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June 3, 2005

South still on top

The South has risen again.

After dominating the NFL Draft and previous Rivals.com recruiting rankings, the Southeast again has captured the lion's share of elite prospects in the first official Rivals100 list released on Wednesday.

The Southeast dominates the list with 31 players total. Florida comes in with 12 players on the list, followed by Georgia and Alabama, which each placed four prospects on the list. The number of Florida players on the elite list could easily grow as the season progress, too. DeAndre McDaniel or a Daron Rose just missed the cut the first time around, and could play their way up the ladder.

To further illustrate how strong the Southeast's class is compared to other regions, there were 16 players in the national top 50. The Atlantic East region was the closest with 11 players from the area in the top 50.

South Carolina placed all three of its Rivals100 members in the top 50. The top S.C. player honor went to offensive tackle Clifton Geathers, who came in at No. 33 on the list. But the difference between Geathers and defensive end Ricky Sapp and defensive tackle Adam Patterson is only marginal. Sapp was ranked as the No. 42 player overall and Patterson came in at No. 48.

It was also an especially strong year in Alabama, as four players from the state made the list, and one - receiver Jared White - just missed the cut.

Alabama was also home to one of the fastest rising prospects in the nation.

Receiver Tim Hawthorne of Homewood, Ala., has shot up the charts during the spring evaluation period. He had an extremely strong performance at the Athens NIKE Training Camp and his film proves that with his 6-foot-3, 202-pound frame he has a big future ahead of him.

"I would have never in a million years thought that I would have offers from 11 SEC schools and 13 offers overall before the end of school," Hawthorne said. "It has been beyond my wildest dreams to this point."

Speaking of dreams, who could have ever imagined that eight players from Pennsylvania would crack the Rivals100?

After a somewhat down 2005 year, the Keystone State is back full force, proving that some of the nation's best football is played there.

Pennsylvania placed four players in the national top 50 with running back LeSean McCoy and cornerback Darrin Walls both earning five-star status. It should also be interesting to see the progress of Dorin Dickerson throughout his senior season. Many felt he was ranked too low at No. 82 in the nation.

Overall the Atlantic East Region, which does include the state of Pennsylvania, was second behind the Southeast with 22 players in the Rivals100.

The West, which is dominated as always by California placed 19 players on the list. The Midlands Region, which is home to Texas, had 18 players and the Midwest had only 10 players.

There were a few surprises in all of those regions.

California and Texas had 13 players apiece, but Washington out West placed three players in the top 100 and two five-star prospects. That once again proves that last year's elite class was no fluke and there is some very good football played in the Pacific Northwest.

Indiana also got some recognition in the Rivals100 with two players making the team. Notre Dame running back commitment James Aldridge just missed earning a fifth star and came in at No. 28 on the list and fast-rising cornerback Steve Brown was slotted at No. 65.

POSITION MERRY-GO-ROUND
As the ranking meetings continued to progress it became clear that some players were better suited for position changes. Most of the changes were made based on projections where a player will end up playing in college, but others were made because the prospect was just too talented at a number of spots to be sure where he'll end up.

Myron Rolle was the biggest player to have his position changed.

Rolle, the nation's No. 3 player out of Princeton (N.J.) The Hunn School, was shifted from cornerback to athlete. Rolle, who is 6-foot-2 and 214 pounds, is being recruited as both a safety and a cornerback by many teams and he's just as talented at both spots so it was too tough to make a call on him.

Taylor Mays out of Seattle O'Dea also shifted to athlete, instead of safety. He plays a number of positions in high school, including receiver, and some schools are torn on whether or not he's a safety or an outside linebacker.

Jamar Hornsby out of Jacksonville Sandalwood is in the same situation as Mays. He could easily be projected at safety with his 6-foot-4, 195-pound frame but some can see a number of other positions in his future.

Micah Johnson was one guy that might be under-ranked at the No. 46 spot. Johnson says he wants to play linebacker in college, but many teams see him as an inside defensive lineman on the next level, so at this point he's going to be listed as a strongside defensive end prospect.

Figuring out where Riley Cooper of Clearwater (Fla.) Catholic is going to end up at position wise in college is also a tough thing. Word is that several schools have him at No. 1 on their receiver board, but with his frame and ball-hawking ability it's easy to see him at safety or even outside linebacker. That's why he's listed now as an athlete.

Asher Allen out of Tucker, Ga., could become the next version of Champ Bailey and Charles Woodson starting out at corner and then playing some offense. He was originally listed as an athlete but his coverage ability is too good not to have him listed there.


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