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June 6, 2006

New Rivals100 goes against traditional trends

There has long been speculation that certain parts of the country produce better prospects at certain positions. California produces great quarterbacks, Florida produces all skill position players and the Midwest is known for corn-fed big uglies along the offensive line. While some of these assumptions seem to be spot on, things always vary from year-to-year. The recently released Rivals100 is a good example as the recruiting class of 2007 tends to debunk many traditional trends.

Okay, so we start at quarterback and right off the bat the No. 1 player in the country and top signal-caller hails from Cali. Jimmy Clausen is the kind of quarterback that California is used to producing (Tom Brady, Carson Palmer, Matt Leinart, Mark Sanchez to name a few) and Cali also boasts Aaron Corp in the top 100. But hold your horses. Florida, a state not known for producing top quarterbacks at all, also boasts two top slingers in five-star John Brantley and fast-rising Stephen Garcia. In fact, the East Coast dominates our Rivals100 when it comes to quarterbacks, adding Willy Korn from South Carolina, Tyrod Taylor from Virginia and Mike Paulus from New York.

Top running backs come from all over the country each year but certainly Texas and Florida each have a claim when it comes to be the most fertile region for runners over the last few years. Texas can boast LaDainian Tomlinson and Cedric Benson not to mention a guy named Adrian Peterson while Florida has produced Edgerrin James, Clinton Portis, Willis McGahee, Fred Taylor as well as C.J. Spiller from last year. And don't forget Virginia with Tiki Barber, Rudi Johnson and the Jones brothers, Thomas and Julius. This year the Sunshine State takes a step forward as one of the top places for tailbacks with Noel Devine, Armando Allen and Enrique Davis as Rivals100 representatives. California checks in with two backs, Marc Tyler and Raymond Carter while Texas joins a slew of other states with one tailback (Lennon Creer). Virginia is not represented.

Rivals100 hotbeds
States with five or more players in the 2007 Rivals100:
Florida 13
Texas 13
California 10
Georgia 6
North Carolina 6
South Carolina 5
When it comes to the good hands people, surprisingly New York/New Jersey leads the way in 2007. Wide receiver Duval Kamara and tight ends Mike Ragone and Lansford Watson lead the receivers/tight ends this year. Including tight end Aaron Hernandez and wideout Nick Sukay, the Northeast represents quite well against the rest of the nation when it comes to catching the football. Florida, long known as one of the hotbed for wide receivers, has two players continuing the tradition in Deonte Thompson and Alphonso Bryant. Texas also boasts two with the nation's top wide receiver, Terrance Toliver, and Malcolm Williams.

You'd expect most of the big uglies on the offensive line to come from rural, cold weather places in the Midwest, but only Josh Oglesby from Wisconsin fits that mold. Ryan Miller from Colorado is also a cold weather mammoth, but if you're looking for linemen in 2007, think warmer. Texas leads the way with three offensive linemen in the Rivals100, Tray Allen, Michael Huey and Aundre McGaskey (all Longhorn commitments). And it doesn't get much hotter than in Arizona where Kristofer O'Dowd and Javario Burkes check in.

Surprise, surprise
It's a good year for Rivals100 talent in these states or areas:
Michigan 4
Arizona 3
D.C. 2
Wisconsin 2
Think defensive end and you might think of the Carolinas where NFL sack leader Derrick Burgess, John Abraham, Julius Peppers and NFL No. 1 pick Mario Williams called home. This year is no different as South Carolina prospect Cliff Matthews and North Carolina stud Travian Robertson continue the trend. But Florida is the only state that has more than one defensive end in the Rivals100 with Florida commitment D'Angelo McCray and Jacksonville big man Jacoby Monroe on board.

Georgia is undoubtedly the place for defensive tackles, at least when it comes to producing NFL-caliber ones. But over the last few years the top defensive tackles have come from all over Oklahoma, Texas, Mississippi, Pennsylvania, Louisiana and so on. This year the Peach State has two tackles in the Rivals100, Cameron Heyward and Ted Laurent, but Florida's 1-2 punch of Torrey Davis and John Brown gives them the edge.

Down year?
Some low initial numbers from usual Rivals100 talent producers:
Mississippi 1
Pennsylvania 2
Virginia 2
Louisiana 4
It's not a strong year for linebackers, especially in traditional places. Texas boasts one with A&M commit Derrick Stephens and California has the nation's best 'backer in Chris Galippo, but states like Ohio, Pennsylvania and Florida all struck out. Don't expect that trend to last however.

Cornerbacks, at many of the top ones, have come from the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic recently. Champ Bailey, Chris Gamble, Ronde Barber, DeAngelo Hall, Jimmy Williams, A.J. Wallace and Demetrice Morley are just a few names produces in those regions. But this year it's the Michigan that rules the roost as the best state for corners with five-star Ronald Johnson and Dionte Allen. Texas also boasts two corners in the Rivals100 with Curtis Brown and Ben Wells.

Florida has been the place for safeties with Sean Taylor and Kenneth Phillips of late, although other states can make a strong claim to the position as well, including Ohio. This year there are three safeties from the Southeast, Chad Jones, Michael McNeil and Major Wright, but Ohio safety Eugene Clifford leads the way as the top four-star prospect in the country.

Finally, the athlete position is a wild card but New Jersey with Myron Rolle and Dwayne Jarrett had done well producing of late. This year the Atlantic East checks in with two Rivals100 athletes, Joe Haden from Maryland and Greg Little from North Carolina although Texas stud John Chiles leads the group checking in at No. 12 in the country.



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