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*Pittsburgh (Pa.) Seton-La Salle has produced its share of quarterbacks over the last five years, first with Bruce Gradkowski, who went onto stardom at Toledo, and then Class of 2005 prospect Bill Stull, who signed with Pitt last year. Coach Greg Perry has another gunslinger coming up in the Class of 2007 with 6-3, 180 pound Matt Rodgers.
"We've had three D-I quarterbacks here, and I really think Matt could be the best we've ever had at the position by the time he's done," says Perry. Rodgers has good mobility with a best of 4.65 in the 40, and threw for over 2,100 yards with 20 touchdowns and seven more scores on the ground as a junior.
Speaking of Gradkowski, Bruce's younger brother Gino Gradkowski will also be a senior at Seton-La Salle this fall, but unlike his older brother, Gino doesn't throw passes, but rather throws blocks as an all-state OL for the Rebels. In fact, the 6-3, 275 pounder already has received scholarship offers from both Toledo and West Virginia, and should have his pick of many schools before the year is through.
*The De Soto Eagles are annually one of the top high schools in Texas in terms of producing college football talent, and even though Dave Meadows' squad finished 6-5 this year after a close playoff lose to undefeated Plano, the Eagles cupboard will be loaded again in 2006.
Headlining the returnees is Von Miller, a 6-4, 230 pound DE. "Von is a super athlete with 4.5 speed and I really think the sky is the limit for him," says Meadows. Miller registered 37 tackles and six sacks as a junior.
While Miller should anchor the Eagles' defense in '06, look for 5-9, 180 pound RB Adrian Abner to once again be the focal point of the offense. Abner ran for 1,177 yards on his way to all-district honors last fall and has good vision to go along with his 4.5 speed in the 40.
Two others to watch on the De Soto offense will be 6-2, 210 pound WR Garrick Williams and 5-10, 170 pound QB Terrance Wilkerson. Williams has good speed at 4.6 in the 40 and caught 19 passes for 250 yards and five TDs as a junior, while Wilkerson might be the Eagles' fastest player and ran for over 800 yards while passing for 575 yards in '05.
*Olathe (Kan.) East has a pair of Class of 2007 prospects that should make college coaches' mouths water this year that return off of coach Jeff Meyers' squad that went 12-1 in 2005.
The top returnee is 5-9, 165 pound scatback Demetrius Bell, who set the state on fire this past fall, rushing 243 times for 1,821 yards and 23 touchdowns on his way to earning Class 6A honorable mention all-state. "There is no question in my mind that Demetrius is the fastest athlete in Kansas," states coach Meyers, who estimates Bell at about a 4.3 in the 40.
Right behind Bell in terms of speed is 5-11, 175 pound WR/DB Dorwin Williams, who made his own fair share of big plays last fall with his 4.4 speed. Williams reeled in 23 passes for 398 yards and six TDs while also intercepting four passes at cornerback.
*A top quarterback to watch for in the state of Michigan next year will be 6-5, 220 pound Steven Threet. In 2005 as a junior at Adrian High, Threet hit 108 of 238 passes for 1,592 yards with 20 touchdowns and 11 interceptions.
A pocket passer, Threet has one of the stronger arms in this year's class that we've seen to this point and SSFootball.com will have film of Threet up online in the near future.
"Steve possesses an outstanding arm and can throw equally well from under center and shotgun," says Adrian coach Phil Jacobs. "He is a natural leader by example who cares about the success of the team, he makes checks at the line and audibles and always seems to put us in a good play."
*Colin Sandeman had a terrific junior season at Bettendorf (Iowa), as the 6-1, 180 pound receiver hauled in 44 passes for 810 yards and 15 touchdowns, earning all-state honors in the process.
"We call him 'White Lightning,'" says Bettendorf head coach Randy Scott. "He definitely has a burst and great hands to go along with it."
Sandeman's 15 TD receptions set a conference record and he also averaged 23.5 yards per punt return in 2005. He's already getting mail from the likes of Iowa, Iowa State, Wisconsin and others.
*An update on Lake Worth (Fla.) Palm Beach Central center Tyler McDermott, who was featured in late 2005 by our OL "guru" John Brock In the Trenches...
McDermott, a 6-2, 265 pounder, has gained five pounds since the end of the year through strength trainer and also recently ran an electronic 4.99 40 time at his gym. After the 2005 season, he earned all-league for the third straight year and was also named to both the Ft. Lauderdale Sun Sentinel and the Palm Beach Post all-area teams. McDermott will attend both the NIKE Combine and NIKE Camp in South Florida this spring.
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.