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: Jacksonville/North Florida vs. Orlando
The Case for Jacksonville/North Florida
Jacksonville and surrounding areas are not nearly as deep in 2012 as they have been in past years, but the area still provides some excellent senior talent.
Leading the way is Jacksonville Bolles five-star offensive lineman John Theus, one of the nation's top 10 players.
Theus is the cornerstone of a talented offense and would provide great blocking on the edge.
Fruit Cove Bartram Trail three-star quarterback Nathan Peterman, Yulee duo of four-star tight end Kelvin Rainey and Jacksonville First Coast four-star wide receiver Chris Black also boost their area's talent.
But that area lacks a lot of depth on defense in 2012. The top two defensive prospects are Jacksonville First Coast three-star linebacker Reggie Northrup and Jacksonville Episcopal linebacker Shakeel Rashad. Nearby Hilliard athlete Marcus Allen could play on either side of the ball, as a running back or linebacker.
An infusion of excellent talent though would hail from the 2013 class, led by the offensive duo of Yulee running back Derrick Henry and Jacksonville Bishop Kenny wide receiver Ahmad Fulwood. On defense, all three levels would be provided a future star in Jacksonville Sandalwood defensive end Demarcus Walker, Jacksonville First Coast linebacker Daniel McMillan and Jacksonville Trinity Christian defensive back Nick Washington.
The Case for Orlando
Orlando lacks a five-star prospect but the area is still home to some excellent talent, especially on the offensive side of the ball.
Orlando Dr. Phillips three-star QB Nick Patti lacks the desirable measurements, but does a good job getting it done on the field. Wide receiver talent includes Winter Park four-star wide receiver D'Vario Montgomery, Orlando Edgewater four-star wide receiver Alton Howard and Orlando Boone four-star wide receiver Marvin Bracy. All three of those wideouts could be major impact players on special teams as well.
Up front is Apopka offensive center Ty Darlington. The U.S. Army All-American is considered the nation's top offensive center. Orlando Jones three-star offensive guard Duaron Williams and Orlando Lake Highland Prep three-star offensive tackle Blake Fromang also provide depth along the offensive line. Orlando Olympia's James Hamilton, a three-star offensive guard, could line up on either side of the ball.
Winter Garden West Orange three-star safety Lucas Thompson and Orlando Edgewater three-star safety Karl Joseph are both physical presences who can make a play on the ball.
The 2013 class would also provide talent, especially in the offensive backfield. Orlando Boone running back A.J. Turman is a big, physical runner with good speed. Orlando Dr. Phillips Eric Harrell is a multidimensional runner who is also apt in the passing attack. Orlando Jones athlete Levonte Whitfield could be a dynamo in the offensive backfield.
Another intriguing offensive prospect coming out of the area in 2013, Winter Park quarterback Asiantii Woulard. An excellent athlete who is transitioning very well into being a quarterback.
It can be argued that the top-end talent in Jacksonville is better in both 2012 and 2013, but the depth of talent - especially on offense - looks to be better for the Orlando squad. Also, Orlando's plethora of running backs and wide receivers at their disposal seems to outweigh the limited, but great, options for the Jacksonville-area team.
Jacksonville against Orlando is a tricky comparison as the teams are generally not the top teams in the state, compared with the teams in the Southern portion of the state. Jacksonville has had a hard time with its budget and that has put a cloud over its teams, but the private school power Jacksonville Bolles still carries that flag for the city. Orlando has been on the upswing recently and has several teams that are ranked nationally or are in consideration for national rankings. With Apopka High, Orlando Dr. Phillips and Winter Park starting the year near the top of Orlando rankings, the trio pushes the area ahead of Jacksonville.
- Dallas Jackson
AUG. 19: Orlando vs. Jacksonville/North Florida | Oklahoma City vs. Tulsa
AUG. 22: Memphis vs. Nashville | Kansas City vs. St. Louis
AUG. 23: North Alabama vs. South Alabama | Arizona/New Mexico vs. Colorado/Utah
AUG. 24: Atlanta vs. New Orleans
AUG. 25: Indianapolis vs. Cincinnati | Chicago vs. Detroit
AUG. 26: Southern California vs. Northern California