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August 13, 2008

Rivals100 welcomes four new five-stars

MORE: The Rivals100 | Rivals100 Risers: Why they moved

In previous editions of the Rivals100, 24 players were five-star prospects. In the new Rivals100, four new players were re-evaluated as five-star players and two wide receivers Marlon Brown and Shaquelle Evans dropped from five stars to four stars. That means there now are 26 five-star prospects.

In the August rankings update which includes the Rivals250 on Thursday and player position rankings Friday only players who were evaluated again either with new film or in person were adjusted.

The highest climber in the five-star level was Pensacola (Fla.) Escambia running back Trent Richardson, now the No. 11 prospect in the nation. Richardson, a 5-foot-11, 210-pound Alabama commitment, already was ranked among the nation's best players, but his performance at Florida's Friday Night Lights camp still is being talked about today.

Recruiting analyst Barry Every said he has no doubts Richardson is worthy of his lofty ranking.

"He really knows how to use his body to create space," Every said. "He may be the most muscular back I have ever seen that has excellent agility."

Another new five-star prospect is St. Louis Gateway defensive lineman Sheldon Richardson. Originally ranked as a tight end, Richardson moves over to the defensive tackle rankings after a standout performance at Missouri's camp. His film was impressive, then he was clocked at 4.7 seconds in the 40-yard dash at the camp while weighing in at 6-3 and 292 pounds. Richardson, a Missouri commitment, now is the nation's No. 22 player.

At No. 23 is another new five-star selection. Running back Christine Michael of Beaumont (Texas) Westbrook wowed everybody at the loaded Football University Top Gun Camp. Competing with some of the nation's best running backs and going head-to-head against star linebackers, Michael blew away anybody who got in his path.

"He demonstrated excellent power, speed and change of direction all three days at FBU," Every said. "He also gives each practice rep 110 percent, similar to what I saw in Knowshon Moreno when he was at the Georgia Rising Senior Camp two years ago."

The Top Gun Camp also helped produce the last new five-star selection Logan Thomas (6-6/233) of Lynchburg (Va.) Brookville. Originally ranked as the nation's No. 2 athlete, Thomas showed he has special potential as a tight end. By earning his fifth star and being ranked at tight end, he becomes the No. 1 player at his position and the No. 24 prospect in the nation.

"Thomas might not look fast when he's lined up man-to-man against a cornerback, but when he gets going, he can blow past defensive backs with his long strides," Every said. "He also carries his weight well and still is lean. When he fills out and hits the weight room, he should be able to develop into one of the most athletic tight ends around."

MAKING DEBUTS

Overall, there were nine additions to the ranking.

The highest debut came from Slidell, La., offensive tackle Chris Faulk, the No. 41 player in the nation. He dominated at LSU's camp and was deserving of a boost in the rankings.

Wide receiver Alshon Jeffrey of St. Matthews, S.C.; quarterback Richard Brehaut of Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.; and quarterback Tyrik Rollison of Sulphur Springs, Texas, also made moves into the 100. Jeffrey moves into the No. 51 spot after a strong showing at USC. Brehaut, at No. 53, was amazing at the EA Sports Elite 11. And Rollison, now No. 55, tore it up at the Texas 7-on-7 State Championship.

NEW RB ON TOP

Rivals.com was able to re-evaluate in person five of the top eight and six of the top 10 running backs in the nation in late June and July. Those assessments produced some major changes, including a new No. 1.

All in all, running back looks to be one of most loaded positions in the class. There are five backs in the top 40 nationally and the top three backs are separated by a total of eight spots.

"It's a special crop," Every said. "One of the best I've ever seen."

Miami commitment Bryce Brown of Wichita (Kan.) East now is the nation's top running back. Brown's strong performance at the Top Gun Camp moved him to the top. Former No. 1 back Cierre Wood remains a five-star prospect but he's now the No. 3 back, behind Brown and Richardson.

"Brown is extremely quick for a back his size (6-0/215) and also has nice hands coming out of the backfield," Every said. "He is one back who is physically ready to compete at the next level right now. Richardson is probably the most physically impressive athlete I have seen. He has soft hands out of the backfield and really knows how to use his muscular frame to get open. Most backs this thick are not as nimble.

"Wood, once he starts heading vertical, his acceleration is off the chart. His running style is reminiscent of Darren McFadden. He also will be a threat catching passes out of the backfield, but he just needs to add some size to his lean frame (6-0/192)."

Also making a strong push was Michael, now the No. 4 back.

"He doesn't take a play off," Every said. "He is what I call a five-tool back. He is fast, has a great change of direction, good hands, great physique and is a real leader."

Michigan State commitment Edwin Baker (5-10/204) also proved he belongs among the elite backs. Baker, from Oak Park (Mich.) High, moves up to No. 5 at the position and makes a 22-spot move up the rankings to No. 40 overall.

MOVING ON UP

Just call him "Devon the Destroyer."

While quarterback Matt Barkley of Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei remains in the top spot in the rankings, there is a new No. 2.

Defensive end Devon Kennard (6 feet 3/257 pounds) of Phoenix Desert Vista dominated and dismantled everybody in his path at USC's Rising Star Camp in June. He showed he's the type of impact pass rusher who gives offensive coordinators nightmares. During the first day of the camp, he didn't lose a single battle in one-on-ones. It was more of the same on the second day. By the time the camp was over, in his wake were some of the nation's top line prospects.

"It was a great experience," Kennard said. "I came in with a lot more confidence, and I came to compete."

Desert Vista coach Dan Hinds said Monday that Kennard's new ranking is worthy.

"He's special," Hinds said. "That's awesome. Coaches can go their whole career without an All-American player, and I've had two (former Arizona State and current NFL tight end) Zach Miller and now Devon."

ETC.

There has been a common misconception by many recruiting fans that only uncommitted recruits make jumps in the rankings and that committed players are punished for making early decisions. That's not the case. In this update of the Rivals100, 10 committed players and five uncommitted players made significant moves in the top 100.

Florida remains the top talent-producing state in the Rivals100. There are 14 players from the Sunshine State in the top 100, compared to 15 in June. California has 12 in the Rivals100, an increase of two from the previous edition. Texas moves from 10 to 11.

It's no surprise to see USC leading the way with eight committed players in the Rivals100. The Trojans also have four players ranked in the top 51 in the nation. Ohio State is next with seven commitments in the top 100, including three in the top 30 and five in the top 65. Texas has five commitments in the Rivals100 and LSU has four.

MORE: The Rivals100 | Rivals100 Risers: Why they moved | Ask the experts: Chat about the Rivals100



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