December 10, 2008

New No. 1 in updated Rivals100

MORE: The 2009 Rivals100 | The Rivals100: A new No. 1 | The next class: 250 to Watch 2010

The new Rivals100 has been released, and there is a new prospect standing atop the rankings: Rueben Randle of Bastrop, La., replaces quarterback Matt Barkley of Santa Ana, Calif.

Randle, an electrifying 6-foot-3, 195-pound wide receiver prospect, played quarterback this season and led Bastrop to the state semifinals.


Bastrop (La.) High put Rueben Randle's skills to use at quarterback this season.
"Even though he played out of position at quarterback this year, there isn't more of a sure thing in the 2009 class than Randle," said Barton Simmons, a Rivals.com recruiting analyst. "He has the complete package at receiver with size, speed, hands and elusiveness. We saw what he could do at wide receiver last season, and what he has done at quarterback this season has done nothing but reinforce his athleticism."

As a junior last season, Randle hauled in 55 passes for 1,058 yards and 11 touchdowns.

"Randle is an athlete that is a cross between A.J. Green and Julio Jones," said Barry Every, a national recruiting analyst for Rivals.com. "He should have a similar impact at the next level."

Barkley dropped 10 spots to No. 11 overall. He's still the nation's top-rated, pro-style quarterback prospect. Barkley struggled at times this season, throwing 18 interceptions. He completed 54.5 percent of his passes for 2,877 yards and 22 touchdowns.

"Barkley has all the tools, great mechanics and a strong arm," Every said. "But he has struggled with decisions and has just forced too many passes this season. This is something that he must improve at the next level because the defensive backs in the Pac-10 are exponentially better than those he has faced in high school."

Naming a new top prospect in the country is not unprecedented for Rivals.com. It has happened one time before, in 2001.

"We moved Vince Young to No. 1 at midseason," Rivals.com Editor in Chief Bobby Burton said. "I think it's always a fluid decision, but there is a particular scrutiny that comes with the top spot. This year, I think everybody said Barkley was the hands-down top prospect to start, and he may still turn out to be the best in the end. However, his season has just not been representative of what you look for."

Rounding out the Rivals.com top 10 are running back Bryce Brown, linebacker Jelani Jenkins, defensive lineman Sheldon Richardson, dual-threat quarterback Russell Shepard, defensive end Devon Kennard, running back Trent Richardson, linebacker Manti Te'o, athlete Patrick Hall and cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick.

Three players made big moves up the Rivals100 and are now five-star prospects. Two are from the southwest in defensive end Alex Okafor from Pfugerville, Texas, and defensive back Janzen Jackson from Lake Charles, La. Okafor and Jackson are Nos. 14 and 16, respectively.

"You're not going to find senior film for the cornerback position that's more impressive than Jackson's," Simmons said. "He is the most physical corner in the country and hits like a safety. He also has legit speed, great ball skills and the hips to be an elite cover man.

"Okafor has continued to transform his body and prove that he is more than just an edge rusher. He's put on some weight and is maturing physically. He is still an explosive pass rusher off of the edge and his dominating senior season has eliminated any doubts about consistency."

The third new five-star player is Andre Debose from Sanford (Fla.) Seminole High School. He now stands at No. 24 overall and is also being moved from wide receiver to athlete because he can do so many things - and beat you in so many ways.

"Debose reminds me of Peter Warrick with more speed," Every said. "This is a guy you want the ball in his hands. He can do so much for you like a Percy Harvin. He's just very reminiscent of Harvin, Warrick and guys like that."

Wide receiver Rodney Smith (No. 62) and athlete Donavan Tate (No. 81) are two new prospects who have emerged in the Rivals100.

Florida leads the way with 15 recruits in the Rivals100. California has 12 prospects and Texas has 10. Georgia is next with six, and Alabama, Louisiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania and South Carolina all have five. With a handful of all-star games over the next month, however, Rivals.com with revisit the rankings in January.



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