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August 6, 2004You can tab them as underrated, you can call them sleepers. Regardless of what you call these prospects, these are guys who can flat out play. Rivals.com takes a look at 10 prospects in the South who could see themselves fly up the recruiting charts with a big senior season.
Miami (Fla.) Southwest offensive lineman Chris DeArmas is an absolute beast. His film is awesome. The 6-foot-4, 275-pound South Florida commitment has a strong upper body and agile feet for a big man.
"I just want people to look at me and take notice. I am a different type lineman," DeArmas said. "There are two types of lineman - big, bulky lineman that are so big they can get through with weight, and then there are agile, strong lineman with incredible technique that can match up with anybody. I consider myself the latter and I think the college coaches are really looking for linemen like me more and more."
While his only offers at this point are South Florida and Florida International he is likely to see the big boys come calling at some point. Miami coach Larry Coker knows exactly who he is, as he attended DeArmas' spring game. If the Bulls manage to hang on to him, he will be the gem of their recruiting class.
Brighton (Ala.) West End wide receiver Earl Bennett was late coming onto the recruiting scene, but he certainly has the tools to garner some big-time offers. The 6-foot-0, 192-pound Bennett was the second best wide receiver at the Auburn camp in mid-July behind Wadley, Ala. product Terrell Zackery, who will be a five-star candidate for the class of 2006.
As a junior Bennett caught 45 passes for 729 yards and six touchdowns. He also carried the ball 185 times for 829 yards and 12 touchdowns. At this point he has offers from Kentucky and Vanderbilt.
All who follow high school football in the state of Arkansas closely know who Bearden, Ark., linebacker Ben Owens is. However, many outside of the Natural State are not as familiar with Owens' talent. He attended the NIKE Training Camp at Texas A&M where he did 10 reps in the 185-pound bench press and vertical leaped 30 inches. Owens has also run the shuttle in 4.47 seconds.
Last season, Owens racked up 1,327 rushing yards and 19 touchdowns on 151 carries. He also made 81 tackles, three sacks and two interceptions on defense for 8-4, Class 2A Bearden. Owens boasts offers from Arkansas, Vanderbilt, Arkansas and Louisana-Monroe.
Defensive end Clifford Respress of Barnesville (Ga.) Lamar County was a virtual unknown until the NIKE camp in Atlanta. The 6-foot-4, 241-pound Respress ran the 40-yard dash in 5.0 seconds and excelled in drills all camp. He continued the impressive showing when he attended camp at Auburn in July, where he was easily the top defensive lineman in attendance. He has offers from Vanderbilt, Duke and Auburn.
Jackson (Miss.) Provine athlete Anthony Johnson may be the best prospect in Mississippi that no one is talking about. Johnson attended the NIKE camp in Baton Rouge in early May. He checked in at 5-foot-10 and weighed 188 pounds. He ran a solid 4.6-second 40-yard dash, had a 4.25-second shuttle, posted a 31.5-inch vertical jump and did 15 reps on the bench press. As a junior he had 24 catches for 639 yards and 11 touchdowns, but also added seven interceptions as a 4A all-state performer. He lists offers from Ole Miss, Mississippi State and Nebraska.
Another prospect who burst onto the scene at a camp this summer is Plantation (Fla.) American Heritage wide receiver/cornerback Donovan Baldwin. Baldwin is a 6-foot-1, 175-pound shutdown corner. He ran the fastest 40-yard dash time at the Georgia camp when he turned in an awesome 4.37-second time.
In his junior campaign Baldwin earned honorable mention all-county honors. He has a 235-pound bench press and a 365-pound squat. He has offers from Northwestern, Delaware, Louisiana-Lafayette, Central Michigan and Central Florida.
Duncan (S.C.) J.F. Byrnes cornerback/wide receiver Reynaldo Hunter is one of the top playmakers in the Palemetto State. He has not gotten the publicity that a lot of recruits in that state are getting, but when all is said and done, he'll have a number of offers to choose from. Right now he lists offers from Duke and North Carolina and is hearing from a host of other SEC and ACC programs.
As a junior, the 5-foot-11, 170-pound Hunter caught 47 balls for 856 yards and nine touchdowns in helping lead Byrnes to an undefeated season and the AAAA division-2 state championship.
After being a bit hesitant to do so, we decided to put Nashville (Tenn.) David Lipscomb wide receiver/safety Austin Rogers on the list. Why, you may ask? While he does have offers from Tennessee, Mississippi State and Vanderbilt, he is sure to end up with more. He will be a solid three-star prospect when the rest of the rankings are rolled out, but many do not realize just how good Rogers is.
At this time Rogers is ranked as the No. 11 prospect in the Volunteer State, but could make a strong case to be moved up the list to No. 7 or No. 8. Bottom line, if this wasn't a freakish year in the state of Tennessee, Rogers would be a top five in-state prospect.
Perhaps the most intriguing prospect on the entire list is Suwanee (Ga.) North Gwinnett athlete Jared Cook. He exploded onto the scene at the Atlanta NIKE camp when he showed up with his 6-foot-5, 202-pound frame and ran the 40-yard dash in 4.6 seconds. He is also a basketball standout who has picked up offers from Nebraska and Missouri in round ball, though he has not picked up any offers in football. The reason?
During his junior season Cook suffered a broken ankle and was forced to sit out the remainder of the year. While he is receiving a lot of interest, most schools are waiting to offer him a football scholarship until they see how he has recovered from the injury this football season.
Elizabethtown (Ky.) quarterback Chris Todd has already picked up three nice offers from Cincinnati, North Carolina and Wake Forest. However, the 6-foot-2, 185-pound gunslinger is almost certainly not through picking up offers.
He is the top pure quarterback in the Bluegrass State this year. As other quarterbacks begin to commit elsewhere Todd is going to have a number of offers thrown his way. After throwing for 4,595 yards - just 35 yards short of the Kentucky record - as a junior, Todd is set to join a list of the state's big names. The senior-to-be currently ranks No. 13 among the state's all-time passing leaders behind Tim Couch, Jared Lorenzen and Chris Redman.