National Rankings of South Carolina Football Prospects


by - Correspondent -
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Understanding National Player Rankings...


It is almost unimaginative that recruiting talk is already getting stirred up
considering we just completed recruiting season, but it is. I read a neat post by a
message board poster on TheTigerNet.com that
said,"Let the sickness of mine that is recruiting begin anew". This guy is right
to a degree. While recruiting is not a sickness, it certainly can borderline on obsession
and I have an email inbox to prove it. That said, it is interesting stuff and since the
sparks have already flown, here's some of my thoughts for the upcoming season.


I think that South Carolina will have anywhere from six to eleven (6-11) athletes
ranked in the top 250 nationally. That is actually very good when you consider the
population that we have here versus some of the larger states in the Union. Getting a
national ranking is not an easy thing to do and the fact that we have been hovering in the
Top 100 with several athletes over the last few years is a major tribute to the talent and
coaching in our state.


When recruiting analysts begin looking at the Top 25 in the nation, there are three major
things that are considered. The three A's - ability, accomplishments (related to level of
competition), and academics. When we look at ability, we are not just looking at their
ability at the high school level, but that they also have the necessary tools (physically)
to play at the next level. A prime example of a contrast is a runningback that is a stud
at the high school level, but is 5-8, 155lbs. While he certainly is blessed with ability
at this level, he lacks the size that division I schools are looking for. He may have the
other two A's - accomplishments and academics - but lacks the phyical tools to achieve
that ranking.


Measuring
potential is always considered to be such an abstact thing, but its not really. I can look
at a quarterback that has all three of the A's but also has tremendous potential because
of some mechanical flaws that could be corrected in his game. These are things that an
athlete may develop out of bad habbits from repetition, lack of coaching or both. 
Bobby Burton of Rivals100.com, is one of the analysts for Foxsports.com. He says that he
always looks at the "little things" that are missing. "I think you have to
look at what you see that is already there in terms of abilities, and look for the little
things which suggest possible growth in an area,"
says Burton. "But we look for their potential not just at the next level, but
sometimes even beyond that; will this particular kid be one of the top 100 players
selected in the NFL draft in four years? Does he have that kind of potential? You have to
consider everything." (Photo: Last year's big name was Ricardo Hurley,
who turned down top programs such as FSU and Georgia and opted to stay in state at the
University of South Carolina.)


When we start looking at the Top 100 - say from 26-100, we're still looking at the
three A's, but more emphasis on ability than the other two A's. In other words, an athlete
that is ranked at #30 may be there instead of 20 because of his ability, but more than
likely because of the other two A's... maybe he doesn't have the stats he needs.. maybe he
is a qualification question mark.


So, where does South Carolina fit in the climate of national recruiting? Its simple. We
are looked at for our speed. The Carolina's, Virginia, and the entire deep south in
general, are looked at for speed. We have speed at every position. That is the key that
seperates the southern states from areas like Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Illinois. What we
lack in size, we more than make up for in speed.


So, who are the Palmetto state stars that will get looks at national billing this
season? These are the ones that I expect to get inside of the top 250.


Inside Top 25


Demetris
Summers
, (6-1,210) tailback, Lexington High School. Demetris is a definite Top
25, probably inside of the Top 5. Don't be surprised to see him at #1, though there are
several other very good runningbacks in the country coming out this year.


 


Inside Top 100


Syvelle
Newton
, (6-1, 210) quarterback, Marlboro County High School. Syvelle is definite
Top 100 and probably inside the Top 25. He's got tremendous potential (remember what we
talked about earlier). Don't be surprised to see him lower on the list, however.


 


Maurice
Nelson
(6-2, 210), strong safety, Crestwood High School. Maurice is a definite
Top 100 player. Possibly inside of 25, but more than likely not.


 


Inside Top 250


Russell
Hemby
, (6-1, 195), Quarterback, Orangebur Wilkinson High Schoo. Russell will
probably not get in the Top 100, but is still a top ranked QB in South Carolina, a major
DI prospect, and should get inside Top 250.


 


David
Smith
, (6-4, 185), Wide Receiver, Union High School. David may get the higher
ranking of the Inside 250 group based on his potential. Most analysts are going to look at
his size and speed and project him with good future potential.


 


Justin Durant, (6-2, 225), Linebacker, Wilson High School. Justin has
a couple of things going for him. His ability is super and he already has the tools to
play. He's also the brother of a proven division I athlete and bloodline does matter. He
could be a Top 100, but I expect him to fall just outside the Top 100.


 


Ryan
Brown
, (6-2, 235), Linebacker, Berkeley High School. Ryan has the tools. He has
the ability. But he lacks stats, primarily due to injuries in the last two seasons. He
needs to prove his durability this season. Will be a Top 250.


 


Eric
Young
, (6-3, 255), Offensive Tackle, Union High School. Eric has tremendous
potential. He's got the tools, but he's only played for two years and has room for
improving his skills. He may be projected as a defensive player, too. Don't be surprised
to see folks consider him a DT prospect.


 


Devito
Johnson
, (6-2, 230), fullback, Batesburg Leesville. Devito will turn some heads
this season. He has both the ability and the accomplishments to be a Top 100 player, but
he has not gotten the exposure that others have had. In my opinion, he should be not far
outside of the Top 100, but definitely inside of 250.


 


Jerome Dunbar, (6-3, 320), Offensive Line, South Aiken High School.
Jerome will be considered for a top 250 spot. He's got the size and speed. He's,
unfortunately, at a position that doesn't get a lot of press  on a national basis
until recruiting season starts.


Marcus Howell, (6-2, 205), linebacker, Hanahan High School. Marcus has
great potential with the ability to carry some more weight, as well. He already has the
tools he needs. Look for him to to get a Top 250 ranking.


While there are a lot of other athletes in South Carolina that meet the criteria of top
prospects, not everyone can get in the rankings. Ranking player's nationally is difficult
to do and once you get outside the top 40 or 50 athletes, the rankings fluxuate between
different analaysts. However, the above mentioned eleven are the ones that I feel have the
best shot at getting inside the Top 250 for the preseason.


Jim Baxter is the editor of SCVarsity.com, the leader in South Carolina high school sports news.

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