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February 16, 2012
Alvin Kamara was generating little buzz outside of the metro-Atlanta region when he arrived at the Rising Seniors Georgia Junior Bowl in December. But by the time the weeklong event was over, the 5-foot-10, 190-pounder from Norcross (Ga.) had demonstrated that he was no ordinary player.
A few weeks later, his first offer arrived. Then came another. And another.
Now, Kamara is one of the most coveted juniors in the Peach State.
"Alvin is really an electric player at the running back position," said Rivals.com Southeast Analyst Keith Niebuhr. "He has pretty good size, excellent vision, strong one-cut ability and is just plain fast. He also seems to have that extra gear once he gets into the open field, which helps make him a true homerun threat."
Kamara is one of 49 players outside of the 2013 Rivals250 (which was released last week) to earn a fourth star on Thursday. The group is highlighted by strong crops at running back and outside linebacker.
Six running backs joined Kamara on the list. The others are Aaron Baltazar of Chula Vista (Calif.) Eastlake, Ezekiel Elliott of St. Louis (Mo.) John Burroughs School, T.J. Logan of Greensboro (N.C), Northern Guilford, Craig Lee of Redlands (Calif.), D.J. Martin of Bakersfield (Calif.) Stockdale and DaVonte Young of Bellflower (Calif.) St. John Bosco.
Elliott has caught the attention of Southwest Analyst Brian Perroni.
"Ezekiel Elliott does not play against the greatest competition but it is hard to ignore his combination of size and speed," Perroni said. "At 6-feet and 200 pounds he is still incredibly fast in the open field. He is not a typical all-purpose scatback type, but he also excels as a receiver out of the backfield. I expect his stock to soar this spring as more schools see his film."
West Coast Analyst Adam Gorney praised Young.
"Young is one of the most fearless, hardest runners in Southern California," Gorney said. "He has great timing to let blocks get set up and then Young runs through them with reckless abandon which makes him so hard to bring down. Rarely, does Young go to the ground on first contact and he does a great moving his feet and running hard every single time he has the ball in his hands."
The outside linebacker position had eight new additions: Alex Anzalone of Wyomissing (Pa.) Wyomissing Area, Deoundrei Davis of Cypress (Texas) Cy Woods, Deon Hollins Jr. of Missouri City (Texas) Fort Bend Marshall, Mike Mitchell of Plano (Texas) Prestonwood Christian Academy, Marcus Newby of North Potomac (Md.) Quince Orchard, Yannick Ngakoue of Washington (D.C.) Friendship Collegiate Academy, Quinton Powell of Daytona Beach (Fla.) Mainland and Jon Reschke of Bloomfield (Mich.) Brother Rice.
"Davis is a guy that is every bit of 6-3, 215 and has still yet to fill out," Perroni said. "He is incredibly athletic and even plays safety at times. He loves to make the big hit and has a very quick first step on the pass-rush. His film is new so he was not evaluated for the original Rivals250 but he has a very good shot to be included next time around."
National analyst Mike Farrell liked two linebackers in particular.
"Alex Anzalone is a big, mobile linebacker who is starting to blow up based on his junior film," Farrell said. "He is a physical kid, squares up well and is a sure tackler. He's also good in coverage and has excellent instincts and he can play middle or strongside. Yannick Ngakoue is a big linebacker who moves very well and has some quick-twitch ability. It's rare to find such a big kid, especially in the lower body, who can move so well laterally and backwards. He is still raw, but his ceiling is very high."
Back on the offensive side of the ball, two quarterbacks were added: Brandon Cox of Pasadena (Calif.) and Cord Sandberg of Bradenton (Fla.) Manatee. Receivers John Ross of Long Beach (Calif.) Jordan, Jacorey Warrick of Houston (Texas) Cypress Falls and Mike Williams of Santee (S.C.) Lake Marion made the cut.
"Cox put up great rushing numbers in his junior season - but he can also throw the ball," Gorney said. "Cox proved he can drop back and pass and find the open receiver. He will almost certainly thrive in a spread offense where he can get the ball in the shotgun, look for receivers or run around and make something happen with his feet. He had great statistics in his junior season and could only get better moving forward."
"Heuerman has quickly emerged as the top tight end prospect in the Sunshine State heading into the spring," said Rivals.com Analyst Chris Nee. "He is a well-balanced option as he is a more-than-capable receiver down the field, but can also stay at the line of scrimmage and provide adequate blocking on the edge."
The four-star offensive linemen include Hunter Bivin of Owensboro (Ky.) Apollo, Tyrone Crowder of Rockingham (N.C.) Richmond County, Grant Hill of Huntsville (Ala.), Dorian Johnson of Belle Vernon (Pa.) Belle Vernon Area, D.J. Park of Dillon (S.C.) and Logan Stott of St. George (Utah) Pine View.
"Bivin is a massive tackle who is strong and has very good feet for someone his size," Niebuhr said. "I particularly like what he does as a pass blocker. He not only has an excellent punch but is smart enough to use his long reach to his advantage."
Four defensive ends earned a fourth star: Frank Herron of Memphis (Tenn.) Central, Chikwe Obasih of Brookfield (Wisc.) Central, Sam Smith of Elk Grove (Calif.) Cosumnes Oaks and Stacy Thomas of Miami (Fla.) Gulliver Prep.
At defensive tackle, Derrick Calloway of Bradenton (Fla.) Manatee, Rod Crayton of Dadeville (Ala.), Darius Latham of Indianapolis (Ind.) North Central and Deadrin Senat of Immokalee (Fla.) are on the list.
"The 6-5, 280-pound Latham is legitimately a two-way lineman." Midwest Analyst Josh Helmholdt said. "He has the feet to play offensive tackle in college, and the quickness and strength to line up at defensive tackle. Latham is also an outstanding basketball player, and that has no doubt contributed to his footwork and overall athleticism. He is a prospect with a very high ceiling who is just starting to realize his potential."
Nee likes what he has seen of Senat up close.
"Senat is a prospect that generated good buzz as a junior but proved himself at both the U.S. Army Combine and Under Armour Combine in January," Nee said. "He is a short, squatty defensive tackle who plays close to the ground and does a good job exploding off the snap. He uses his strength to move blockers off their spot and is very disruptive at the point-of-attack."
The inside linebackers with four stars are Sean Constantine of Bellevue (Wash.), Shane Jones of Cincinnati (Ohio) Moeller, Melvin Jones of Lake Charles (La.) Washington-Marion and Gerald Turner of Goose Creek (S.C.).
"Shane Jones is not the biggest, nor the fastest nor the most athletic linebacker out there, but he simply makes plays," Helmholdt said. "He is a much better athlete than he is given credit for, but it is instincts for the linebacker position that really separates him. I had a chance to watch him in a key rivalry game, and besides being the leading tackler, Jones also made an outstanding interception that he returned for a touchdown. He then went down to the U.S. Army Junior Combine in Texas last month and showed the ability to turn and run with the top backs in the country."
In the secondary, the additional four-stars are cornerback Sojourn Shelton Plantation (Fla.) and safeties Sean Barton of Woods Cross (Utah), Vonn Bell of Ridgeland (Ga.), Hatari Byrd of Fresno (Calif.) Central East, Jeremy Cutrer of Kentwood (La.) Jewel Sumner and Keanu Neal of Bushnell (Fla.) South Sumter.