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June 7, 2006
Longhorns hold early edge with Rivals100 prospects
It's the beginning of June and more than one-third of our first true edition of the Rivals100 has already committed to a school. Thirty-eight of the nation's top 100 prospects feel confident they know where they'll be playing their college ball in 2007 and many teams are off to a great early start. The Texas Longhorns lead the way with an amazing nine players verbally committed to play for Mack Brown, while a few other teams are looking to gain ground.
Clearly we start with the Longhorns. The Rivals100 has 13 players from the state of Texas and nearly all of them are headed to Austin to play for the Longhorns. Offensive lineman Tray Allen from Grand Prarie (Texas) South Grand Prarie leads a group of three offensive linemen committed to Brown and company, but the skill positions are even better represented. Mansfield (Texas) Summit athlete John Chiles could play numerous positions at the next level and will certainly make an impact on one side of the ball. Gilmer, Texas stud Curtis Brown could also play wide receiver or cornerback but will likely start off on the defensive side of the ball. Beaumont (Texas) Ozen cornerback Ben Wells will join with Brown to form a dynamic 1-2 punch in the defensive backfield. And Garland, Texas wide receiver Malcolm Williams will use his track speed to spread the field on offense. And don't forget the one commitment from outside the state, Ocala (Fla.) Trinity Catholic quarterback John Brantley, one of three five-star commits to Texas.
Certainly this entire article could be about the Longhorns and their awesome start as they shoot for their first recruiting title since Vince Young led the way back in 2002. However, there are some other teams off to impressive starts that dot the Rivals100 as well.
But perhaps no team has impressed as much early (beyond Texas) as Notre Dame. Charlie Weis and his staff not only got the top player in the country but also two top targets for him as well. Westlake Village (Calif.) Oaks Christian quarterback Jimmy Clausen is the biggest name in recruiting in more than a decade and he'll have some big downfield targets with Hoboken, N.J. wide receiver Duval Kamara and Cherry Hill (N.J.) Camden Catholic tight end Mike Ragone.
Numerous programs have two early commitments apiece. North Carolina and South Carolina are both off to their best recruiting start in years. The Tar Heels will have top 50 quarterback Mike Paulus from Syracuse (N.Y.) Christian Brothers throwing the ball to five-star wideout Dwight Jones out of Burlington (N.C.) Cummings. The Gamecocks have already reeled in one of the nation's top cornerbacks in Columbia (S.C.) Richland Northeast's Gary Gray as well as offensive/defensive tackle Quintin Richardson from Columbia (S.C.) Spring Valley.
UCLA is doing an excellent job keeping up with Southern Cal early with two Rivals100 commits of its own. Los Angeles (Calif.) Crenshaw teammates Brian Price and Raymond Carter are both set to suit up for the Bruins in 2007. Price, although undersized, is very quick and aggressive off the ball and Carter is an explosive back who plays top competition and raises his game to better competition.
The biggest surprise so far has to be Ole Miss, with two Rivals 100 commits as well. Batesville (Miss.) South Panola linebacker Chris Strong is the only player from his state in the 100 and decided early on Ed Orgeron and the Rebels. Powder Springs (Ga.) McEachern defensive tackle Ted Laurent is one of the most active players in the country at his position and has also committed to Ole Miss.
And although they have solo commitments each, three teams have impressed with huge commitments. Clemson landed quarterback Willy Korn from Duncan (S.C.) Byrnes very early in the process and the No. 3 player in the country has unlimited potential. Wisconsin fans have to be thrilled with the commitment of Milwaukee (Wis.) St. Francis offensive tackle Josh Oglesby, the highest-ranked prospect in state in years and Michigan beat many others for Texarkana (Texas) Texas quarterback Ryan Mallett, a massive signal-caller with a cannon of an arm.