June 4, 2006

Class of 2007 Five Star trends

If you are a college coach looking for a big-time quarterback to build your program around, this is (or was) the year to go out and find one.

Perhaps the most interesting trend in the first release of the Class of 2007 Rivals100 five-star prospects is the presence of five quarterbacks. That's as many as there were in the classes of 2006 (three) and 2005 (two) combined and is the most of any position to receive a five-star rating in the first release.

Each quarterback hails from a different state, including one each from the top talent-producers of Florida (Ocala Trinity Catholic's John Brantley), Texas (Texarkana Texas' Ryan Mallett) and California (Westlake Village Oaks Christian's Jimmy Clausen). The other two come from the highly underrated talent-producing states of South Carolina (Duncan Byrnes' Willy Korn) and Virginia (Hampton's Tyrod Taylor).

An interesting trend within this talent pool has been the early commitment. All but Taylor have made their college decisions. Korn was first when he committed to Clemson last summer. Brantley surprised many when he selected Texas earlier in the spring, Clausen soon followed with a pledge to Notre Dame while Mallett to Michigan was shortly after that.

The word on Taylor is that Virginia Tech is the team to beat, but Florida and other schools are in the mix as well.

Linebackers are down

Five-stars: Breakdown by position
There are always numerous prospects in the running for a top ranking. However, every year is different on which positions receive the most top ranked players. Here is a look at which spots had the most five-stars to start in 2007:
Position Five-stars
Quarterback 5
Wide receiver 4
Running back
3
Defensive tackle 3
Cornerback 3
Offensive tackle 2
Athlete 2
Defensive end 2
Offensive guard 1
Linebacker 1
Four five-star linebacker prospects highlighted the final Rivals100 for class of 2006, including Dallas Woodrow Wilson's Sergio Kindle, who signed with Texas and Shelby (N.C.) Crest's Brandon Spikes, who signed with Florida. This year, however, there is only one five-star linebacker in the initial five-star release, Southern Cal commit Chris Galippo of Anaheim (Calif.) Servite, and there is a chance he could end up as a defensive end in college.

It appears to be a down year nationally for elite linebackers, though there could be some late risers during the summer and the coming football season.

Multiple receivers

The number of wide receivers to obtain five-star status has doubled from the class of 2006 to 2007. Only two, including the nation's No. 1 overall prospect, Florida signee Percy Harvin of Virginia Beach Landstown, were among the five stars in 2006 while four are on the inaugural five-star list for 2007.

Terrance Toliver of Hempstead (Texas), Dwight Jones of Burlington (N.C.) Cummings, Arrelious Benn of Washington (D.C.) Dunbar and Deonte Thompson of Belle Glade (Fla.) Glades Central all posses different skill sets that make them special. With Toliver, it's a combination of speed, size (height) and hands. Also tall, Jones has tremendous body control, leaping ability and concentration, Benn is the size of a linebacker, which is rare for a receiver, and is explosive with the ball in his hands while Thompson is just plain explosive, a speed merchant who is lethal in the open field.

Unlike the quarterbacks, the majority of the receivers haven't committed. Jones, who pledged early to North Carolina, is the only one.

Five-stars: Breakdown by region
Plenty of discussion surrounds where the top prospects come from across the country. Here is a look at how the five-stars break down by geographic region:
Region Five-stars
Southeast 10
Heartland 5
Mid-Atlantic
4
Midwest 4
West 4
East 0
Pledged prospects

Speaking of commitments, 10 of the 27 five-stars currently are committed to college football programs. Texas currently has three five-star commits while Notre Dame, Southern California, South Carolina, North Carolina, Clemson, Michigan and Wisconsin all have one each.

Regional breakdown

As was the case with the class of 2006 when the region had nine, the Southeast leads the way with five-star prospects in the class of 2007 with 10 selections. The Heartland, which includes the state of Texas, is second with five, followed by three regions with four each (the Mid-Atlantic, Midwest and West). In 2006, the Mid-Atlantic and West were tied for second with five each while the Heartland and West both had four and the East one.

Noteworthy

The inclusion of Chicago defensive end Martez Wilson as a five-star prospect in this year's class marks the return of the state of Illinois among the five-stars. Wilson is the first five-star from the Land of Lincoln since Iowa signee Dan Doering from Barrington in the class of 2005. …River Ridge (La.) John Curtis athlete Joe McKnight's five-star status means that the state of Louisiana has produced a five-star prospect for the past four classes (2004-07).




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