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June 9, 2004There is no question that this definitely isn't the year of the quarterback.
With other positions like offensive tackle, defensive tackle, linebacker and running back stockpiled with talent, quarterback seemed to be the biggest position missing a ton of representation in the Rivals100 - until today. As Rivals.com unveils players ranked from No. 61 to 70 in the national 100, two blue-chip quarterbacks finally make an appearance.
They are Waynesville (N.C.) Tuscola signal-caller Jonathan Crompton and Manlius (N.Y.) Christian Brothers Academy two-sport star Greg Paulus.
Crompton, 6-foot-3, 211 pounds, has an impressive array of scholarship offers from teams that specialize in finding excellent quarterbacks and is ranked as the nation's No. 63 player overall. Tennessee currently leads the battle for his commitment, but Clemson, Georgia, LSU, Miami and Southern Cal have also offered scholarships.
What makes Crompton so special? He does everything right. Crompton doesn't have the strongest arm in the world, but it's not weak, either. He does have everything else you want from a quarterback: hard worker, great football knowledge, quick release and the intangibles.
"They used to run a Wing-T here so we didn't have any kids with hands," Tuscola coach Travis Noland said. "We don't have the kind of athletes that other schools in the area have, but Jonathan is the real deal. He was invited to the Elite 11 Camp as a junior and saw the top quarterbacks for 2004 compete. He's not afraid of competition."
On film, Paulus looks like he is the best quarterback in the land, but he lands at the No. 65 spot because football is only a part-time gig for him. The 6-foot-1, 180-pounder is committed to Duke in basketball and is still toying with the idea of playing both sports in college. But has yet to commit to that.
Does he sign with Duke in November and give up two years of football, or will he sign with Duke or someone else for football in February and play both sports?
"That's obviously one of the things we need to consider," said David Paulus, Greg's father. "Greg is giving strong thought to football these days. He hasn't changed his mind yet and basketball is his first love, but he knows if he signs to play basketball, he can't play football for two years."
So what will he do?
"It seems to make more sense to sign for football and play both if that's what he wants," said his father. "But we haven't decided anything yet. Greg has a lot of great football programs recruiting him like Miami, Syracuse, Notre Dame and others, and Duke is as good as it gets for basketball, so we'll see what happens.
"Most people see him as both an NBA prospect and an NFL prospect, but we know he'll have to choose one sport eventually. Usually after a couple of years in college, players who play both settle into one. But playing both has worked for guys like Charlie Ward, so it can be done."
Coming in at No. 61 on the list is the top player in Mississippi, Waynesboro Wayne County defensive tackle Jerrell Powe.
Some have called Powe, 6-3, 322 pounds, the best player in the Magnolia State for the past two years, and he proved it with 11 sacks as a sophomore and 13 as a junior.
In recruiting, coaches place important on the "eyeball test." Does a kid look like he's ready to play college football? With Miami Carol City standout defensive end Ricky Jean-Francois, it looks like he's ready to step on the field today - but that field is the NFL.
Jean-Francois is a 6-3, 241-pound tackling machine who can run a 4.8-second 40-yard dash and put up 30 reps of 185 pounds. He earned second-team all-state honors as a junior after recording 78 tackles and 10 sacks.
"I don't think coaches are going to have a problem finding a spot for Ricky," Carol City coach Walt Frazier said. "He's in that transition stage, and he's trying to figure out if he's going to be a defensive end or a linebacker in college. He's just an amazing athlete. He throws the shot 60 feet and threw the discus 165 feet."
If you're looking for a linebacker with a motor that never quits, then stop your search with Eugene "Geno" Hayes from Greenville (Fla.) Madison County.
Hayes is a 6-1 ?, 206-pound tackling machine, racking up 130 tackles, 20 tackles for a loss, 19 sacks and three interceptions as a junior.
"He is one of those once-in-a-lifetime players," Madison County coach Frankie Carroll said. "He is a tremendous athlete. He has a real nose for the football. He runs and hits well. He has a real good swim move and nobody can get to him."
At No. 66 on the list is one of California's best prospects, Syd'Quan Thompson of Sacramento Grant.
Thompson, who looks like he has added even more muscle mass than on his junior film, was fluid in coverage situations, and his ability to change directions is inspiring. Some schools have talked to Thompson about playing on offense, but he showed at the Palo Alto NIKE Training Camp that cornerback is where he belongs.
"I prefer defense; that's where I think my best college position will be," Thompson said. "I think my size and speed translate best at corner so that's where I see my future at."
Every year there seems to be a solid battle for top honors in Wisconsin, and Oak Creek has been well-repreented. This year, the nation's No. 67 player is Oak Creek linebacker Travis Beckum.
Beckum, 6-5, 220 pounds, earned all-state honors as a junior after recording 98 tackles and eight interceptions. His coach describes his reflexes as "cat-like."
"He is fast, as he runs a legit 4.4 (40-yard dash)," Oak Creek coach Joe Koch said. "He is 6-foot-5 and has cat-like agility. He has explosive power and can hit hard. His overall athleticism helps him pass up the defensive backs all over the field. In practice, he does things that we can't even comprehend. He is so long and tall and covers ground so well. He is just a super athlete."
One of the hottest targets in the West is safety prospect Will Harris, and his stock has risen to the No. 68 spot in the nation. He's also a talented basketball prospect, but the more things shake out, the more it looks like he will end up on the football field.
"(USC coach) Pete Carroll called and offered the scholarship himself and that was impressive," Michael Harris Sr., Will's father, said. "Even so, Will is keeping an open mind. He respects UCLA and like them a lot, too. He likes his recruiter Eric Bieniemy. But like I said, Will is very open."
Other schools aren't giving up on stealing one of SoCal's top prospects out of the back yard of USC and UCLA.
"Everybody came by the school this spring," Harris' father said. "The likes of Michigan, Oklahoma and Notre Dame have been by."
Probably the most impressive aspect about Harris is his competitive nature and toughness. When he dropped a sure interception during a recent camp, he dropped down and did pushups, much to the delight of onlookers.
Big guys aren't supposed to move as well as Philadelphia St. John Neumann offensive lineman Marques Slocum, but when you're 6-6, 330 pounds and can run a 4.9-second 40-yard dash, you're special. That's the story with Slocum, who comes in as the nation's No. 69 player.
"Marques is a tremendous athlete blessed with great natural size," St. John Neumann assistant coach Williard Cooper said. "Many believe he is the best two-way lineman in the state in the class of 2005. At this point, his greatest asset is his potential. He only began to seriously lift weights two years ago."
And that means that Slocum has barely scratched his potential. It's a potential that has already allowed him to pick up offers from Boston College, LSU, Maryland, Michigan State, Oklahoma, Syracuse, Virginia Tech and others.
LSU has made a living by keeping the top talent at home under Nick Saban. The nation's No. 70 player, New Orleans St. Augustine defensive end Al Jones, is a perfect example of that.
He recently committed to the Tigers after also receiving offers from Florida State, Miami, Ole Miss, Oklahoma State, UCLA and West Virginia. On the field, Jones displays a great motor and a desire to make big plays on every snap.
"He's a real energizer," St. Augustine coach Tyrone Payne said.
Along with feedback and support from the Rivals.com network of high school and college publishers, the actual player rankings are compiled after hours of film evaluation, personal observations and input from professional, college and high school coaches.
Rivals.com recruiting analysts Jeremy Crabtree, Bobby Burton, Mike Farrell, Brian Gates, Jon Kirby, Bill Kurelic, Tim O'Halloran, Brian Stumpf, Jeremy Patterson, Rick Kimbrel and Greg Biggins compiled the national top 10.