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June 19, 2002
The first Rivals100.com star rankings have been released and recruiting fans across the country can finally differentiate between the five-star studs and the four-star standouts.
Here at Rivals100.com, we only award five stars to the truly elite and the type of players that should not only have an early impact on the college they choose, but a lasting one as well.
Here's your first look at our five-star studs for the first rankings of the Class of 2003.
Quarterbacks - Rising stars JaMarcus Russell (left) from Mobile (Ala.) Williamson and Kyle Wright from Danville (Cal.) Monte Vista are the only two signal-callers honored with five stars. Russell has it all - size, arm strength, mobility - to be a star in college and wants to attend a school with a wide-open offense. The Alabama blue-chipper finished his junior season with 1,850 yards passing and 17 touchdowns with another five scores on the ground.
Wright has the natural instincts and leadership ability to go along with awesome physical skills. He's currently favoring Southern Cal and has offers from all over the country. Wright threw for 3,010 yards and 29 touchdowns with only 10 interceptions as a junior.
Running Backs -- As always, the running back position is getting plenty of attention this year and our five-star studs can pick and choose their next destination. If you haven't taken the time to see our online film of San Diego (Cal.) Helix tailback Reggie Bush, give yourself a treat and check it out. Bush is an ankle-breaker and game-breaker in the backfield and looks like a young Deion Sanders when returning kicks and punts. Right now Stanford and Washington have the inside track, but this will likely be a long battle. Bush ran for 2,200 yards as a junior.
The east coast version of Bush can be found at Stone Mountain (Ga.) Stephenson as Kregg Lumpkin dominates opponents in SEC land. Lumpkin is a bit thicker than Bush and not quite as shifty, but both players have awesome speed and the ability to score from anywhere. Lumpkin leads a strong group of running back in Georgia and currently has seven favorites.
Our final five-star running back doesn't have the flashy moves or flat-out speed of either Bush or Lumpkin, but his vision is incredible and his instincts are beyond impressive. Lexington, S.C. tailback Demetrius Summers was the Rivals100.com Junior of the Year last season while gaining 2,329 yards and scoring 39 touchdowns. Summers has the uncanny ability to hit the hole at just the right moment and he has the speed to hurt teams when he hits the secondary. In-state powers Clemson and South Carolina share the lead, but Summers won't decide for quite some time.
Wide Receivers -- Four wideouts earned five-star status in our initial rankings and they all have two things in common - size and speed. Florida standouts Andre Caldwell from Tampa (Fla.) Jefferson and Antonio Cromartie (right) from Tallahassee (Fla.) Lincoln represent the Sunshine State. Cromartie and his 1,069 yards-from-scrimmage as a junior turned quite a few heads and his sizeable frame and excellent strength allow him to win most of the battles for the ball with defensive backs. Florida and Florida State seem to have the early edge in this battle.
Caldwell doesn't get the same press that Cromartie does, but that should change very soon. As a junior, the tall, lanky wideout caught 52 passes for 1,162 yards and 17 touchdowns. He is the younger brother of Florida wide receiver Reche Caldwell, so the Gators have the inside track.
Our third wide receiver is also in SEC country. Hoover, Ala. star Chad Jackson is arguably the top player in his home state and dominated opponents last season with 59 catches for 1,226 yards and 16 total scores. Not surprisingly, Florida and their tradition of wide-open offense lead for Jackson, but you can't count out Alabama and Auburn just yet.
Rounding out our five-star foursome is Tulsa (Okla.) Booker T. Washington phenom Robert Meachem (right). Meachem is the biggest, the fastest and arguably the best wide receiver in this group. While his junior year stats remain a mystery, his speed and jumping ability along with his tall and muscular frame make him nearly impossible to cover one-on-one in high school. Meachem currently has eight teams on his favorites list and will probably wait until the very end to decide.
Tight Ends -- The dual to be the number one tight end in the country this year will be a great one and most likely won't be determined until after the 2002 football season ends. Alief (Tex.) Elsik tight end Tony Hills Jr. is one of the top prospects in the Lone Star State and combines great size with good mobility and the blocking ability of an offensive tackle. As a junior, Hills caught 13 passes for 227 yards and a touchdown. He has offers from all over the country, but Texas, LSU, Colorado and Florida seem to be his early favorites.
Hill's competition comes from Wayne Hills, N.J. superstar tight end Greg Olsen (left) who has 55 offers at last count. The big, agile tight end is the younger brother of Notre Dame quarterback signee Chris Olsen and caught 21 of his brother's passes for 490 yards and 10 scores. Olsen is also an accomplished blocker, but his agility, speed and great hands make him the most coveted player out of New Jersey since Texas quarterback Chris Simms.
Offensive Line -- College coaches want their offensive tackles to be big and mean coming out of high school and those are the attributes our two five-star tackles bring to the table. Jasper, Tex. stud Jorrie Adams has the speed of a tight end and carries a lean 275 pounds on his 6-foot-7 frame. Potential is the key work with Adams as he has the frame to easily carry more than 300 pounds in college and the athleticism to maintain his speed and excellent footwork. As a junior, Adams had an estimated 70 pancake blocks and he's shown excellent pass-blocking skills as well. Eight teams clutter his favorites list right now, but you can bet that Texas and Texas A&M won't want to see him leave the state.
Downers Grove (Ill.) South offensive tackle Martin O'Donnell isn't as agile or quick as Adams, but he's a more accomplished run blocker and dominant in close. At 6-foot-5 and 275 pounds, O'Donnell has room for another 25 pounds or more and he still has enough mobility to be a pulling guard in college if needed. The Big Ten and Notre Dame are all over this standout lineman with no clear favorite emerging just yet.
When it comes to pure offensive guards, no one touches Euless (Texas) Trinity dominator Ofa Mohetau (right).
With his freakish combination of massive size (6-foot-3 and 335 pounds) and agility (4.9-second 40-yard dash), Mohetau simply dominates in the run game and in pass protection. The converted tight end is such a great athlete that he currently handles the punting duties for his team and can throw the ball sixty yards with no problem.
Clearly a franchise type of guard, Mohetau lists Texas, Texas A&M, Oklahoma, Kansas State and Arizona State as his early leaders.
Defensive Ends -- Strongside defensive ends need to be equally adept at stopping the run as they are at rushing the passer. Our two five-star standouts are the best in the country at doing just that. Palm Bay, Fla. end Joe Cohen earns five stars despite missing most of his junior season with a knee injury.
His combination of size and speed is uncanny for a defensive end and allows him to run down plays to the outside while still plugging the games on inside handoffs.
However, his true strength is getting around the edge with his awesome quickness and dominating first step. Florida State and Miami lead for now but Auburn, Florida, Georgia, LSU and Penn State are all lurking.
Barry Alvarez and his coaching staff must have had a party to celebrate their early commitment from the top player in Wisconsin. Portage, Wis. defensive end Justin Ostrowski committed to the Wisconsin Badgers in February despite numerous early offers.
The big, agile pass rusher made 69 solo stops as a junior while assisting on 39 more tackles. Ostrowski is very versatile and could play any position along the defensive line at Wisconsin.
Defensive Tackles -- Some defensive tackles pass the eye ball test of coaches during the Spring evaluation period but lack the game film and natural athleticism to back up their physique.
That's not the case for Irvington, N.J. defensive tackle Nathaniel Robinson (left), the complete 318-pound package with the power to dominate interior linemen and the athleticism to dunk a basketball.
The massive run-stuffer is also an accomplished pass rusher, registering 14 sacks during his junior year. Robinson will likely be leaving the state of New Jersey as his favorites list includes prominent programs like Miami, Nebraska, Penn State, Georgia and Virginia Tech among others.
Linebackers -- Outstanding linebackers are always in demand on the recruiting trail and our duo of inside studs have been receiving offers every week since the beginning of the year. Brandywine (Md.) Gwynn Park linebacker Wesley Jefferson has seen a steady stream of written offers arrive in his mailbox since he dominated the Nike Camp at Penn State in April.
With good size, excellent speed and strength and a motor that never stops, Jefferson made 113 solo tackles as a junior and sacked the quarterback 13 times. He currently likes Maryland, Ohio State, Penn State, Virginia and Notre Dame, but won't be making a decision for quite some time.
The unwritten rule regarding linebackers is that they should be at least 6-foot-2 to allow them to see over linemen and read the play. However, 6-foot linebacker Ernie Sims (right) from Tallahassee (Fla.) North Florida Christian discards that rule as easily as he does blockers.
The speedy linebacker made more than 180 tackles as a junior as has been timed as low as 10.7-seconds in the 100 meters. It's little wonder that Simms has more than 40 offers already and, while he hasn't narrowed down his list just yet, his family ties to Florida State will make the Seminoles hard to beat.
And don't forget about the best player in Michigan - LaMar Woodley of Saginaw.
Woodley is a big, fast linebacker who could also project as a defensive end in college. Made 112 tackles during his junior season and is poised to have a monster senior season. Michigan and Michigan State are his early top two teams.
Cornerbacks -- Size and speed are essential for cornerbacks at any level, and our two five-star human blankets have both as well as the natural instincts you can't teach.
Kennesaw (Ga.) Harrison star Paul Oliver and Jacksonville (Fla.) Ed White standout Dee Webb both stand 6-foot and weigh in at 185 pounds.
However, they play a different but equally effective style of corner. Oliver, despite his incredible nine interceptions as a junior, plays a dominant yet safe brand of pass coverage often knocking the ball away from a wideout unless he's sure of the interception.
His style is not as flashy as the flamboyant Webb, but technically he's arguably the best cornerback in the country. Oliver favors Georgia and Texas right now.
Webb is a gambler of sorts who never seems to lose. With his impressive closing speed and good hands, Webb picked off 10 passes as a junior and took four of them to the house for touchdowns. Webb, who played some safety as well, also loves to deliver the big hit and has uncanny timing. Miami, Florida and Florida State have all offered and it's unlikely that anyone will be able to pull him out of state.
Safeties -- Show good coverage skills, support the run, don't miss any tackles and lay the lumber when you can and you'd be a five-star safety just like Warren (Ohio) Harding hitter Prescott Burgess and Jackson (Miss.) Provine playmaker Quinton Culberson (left). Both players have the size to play outside linebacker if needed in college but their speed and coverage ability will most likely land them at either free or strong safety.
Burgess is arguably the top player in Ohio this year and made more than 100 tackles as a strong safety last season. He has plenty of offers to choose from, but Michigan and Ohio State have the clear lead.
Culberson is one of the most athletic players in the Southeast this year and has incredible leaping ability. As a junior he was a first team all-state performer and named the Most Valuable Defensive Player in Class 4A. Culberson favors Ole Miss, Mississippi State, LSU and Florida in no particular order.
Athletes -- When a player is so good at many different positions, he'll often times get lumped into our athlete category.
Last season stud performers like Reggie McNeal and Chris Davis graced out athletes column and this recruiting year there are two other amazing five-star standouts heading the list. Ventura (Cal.) St. Bonaventure speedster Whitney Lewis (right) and do-everything phenom Steve Smith from Woodland Hills (Cal.) Taft both bring versatility and a ton of skill to the table.
Lewis played wideout last season mainly because his team's tailback, Lorenzo Booker, was the best in the country at his position.
This season, Lewis should see time at running back and wide receiver, but wherever he plays he'll have plenty of colleges watching with interest. As a junior, Lewis had 47 catches for 901 yards. Lewis has more than 20 offers right now, but lists Southern Cal, Washington, Texas, Miami and Florida State as his leaders.
Smith is the type of player that defies description and can only be enjoyed on film or in person. The gifted athlete could play wide receiver; cornerback or safety at the next level and his agility, speed and amazing body control has drawn more than 30 offers so far.
As a junior, Smith made an amazing 96 catches for 1,500 yards on offense while picking off 12 passes on defense. He currently lists seven teams on his favorites list.