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March 12, 2009

New Rivals250 loaded with big-time backs

MORE: The 2010 Rivals250 | Texas big on Rivals100 talent | The first 5-stars | Five-star gallery

As always, the Rivals100 is followed closely by the Rivals250. And just as the Rivals100 was loaded at running back, the depth and star power at the position dominates the second group as well, led by Miami Booker T. Washington's Eduardo Clements.

Clements, who checks in at No. 103, leads a ridiculously strong group of backs in the Sunshine State, and there could be a lot of back-and-forth all year when it comes to determining who's the best in Florida.

In addition to Clements, the Rivals250 boasts Florida running backs Brandon Gainer (Miami Central), Giovanni Bernard (Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas), Ethan Grant (Coconut Creek North Broward Prep), Roy Finch (Niceville) and Jakhari Gore (Miami Columbus).

"It's a very good year for running backs in south Florida, and there could be a dozen that sign I-A scholarships," Rivals.com national recruiting analyst Jamie Newberg said. "Maybe there isn't a Trent Richardson this season from Florida, but there are still high-quality backs."

Other Rivals250 running backs from the Southeast include Corey Grant from Opelika (Ala.) High, Storm Johnson from Logansville (Ga.) High and Nicholas Parker from Batesville (Miss.) South Panola.

But the state dominating the running back rankings this year clearly is California. With four backs in the Rivals100 (five if you include Anthony Barr, who could end up at running back) and another three in the Rivals250, California seems to be the place to look for tailbacks in 2010. San Diego Scripps Ranch all-purpose back Brennan Clay leads the second group, checking in at No. 112, while Escondido High's Ricky Seale and Perris Citrus Hill's Deontae Cooper round out the list.

Mr. 101

Being ranked as the 101st-best player in the country might be a disappointment to some, but to Gainesville (Ga.) High wide receiver Tai-ler Jones, it's motivation.

"In a way, it's disappointing because you're not in the main group, that top 100," said Jones, a 6-foot, 174-pounder. "It's motivation for sure. It makes you want to work harder so you secure a spot in the top 100 and make sure you're not left out. Next time I hope to be in the Rivals100."

Jones improved his stock Sunday at Tri-Cities High School in Atlanta, during Team Georgia's practice for a 7-on-7 tournament in Tampa, Fla. Jones showed his quickness in and out of his breaks, excellent route-running and superior quickness. Most of all, he showed strong and reliable hands.

"I think that just comes naturally," he said of catching the ball out front with his hands. "I played quarterback up until eighth grade, so I guess always holding the football that way in my hands just made it natural for me as a wide receiver."

QB DEPTH?

There's no Jimmy Clausen, Terrelle Pryor or Matt Barkley in this class, but there is some depth at quarterback.

While there are just seven quarterbacks in the Rivals100, there are 11 between 101-250, led by Texas commitment Connor Wood, who checks in at No. 133.

"I agree that there's not a big-armed, no-brainer out there right now who has been on the radar for years, like Clausen or Barkley or Mark Sanchez," Rivals.com national recruiting analyst Mike Farrell said. "But that could be because it seems to be a down year for quarterbacks in California as well as Texas. The lack of high-end talent in California is rare.

"And Texas is down for quarterbacks as well, compared to the past few years. There are usually five or six quarterbacks from Texas in the Rivals250, and this year those numbers are way down. And no top dual-threat quarterback in Texas? That's unheard of."

Farrell expects numerous quarterbacks to emerge.

"I think there will be a bunch of quarterbacks that emerge in the spring, summer and as the season moves along," he said. "I know we ended up with 25 quarterbacks last year ranked four stars or better and so far we have only around 18, but they're out there. I can see a bunch of three-star guys emerging as four stars."

ETC.

Last year, there were only four tight ends in the final Rivals250, clearly a down year at the position overall. But for 2010, there are 10 tight ends in the first Rivals250, including seven in the 101-250 range. York (Pa.) Central York standout Kyle Baublitz leads the way.

It's not a deep year at cornerback, with only 13 in the Rivals250. If you're seeking an elite corner, you should head to the Southeast. Lauderdale Lakes (Fla.) Boyd Anderson corner Demar Dorsey and Douglasville (Ga.) South Paulding cornerback Ryan Ayers lead the second group.

There were just four defensive tackles in the Rivals100. But there are 13 in the 101-250 range, and you can be sure that some of them will make a strong push toward the top 100. The leading candidates? Tyler (Texas) John Tyler's Ashton Dorsey, Miami Northwestern's Todd Chandler and Warner Robins (Ga.) High's Jeffrey Whitaker. Also, keep an eye on Christchurch (Va.) Christchurch School's Nick Acree, who has all the physical skills but just needs experience and a strong senior season. Don't look out west for defensive tackles, as there just don't seem to be that many.

There are only two players from Arizona in the Rivals250 compared to five last year. Other states that appear to be down compared to last year include New Jersey, which has only one player in the 250 compared to five last year; Illinois (three this year, six last year) and Utah (two this year, four last year). As far as quality is concerned, Alabama has probably taken the biggest hit. In 2008 and '09 combined, there were six five-star prospects; this year, there likely will be just one at the most.

There are plenty of prospects with good bloodlines in the 101-250 range. The aforementioned Tai-ler Jones is the son of former NFL player Andre Jones. Fort Washington (Md.) Friendly safety Jordan Haden is the younger brother of Florida starting cornerback Joe Haden and Boston College running back Josh Haden. The aforementioned Gore is NFL running back Frank Gore's cousin. And California quarterback Nick Montana is the son of NFL legend Joe Montana.

MORE: The 2010 Rivals250 | Texas big on Rivals100 talent | The first 5-stars | Five-star gallery



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