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June 9, 2003
Five stars earn five-star status
The Rivals.com football recruiting rankings for the Class of 2004 continue to roll out with the latest release of five more players to earn five-star status. This edition marks players that are ranked from 16-20 in the nation and is highlighted by two more studs from the Sunshine State, a hard-nosed linebacker from Pennsylvania, a budding line prospect in California and one of the Lone Star State’s best prospects.
Starting off this edition of the rankings at No. 16 in the nation and earning five-star status is Jacksonville (Fla.) Mandarin cornerback Tony Carter. Carter isn’t the tallest corner in the nation and only stands 5-foot-10 and 170 pounds, but he sticks to his men like glue and has amazing speed at 4.35 seconds in the 40-yard dash.
“He's so quick and fast that he can recover if he gets beat on a move,” said Mandarin coach Richard Brunoski. “If you throw the ball in the air it's 50-50 whether he's going to catch it or the receiver.
“Tony Carter is the real deal. He’s going to be playing on Sundays someday. We had Fred Weary and Kevin Booker, and he’s more skilled than those guys were at this stage.”
That’s quite a mouth-full, but it’s easy to believe after you see Carter on film.
There is just something about players from Pennsylvania in the Class of 2004. With two players – Anthony Morrelli and Chad Henne – already earning five-star status, next in line is Wallingford (Pa.) Strath Haven outside linebacker Dan Connor.
Connor gets the nod as the nation’s No. 17 player and at 6-foot-3, 215 pounds and a 4.55-second time in the 40-yard dash, he already looks ready for college football Saturday’s. What makes Connor an amazing prospect is that he ran really move and has no problems getting to the ball with his motor running. Heck, he’s good enough that he could probably play some fullback or running back in college.
“Dan will play where ever you ask him to play, but he really sees himself as a linebacker,” Strath Haven coach Kevin Clancey said.
“He just has explosive power and an awful lot of athletic ability. On my desk I’ve got the copies of his offers from an unbelievable number of schools. I’ve never seen a kid get so many. I’ve been here 12 years, and we have guys playing a number of places. But he seems to be the most highly recruited kid we’ve had.”
At No. 18 on the list and also earning a five-star ranking is Daytona Beach (Fla.) Seabreeze dual-threat quarterback Xavier Lee. Lee, who is 6-foot-4, 200 pounds, is a highlight reel waiting to happen. Just check out his scouting video on Rivals100.com if you have any doubts.
Seeing is believing with Lee.
And after you see Lee’s ability to kill you with pin-point passing accuracy and the ability to scramble and dodge defenders, it’s easy to see why he’s one of the most sought-after players in the entire nation.
"Xavier is one of the finest all-around kids I've been associated with,” Seabreeze coach Marc Beach. “He's probably a better kid than he is a football player, and that's saying a lot because he's a great football player."
Lee was a first-team all-state selection as a junior and earned 3A player of the year honors. He is the half-brother of 2003 Florida State signee Anthony Kelly, so you know that playing big time football is in his blood.
Every once in a while there is a player that comes along with raw, untapped football ability but has the desire and most importantly the body to turn himself into a future NFL player one day. This year’s edition is Thomas Herring of Los Angeles Freemont.
Herring is a 6-foot-6, 292-pound beast that has been clocked at – yes this is correct – 4.8-seconds in the 40-yard dash and some teams are even recruiting him as a tight end and defensive end. But it’s at offensive tackle that this five star selection and No. 19 player in the nation should see his future at.
Herring is also an outstanding basketball player, but he does realize that his future is on the gridiron.
“Thomas doesn’t know how good he is yet,” said Freemont coach Peter Duffy said. “He’s just beginning to go full speed. When Thomas learns to play he’s going to be unstoppable. When he turns it on and lets his physical ability take over, there is no one better.”
The Rivals100.com recruiting analysts agree. Herring is one of those special players that if he stays focused on the football field and continues to develop, the sky is the limit.
When Lake Highlands, Texas, defensive tackle Franklin Okam was first evaluated on tape by Rivals100, it was met with mixed emotions. Sure there was no doubting that he was an incredible physical specimen at 6-foot-5 and 295 pounds, but he didn’t seem to make a ton of plays.
Guess we must have picked his worst game of the season. Because after further review of game footage, Okam almost can’t be blocked and even if you put two or three men on him, he seems to find a way to the quarterback. One district game last season was the perfect example. Instead of running right at Okam, his opponent decided to roll out or run away from his side the entire game.
It didn’t matter.
Okam used his 4.9-second speed to run down the quarterback or ball carrier on almost every play, and even if he didn’t make the play he disrupted things so badly that the damage was done and the game plan had to be thrown out the window.
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