After months of traveling from one corner of the country to another for Rivals.com Junior Days, NIKE Camps, visits to high schools for spring practices and other camps and combines, the third official player rankings for the class of 2008 have been released.
Today's release is for players that have received the prestigious five-star rating and are ranked from No. 13 through No. 7 overall nationally. They're also ranked as 6.1 on the Rivals Rating Scale, which means they're projected to be the franchise players in this year's class.
These players are truly considered the elite prospects in the country and are deemed to have excellent pro potential. They should be high-major prospects with the ability to make an immediate impact in college football next season.
On Tuesday, following the Memorial Day holiday, the first official Rivals100 for the class of 2008 will be unveiled. That will be the first time that stars are awarded for those players and they will be ranked numerically from No. 1 to 100.
13.R.J. Washington 6-3, 245, DE, Keller (Texas) Fossil Ridge Washington in action Accolades: Broke the school record for sacks as a sophomore with 10, then followed that up with another 10-sack season in 2006. He also racked up 87 tackles and 18 tackles for a loss as a junior, helping him earn all-area, all-metro and all-state honors.
Why he's a five-star: "Washington is one of the better pass rushers in the country. His aggressiveness and quick first step make him a tough defender to stop when he comes off the edge. With 10 sacks in each season as both a sophomore and junior, he's also one of the more productive defensive lineman out there." Rivals.com recruiting analyst John Talman Washington says: "My strength is coming off of the ball, definitely. I also read the play real well and have game speed. I'm not as strong as I can be. That is where I need to improve the most."
Beyond the gridiron: Father was All-SWC defensive end/linebacker for SMU from 1978-1982 ... His mother, Sherri Wright, said Washington started walking when he was nine months old.
Top schools: Washington committed early to Oklahoma, turning down offers from schools like LSU, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Nebraska, Florida, Florida State and Miami. Vote: Should R.J. Washington be a five star?
12.Shayne Hale 6-4, 225, LB, Monroeville (Pa.) Gateway Hale in action Accolades: As a junior he was selected to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Fabulous 22 and the Tribune-Review's Terrific 25. He was also a first team AAAA all-state selection by both the Associated Press and the Pennsylvania Football News. Why he's a five-star: "Hale is a huge inside linebacker with surprising quickness. He's very fluid in his coverage drops and turns his hips well. Moving forward, he hits like a truck and covers a lot of area with his big frame and long arms. Hale could end up as a defensive end in college with his ability to rush the passer and quick first step, but he's more rare a commodity as a linebacker who could top out at 250 pounds." Rivals.com national analyst Mike Farrell Hale says: "I think most schools like me as a linebacker, but if I keep growing I might be a tight end or maybe a defensive end. I mean, football is my thing. I'll play any position. I'd like to stay at linebacker, but wherever a school wants me to play, I'll take it." Beyond the gridiron: His cousin is teammate and fellow 2008 recruit Cameron Saddler Ran an electronic 4.6-second time in the 40-yard dash as a sophomore at the State College NIKE Camp. He has been timed as fast as 4.5 lately. Top schools: Florida, Michigan, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Penn State, Pittsburgh, Tennessee, Virginia and Virginia Tech are his top schools. He says he does not have a leader at this point. Vote:Should Shayne Hale be a five star?
11.Tyron Smith 6-6, 264, OT, Moreno Valley (Calif.) Rancho Verde
Accolades: Earned all-area, all-CIF and all-league honors as a junior. Is a two-time most valuable player at the NIKE Training Camp. In 2006, he was named the MVP of the entire camp. In 2007, he was named the offensive line MVP. He would have won the award for the camp again, but NIKE decided to switch to a position-only award format. Had the top SPARQ Rating at the Long Beach NIKE Combine this spring, including a 31-inch vertical leap.
Why he's a five-star: "It's amazing to see him on film. For a kid that's that big, it's amazing that he's that athletic. He runs like he's a tight end trapped in an offensive lineman's body. He destroys guys at the line and then gets up to the next level. He has also dominated like nobody has at the NIKE Camps. He's truly a special player." Rivals.com recruiting analyst Greg Biggins His coach says: "He has long arms, great feet and is mean. He's just a big-time kid and is going to be a great football player. Off the field, he's soft-spoken and the nicest guy in the world. But on the field, he's an animal." Beyond the gridiron: Rancho Verde coach Pete Duffy feels Smith might be the best prospect he has coached, and that includes former Los Angeles Freemont standouts Mark Bradford (Stanford) and Thomas Herring (USC). Top schools: USC and UCLA lead, but he also has offers from Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Minnesota, Nebraska, Notre Dame and numerous others. Vote:Should Tyron Smith be a five star?
10.Jermie Calhoun 6-0, 210, RB, Van (Texas) Calhoun in action Accolades: Was an all-state selection as a junior. Earned district MVP honors and a selection as the offensive player of the year. In 2006, he rushed for 1,726 yards and 22 touchdowns. He was great as a sophomore, too, rushing for 1,653 yards and 23 scores. He even dominated as a freshman with almost 1,000 yards rushing Why he's a five-star: "Jermie Calhoun follows in the footsteps of other great running backs from the talent-rich area of East Texas. Like many others that have come before him, he is the total package. Calhoun not only brings size to the position, but also vision, balance, and quickness - making him a tough runner to tackle." Rivals.com recruiting analyst John Talman His coach says: "Jermie is a great leader. He makes people better. He just knows how to lead, works hard, does well in the classroom and is easy to coach. Jermie was also a key member of the state championship basketball team as a freshman and probably was the difference in winning the region. He made several key plays late in the regional games. He just takes over in whatever he does. He's that dominating." Beyond the gridiron: Helped his team win the state basketball championship as a freshman Has had a successful spring in track, running the 800-meter relay and the 400-meter relay. Top schools: Calhoun committed to Oklahoma over offers from Alabama, Florida, LSU, Kansas State, Oklahoma State, Nebraska, Texas A&M and several others. Vote:Should Jermie Calhoun be a five star?
9.DaQuan Bowers 6-4, 267, DE, Bamberg (S.C.) Ehrhardt Bowers in action Accolades: A Rivals.com Junior All-American, Bowers was a consensus Class 2A all-state selection as a junior. In 2006, he had 12 sacks. He led his team in tackles, tackles for a loss, rushing touchdowns and sacks.
Why he's a five-star: "Bowers is a powerful, athletic defensive line prospect and will rival former No. 1 overall pick Courtney Brown as the best prospect at his position to come out of the Palmetto State. He has the advanced athleticism needed to play strongside defensive end in the ACC, but also has huge long-term upside as a three technique defensive tackle. He showed off his athleticism last season by playing fullback part time for Bamberg-Ehrhardt High School, which also produced five-star defensive end Ricky Sapp in the Class of 2006. Sapp signed with Clemson and is slated to start next year." Rivals.com recruiting analyst JC Shurburtt His coach says: "A lot of coaches who have come through here have told me he's the best defensive lineman prospect in the state since William Perry." Beyond the gridiron: Bowers is a longtime Clemson fan whose cousin, Chris Franklin, played football for the Tigers in the early 90s Holds a 355-pound bench press max with a 595-pound squat Runs the 40-yard dash in 4.65 seconds, and recently joined the track team where he competes in the 100-meter dash, the 200 and the shot-put He ran an 11.5-second time in the 100 in his first meet this spring all of this at 6-4 and 267 pounds. Top schools: Bowers committed to Clemson in November 2006, picking the Tigers over scholarship offers from Florida, Georgia, Ohio State, Penn State, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia Tech Vote:Should DaQuan Bowers be a five star?
8.Michael Brewster 6-6, 305, OT, Orlando (Fla.) Edgewater Brewster in action Accolades: A second-team all-county selection as a sophomore in 2005, then an all-county, all-area, all-metro and an all-state selection as a junior. He was also a Rivals.com Junior All-American. Why he's a five-star: "Brewster is a complete offensive line prospect with excellent size, flexibility, athleticism and footwork. He also is very versatile and can play all five positions on the offensive line. I personally see him as a tackle in the long run, but I wouldn't rule him out playing early at another position. Brewster also is a great kid with high character who will have little trouble making the mental transition to college football. Either way you slice it, he's a potential three- to four-year starter at Ohio State. He is the crown jewel of this year's OSU offensive line class, which could be the best in the country." Rivals.com recruiting analyst JC Shurburtt Brewster says: "I have a real nasty streak, and I'll do what it takes to win. I'm a leader and can take control of a the game from the O-line. I play smart, and I'm always trying to help my team. I play with passion, but I'm also smart enough to not let things get out of control." Beyond the gridiron: Brewster lived in Kansas City until the age of 4, when he moved to the Sunshine State. He still has family that lives in the Kansas City area Will graduate early and enroll at Ohio State so he can participate in the Buckeyes' spring practices next March. Top schools: Brewster had scholarship offers from Florida, USC, LSU, Alabama, Tennessee, Michigan, Florida State, Georgia and many others before he selected Ohio State. Vote:Should Michael Brewster be a five star?
7.Will Hill 6-3, 203, ATH, Jersey City (N.J.) St. Peter's Prep Hill in action Accolades: Named Offensive Player of the Year in the state of New Jersey in 2006 after throwing for 758 yards and 11 touchdowns as a quarterback. He also had 682 yards rushing and 13 scores. Plus, he had two touchdowns on kickoff returns. Why he's a five-star: "Will has tremendous athleticism and quick feet. He's a gamebreaker and ball hawk who could be a great player offensively or defensively at the next level. He prefers defense, and has the length and long arms to cover to go along with a physical nature. He is quick enough to play corner, but his range and hitting ability will put him at safety in college. He's dangerous whenever the ball is in his hands, even on defense." Rivals.com national recruiting analyst Mike Farrell His coach says: "I think his preference is to win. If he's given a choice to win and play defense, I think that's what his choice would be. But he'll do whatever. Obviously when you see him, he jumps off the film because of his offensive production, but he's a tremendous safety. Tremendous." Beyond the gridiron: Has a 3.0 grade-point average St. Peter's Prep first opened its doors in 1872 Is coached by Rich Hansen. Top schools: Hill still is open, listing offers from schools like Florida, Florida State, Michigan, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Pittsburgh, Rutgers and USC. Vote:Should Will Hill be a five star?