
As usual, metropolitan Atlanta is absolutely loaded. Twelve of the state's 20 best prospects live within 30 miles of downtown, and all told there are 13 four-star players in that circle.
Outside linebackerUkeme Eligwe, a Florida State commit from Stone Mountain, and cornerback Geno Smith of St Pius X, are the headliners. Elige is the country's No. 42 prospect; Smith, who recently committed to Alabama, also is in the Rivals100 and ranks fourth nationally at his position.
Auburn receiver commit JaQuay Williams, a Rivals100 prospect from Tyrone Sandy Creek, averaged nearly 31 yards per catch in 2010. One of his teammates, defensive end Quinteze Williams]/db], is headed to Florida.
Stone Mountain Stephenson has an especially strong senior class, which should produce double-digit FBS signees. On that squad, Gators running back commit Mike Davis is the highest-rated player with four stars. He checks in nationally at No. 122. On the other side of the ball at Stephenson, inside linebacker Raphael Kirby is a Miami commit and like Davis is a member of the Rivals250. Defensive end Jarontay Jones, who has pledged to Virginia Tech, is Stephenson's third four-star player.
Auburn cornerback commit Joshua Holsey of Fairburn Creekside is one of the South's fastest players. He's also a four-star prospect. So are offensive guard Joe Harris of Lithonia and athlete Kenyan Drake of Powder Springs Hillgrove. Harris will play for South Carolina; Drake is headed to Alabama.
For the class of 2013, this area is represented by players such as defensive tackle Robert Nkemdiche of Loganville Grayson and linebacker Trey Johnson of Lawrenceville Central Gwinnett. Nkemdiche looks like five-star material; Johnson already has committed to Auburn.
The Case for New Orleans
In the greater New Orleans area, cornerback Dwayne Thomas of New Orleans O. Perry Walker is the top-rated recruit this cycle. A 6-foot-1, 170-pound LSU commit, he's ranked 15th nationally among players at his position and is a member of the Rivals250.
This area has another four-star corner in Texas A&M commit Darion Monroe of Reserve East St. John. A versatile athlete, he accounted for 2,300-plus yards of offense in 2010.
Ronnie Feist, a four-star defensive end from Edgard West St. John, is another good one. The LSU commit recorded 22 sacks and was first-team 1A All-State last season.
Tight end Dillon Gordon of River Ridge John Curtis, another player who has pledged to LSU, is the last four-star prospect from this area. Like the players mentioned before him, he's also a Rivals250 recruit.
Massive offensive tackle Derek Edinburgh of New Orleans Edna Karr is another player worth watching. Although he's currently a three-star player, he has the ability to move up. The 6-8, 320-pounder committed to LSU over nearly two dozen other offers.
Recent Arizona commit Gerron Borne of Reserve East St. John and Marrick Charles of Destrehan give this area a solid pair of defensive tackles.
For 2013, much attention will be focused on New Orleans Edna Karr, which seems to have a loaded junior class. One player there to watch is 6-5, 235-pound tight end Standish Dobard.
Although the state of Louisiana once again has an abundance of talent, this just isn't a fair fight. The greater Atlanta area has a population exceeding 5 million. That's more than five times larger than that of New Orleans. While there are plenty of standouts in the Big Easy, Hotlanta gets the nod by a substantial margin. That area isn't just better at the top, it has far more depth than its opponent.
It should be noted that this comparison is grossly slanted toward Atlanta. The metro Atlanta area is nearly five times larger than that of New Orleans and so it will be easy to roll out team after team that wins this debate. However it speaks volumes of New Orleans to be asked to participate in this head-to-head versus others when it could have been compared to similar sized areas - maybe Broward County, Florida - and come out ahead. New Orleans has a lot of talented teams that people know, mainly River Ridge (La.) John Curtis jumps to mind. But there also is a great amount of Catholic teams in the Crescent City, as well as other public school powers that are on the rise. For Atlanta teams, big and small, there is talent to be found. Buford, Stephenson, Lassiter, Martin Luther King, among many others can take the field and represent well for Hotlanta on the national level. Per capita this may be a win for New Orleans but based on raw numbers Atlanta produces the better product.
- Dallas Jackson
AUG. 24: Atlanta vs. New Orleans
AUG. 25: Indianapolis vs. Cincinnati | Chicago vs. Detroit
AUG. 26: Southern California vs. Northern California