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January 31, 2008

Rivals5: Top game performances

Announcement Watch | Rivals5: Super sleepers | Rivals5: State battles

Rivals.com recruiting analyst Barry Every spent the entire football season on the road scouting the nation's top talent from coast to coast. Here is a look at five of the best individual game performances Barry saw this season.

Rivals5: Impressive Performances
Nigel Bradham, LB, Crawfordville (Fla.) Wakulla (Florida State)
This linebacker not only looks the part, he played the part in his team's 16-0 victory over Blountstown on September 28. Bradham's size, speed and agility allowed him to total 15 tackles with three tackles for loss. The most impressive part of his performance in this game was his ability to run sideline to sideline and cover the entire field.

Bradham can play any of the three linebacker spots, and don't be surprised if he becomes a pass-rushing specialist. I'm sure Bobby Bowden is happy he kept this local gem at home.

Jaybo Shaw, QB, Flowery Branch, Ga. (Georgia Tech)
This son of a head coach put on a performance against Gainesville on October 12 that Houdini would have been proud of. Down by as many as three touchdowns in the first half, Shaw personally brought his team back for a 49-38 victory. The Gainesville defense had Shaw trapped in the backfield on numerous occasions only to watch him escape time and time again.

Shaw ended the evening with 230 yards rushing and four touchdowns to go along with 170 yards passing and another score. If the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets are looking for a player that can make things happen with his mind, body and soul then they have found their quarterback of the future.

Cyrus Gray, RB, DeSoto, Texas (Texas A&M)
Gray running the DeSoto offense is like a throwback to the single-wing quarterbacks of the 1930's and 40's. In his game against Arlington Lamar on October 19, Gray would line up at quarterback and just look for a small sliver of space in the line of scrimmage. When he hit that small space, he would accelerate through the hole and be off to the races.

One other thing that seemed different from most runners was his ability to run faster to his left. Gray accounted for 296 rushing yards and five touchdowns on 30 carries. His Herculean effort allowed the Eagles to win 40-28. I'm sure the new coaching staff at Texas A&M is doing cartwheels over his commitment to the Aggies.

Andrew Mitchell, OT, Ephraim (Utah) Snow College (Oklahoma State)
This much-anticipated matchup on November 3 between No. 1 Snow College and No. 4 Eastern Arizona was over by halftime. The Badgers racked up 670 yards of total offense which was evenly distributed between the air and ground. But one person managed to stand out. Left tackle Andrew Mitchell used his long arms and 6-foot-6, 300-pound frame to keep the Gila Monsters off the quarterback. On running downs, his brute force and nasty disposition helped carve huge holes in the Eastern Arizona defense.

Mitchell led Snow College to a 55-21 victory and graded out at 92 percent. This native Oklahoman is already in Stillwater, and barring injuries I fully expect him to be a part of the explosive Cowboy offense.

Ryan Baker, LB, Blountstown, Fla. (LSU)
Playing on the road against a school two classifications larger was a daunting task for the Blountstown Tigers. But one Tiger, Ryan Baker, did everything within his power to keep the game against Wakulla in doubt until the very end. Baker would use his great change of direction and speed to control the whole field. At times it seemed that he spent more time in the Wakulla backfield than some of its running backs.

By the end of the night, Baker accounted for 15 tackles, four tackles for loss and a sack. It still amazes me that the Florida schools waited until too late in the game to get in on this field general. But hey Baker has chosen to stay a Tiger and play for the reigning National Champions.

Other great performers: Damaris Johnson, ATH, Destrehan, La.; Washaun Ealey (2009), RB, Twin City (Ga.) Emanuel County Institute; Sean Spence, LB, Miami (Fla.) Northwestern; Gerald Ford, WR, Gainesville, Ga.; Randall Mackey, QB, Bastrop, La.

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