They are the best of the best. The players that are wanted by every program and destined to make a big impact at the college level and beyond.
Rivals.com has identified the first five-star prospects for the 2012 class and is unveiling them this week. Twelve prospects have been awarded five-stars but are not ranked at this time and we will profile three each day. The five-star spotlight is now on Geismar (La.) Dutchtown safety Landon Collins.
Five stars: Landon Collins
Landon Collins is a ball-hawking safety that hits like a linebacker.
Scouting report: A prototypical strong safety, Collins is a big, physical player who possesses excellent speed and tremendous all-around athleticism. He always seems to be near the action, which not only is a product of his quickness, but also of his awareness and instincts. Collins has the hips and footwork of a corner, but hits like a linebacker. That versatility allows him to play a variety of positions and line up anywhere from the defensive backfield to the line of scrimmage. While his future is likely at strong safety, it's not inconceivable to imagine him growing into a linebacker.
Analyst's take: "Find the ball and you will typically find Collins near it. To put it mildly, he's a player with excellent size, skills and range who can make almost any type of play. When Collins lines up deep, he protects his area well both as a ball-hawk and as a punishing hitter. If he's in man coverage at the hash, he has little problem sticking to his receiver. And on running plays, Collins is capable of tracking down backs downfield or disrupting a play in the backfield before it has a chance to materialize. As a tackler, Collins has few equals at this level. At times, he makes even difficult plays look routine. Because he can hurt an offense so many ways, he has to be accounted for at all times." - Keith Niebuhr, Rivals.com
Why he's a five-star: "Collins possesses great speed and a tremendous overall body structure (that of a linebacker). He has excellent ball skills and has shown at several camps the ability to cover receivers while in man coverage. There is no doubt that he is a true ball-hawk with game-changing ability." - Barry Every, Rivals.com
His coach says: "God made him great. He's very well put together, he runs well and he works hard to develop what God gave him. He's the total package. With Landon, it's kind of a challenge not to overload him because he can do so many things. He pretty much does whatever you ask him to do. It's fun to have those types of guys that give you that kind of flexibility. The best thing I can tell you is that there are guys that look good but stand around. He makes plays. That's what you see when you put the film on. I think that's his No. 1 attribute." - Dutchtown head coach Benny Saia
Odds and ends: Collins burst onto the scene at last year's Sophomore National Underclassman Combine event in Louisiana, where he was chosen as MVP over nearly 200 others from throughout the state. Now one of the top players in his class, Collins is unlikely to commit early, his coach predicted. Instead, he apparently will wait to make any type of decision until after taking his visits. Collins, who will be a three-year starter in 2011, is expected to see significant action at tailback this fall. The plan as of now is to get him the ball 10-12 times a game.
NFL player comparison: Eric Berry, Kansas City Chiefs