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*Southern schools looking for a quality linebacker in the Class of 2007 don't have to stray far, as a very good one is emerging out of McDonough (Ga.) Union Grove. 6-1, 220 pound Kyle Jackson has the strength, the speed and is coming off a strong junior season (110 tackles and 28 tackles for loss) to be a top-notch recruit.
Jackson led a Union Grove turnaround in 2005, as the Wolverines improved from 3-7 in 2004 to 9-3 this fall. Following the season, he was named all-county, all-area and all-region in his first full year as a starter.
Early on, Notre Dame and Maryland are already making big pushes for Jackson, and Vanderbilt has also picked up their pursuit recently. A solid student with a 3.4 GPA and a 22 score on the ACT, look for Kyle Jackson to shine at one of the NIKE Camps this spring.
*The WPIAL in Pennsylvania is always a launching pad for great talent at the college level and next year figures to be no different. One player to watch for is 6-5, 250 pound TE/DE Andrew Devlin out of Pittsburgh Mt. Lebanon.
Devlin made an impact on both sides of the ball for the Blue Devils this fall, who finished the season with an 8-4 record and a loss to eventual state champion McKeesport in the WPIAL AAAA semifinals.
Not surprisingly, Pitt, which dominated Western Pa. recruiting this year, is the first school to tender Devlin a scholarship offer.
"I'm extremely interested in Pitt," Devlin told Pantherlair.com. "I think coach Wannstedt is doing some great things down there. It's still really early, but they're definitely a school I'm looking at."
Devlin is also getting mail from the likes of Notre Dame, BC, Virginia, West Virginia, Virginia Tech and many more. He figures to be one of the state's more heavily pursued prospects in the Class of 2007 before all is said and done.
Mt. Lebanon head coach Chris Haering has this to say about Devlin - "On either side of the ball, he's just an outstanding player, the best I have ever coached."
*Mount Pleasant (Texas) coach Larry McBroom says his Tigers return two players to watch for from this year's 4-6 squad. 6-3, 182 pound wide receiver Kelvin Cheatum should be a highly sought after Division I recruit this year after catching 43 balls for 708 yards and nine scores as a junior. Cheatum earned all-district honors this fall and boasts 4.5 speed in the 40 with great leaping ability. He already is regarded as a top 40 prospect in the state by some observers.
Jacob Garrett, a 6-4, 222 pound athlete, is another Tiger that McBroom feels should be recruited by D-I schools. Garrett played both tight end and defensive end as a junior and was also an all-district selection.
*The state of Virginia produced some of the nation's top wide receiver prospects in the Class of 2006, namely Landstown High's Percy Harvin and Damon McDaniel, both Florida commits. Suffolk (Va.) Nansemond River coach Brian Maus feels like he has a player returning next year that could possibly develop into a similar prospect down the line.
That player is 6-0, 180 pound wide receiver/athlete Darryl Freeney. As a junior, Freeney caught 27 passes for 540 yards and nine touchdowns, standing out for the 3-7 Warriors.
"Darryl can do it all, I think he really could be like a Percy Harvin next year for us," says coach Maus.
Maus also says keep an eye on 5-9, 175 pound cornerback Mark Jackson, who was a first team all-district pick as a junior and is a "lockdown corner."
If you are a coach or parent that would like to get a top junior involved with the NIKE Camps, NIKE Combines or Elite 11 Quarterback events, or featured on the Junior to Watch Blog, email Brian Stumpf if you are located in the Eastern or Central part of the country ([email protected]) or Greg Biggins ([email protected]) if you are in the West.