With 36 prospects with a three star rating or higher in the inaugural release of the Rivals.com Louisiana Top 40, it's obvious that the talent level in the state of Louisiana is up in the Class of 2007.
Considering that the final Pelican State rankings for the class of 2006 contained only 24 prospects rated three stars or higher, that's a high number.
The Louisiana rankings are some to keep an eye on throughout the recruiting process because they stand to change a great deal. Even as early as August, when the Rivals100 and Rivals250 will be undergo a preseason "tweak", the state of Louisiana rankings promise to look quite different.
Leading the way is five-star athlete Joe McKnight of River Ridge John Curtis. McKnight, a 6-foot, 180-pound multi-purpose prospect is an electrifying player with the ball in his hands. He can be used in a number of different ways in college, including tailback, slot receiver, cornerback, safety and in the return game. It looks like Southern California and the in-state LSU Tigers will battle it out for this one with Florida State in the mix as well.
Chad Jones of Baton Rouge Southern Lab is another tremendous athlete that can be used in a number of ways. Jones has great size and speed for an outside linebacker, but is skilled enough to be very effective against the pass in the secondary, which makes him more of a rarity at safety. Jones has a chance to be a five-star prospect when all is said and done.
Jones, who is also a standout baseball prospect, is the younger brother of LSU's Al Jones, so the Tigers have to be considered to be strong here.
Sterlington wide receiver Ahmad Paige has excellent speed and upside if he can add weight to his lean frame. Right now, he checks in at No. 3 in the state, but that could change should other prospects move ahead of him or should he gain weight and blow up his senior year. While weight gain isn't a big deal a lot of times for prospects (most college coaches look more at potential to add weight), it is said to be a huge deal with regards to Paige, so there is some concern there. Still, his speed makes him a valuable prospect.
There are many schools that are in the mix, but Florida State appears to be the team to beat at this point. Watch out for Arkansas, however.
Will Blackwell can play just about any position on the offensive or defensive line (except tight end), so that alone gives him a high value. He's big, he's strong and he's aggressive. Blackwell is at No. 4 on this list, is just inside the Rivals100 and that appears to be about right. Blackwell has scholarship offers from a lot of schools, but it is expected that he will sign with LSU when all is said and done.
Reserve East Saint John's Stefoin Francois is a lot like Jones in the sense that he could play linebacker or safety at the next level. He's a big hitter and his very athletic. Francois currently sits on the cusp of the Rivals100 and it's possible he could move in at some point during or after the football season.