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August 6, 2009

Florida headlines final state ranking releases

Preseason State Rankings:

The Sunshine State is known for producing big-time talent at running back and receiver year after year, but the 2010 recruiting class in Florida is dominated at the top with defense and offensive linemen.

Regardless, it's a big year, especially in south Florida, which is the region that leads the Rivals.com Florida preseason top 100.

It's only fitting that the state's top three prospects are from that area, led by the nation's No. 1 athlete and the state's top prospect in Dwyer's Matt Elam, who's headed to the University of Florida.

"Matt Elam is a tremendous all-around athlete that could project as a safety, outside linebacker, wide receiver or running back," said Barry Every, a national recruiting analyst for Rivals.com. "He does not have great height, but his body structure is out of this world."

Speaking of body structure, the state's No. 2-rated prospect is Jeff Luc from Treasure Coast High School. Luc, 6-1 and 240 pounds, already has a body for the NFL and is the country's top-ranked linebacker prospect.

"Jeff Luc is the 'Incredible Hulk' of this recruiting class," Every said. "But he is so much more than a physically impressive looking kid because he will bury the opposition in the dirt with power, speed and an ideal tackling form."

Rounding out the south Florida trifecta at the top of the Florida top 100 is Lamarcus Joyner, the nation's No. 2-ranked cornerback prospect.

"Lamarcus Joyner, as a pure athlete, is just about as talented as anyone you're going to find in the country," said Barton Simmons, a recruiting analyst for Rivals.com. "He has elite speed and is very physical. Though he is limited as far as his height is concerned, his long arms and explosiveness off the ground help him easily compensate. He's spent much of his high school career at safety, so he is still raw at cornerback but has loads of upside."

Coming in at No. 4 is another athlete in Christian Green from Tampa Catholic. Green plays quarterback but projects as a wide receiver at the next level. He's an electrifying player with the ball in his hands. Wide receiver is not a foreign position to him. As a freshman he had 10 touchdown receptions.

At No. 5 is offensive tackle Brent Benedict from The Bolles School in Jacksonville. Benedict, 6-4 and 278 pounds, is one of the nation's best and most versatile offensive linemen, and he's committed to the University of Georgia.

"Brent Benedict may be the most athletic offensive lineman in the Class of 2010," Simmons said. "He's fast, explosive and nimble for his size, and he could project at all five offensive line positions."

Cornerback Cody Riggs from St. Thomas Aquinas, safety Jonathan Dowling from Bradenton Southeast, offensive tackles Ian Silberman from Fleming Island and Chaz Green from Tampa Catholic and cornerback Jaylen Watkins from Cape Coral round out the top 10.

Seventeen players from Florida made the Rivals100, while 43 made the Rivals 250 from the Sunshine State. Fifty-two players in the Rivals.com Florida preseason top 100 come from Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties in south Florida.

Florida leads the way with 10 commitments from the top 100, while Miami has nine and Florida State has six. Georgia has the most of any out-of-state program with seven prospects. Interestingly, in a time where so many prospects commit early, only half the Florida top 100 have made commitments.

Big names in Virginia

An always underrated state when it comes to recruiting is Virginia. This season Virginia is blessed with some big-time prospects who are big men in the trenches. It's those guys who lead the way in the Rivals.com preseason Virginia top 30.

"The Virginia top 30 is highlighted by big men," said Mike Farrell, a national recruiting analyst for Rivals.com. "Maryland transplant J.R. Ferguson will be playing his senior year at Chatham (Va.) Hargrave Military and is joined by defensive end Zack McCray, offensive lineman Quinton Spain, defensive tackles Evan Hailes and Nick Acree as well as offensive tackle Mark Shuman in the top 10."

Virginia also is home to the No. 1 quarterback prospect in the country in Chesapeake's Phillip Sims from Oscar Davis High School.

"Virginia boasts the nation's top quarterback in Sims," Farrell said. "Over the last few years, quarterbacks have dominated the top 10 with prospects like Tajh Boyd, Bryn Renner and Kevin Newsome in 2009, E.J. Manuel and Mike Glennon in 2008 and Tyrod Taylor in 2007."

Virginia Tech is clearly getting the better of things in-state with commitments from McCray, Acree and Shuman, but the state is once again being raided from the outside as Sims (Alabama), Justin Hunter (LSU), Spain (West Virginia), Hailes (Penn State) and Aramide Olaniyan (Duke) have all committed to out-of-state programs.

Minnesota boasts the nation's best

When it comes to the state of Minnesota, all the talk is about the country's top prospect in the 2010 class, offensive tackle Seantrel Henderson from Cretin-Durham High School. He and another tackle, Jimmy Gjere from Irondale High School, lead the way. Another player from Woodbury, Minn., athlete Lamonte Edwards, has committed to the Gophers.

"Seantrel Henderson is clearly the story up in Minnesota," said Greg Ladky, a recruiting analyst for Rivals.com. "He is the nation's top prospect, according to Rivals.com. "Fellow tackle Jimmy Gjere comes in at No. 2 in the state. Though Minnesota is home to the nation's top players, there is a major drop-off after the top six. Minnesota will struggle to send 10 prospects to major Division I schools."

Rounding out the rankings

The Colorado top 15 is headlined by one of the nation's top quarterback prospects. Rivals250 member Austin Hinder from Steamboat Springs, Colo., committed to Cal over a long list of national offers in May.

Rivals100 quarterback Jake Heaps from Sammamish (Wash.) Skyline sits atop the state ranking in Washington. Heaps is leaving the state to play his college ball at BYU, but the Washington Huskies hold commitments from eight of the state's top 12 prospects.



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