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September 16, 2010

Look Ahead: Lone Star State showdowns

FROM THE ROAD: 2011 Offense | 2011 Defense | Underclassmen

Rivals.com analysts are canvassing the country again this week to check out the top talent in person. Here's where they'll be and where their attention - prospects listed alphabetically - will be focused.


Analyst: Brian Perroni

Game:Cedar Park (Texas) vs. Austin (Texas), Thursday at House Park Stadium

Top Prospects:
Spencer Drango Cedar Park, 6-6/265, OT
The Rivals250 prospect has helped anchor the Timberwolves' line for three years. With fellow offensive lineman Dominic Espinosa having graduated, Drango is the key to both Cedar Park's running and passing game. The Baylor commit is a bit on the light side and some wonder if he'll be able to add enough weight in college.
Jarrett Hudson Cedar Park, 6-5/260, OG
Cedar Park has been known as an offensive lineman factory in recent years and, though Hudson is a bit of an unknown, the Air Force commit appears to be yet another road-grader from the program.
Cayleb Jones Austin, 6-2/185, WR, 2012 prospect
The big receiver is the son of former Pro Bowl linebacker Robert Jones and had a monster sophomore year for the Maroons, catching 91 passes in only 10 games. Well on his way to being one of the nation's top recruits in the class of 2012, Jones started off his junior campaign with two 170-plus-yard games until he injured his shoulder last weekend.
Collin Middleton Cedar Park, 6-2/234, WDE
Middleton performed well at the U.S. Army All-American combine in January but is slightly undersized for a defensive end. However, he should fit in well at a service academy as he committed to Air Force in July.
Chet Moss Cedar Park, 6-1/220, ILB
The Texas commit is one of the better inside linebacker prospects in the state this year. Though he does not get quite the run of the other Longhorn linebacker commits, Moss moves well and is solid against the run. He struggled a bit at the Gridiron Kings tournament this summer so it will be interesting to see how he does against a pass-happy offense this week.
Matt Wofford Cedar Park, 6-7/320, OT
The mammoth offensive tackle does not get the publicity as fellow bookend Drango, but the Rice commit moves well for a player his size. He has been impressive on the camp circuit and if he can perform the same way in a game situation then the Owls will have a steal on their hands.

Quick Kicks:
Austin High has had one of the top offenses in the state so far this season while Cedar Park is known for its defense. If Jones is able to play, he could provide fits for the Timberwolves. Austin is coming off a 66-63 win over Belton two weeks ago and has a 2-1 record. Cedar Park is undefeated at 3-0.




Analyst: Mike Farrell

Game: Virginia Beach (Va.) Kempsville at Virginia Beach (Va.) Ocean Lakes, Thursday

Top Prospects:
Eli Harold Ocean Lakes, 6-4/215, DE, 2012 prospect
Harold is one of the top recruits in the state of Virginia for 2012 with early offers from Virginia Tech, Penn State and others. However, Harold doesn't have much film to look at as he missed much of his sophomore season with a knee injury? How will the knee hold up and, after he shows he's healthy, what other schools will jump aboard?
Travis Hughes, Kempsville, 6-1/228, LB
Hughes is a two-way threat for Kempsville as a running back and linebacker, but he's also one of the few true D-I prospects on the team. How will he do against an aggressive Ocean Lakes defense set to key on him? Can he spy Lafonte Thourogood and keep him from hurting Kempsville with his feet?
Demetri McGill Ocean Lakes, 6-2/297, DT, 2013 prospect
McGill is a man-child at nearly 300 pounds as a sophomore and he could be one of the top prospects in his class. But what kind of motor does he have, does he take plays off and how will he handle older offensive linemen?
Reggie Owens Ocean Lakes, 6-0/188, CB
Owens had offers from East Carolina, Marshall and others before committing to Duke, but is he more than a two-star prospect at cornerback as the Blue Devils think? He has good size, but does he have the hips and speed to play corner? How will he do in run support against a 230-pound downhill runner like Hughes?
Lafonte Thourogood Ocean Lakes, 6-3/224, ATH
Thourogood is built like a linebacker and many feel he projects to the defense because of his mechanics and accuracy issues as a quarterback. Can he shake the athlete tag and show he's a true quarterback? Will he even be able to play after separating his shoulder early in the season?

Quick Kicks:
Ocean Lakes is coming off a 4-6 season despite having Rivals250 stud wide receiver Justin Hunter as the main target for Thourogood. Hunter committed to LSU initially last year and then flipped to Tennessee late. Thourogood has an offer from the Vols as well. However, Virginia Tech is considered the team to beat for Thourogood, followed by West Virginia. Ocean Lakes has sent two players to the Hokies in recent years as Marcus Davis and Randall Dunn committed to Va Tech in 2008. Hughes is the highest-ranked player from Kempsville since Rivals.com began covering recruiting. His brother, Trenton Hughes, was a three-star prospect back in 2007 when he signed with Maryland and defensive end Jason Fuller was a three-star in 2005 when he signed with Virginia. ...North Carolina leads for Hughes, according to most, followed by the Hokies and Clemson. Maryland is a darkhorse with his brother on the team. This will be yet another trip to the Virginia Beach Sportsplex where many Thursday night games in Hampton Roads are played.




Analyst: Barry Every

Game: Oviedo (Fla.) Hagerty at Sanford (Fla.) Seminole, Thursday

Top Prospects:
Serderius Bryant Seminole, 5-10/202, OLB
Bryant, an Ole Miss commit, is undersized but very productive. He plays on both sides of the ball. Will his size be a detriment at the next level?
Jeff Driskel Hagerty, 6-3/225, PQB
The Florida commitment is the top-rated quarterback in the country. Can he back up his Elite11 MVP performance with a stellar senior season?

Quick Kicks:
Hagerty coach Nate Gierke leads his fourth-year program on the road for the second time this year. In week one the Huskies stunned Lake Mary 24-22 behind Driskel's 246 yards rushing and 147 yards passing. Gierke is the son of legendary Bill Gierke at Orlando (Fla.) Edgewater. Seminole coach Mike Cullison has racked up a 22-5 record and one 6A state championship in his first two seasons at the helm. It was only two years ago that this program had two five-star prospects in Ray Ray Armstrong and Andre Dubose.




Analyst: Brian Perroni

Game: Round Rock (Texas) Stony Point at DeSoto (Texas), Friday

Top Prospects:
Marcus Hutchins DeSoto, 6-4/255, OL
The Texas commit teamed with current LSU Tiger Evan Washington to form one of the best offensive line tandems in the state a year ago. Hutchins is a bit on the small side but shows good technique in both pass- and run-blocking situations. Some schools also recruited him as a defensive end.
P.L. Lindley Stony Point, 6-2/225, ILB
Lindley is one of the more active defenders in Texas this year. He has the size to play inside and the athleticism to play on the outside. He has helped Stony Point to deep playoff runs the past two seasons and committed to Oklahoma in February.
Ryan Polite DeSoto, 6-1/201, PQB
Though a bit small for a typical quarterback, Polite was one of the most prolific passers in Texas a year ago, throwing for more than 4,000 yards. He has a lone offer from Louisiana-Monroe right now but should see more come in this season.
David Porter III DeSoto, 6-0/185, WR
Porter led a very talented wide receiver corps in catches a year ago with more than 1,000 yards. The TCU commit was one of the top wideouts at the Texas state 7-on-7 championships this summer.
Michael Richardson DeSoto, 6-2/228, SDE, 2012 prospect
It was hard to keep Richardson off the field as a sophomore a year ago and he went on to have a big season once he gained the starting role. Schools took notice as he already has offers from four Big 12 programs.
Curtis Riser DeSoto, 6-4/270, OG, 2012 prospect
Every year, DeSoto seems to have a junior offensive lineman that overshadows its talented senior counterparts. This year it is Riser. The big interior lineman moves very well and has the attention of plenty of colleges.
Austin Vincent DeSoto, 6-1/176, WR
The Eagles are loaded at wide receiver and Vincent is yet another target for Polite. The Iowa commit is averaging more than 20 yards per reception this year and has scored three touchdowns in three games.
Jordan Wade Stony Point, 6-4/293, DT
The Rivals250 prospect was a very early commitment to Oklahoma and has not received quite the publicity of some of the other defensive tackles in the state. The soft-spoken Wade plays big on the field, though.
Cameron White DeSoto, 6-2/185, WR
The third FCS commit in the Eagles' receiving corps, the transfer from Arlington Bowie was one of the hottest names this spring. Having been a TCU commit for well over a year, it did not stop schools all over the country from offering this spring. White is adjusting to the fact that he is not the only go-to receiver for his team.

Quick Kicks:
This game pits the No. 41 team in the country in Stony Point against the No. 70 team in DeSoto. DeSoto is coming off a 42-41 overtime victory over Miramar (Fla.), a state champion a year ago. Both teams come in undefeated and both are loaded with college prospects.




Analyst: Mike Farrell

Game: Richmond (Va.) Meadowbrook at Richmond (Va.) Hermitage, Friday

Top Prospects:
Diamonte Bailey Hermitage, 6-3/218, DE
Bailey committed to Virginia over an offer from Marshall and is the leading pass rusher for Hermitage. He had a very thin frame the last time we saw him in the spring so has he filled out at all and is a true defensive end or an outside linebacker in college? How quick off the edge is he and how does he compare to former Hermitage defensive end standout Duan Perez-Means at the same stage?
Curtis Grant Hermitage, 6-3/222, LB
Grant is ranked as one of the nation's top 10 prospects and is the nation's No. 1 inside linebacker. However, he was banged up a few times this summer during evaluations at the FBU Top Gun Camp and the Gridiron Kings event in Orlando. Is he 100 percent again and how dominant will he be in a grudge game for his team? Will he be too hyped up to be as effective as usual?
Derrick Green Hermitage, 6-0/218, RB, 2013 prospect
Green is one of the best-looking running backs on the hoof for the 2013 class and was a standout at Ohio State's summer camp as well as the Dallas and Hampton Roads National Underclassmen Camps. But will it translate onto the field? Can he become one of the best running backs on the East Coast for 2013 as many predict or is he a camp-and-combine warrior?

Quick Kicks:
Hermitage went 10-2 last season but one of the losses was to Meadowbrook 27-14. This is following a loss in 2008 in the last minute so this is a grudge match for Grant and company. Hermitage has a history of keeping players in-state as former standouts such as Jameel Sewell, Jeffrey Fitzgerald and Fontel Mines chose UVA and Perez-Means, Theron Norman, Duane Brown and Andrew Bowman have chosen the Hokies. While Bailey is also staying in-state to play for the Cavaliers, it looks like Grant could be one that gets away. Florida, Alabama and North Carolina are considered the teams to beat right now for the five-star. Meadowbrook was the home to another five-star prospect in offensive tackle Morgan Moses back in 2009. Moses ended up dropping down to a four-star after a week of evaluation at the U.S. Army All American Bowl. He prepped at Fork Union last year and is at Virginia as a freshman. Last time I was at Hermitage was for the thriller between these two teams two years ago when Meadowbrook pulled out a 20-13 win with less than a minute left. That game had a great matchup between Moses and Perez-Means, and Moses dominated.




Analyst: Barton Simmons

Game: Oxford (Miss.) Lafayette at Olive Branch (Miss.) Center Hill, Friday

Top Prospects:
Jeremy Liggins Lafayette, 6-3/235, QB/ATH
Early in the process, Liggins is emerging as one of the top players in the state of Mississippi in the class of 2012. A big kid that could play any number of positions on the next level, he stars for Lafayette at the quarterback position. I'll be looking for a few things out of the do-it-all athlete including at what position he projects best. I'm anxious to see if he can challenge Channing Ward and Quan Bray as the top player in Mississippi for 2012.

Quick kicks:
Though he could play any number of positions don't think that Liggins isn't capable at quarterback. Two weeks ago Liggins had 310 yards passing in a 21-14 win over Oxford. As a sophomore he finished the season with more than 1,400 yards passing and rushing with 33 combined touchdowns.




Analyst: Adam Gorney

Game: Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei at Corona (Calif.) Centennial, Friday

Top Prospects:
Victor Blackwell Santa Ana Mater Dei, 6-1/186, WR
Blackwell, a four-star prospect and USC pledge, left in the second quarter of Mater Dei's loss to Carson two weeks ago with a shoulder injury. He's clearly one of California's most electric receivers but can he bounce back from that injury and help his team's sputtering offense?
Barrinton Collins Corona Centennial, 5-8/185, RB
Collins was moved to running back for his senior season and what a move it has been so far. He finished with 147 rushing yards and five touchdowns on only eight carries in Centennial's season opener. Can he possibly keep that pace up or even come close to it? If so, the offers might start pouring in.
Michael Eubank Corona Centennial, 6-5/232, QB
Centennial coach Matt Logan is still scratching his head why more colleges aren't recruiting Eubank, who is a great-looking prospect and has started to refine his mechanics as a true quarterback. So far, only Northern Colorado has offered. Can Eubank emerge with a big showing in this big contest with more offers?
Larry Scott Corona Centennial, 6-1/170, WR/CB
Scott was one of the best wide receivers at the Los Angeles NIKE Camp and one of the top cornerbacks at the Palo Alto NIKE Camp. He's expected to play more offense than defense this season so can he show colleges that he's a legitimate threat in the passing game?
Max Wittek Santa Ana Mater Dei, 6-4/215, QB
The four-star quarterback and USC commit completed just seven of 17 passes for 62 yards in a season-opening loss to Carson two weeks ago, so Wittek will look to improve those numbers against a tough Centennial squad.

Quick kicks:
Lake Balboa Birmingham coach Jim Rose told the Los Angeles Times that this Corona Centennial squad might be the best team he's ever played. Eubank completed 15 of 18 passes for 186 yards in the opener and Centennial rushed for more than 300 yards. Only three pro-style quarterbacks are rated ahead of Wittek: Florida commit Jeff Driskel, fellow USC pledge Cody Kessler and Georgia commit Christian LeMay.




Analyst: Barry Every

Game: Orlando (Fla.) Dr. Phillips vs. Orlando (Fla.) Olympia, Friday

Top Prospects:
Hasean Clinton-Dix Dr. Phillips, 6-2/190, S
The Alabama commit had stellar performances at Gridiron Kings, and Tuscaloosa Nike Camp. Is he one of the next great safeties for coach Nick Saban?
Deon Green Olympia, 6-3/270, DT
The South Carolina commit looks great on the hoof, but his size is in between that of a SDE and a DT. How big can he get and will he play inside in college?
Corian Hamilton Olympia, 6-2/210, S
He is currently unranked yet has 10 offers at this time. Is this huge athlete a safety or an eventual outside linebacker?
Demetrius Hart Dr. Phillips, 5-8/190, APB
Four-star athlete has Alabama, Auburn and Michigan on his list. Does he have the power and speed to take over the game against a talented opponent? If so, he could be staking claim to the top overall back in Florida.
Roderick Ryles Dr. Phillips, 6-1/185, S
Arkansas commit looked the part of a top-flight safety physically at the Tuscaloosa Nike Camp. Do his cover skills match his aggressive headhunting in run support?
LaQuentin Smith Dr. Phillips, 6-1/205, ATH
He named three leaders in Arkansas, South Carolina and USF. This high school quarterback is being looked at as a possible safety or linebacker in college.

Quick Kicks:
The Panthers finished 11-1 last season and two of those wins were hard-fought battles against Orlando (Fla.) Olympia. Last season Dr. Phillips won 27-20 during the regular season and 23-22 in the playoffs. Olympia coach Bob Head has had a 20-11 record the past three seasons with four of those losses coming to the Panthers. He also has a very talented team that includes three commitments to Washington State.




Analyst: Brian Perroni

Game: Katy (Texas) vs. Beaumont (Texas) West Brook, Saturday at the Thomas Center

Top Prospects:
Grant Clifton Katy, 6-0/226, ILB
Clifton had a big season manning the middle for the Tigers on their run to the state championship game a year ago. He has picked up offers from Colorado, Tulane and North Texas.
Collin Garrett 6-1/195, West Brook, OLB
Garrett has been an active defender for the Bruins the past two seasons. He has been a standout at several NUC camps and has proven it on the field, as he holds a half-dozen offers.
Ben Goodman West Brook, 6-3/225, WDE
Goodman is one of the better pass rushers in the state and was nearly unstoppable at the U.S. Army All-American combine. Though it took him a little while to pick up his first offer, he has more than his fair share now.
Brooks Haack Katy, 6-1/180, PQB, 2012 prospect
Haack comes from a very athletic family and he took over the reins of Katy, one of the top teams in the country, in the middle of its deep playoff run a year ago. He has a strong arm and reads the field well, but will his height be a detriment?
Donovonn Young Katy, 5-11/215, RB
Young was injured much of the 2009 season and it likely hurt his recruiting stock. He is a bruising back that is not afraid of contact and is able to run between the tackles quite well. He is averaging 120 yards per game this season.

Quick Kicks:
Katy is a perennial power and this season is no different. Despite not having nearly as many FBS-caliber recruits as many other schools, the Tigers are ranked No. 24 nationally. Young should be a force for Goodman and Garrett to defend, with Haack adding another dimension in the passing game. West Brook enters the game at 3-0 with each victory coming in dominating fashion. Katy is 2-0 with a huge 44-6 win over Galena Park (Texas) North Shore.




Analyst: Adam Gorney

Game: Fresno (Calif.) Central East at Temecula (Calif.) Chaparral, Saturday

Top Prospects:
Antoine Arnold Temecula Chaparral, 6-3/180, WR
Arnold had a tremendous junior season and has a host of offers to consider so how will the four-star do against Shepard and Central East's secondary? Arnold once told Rivals.com that he's going to win the Heisman Trophy someday. He's a big talker but now can he back up his game against such a talented team?
Darius Guillory Temecula Chaparral, 5-9/180, S
Guillory, a three-star prospect, is committed to San Diego State and is a threat on both sides of the ball. In a season-opening loss to Oceanside, Guillory caught 11 passes for 122 yards. Can he continue to put up such big numbers?
B.J. Kelley Fresno Central East, 6-2/175, WR
Kelley had a couple catches for big gains in Central East's easy victory over Paso Robles last week but the three-star prospect should be tested more this week going against Guillory.
Matt Morin, Temecula Chaparral, 6-2/190, QB, 2012 prospect
Morin is a lefty with one of the strongest arms in California despite only being a junior. He completed 19 of 28 passes for 205 yards and a touchdown against Oceanside but couldn't lead his team to victory.
Tee Shepard, Fresno Central East, 6-1/175, CB, 2012 prospect
Shepard was the best cornerback by far at the Palo Alto NIKE Camp and could be one of the best defensive backs to ever come out of Fresno. The junior will face a big test Saturday though when he faces Arnold, a four-star receiver. How will Shepard do in such a heated battle?

Quick Kicks: Four-star running back Brendon Bigelow, a Washington commit, is not expected to play and could miss the rest of the season after injuring his knee again. This is the second time Bigelow has had knee problems. Sophomore running back Michael Grimes rushed eight times for 226 yards in Central East's opener. Will he continue to emerge as one of the next big running backs out of the Fresno area? Morin was one of the best quarterbacks at the Los Angeles NIKE Camp and is considered a top baseball prospect, too.



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