August 17, 2013

Ranking the all-time five-stars: Virginia

MORE: Ga. - La. - Md./D.C. - N.C. - Ohio - Pa. - Texas

With a tip of the hat to Derrick Williams the year before, the skill set of Virginia Beach (Va.) Landstown prospect Percy Harvin catapulted him to the No. 1 position in the Rivals100 presented by Under Armour in the class of 2006.

Harvin displayed a similar combination of speed, instinct and ability to the one that Williams showed the season before. In back-to-back classes, athletes who could do many things were chosen as the best in the nation and the highest-ranked players to come out of their states during the Rivals.com era.

Harvin went on to have a special career in college and the NFL -- despite numerous, lingering injuries -- and he stands unquestioned as the best to come from Virginia.

Following the summer evaluation period, the Rivals.com team of analysts is meeting this week to discuss how to reshape the rankings for the class of 2014 Rivals100 presented by Under Armour. This presented a perfect opportunity to look back at former five-star prospects and re-rank them among the other elite prospects from their home states.

HOW FARRELL RE-RANKS THEM
Name Year/Rank
1 Percy Harvin 2006 No. 1
2 Curtis Grant 2011 No. 2
3 Marcus Vick 2002 No. 8
4 Derrick Green 2013 No. 8
5 Vidal Hazelton 2006 No. 7
6 Jonathan Allen 2013 No. 11
7 Kai Parham 2002 No. 11
8 Michael Johnson 2002 No. 14
9 Ahmad Brooks 2002 No. 27
10 Christian Hackenberg 2013 No. 24

We Missed On...
E.J. Manuel 2008 No. 43
From the class of 2002 -- when Rivals.com established the Rivals100 -- to the class of 2013, there have been 11 states to have double-digit players earn five-star rankings. This week, it is time to turn back the clock and put those players in order based on what they did in high school.

None of the players identified as midseason five-stars for the class of 2014 is considered for this ranking. Each is subject to change through the regular season and all-star game evaluations.

Virginia ebbs and flows with its prospects. Every few years it produces multiple five-star athletes, and then it goes back off the radar. It has totaled 13 five-star athletes in the first dozen years of evaluations, and with Da'Shawn Hand, Quin Blanding and Andrew Brown -- three players in the top 10 of the class of 2014 -- it will push close to 20 soon.

Rivals.com national recruiting analyst Mike Farrell said that excluding the elite prospects from this class makes it tough to judge the remaining group.

"Virginia is loaded with talent every few years, and of course 2014 is probably the most talented at the top since I've been doing this," he said. "However, this is a really enigmatic list."

Harvin was an easy choice for the top, but the mix of older and younger players leaves a lot up in the air.

Marcus Vick, Vidal Hazelton, Kai Parham and Michael Johnson were busts, and only Ahmad Brooks seems to have developed into what many expected.

Curtis Grant was in the class of 2011 and has not broken through yet, while Derrick Green, Jonathan Allen and Christian Hackenberg have yet to play in college.

"Harvin turned out to be amazing, Grant only has a couple years to figure things out, and Parham, Johnson and Hazelton were all busts," Farrell said. "Vick was a freak athlete who was his own worst enemy, and Ahmad Brooks turned out to be much better than others ranked ahead of him that year. Green, Allen and Hackenberg can make this list go from enigmatic to special, but we won't know for a few years."

The only players not to make the list were equally as problematic to rank.

Taquan Mizzell has yet to play in college, but Virginia has high hopes. Tyrod Taylor was a fan favorite one week and a scapegoat the next at Virginia Tech. Victor Harris was one of the better cornerbacks in the ACC but was unable to translate that talent to the next level.

One player who battled for a fifth star and maybe should have earned one was E.J. Manuel, Farrell said.

"Manuel was the top quarterback not named Terrelle Pryor in 2008, and some felt he should have been a five-star with ease," Farrell said. "We had him at No. 43 overall that year so we liked him quite a bit, but we weren't sold on the entire package. After an up-and-down career at FSU with more ups than downs, it turns out he was the first quarterback drafted this April and a first-rounder."




 

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