After months and months of
personal observations by the
recruiting analysts, hours of film review, interviews with countless college
and high school coaches, Rivals.com is proud to release its first ranking for
the Class of 2004.
Sure it would have been easy
to throw out a bunch of names early on, but the painstaking evaluation process
has allowed us to feel especially confident about the rankings that will be
released over the next several weeks.
Without further adieu,
Rivals.com is excited to announce the top five players in the nation for the
Class of 2004 and their five-star rankings.
Leading off the list is
Adrian Peterson of Palestine, Texas. Peterson on film just has all of the
things that you’re looking for in a great back, plus he has the size and speed
that can’t be taught.
After months and months of
debate amongst the Rivals100.com staff, Peterson began to emerge as the top
candidate after a personal observation at the Texas Relays, where many
of the nation's top track athletes gather and perform at the University of Texas
in Austin. Guys that big aren’t supposed to move that fast or run a 10.3-second
time in the 100 meters.
Each of the players in the
top five and even players ranked sixth through 10 could have a strong case about
being named as the nation’s top player. They’re all amazing in their own right
and have talent that is immeasurable.
But there was just something
about Peterson that made him a five-star prospect and the best that
Rivals100.com had seen this year. The way he carried himself, the way he glided
through defenses on film and the way college coaches talked for hours about him,
made it a tough but obvious choice in the end.
Peterson is the newest member
of a small fraternity of players that have been selected as the top prospect in
the entire nation by Rivals.com. Going back over the past six recruiting classes, the
prospects that have been named the nation’s top player are an amazing collection
Back in 1999, T.J. Duckett
earned the nation’s top honors as a running back/linebacker. He is now playing
in the NFL with the Atlanta Falcons.
The nation’s top player in
2000 was D.J. Williams of Concord (Calif.) De La Salle. He is now a
senior with the University of Miami and some are projecting him to be a
first-round draft pick in the NFL next season.
Kevin Jones, the No. 1
player in 2001, broke the hearts of Penn State fans when he selected Virginia
Tech. Jones had masterful freshman and sophomore seasons, but he’s had to fight
injuries and a loaded Tech backfield during those years. He is expected to be
the man this year for the Hokies and has been nominated to several pre-season
Houston native Vince Young
is hoping to make his mark this season for the Texas Longhorns, but is currently
No. 2 on the depth chart behind Chance Mock. The strong-armed dual-threat
quarterback was picked as the nation’s top player in the Class of 2002 by
Last year’s selection for the
top player was linebacker Ernie Sims of Tallahassee (Fla.) North Florida
Christian. Sims signed with Florida State after an intense recruiting battle. He
is expected to be an impact player for the Seminoles this season.
The rest of the top five for
the Class of 2004, shapes up this way: California safety Randy Estes is
No. 2, Florida linebacker Keith Rivers is No. 3, Ohio cornerback
Theodore GinnJr. is No. 4 and No. 5 is Louisiana receiver Early
Doucet. As mentioned earlier, the line between players ranked No. 1 through
No. 10 is awfully thin this season and the process of putting this player over
that player was extremely painstaking.
The rest of the top 10 will
be unveiled later this week, more five star-selections and the first Rivals100
team for 2004 will be revealed as we progress through the first two weeks in
June. Below you will find more in-depth and detailed profiles of the players
ranked in the top five.
"If I had one pick
over any other player in the entire nation, I would take Adrian
Peterson. I hear some people ask if he's the best back in Texas in
10 years, and I wouldn't disagree. You thought Reggie Bush was good
last year. Wait until you see Adrian Peterson." -Big 12 recruiting
Looking for size? Check.
Looking for speed? Check.
Looking for instincts that can't be taught? Check.
Looking for the most complete player in the entire nation for the
Class of 2004? Then you better check out Palestine, Texas, running back
Adrian Peterson. Peterson gets the nod as the nation's No. 1 player and
the top player in Texas and the Midlands Region from
“I think it’s an honor to get the
recognition, but I’m just keeping level headed,” he said. “I’m just
focused on having a good senior season.”
The 6-2, 205-pound back can break down
defenses in a variety of ways. He has enough wiggle that he can make
people miss in the open field or he can bull over would-be tacklers and
then turn on the jets to take it the distance. As a junior, Peterson
chalked up 2,051 yards and 22 touchdowns on 246 carries.
Peterson brings back strong memories of the way former Eric Dickerson
used to shred defenses apart in the Lone Star State before going on to
stardom at SMU and then in the NFL.
"He definitely reminds you of Dickerson with his long strides and
ability to break a defense down," a long-time college and high school
coach from the Lone Star State said. "I thought it would be another 25
years before we saw a guy that had Dickerson's upside at the running
back, but Adrian is as close as you're going to get with it.
"A lot of people thought Cedric Benson was the next coming. They were
wrong, because it's really Adrian."
With glowing comments like and after countless hours of film review and personal observations,
Peterson easily gets the nod as the nation's top prospect. If you ask his
coach, Jerry Harrell, it's a well deserved honor for a great player on
the field and a great person off of it.
“Randy plays big in big games,”
Sherr said. “When he made that hit against Mater Dei on the opening
kickoff, it set the tone for the way our team was going to play that
Al defensive coordinator Barry Sherr
People have been talking about Randy Estes for two years now. And
the talk always was wait until you see this underclassman from Los Al
and that he might be the best player in California as a junior.
that he's heading into the summer before his senior season, Estes, who
is 6-foot-2 and 200 pounds, is ready to take his place as the nation's
No. 2 prospect in the Class of 2004.
"Randy is a super player that still has the potential to get better,"
said Rivals100.com West analyst Rick Kimbrel said. "Estes has to be
considered one of the best players at any position in the nation. He he
has the potential to be a Kenny Easley, Ronnie Lott type safety.
"He's a difference maker. He was probably good enough last season to
be the state of California's top player. He's that good."
Estes racked up 72 tackles, 24 first hits, four
tackles for loss, three sacks, three picks and two forced fumbles as a
junior. Simply put, he can do it all and is loving every minute of the
attention that he's getting.
But he knows that he must not get a big head and does his best at
remaining grounded and focused on his senior season.
"That's still the most important thing," he said. "But you can't help
but get excited when you have all these teams calling. I'm going to take
my time and evaluate what's important to me in the decision-making
"They don't make them like Keith
Rivers anymore. So many linebackers out there today only have one
thing that you want. But Keith is the full package. He's got the
size, the speed, instincts and is also a great person. He's the most
complete backer we've seen in a while." -SEC
Rivals100 had heard the talk about Keith Rivers for months and
months. We had heard from countless sources about how good this junior
linebacker from Florida was. And then when footage of him arrived, he
made believers out of everyone in the office.
Here was this kid flying
all over the place from sideline-to-sideline, making huge hits and
decapitating unlucky ball carriers that got in his way. We were already
But then Rivers showed up for the Rivals100.com Junior Day in
Orlando, Fla., and measured in at 6-foot-4 and 213 pounds. He was one of
the most put together prospects that Rivals100 had ever seen.
Seeing definitely became believing.
There isn't a better linebacker prospect than Rivers and he's also
one of the nation's elite recruits, earning a No. 3 overall ranking in
the entire country from Rivals.com. He also gets our nod as the top
player in a very loaded season in the Sunshine State.
But Rivers is taking all of the attention in stride, which makes him
an even more special player. It would be so easy to get a big head, but
that's just not his style.
"He's a great kid," Lake Mary coach Greg Stanton said. "Only once in
a lifetime do you get a player with his ability and his character. He's
not a prima donna kid and always is doing what is asked of him."
Yep, Rivers is one of the nation’s best of the best.
“I hear stuff like that and it’s flattering,” Rivers said. “Thank you
for talking about me like that and honoring me.”
So what words would Rivers use to describe his own
“I’m fast,” he said. “I also am always going downhill to the ball.”
"Ted Ginn is just one of those guys
on film that pops out and makes a lot of amazing plays. Then when
you combine everything he has physically, you have the makings of an
All-America cornerback in college and a future NFL first-round
10 recruiting coordinator
When asked to describe himself, Theodore Ginn Jr. of Cleveland
Glenville didn't shy away from his true feelings and in typical
confident cover corner style, he shot for the stars with his
“I’m Charles Woodson,” he said. “Well,
that’s who I play like and idolize at least. I think I have a lot of the
same abilities that he does. I'm confident in my technique, know that
I'm fast enough to stick with any receiver and I have the ability to
play the ball when it's in the air.”
He's correct about all of that. And that's why Ginn,
who is 6-foot, 170 pounds, has been named as the nation's No. 4 player
for the Class of 2004 from Rivals.com.
"He's got the shutdown attitude," said Theodore Ginn
Sr., his coach at Glenville and father.
"He likes to get his hand on you and he really excels
in bump and run because no one is faster than him. He adjust well when
the ball is in the air, but he doesn't take a whole lot of risks. He
didn't have many interceptions last year because he's more concerned
with making the play and knocking the ball down then jumping in front of
the receiver and risking getting burned."
Ginn was the ultimate all-purpose player as a junior.
He threw for 300 yards on 26 attempts with 15 completions and five
touchdowns. He rushed for 408 yards on 40 carries and 10 touchdowns. He
caught 15 passes for 502 yards and four scores. On defense, he had 27
solo tackles, 15 assists, 10 interceptions, three sacks and five fumble
Ginn and his father are friends with former Wisconsin
Badger, and current Miami Dolphin star Chris Chambers.
“He was like a brother to me,” Ginn said. “When he was playing here, I
was really young. I was the mascot. I ran out in front of the team, and
I wore the uniform. I just wore a football uniform.”
Still, like a younger brother, he is sure that he could take down the
big brother, given the chance.
“Well, he came back for a basketball game this winter, and I’m a little
taller than him. The way he’s built though, his legs are thick,” Ginn
said. “Could I cover him tomorrow? Yeah, I think so.”
"Early is good enough he could play
quarterback for more than half the teams in the nation. But he knows
that his future in college and in the NFL will be at receiver. He's
just too explosive to have him be a quarterback. He needs to be out
there in open space doing his thing." -SEC coach
That loud buzz in the back of your head isn't from listening to one
too many hours of Sports Center. The buzz is originating from Louisiana
and Bayou State high school football fans that have been talking for
more than a year now about the play of Early Doucet of St. Martinville,
Doucet, the fans and college coaches say, is the best player to
come out of Southern Louisiana in a long, long time. Doucet
will be one of the most talked about players in the coming year due to
his game breaking ability and the fact that most college recruiters
believe he is the type of athlete that can be a difference maker on a
Those reasons, along with more than 1,200 yards rushing and 500 yards
passing as a junior quarterback, make Doucet the Rivals.com No. 5 player
for the Class of 2004.
“He came to us with a lot of athletic ability and he
is one of only a few kids that has every started for us as a true
freshman," St. Martinville coach Carrol Delahoussaye said.
"He played wide receiver and probably the only reason
he didn’t play quarterback for us that year was because he wasn’t with
us during the summer because he was playing AAU basketball. He is the
only freshman that ever played all year for us. He kept staying in our
ear about getting some playing time and I remember telling coach
Kirkpatrick, who does this kid think he is, he’s just a freshman. But he
knew a lot more than I did. We put him at wide receiver and he made
all-district that year.”
And the rest has been history.
Doucet could play quarterback at the next level but he
is now looking forward to being recruited as a wide receiver. St.
Martinville now has a quarterback behind Doucet that can make it
possible for him to play receiver a lot more next season. It's just
another option to get the ball into the 6-foot-1, 207-pound play-maker's
Despite all the accolades and hype,
Doucet is keeping his feet firmly planted.
“People tend to get a swollen head but
I just try to stay focused. All of this that’s happening now could be
taken away within a matter of seconds. So I want to stay level-headed
and keep going forward,” he said. “I work extra hard. If you just sit
there and don’t work, other people will pass you up. I want to stay
ahead of the pack so I work hard before practice, after practice,
whatever it takes. Every day.”