Thousands of prospects have signed their letters of intent and schools have celebrated their 2011 hauls. Naturally, the focus now turns toward the next class and uncovering the top prospects who will headline of the first Wednesday in February 2012.
As the spring evaluation period approaches, Rivals.com unveils its early list of top names to watch with the Rivals250 Watch List.
No prospects for the 2012 class have been given a star rating at this point because of the need to further evaluate over the next few months. Rivals.com will utilize events such as camps and combines, as well as video, to help discover even more top prospects who will become pivotal down the road on fall Saturdays.
On defense, among those to watch is Washington (D.C.) Friendship Collegiate Academy defensive tackle Eddie Goldman, Millen (Ga.) Jenkins County defensive tackle Jonathan Taylor, Harrisburg (Pa.) Bishop McDevitt defensive end Noah Spence and Oxford (Ala.) linebacker Kwon Alexander.
Strength in numbers
The Rivals250 Watch List consists of players from around the nation, but 99 of the initial 250 prospects hail from three states - Texas, Florida, and California.
The Lone Star State leads the way with 35 prospects. The Sunshine State checks in just behind with 33 prospects and the Golden State comes in as a close third with 31 prospects.
Checking in at fourth on the list is Georgia. The Peach State has 15 prospects on the initial watch list.
A number of the prospects on the initial watch list are familiar last names to football. A number of the prospects have had siblings who have made a name for themselves on the collegiate and professional levels.
Perhaps the prospect who needs no introduction is Oklahoma City (Okla.) Heritage Hall running back Barry Sanders. Sanders' father, of the same name, played at Oklahoma State before spending 10 Pro Bowl seasons with the Detroit Lions. The elder Sanders is a member of both the Collegiate and Professional Football Hall of Fames.
Austin (Texas) wide receiver Cayleb Jones is the son of former Dallas Cowboys linebacker Robert Jones. He is also the nephew of former NFL quarterback Jeff Blake, who is best known for his stint with the Cincinnati Bengals.
Land O'Lakes (Fla.) tight end Kent Taylor is a jumbo athlete much like his father, Rob Taylor. Taylor's father played eight seasons for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as an offensive tackle.
Ramsey (N.J.) Don Bosco Prep defensive end Darius Hamilton is following in the footsteps of his father, Keith Hamilton. Hamilton's father played 12 seasons for the New York Giants as a defensive tackle.
Another defensive end with a familiar name to the college football landscape if Mario Edwards from Denton (Texas) Ryan. Edwards' father, also named Mario, spent five seasons in the NFL with the Dallas Cowboys and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Another Lone Star State prospect with family ties on the football field is Buda (Texas) Hays offensive center Boone Feldt. His brother is current Arkansas offensive guard Cam Feldt.
A pair of Florida prospects have brothers making an impact at college programs currently. Pompano Beach (Fla.) Ely wide receiver Avery Johnson is the younger brother of LSU defensive back Patrick Peterson. Miami (Fla.) Columbus defensive back Deon Bush is the younger brother of Purdue wide receiver Gary Bush.