Sunday, November 15, 2009

From the Road: Underclassmen stand out ---A ton of NUC stars in this


From the Road: Underclassmen stand out
MORE: From the Road: Brown comes up big | From the Road: Gholston has the toolsClass of 2011 linebacker A.J. Johnson was all over the field for Gainesville (Ga.) High in a 49-17 win over Flowery Branch last week.
The Tennessee commit recorded an amazing 15 tackles while sacking the quarterback three times in the game. He was one many talented Class of 2011 and 2012 prospects that Rivals.com had a chance to scout last week.
Here are some rundowns on the top underclassmen prospects Rivals.com's analysts saw in person, listed alphabetically.

PROSPECT EVALUATIONS: UNDERCLASSMEN
MATT BAILEY, 5-10/190, NEW ORLEANS (LA.) EDNA KARR
2011 CLASS
COMMITTED TO: Virginia
PERFORMANCE: Helped lead a swarming defensive front to a 25-7 victory over St. James.
STRENGTHS: Bailey is an athletic linebacker that plays low with good leverage. He is natural dropping into coverage and finding the ball in the run game. Looks to have good versatility and a good motor.
WEAKNESSES: Bailey has average size and though he does look athletic doesn't have elite speed. - BARTON SIMMONS
ATH JARRELL BENNETT, 5-9/155, NEW ORLEANS (LA.) EDNA KARR
2012 CLASS
CONSIDERING: No significant interest to date.
PERFORMANCE: Returned a punt for a touchdown in a 25-7 win over St. James.
STRENGTHS: Only a sophomore, Bennett showed on a punt return that he has a lot of ability with the ball in his hands. His change of direction was sudden and his acceleration helped him to separate from defenders. Could have the athleticism to play on either side of the ball. Gives immediate special teams value with return ability.
WEAKNESSES: Because of his size, it may be tough for Bennett to get the ball offensively on anything other than screens and quick-game routes. He may need to play defense on the next level and get comfortable at cornerback. - B.S.
ATH DAMIERE BYRD, 5-10/160, SICKLERVILLE (N.J.) TIMBER CREEK
2011 CLASS
CONSIDERING: Byrd has early offers from Maryland, South Carolina, Rutgers and Duke.
PERFORMANCE: While Byrd usually lines up at receiver, he played a majority of this game at running back because Timber Creek was resting their starting back for the playoffs. He finished the game with 140 yards and 2 touchdowns on 17 carries during a 38-30 loss to Burlington Township.
STRENGTHS: Being one of the fastest track athletes in New Jersey, Byrd's strength is speed, speed and more speed. Playing out of position he still showed an amazing first step coming out of the backfield and was impossible to deal with in the open field or on the outside.
WEAKNESSES: While Byrd has added about ten pounds to his frame since the 2008 season, he still needs to work on his upper body strength. - MIKE FARRELL
OT LA'EL COLLINS, 6-5/285, BATON ROUGE (LA.) REDEMPTORIST
 Collins interview and highlights vs. Parkview Baptist 
2011 CLASS
COMMITTED TO: LSU
PERFORMANCE: Started at both left tackle and defensive tackle playing nearly every snap in a 44-27 loss to Parkview Baptist.
STRENGTHS: Collins has a massive but athletically sleek frame that will be able to continue to add weight. He has light feet and great athleticism as an offensive tackle. He finishes blocks, is equally adept at run blocking and pass blocking and showed a nasty streak. On defense, Collins plays hard, pursues the ball with energy and makes an impact on nearly every play in some capacity. Most importantly, Collins gave great effort on nearly every play despite going both ways and rarely getting a rest. He is the complete package.
WEAKNESSES: He will need to continue to add some weight on the college level and can improve his pass set technique. - B.S.
RB IMANI CROSS, 6-0/220, FLOWERY BRANCH (GA.)
2012 CLASS
CONSIDERING: Already has an early offer from South Carolina.
PERFORMANCE: Ran the ball eight times for 55 yards while catching two passes for 22 yards in 49-17 loss to Gainesville.
STRENGTHS: Cross has tremendous size and overall body structure and it is hard to believe he is only a sophomore. He possesses soft hands for a huge, muscular back.
WEAKNESSES: He needs to hit the hole harder and explode on would-be tacklers in his path. He also needs to improve his breakaway speed. - BARRY EVERY
OT DEREK EDINBURGH, 6-6/315, NEW ORLEANS (LA.) EDNA KARR
2012 CLASS
CONSIDERING: No significant interest to date.
PERFORMANCE: Manned the left tackle position in the explosive Edna Karr offense during a 25-7 win over St. James.
STRENGTHS: Edinburgh's biggest asset is purely his size. Only a sophomore, Edinburgh already stands 6 feet 7 and over 300 pounds. Considering his size and youth, he has very good athleticism and is very capable protecting the blind side. He has a very high ceiling and a lot of potential.
WEAKNESSES: Edinburgh is still learning to use his body. Understandably he plays very high at the snap and must continue to work on getting a good knee bend and flat back. He has plenty to work on but plenty of time to perfect his technique and has a unique upside. - B.S.
DEVON FRANCOIS, 5-10/175, NEW ORLEANS (LA.) EDNA KARR
2011 CLASS
CONSIDERING: No significant interest yet.
PERFORMANCE: One of the defensive leaders in a 25-7 win over St. James.
STRENGTHS: Francois is extremely active and physical. He is quick to the football, can play behind the line of scrimmage or in coverage and is physical enough to essentially play a linebacker position in high school at his size.
WEAKNESSES: Francois was playing a rover/linebacker position but is likely an undersized safety on the next level. He was unable to show if he has the ability to cover or backpedal at that position and will be slightly undersized regardless of his cover abilities. - B.S.
DB ASHTON GAINES, 5-10/170, DETROIT (MICH.) CROCKETT
 Gaines highlights vs. Hazel Park
2011 CLASS
CONSIDERING: Michigan has shown interest, but many others will.
PERFORMANCE: I only saw the first half of this game, which turned out to be a 50-48 double-overtime win for Crockett. He made a couple of nice tackles and caught five passes, one for a touchdown.
STRENGTHS: Gaines' best trait is his aggressiveness in run support. I came in expecting to see that. His solid skills as a pass catcher and route runner were a nice surprise.
WEAKNESSES: Not sure if he is the quickest of defensive back prospects if you are considering him as a cornerback. At safety, he may be a bit undersized. But, Gaines is a football player, and a good athlete clearly. My hunch is he can play any of three positions (WR, CB and safety), and worries that he might be a tweener on defense are probably not too serious. GREG LADKY
DE KENNY HAYES, 6-5/240, TOLEDO (OHIO) WHITMER
2011 CLASS
COMMITTED TO: Ohio State
PERFORMANCE: Recorded four tackles, including one for a loss as Whitmer's season concluded with a 34-13 loss to Canton McKinley.
STRENGTHS: Height, a big frame to build on, good athleticism and the excitement that comes from the fact that Hayes has not even begun to realize his potential. Hayes is a true 6-5 and he is a good athlete. He is skinny right now, but not to the point where you worry whether he can put on weight.
WEAKNESSES: Hayes is raw. He needs to improve his technique, especially how he takes on blocks and his pass-rushing moves. Nonetheless, he has a chance to be the best of the group of amazing underclassmen defensive ends in Ohio. - G.L.
RB JEREMY HILL, 6-1/220, BATON ROUGE (LA.) REDEMPTORIST
 Hill interview and highlights vs. Parkview Baptist
2011 CLASS
COMMITTED TO: LSU
PERFORMANCE: Had 79 yards on only nine carries and one touchdown in a 44-27 loss to Parkview Baptist.
STRENGTHS: Hill is very physically developed for a junior running back and has great size. He has the strength to run through arm tacklers and can carry defenders for an extra yard or two at the end of a run. Hill is comfortable catching the ball out of the backfield, lining up in the slot and running routes, giving him versatility at the next level.
WEAKNESSES: Because of his size, Hill should be more physical downhill and look to go over defenders rather than always looking to go around them. - B.S.
DB DELONTE HOLLOWELL, 5-8/163, DETROIT (MICH.) CASS TECH
 Hollowell highlights vs. Southeastern 
2011 CLASS
CONSIDERING: Lists offers from Michigan and Central Michigan.
PERFORMANCE: Kind of a quiet day, but not in a bad way, in a blowout loss to Detroit Southeastern.
STRENGTHS: Does a good job of turning and running with receivers down the field, and appears to be an aggressive tackler. He is quite strong for a kid his size.
WEAKNESSES: Not as quick as his teammate, Dior Mathis, but few are. But like Mathis, Hollowell will be vulnerable in covering taller receivers. - G.L.
RB SAVON HUGGINS, 6-0/190, JERSEY CITY (N.J.) ST. PETER'S PREP
2011 CLASS
CONSIDERING: Huggins has early offers from Rutgers, Cal, Boston College and others.
PERFORMANCE: Huggins was held in check in a 42-9 loss to Don Bosco Prep, rushing for 44 yards and a touchdown.
STRENGTHS: Huggins has excellent speed and a good burst and he looks to reach top speed very quickly. He has some wiggle to him in space and he had good hands out of the backfield. On defense, he is solid as a cornerback and makes plays on the ball.
WEAKNESSES: It's not clear whether Huggins can run inside the tackles against better teams because most of his carries were to the outside and he was stuffed on any inside carries. Huggins hasn't gotten much bigger than he was during his freshman season. - M.F.
ILB A.J. JOHNSON, 6-3/225, GAINESVILLE (GA.)
2011 CLASS
COMMITTED TO: Claims to be firm to Tennessee.
PERFORMANCE: Recorded an amazing 15 tackles while sacking the quarterback three times in a 49-17 victory over Flowery Branch (Ga.).
STRENGTHS: He would be considered a huge linebacker, and he does most of his damage while blitzing the quarterback. Johnson is also a major hustler and pursued the ball all over the field. He does remind me a bit of Florida State linebacker Nigel Bradham but he may end up being even bigger.
WEAKNESSES:
LB TIMOTHY JOHNSON, 6-1/210, NEW ORLEANS (LA.) EDNA KARR
2011 CLASS
CONSIDERING: Currently holds an offer from Minnesota.
PERFORMANCE: Was one of the defensive line anchors in a 25-7 victory against St. James.
STRENGTHS: Johnson was disciplined against the St. James offense and capitalized several times making plays behind the line of scrimmage. When the quarterback is in his sights he rarely lets him elude his grasp. He has an athletic frame and should be a good pass rusher, possibly even with the ability to step back and play outside linebacker.
WEAKNESSES: As a true defensive end, Johnson is undersized and needs to either add height or prove that he can be effective in space as a linebacker. - B.S.
WR ALONZO LEWIS, 6-3/185, ST. JAMES (LA.) HIGH
2011 CLASS
CONSIDERING: Already holds an offer from LSU.
PERFORMANCE: Had five catches for 46 yards in a 25-7 loss to Edna Karr.
STRENGTHS: Lewis has a great wide receiver body with good height and a strong frame. On the hoof he resembles a slightly thicker version of Kevin Norwood out of the 2009 class. He looks to run well vertically with a smooth stride and has fluid athleticism.
WEAKNESSES: Lewis caught several short passes but was corralled right away and wasn't able to show big-play ability after the catch. He also had two opportunities for big plays down the field but was unable to make a couple of tough catches on jump-ball type situations. - B.S.
DE LATROY LEWIS, 6-4/225, AKRON (OHIO) ARCHBISHOP
 Lewis interview 
2012 CLASS
CONSIDERING: Lewis said after the game that schools in the midwest were contacting him. It is early, and he simply left it at that.
PERFORMANCE: Recorded a sack, a pair of tackles for loss, and caught a two-point conversion pass in a 14-11 playoff win over Padua Franciscan.
STRENGTHS: Lewis is very quick off the ball, and uses his length to close on the quarterback quickly. Like his teammate, Greg McMullen, he seems to be mature and able to handle the pressure that will ultimately come with being a major recruit. By no means should Lewis be overshadowed by anyone, including his freakish teammate. Hoban happens to have to of the very best young defensive ends in Ohio.
WEAKNESSES: Nothing glaring. I'll be picky and say he can be a bit stronger at the point of attack and holding the edge against the run. Plenty of time to improve that. - G.L.
OL KEITH LUMPKIN, 6-7/280, JERSEY CITY (N.J.) ST. PETER'S PREP
2011 CLASS
CONSIDERING: Notre Dame, Rutgers, South Carolina and others are showing interest.
PERFORMANCE: Lumpkin played right tackle in a 42-9 loss to Don Bosco Prep.
STRENGTHS: Lumpkin is huge and offensive linemen don't come much better looking. He has a long wingspan and when he spreads out in pass projection it's hard to get around him. He's an adequate run blocker.
WEAKNESSES: Lumpkin doesn't appear to be very physical and he has trouble with his pad level because he's so tall. He looks to be about 6 feet 10 with cleats and helmet on and he could be too tall for football if that's possible. He loses the leverage game quite often. - M.F.
DE GREG MCMULLEN, 6-5/255, AKRON (OHIO) ARCHBISHOP HOBAN
 McMullen interview 
2012 CLASS
CONSIDERING: Too early to call but mentioned wanting to play with his teammate LaTroy Lewis. McMullen is already hearing from Ohio State.
PERFORMANCE: Due to an injured left wrist, McMullen has been playing with basically one hand this season. Against Padua Franciscan in round one of the playoffs, he had about a half dozen tackles, and consistently put pressure on the quarterback.
STRENGTHS: When college coaches see this kid walk in the door, then find out he can move and he is a bright kid, there will be no debate about offering him. McMullen is a nationally elite type of athlete. He carries 255 pounds with ease, and one must assume he has not had much weight training since breaking his wrist during the AAU basketball season.
WEAKNESSES: How big will he get? Is there a position change down the road? The good thing is, McMullen is playing end in a 3-4 defense, so he is mixing it up a lot on the inside. But McMullen may have to adjust to a position change as his body gets bigger. - G.L.
DE STEVE MILLER, 6-4/230, CANTON (OHIO) MCKINLEY
 Miller highlights vs. Whitmer  Miller interview
2011 CLASS
COMMITTED TO: Ohio State
PERFORMANCE: Starts for McKinley on defense and has played a large role in that unit's resurgence late in the season, and the team's current playoff run. Against Whitmer in round one, had two sacks and an additional two tackles for a loss in one of his best single-game performances.
STRENGTHS: Miller is also a solid pass rusher, and can beat tackles either to the inside our outside.
WEAKNESSES: Continue to improve productivity. Miller was far more of a factor vs. Whitmer than in my previous two in-person evaluations this season. Miller must eliminate those longer periods during games where he does not make much impact. But again, against Whitmer, he was a consistent force. - G.L.
QB GARY NOVA, 6-2/210, RAMSEY (N.J.) DON BOSCO PREP
2011 CLASS
CONSIDERING: Boston College, UConn, Louisville, Rutgers and others are showing interest.
PERFORMANCE: Nova completed 4-of-10 passes for 114 yards and three touchdowns in a 42-9 win over St. Peter's Prep.
STRENGTHS: Nova has great size for a young quarterback, he can make all the throws and he makes good decisions. He was just off on a few incompletions and overall he has good accuracy. He throws a very good long ball and hangs in the pocket well. He's also very poised and doesn't get flustered easy as he was 0-for-6 in the first half but rebounded by going 4-for-4 with three touchdowns in the second half.
WEAKNESSES: Nova is still learning how to go through his progressions and he can tend to force the ball at times. He's not great at dumping the ball off when his first option is covered and he could use some mechanical work. - M.F.
DE SEVON PITTMAN, 6-3/204, CANTON (OHIO) MCKINLEY
 Pittman highlights vs. Boardman 
2012 CLASS
CONSIDERING: Pittman's recruitment has yet to kick off, but, Ohio State will be a factor in his recruitment. Pittman's teammate, defensive end Steve Miller, is committed to the Buckeyes.
PERFORMANCE: Pittman started against Youngstown Boardman in place of Steve Miller, who sat out the game. By my count, he had one sack and six tackles, including one for a loss.
STRENGTHS: Pittman has a long frame and shows the ability to run down the ball carrier and makes plays across the field.
WEAKNESSES: Experience and strength. Though Pittman is already a name to watch in 2012, he has not played that much this season. He is thin at this point, and like most sophomores, will need to gain size and strength. - G.L.
DB SHELDON ROYSTER, 6-0/180, JERSEY CITY (N.J.) ST. PETER'S PREP
2011 CLASS
CONSIDERING: Royster has early offers from Rutgers and West Virginia.
PERFORMANCE: Royster had numerous tackles from his safety position in a 42-9 loss to Don Bosco Prep including a couple that saved touchdowns.
STRENGTHS: Royster is very physical and he can run. He takes good angles and has the speed to run down opponents. He has at least two touchdown-saving tackles on Tony Jonesand was easily the most effective and most physical defender for his team.
WEAKNESSES: Royster needs to work on his feet a bit more in coverage and he does struggle with change of direction in the middle of the field. He also let a couple of defenders get behind him in coverage so he needs to focus more in pass coverage. - M.F.
AVERY WALLS, 5-10/180, MCDONOUGH (GA.) UNION GROVE
2011 CLASS
CONSIDERING: Recently received a Stanford offer to go along with his offer from Oklahoma.
PERFORMANCE: He recorded 14 total tackles and three TFLs in 20-0 loss to Lithonia (Ga.) Martin Luther King.
STRENGTHS: Reading and attacking the run especially on plays run wide. This kid is a big hitter looking to unload on ball carriers. He is also very intelligent and a serious hustler. Walls is the definition of a football player!
WEAKNESSES: He is a bit undersized for the safety position and should set a goal of playing at 195 pounds at the next level without losing any speed. - B.E.
WR JAMES WHITE, 6-0/170, DETROIT (MICH.) CROCKETT
 White highlights vs. Hazel Park 
2012 CLASS
CONSIDERING: To be determined.
PERFORMANCE: I only caught the first half of this game before moving on to another Detroit area contest, but White had a pair of catches in the first half, and was in on a few tackles as a defensive back.
STRENGTHS: Really glides on the field, and has sneaky speed. Made a really nice catch on a post route looking into the sun.
WEAKNESSES: Just needs to continue working on his hands and filling out his body. - G.L.
DE CHRIS WORMLEY, 6-4/225, TOLEDO (OHIO) WHITMER
 Wormley highlights vs. Canton McKinley 
2012 CLASS
CONSIDERING: Too early to call. His teammate and fellow defensive end, Kenny Hayes, is an Ohio State commit.
PERFORMANCE: Recorded three tackles in a loss to Canton McKinley.
STRENGTHS: What is going on in Ohio with defensive ends in the class of 2012? Wormley is another future stud. He is very strong in the lower body, and at a young age, appears to play with good leverage. He is every bit of 6-4 and seems to be pretty fluid athletically as well. Wormley looks like he will be another national recruit.
WEAKNESSES: Plenty of room to fill out his upper body. But you like to see a young prospect that has his leg power and ability to play with some leverage. - G.L.
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