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June 24, 2003

Skill players shine bright in Texas

The state of Texas is as fertile a recruiting ground as there is anywhere in the country. Some states like California and Florida have just as much talent, but no state has as many Division I scholarships given to its football players each year like the Lone Star State.

On the surface, it appears to be the year of the skill-position prospects. Only three linemen cracked the state's preseason top 10 list. That may change by season's end if some imposing linemen continue their development.

Rivals100.com analyst Bobby Burton gives his feedback on who he believes are the top 10 players in the state of Texas for the Class of 2004.

1. Adrian Peterson - Not since the days of Heisman winners Earl Campbell and Billy Sims have the piney woods of East Texas been blessed with a running back like Palestine's Adrian Peterson. But it's neither Sims nor Campbell that Peterson's high school coach says is the most favorable comparison.

To his coach, Peterson looks more like another Lone Star native, Eric Dickerson, whose blazing speed, upright running style and surprising power, eventually landed him a place in the NFL Hall of Fame. High praise indeed, but there is good reason that Peterson, who is looking at Texas, Oklahoma, Texas A&M and Miami among others, is ranked not only the No. 1 player in the Lone Star State, but the No. 1 player in the entire country.

2. Rhett Bomar - Even though Grand Prairie's Rhett Bomar has all of the intangibles, don't incorrectly label him merely as a coach's son.

Bomar's athleticism, size, accuracy and arm strength are all reasons why some consider him to be the No. 1 quarterback prospect in the country. He has his choice of schools and is in progress of visiting them all this summer.

Oklahoma, Texas, Georgia and Florida State seem to be the front-runners. The only drawback of Bomar could be that he's so amazingly talented that he could end up being a 1st round pick in baseball next April and bypass college football altogether.

3. Franklin Okam - Considered a blue chip recruit, Lake Highlands' Franklin Okam, all 6-foot-5, 300 pounds of him, may still not know just how good he can be. He used to take some plays off, but as the season wore on a year ago, he became better and better each and every game, to the point where he was the most dominant interior defensive lineman in the Metroplex at year's end.

Okam also has that bonus size and surprising quickness, which helps make him the state's highest ranked lineman overall. Texas and Texas A&M head the list of in-state schools, but out-of-state schools like Notre Dame are also very much in the race.

4. William Morrissey - Sure, he's only 6-foot-1. But for senior-to-be William Morrissey, size just doesn't matter. One look at a highlight video or just any regular game video and it's easy to see why schools from across the country are still courting the services of Morrissey even though he has been committed to Texas A&M for more than nine months.

He plays defensive end in high school, but his barrel-chested physique and lightning quickness off of the ball makes him one of those rare players who is fast enough to play outside, yet big and strong enough to play inside.

If he keeps working hard, he could be a quicker version of Ball High and Texas graduate and current Pittsburgh Steeler starter Casey Hampton.

5. Andrew Kelson - Five years ago another Houston Lamar safety, recent Notre Dame graduate and NFL draft pick Gerome Sapp, was ranked among the nation's best at his position.

Kelson brings the leather just like the hard-hitting Sapp, but Kelson has better cover skills and better size at the same stage of his career.

Kelson also played some running back, returned kicks and punted for Lamar. He gave a summer commitment to the University of Texas and then, by all accounts, gave nothing short of a sterling performance at the Longhorn summer camp.

6. Robert Reid - All you have to do is go to the NFL combine and put up numbers that would seem commonplace for Robert Reid, and you're going to draw the interest of scouts everywhere.

He's 6-foot-3, 224 pounds and has been routinely clocked in the low 4.4 seconds in the 40-yard dash.

North Shore coach David Aymond, who has seen his fair share of outstanding athletes in his days, says that Reid may be the best of the bunch.

Reid plays quarterback and though he's still learning the position, he is a natural leader with a knack for the big play. His recruitment is seemingly wide open. Watch out for Oklahoma State, Kansas State and Florida State in the Reid sweepstakes.

7. Chris Smith - Allen's defensive end Chris Smith has a motor that never stops. Even if the balls on the other side of the field, the blue chip Smith keeps churning in pursuit.

And at 6-foot-5, 265 pounds, he is surprisingly quick and nimble.

That's good news for new Aggie coach Dennis Franchione, who is changing the Aggies' defense from a 3-4 alignment to a 4-3.

A young defensive end the caliber of Smith was imperative for the Aggies this recruiting season and they got the one they wanted most before the summer recruiting season ever really got started.

8. George Walker - My first impression of Houston Westbury's blue chip wide receiver George Walker? I turn on a game video of Walker.

He takes a five-yard hitch 80 yards.

My second impression?

He's on the basketball court and tosses in more than 20 points, looking silky smooth in the process. Some call it "controlled athleticism", but whatever it's called, that's what Walker has.

He's doing things at full speed and faster than anybody else, but it just doesn't always look that way because he makes it seem so effortless. Walker had scholarship offers from programs across the country before committing to Texas.

9. Marcus Walker - Waco's Marcus Walker is a tough prospect to grade on film. After all, he was rarely even thrown against as a junior - he only had three interceptions a year ago. As a sophomore though, he looked to be the next in line of Waco High superstars that coach Johnny Tusa has been placing into Division I schools across the country.

He can also return kicks and displays terrific athleticism.

"I told you about him two years ago," said one Division I coach in the May evaluation period. "He's going to be special. Mark my word."

Oklahoma, Texas A&M and Florida State appear to be a consistent top three but several schools have rotated onto and off of Walker's primary list.

10. Stephen McGee - You've heard the term a quarterback with a linebacker's mentality? Well, that's Burnet's Stephen McGee.

The right-hander plays the game hard and works for everything he gets.

He can pick you apart in a spread offense and he has the competitive fire you want from a guy underneath center.

Check out this stat line from a year ago: he completed 153 of 274 attempts for 2,741, 34 touchdowns and only five interceptions.

McGee visited Texas A&M, Texas, Oklahoma and Georgia before selecting the Aggies in the early part of the summer.


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