The state of New Jersey has become known over the last few years for skill position players and linebackers and 2008 is no different. There is plenty of speed in the state this year and an abundance of hard-hitting linebackers with major offers. Led by Jersey City (N.J.) St. Peter's Prep athlete Will Hill, the athleticism in the Rivals.com New Jersey top 30 state rankings is off the charts.
Hill, a 6-foot-3, 203-pounder, is the most athletic player in New Jersey in more than a decade. Hill plays quarterback and defensive back in high school but he'll focus on the defensive side of the ball in college. Hill currently lists Florida, Florida State, Maryland, Miami, Michigan, Penn State, Rutgers, Southern Cal and Virginia as his finalists.
Joining Hill in the Rivals100 is New Brunswick, N.J. athlete Brandon Smith, a 6-foot-3, 210-pounder who also plays quarterback and defensive back in high school. Smith lists Florida, Florida State, Michigan, NC State, Ohio State, Rutgers, West Virginia and Wisconsin. He had nine interceptions as a junior and he checks in at No. 3 in the state.
The No. 2 player in the state, Roxbury, N.J. linebacker Brendan Beal, won't be in these state rankings for long. Beal, a 6-foot-4, 235-pounder, is expected to transfer to Bethlehem (Pa.) Liberty for his senior season. Beal is one of three linebackers in the New Jersey top 10. He's joined by Princeton Junction (N.J.) West Windsor Plainsboro South 'backer J.B. Fitzgerald (No. 5) and Absecon (N.J.) Holy Spirit star Marcus Witherspoon (No. 7).
Big men have been rare in New Jersey of late but Manasquan, N.J. offensive tackle Art Forst and Elizabeth, N.J. defensive tackle Hafis Williams are both highly coveted. Forst, a 6-foot-8, 288-pounder, lists Rutgers, Tennessee, Notre Dame, Florida and Virginia his favorites while Williams, a 6-foot-3, 285-pounder, has already committed to Notre Dame. Forst checks in at No. 4 in the state while Williams is No. 8.
Rounding out the top 10 is Metuchen, N.J. wide receiver DeJuan Miller (No. 6), who committed to Oklahoma, Hackensack, N.J. safety Ausar Walcott (No. 9), who committed to Virginia, and Wayne (N.J.) Wayne Valley tight end Chris Pantale (No. 10), who lists Boston College, UConn, Maryland, Michigan, Michigan State, Northwestern, Syracuse and Virginia amongst others.
Rutgers, coming off an amazing season, boasts two in-state commitments in the top 30. Teaneck, N.J. speedster Rashad White ranks No. 11 while Colonia, N.J. linebacker Eric LeGrand ranks No. 13. Virginia, with Walcott and Oradell (N.J.) Bergen Catholic athlete Bill Schautz, and Boston College, with Montvale (N.J.) St. Joseph's Regional teammates Patrick Neumann and Christian Klein, also have two commitments from Jersey.