With any national recruiting list, the offensive and defensive lines should be well represented since they make up for more than 40 percent of the players on the field. And with the release of players ranked No. 71 through 80 on the Rivals100, it’s becoming even more evident that while this is a great year at offensive tackle, the defensive tackle spot isn’t too shabby, either.
With monster defensive tackles Terrance Taylor of Muskegon, Mich., and Kade Weston of Red Bank, N.J., ranked at No. 77 and No. 79, respectively, it proves that both sides of the line are loaded.
Taylor is one of the nation's strongest players regardless of position. He earned all-state honors as a junior, but his weight lifting numbers are incredible. He’s a power lifting champion with a Michigan high school record of 1,605 pounds.
“He’s such a powerful kid,” Muskegon coach Tony Annese said. “We even play him on offense because he’s such an amazing blocker.”
Weston, 6-foot-6, 312 pounds, is an impressive combination of size, strength, speed and power. He has been clocked as low as 5.0 seconds in the 40-yard dash, and he’s also impossible to be blocked due to a great lower-body that features legs that look like tree trunks. He uses his lower body maybe better than any other defensive tackle in the country, but Weston is proudest of his first step.
“I think that I move down the line very well and come off the ball very fast,” Weston said. “I think they like my quickness.”
Speaking of quickness, the nation’s No. 71 player, Bryan Evans of Jacksonville (Fla.) Ed White, is all about speed. The 6-foot, 175-pounder is an explosive playmaker who projects at cornerback, receiver or safety. He is the true meaning of the word athlete. His coach, Terry Gilliam calls him “a can’t miss prospect.”
“Let’s just put it this way, he was offered by the University of Miami as a sophomore,” Gilliam said.
Evans earned first-team class 5A all-state honors and first-team all-conference honors as a junior. With scholarship offers from Florida, Auburn, Florida State, LSU, Miami and Tennessee, that ranking of the No. 71 player might be a little low, but once Evans begins to project at a natural position, not much will keep him down.
After watchingAdrian Peterson rip through Texas last year, it’s hard to think that another running back can compare. None of them do, but Terrius Purvey is the Lone Star State’s best running back this year and the nation’s No. 72 player.
At 5-foot-10, 185 pounds, Purvey is a true all-purpose back. He can catch the ball out of the backfield, and he’s dangerous when he’s able to bounce to the outside and use his speed to dance to the end zone. Purvey also produced one of the best performances in the state playoffs last year when he rushed for 232 yards in the Class 3A state championship game despite being injured with a bum leg.
“I like to juke a lot,” he said. “I’m not a power back. I’m a back that will run around you and put some moves on you. That’s what I do best.”
Mission Viejo, Calif., offensive tackle Kevin Bemoll is a physical player but still has the footwork to be a successful pass blocker. Combine that with his 6-5, 295-pound frame, and you have the nation’s No. 73 player.
“He's a tremendous player and could be better than Drew Radovich (USC), who we had here two years ago,” Mission assistant coach Marty Spaulding said. “He's big, has good feet and is mean.”
They know a thing or two about receivers at Michigan, so when the Wolverines offer a scholarship to a receiver prospect early in his junior season, you take notice. That was the case for Warren (Ohio) Harding receiver Mario Manningham, who committed quickly after getting the Wolverines’ offer.
Manningham is electric with the ball in his hands, and he has the ability to take a short pass and turn it into a 60-yard touchdown pass in a blink of an eye. He also has the size and frame that you’re looking for in an explosive receiver. Combine all that and you have the nation’s No. 74 player.
“If you ask my coach, he’ll say I have real good hands and speed, but I think my best skill is my awareness,” Manningham said. “I always know where I am on the field. I know how to find the soft areas in the zone and I know where everyone else is, so when I catch the ball I’m already turning up field and making people miss.”
There never seems to be an absence of skill talent in Louisiana, and the top running back this year is also the nation’s No. 75 player. Meet Antonio Robinson of Winnfield, La., a 6-foot-2, 195-pound human highlight film. He earned all-state honors as a junior after rushing for 1,348 yards and averaging 7.8 yards a carry.
“He is the kind of player that you always love to coach. He is always 'yes sir' and 'no sir,'” Winnfield coach Joey Penders said. “He makes tremendous grades and he practices extremely hard.”
He might only be 6-foot and 228 pounds, but perhaps no linebacker packs as big of a punch as Napes, Fla., outside linebacker Spencer Adkins.
He is a physical marvel with a 4.59-second 40-yard dash, 340-pound bench press and a 4.31-second shuttle. He’s also a heck of a football player. Last year, Adkins earned first-team all-state honors after collecting 70 tackles, 25 tackles for a loss and 14 sacks.
“He’s just a great football player, runs really well and he’s smart,” Naples coach Bill Kramer said. “He’s the total package. He’s the best player we’ve ever had.”
When Miami Northwestern coach Roland Smith claims that Christopher Barney is another Vernon Carey, he isn’t exaggerating. Combine those rave reviews with a 6-6, 332-pound frame and you have Barney ranked as the nation’s No. 78 player.
“He’s more developed as an overall player than Vernon Carey was when he was a junior,” Smith said. “At this stage, he’s more polished. His work ethic is amazing, and he’s such a great guy for a big guy.”
Barney has been doing damage for the Bulls since he was a sophomore.
“We asked him to step in and play a big role as a sophomore,” Smith said. “And he came in and made huge contributions right away. If there is a better lineman in the nation, then I’ve not seen him yet. He’s the best of the best in the entire country.”
As mentioned earlier, Michigan knows a thing or two about impact receivers.
Combine that factor, along with impressive offers from Ohio State and Purdue, which also knows a thing or two about receivers, and you have the nation’s No. 80 player, Ft. Wayne (Ind.) Harding standout Selwyn Lymon.
Lymon might be relatively unknown to many on the national scene, but people in Indiana know the 6-5, 190-pound receiver is a freak of an athlete and an even better football player.
“I think it’s my ability to catch short, five- or 10-yard routes and turn them into 60- or 70-yard plays that schools like," Lymon said.
"Basically, all last year, people just thought I was a deep threat so they played me 10 yards off, so I’d catch a short hitch and go 60 yards."