Checking in with the nation's top 10Posted: Thursday January 02, 2003 1:09 AM
Of the top 10 recruits in TheInsiders.com Hot 100, only two already have committed to colleges.
Kyle Wright (ranked No. 4) is the country's top-rated quarterback and Nate Robinson (No. 10) is the top-ranked defensive tackle -- and they are both headed to the Miami Hurricanes. That leaves eight of the top 10 still out there. What will happen with those eight over the next five weeks?
Ernie Sims, a linebacker from Tallahassee (Fla.) North Florida Christian High School, is the nationís top-rated prospect. He also may be the countryís top running back.
Sims, 5-foot-11 1/2 and 225 pounds, already has visited Georgia and Florida. In January, he will visit Florida State, Auburn and Miami. Both his father and brother played football at Florida State. His mother was an All-America track star for the Seminoles, too. Common sense says Bobby Bowden and FSU will be tough to beat. But Sims and his father have consistently said that he is genuinely interested in the four others. Donít be surprised if he signs with someone other than Florida State.
Sims had great trips to Athens, Ga., and Gainesville, Fla. This one is too close to call. Sims plans on announcing his decision on signing day, Feb. 5.
Wide receiver Whitney Lewis checks in at No. 2 in TheInsiders.com Hot 100. Lewis, who also played running back, is from Ventura (Calif.) St. Bonaventure High School. In his senior year Lewis rushed for 1,059 yards (almost 10 yards per carry) and scored 23 touchdowns. He also caught 65 passes for 1,235 yards and 16 scores.
Lewis, at 6-1 and 210 pounds, favors Florida State. Lorenzo Booker, last yearís top-rated prospect and one of Lewis' prep teammates, signed with the Seminoles. Word is that Lewis' family would prefer that he stay close to home and sign with USC. Oregon, Miami and Texas also are fighting hard for his signature.
The No.-3 rated player in the country is Lamarr Woodley, a ferocious-hitting defensive prospect from Saginaw, Mich. He plays outside linebacker but projects as a defensive end. Woodley, at 6-2 and 250 pounds, is quick and very aggressive. He already has visited Michigan, Oklahoma and Southern Cal. Michigan State and its new head coach, John. L. Smith, could be a factor before it is all said and done.
Chris Leak is the fifth-best prospect in the country and the No. 2-rated quarterback. Leak, from Charlotte (N.C.) Independence High School, is scheduled to announce his decision at halftime of the All-American Bowl this Sunday. The five finalists are Florida, Florida State, Iowa, Texas and USC. Leak is not tipping his hand, but Florida and Southern Cal appear to be in the best position. If he is not ready, he will postpone the announcement. Leak has won three straight state titles and has thrown for 15,593 yards and 185 TD passes.
Demetris Summers is the nationís top running back prospect and comes in at No. 6 overall. Summers, from Lexington, S.C., had a spectacular high school career, despite being a marked man on every down. Summers is leaning toward South Carolina, but he will also visit Florida in January. Clemson, FSU and Miami could become a factor before it is all said and done.
Wesley Jefferson is No. 7 overall in the country. This hard-hitting linebacker from Brandywine (Md.) Gwynn Park High School, already has visited Maryland and Miami. In January, he will visit Notre Dame and Ohio State. Jefferson says he may keep everyone guessing until Signing Day before he makes his decision.
JaMarcus Russell is the third quarterback in the top 10, rated No. 8 overall. Russell, from Mobile (Ala.) Williamson High School, has tremendous upside and a rocket launcher attached to his shoulder. He may have the strongest arm in the country. Russell, 6-6 and 210 pounds, also is very athletic and he finished his career as the all-time leading passer in Alabama high school football history.
He told TheInsiders.com last week that LSU, FSU and Florida were his top three schools. Auburn and Tennessee may get official visits as well. Russell will make all of his official visits in January.
There are also three linebackers in the top 10; the third being Earl Everett (No. 9 overall) from Bushnell (Fla.) South Sumter High School. Everett is quite an athlete. At South Sumter, he played quarterback, running back, wide receiver, linebacker and safety. Nebraska likes him as an option quarterback. He visited the Cornhuskers in December and he will visit Florida, Miami and FSU in January. Look for this one to come down to the Gators and 'Canes.
Five-star receiver names leaders
Wide receiver Chad Jackson is one of the top offensive standouts in the nation. He is a five-star receiver and named second-team All-America by TheInsiders.com and CNNSI.com. He has been silent over the past few months about the recruiting process. That was by design so he could focus on football and academics.
The Hoover, Ala., star led his team to a state championship, their second in three seasons. Along the way, Jackson caught 78 passes for over 1,000 yards and 15 touchdowns. Over the last three seasons, Hoover High School was an incredible 43-3.
"Right now, I will visit Alabama [Jan. 3], Florida [Jan. 10], Auburn [Jan. 17] and Georgia [Jan. 24]," Jackson said. "Florida and Georgia are my co-leaders. Florida has always been one of my favorite teams and Georgia kind of came on this season. Georgia runs that wide-open offense and they love to pass the football. They need receiver help too.
"Florida did all right in their first season with Coach Zook. I spoke with him last week and he is sky high on that program and has them headed in the right direction.
"Alabama has a new coach in Mike Price. I like him. He has explained the offense to me and they need some receivers for Brodie [Croyle].
"I will visit Auburn, but I like the others more. They just run the football so much. But I will visit them and keep an open mind."
-- Jamie Newberg, TheInsidersRecruiting.com
Nationís No. 5 RB names leaderBarrington Edwards is a four-star prospect by TheInsiders.com as the fifth-ranked running back in the country. For reference purposes, Maurice Clarett was the No. 5 back in the nation last year. The Maryland product looks to be leaving the state, and could he be heading south?
"LSU is my leader," Edwards said definitively. "I've been to Pittsburgh as well, and I loved it there. I like the coaching staff, and they share all of their facilities with the Steelers, so you know they are top notch. I'm going out to USC on the 10th, and I'd like to meet the new coach at Michigan State, but right now, LSU is the team to beat."
-- Scott Kennedy, BorderWars.com
Top Texas LB down to one, maybe two visits
Darius Ingram, one of the top-rated linebacking prospects in Texas, may be winding to the end of his recruiting process.
"I'll be making a visit to SMU on January 10th," Ingram said. "I might take a fifth visit also, I just don't know yet."
And who might receive the final visit?
"I'm pretty wide open," he continued. "I'm looking at Texas Tech, Houston and Stephen F. Austin."
Ingram made official visits to Arkansas, LSU and TCU in December.
"All those schools have offered," he added. "Those I've already visited and the ones I'm still considering on visiting."
Ingram is also interested in playing basketball.
"I play forward and average about 12 points a game, but I've only been able to play about four or five games due to all the visits," he said.
-- David Garvin, HeartlandRecruiting.com
Huskers land top linebacker
Nebraska assistant coach Jeff Jamrog is a terrific recruiter. Heís worked Illinois hard the past three seasons and it's beginning to pay off.
Two-years ago, Jamrog had a commitment from Barrington offensive lineman Dan Stevenson. Things didnít work out and Stevenson ended up signing with Notre Dame and heíll be starting for the Fighting Irish in the Gator Bowl.
This year, the Huskers had their eyes on several prospects in Illinois. Naperville linebacker Corey McKeon, Downers Grove offensive lineman Martin OíDonnell and Buffalo Grove athlete Tommy Zbikowski were at the top of their wish list.
OíDonnell visited the Huskers. but has since verbally committed to Illinois. Zbikowski visited Lincoln, but heís still undecided.
The third, McKeon, did give Jamrog and the Huskers his verbal commitment. This is a huge commitment for Nebraska as they get a quick, hard-hitting, intelligent football player thatís the son of one of the best athletes in Illinois history, Larry McKeon.
McKeon is a first-team All-Midwest selection and heíll be nominated for several All-America teams. He shows very good instincts on the football field.
As a linebacker, McKeon can rush the passer from the edge, cover running backs out of the backfield and he plays sideline to sideline, always looking to make a big hit.
-- Chris Pool, MidwestRecruits.com
Hot DL recruit commits to Cal
Brandon Mebane, a 6-foot-1, 260 pound defensive lineman from Los Angeles (Calif.) Crenshaw and one of the hottest recruits on the West Coast this year has committed to Cal. Mebane said he's very excited about the Bears, but added he'll still take his last two trips. "I love the academic support at Cal," Mebane said. "I like the coaches, the program is going in the right direction and I just feel very comfortable in the area. I actually committed over a week ago but didn't tell anyone about it except [teammate] Daymeion [Hughes]. My mom didn't even know.
"I just wanted to let it sink in a little and make sure of my decision. Right now, I'm going to listen to other schools and plan on taking my last two trips. Part of it is just because I think it would be fun and the other part is to make sure I made the right decision. I'm going to listen to schools up to Signing Day."
Mebane visited Oregon and Washington and said he has no idea right now where his last two trips will be. He said they could be to the local schools, USC or UCLA, or he could jump on a plane and visit somewhere outside of the West.
"I'm interested in talking to the new UCLA coach," Mebane said. "If they call, I'll be interested in having a home visit with them if they still want to come in. Like I said, I'm solid with Cal, but I'm still interested in talking with other schools just to make sure I made the right choice."
-- Greg Biggins, PacWestFootball.com