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November 15, 2007
This month's updated Rivals250 features an infusion of talent from Florida.
Of the 18 new players that are moving into the prestigious list ? which ranks the top 250 high school senior football prospects in the country in order - nine of them are from the Sunshine State.
There was an especially high concentration of Miami talent, headlined by 5-foot-11, 163-pound athlete Davon Johnson of Booker T. Washington. Also moving onto the list is 6-foot, 186-pound linebacker Sean Spence of Northwestern and his teammate - 6-foot-6, 270-pound offensive tackle Benjamin Jones.
Rivals.com recruiting analyst Barry Every saw the prospects in person, and agrees there is some major talent in Florida this year.
"I would say that it is a little stronger this year than in the past few years," Every said. "I also think that people nationally are more exposed to the Miami talent this season because teams like Miami Northwestern and Booker T. Washington have been on national television. People can see what type of talent there is down there for themselves.
"With Davon Johnson, he is lightning fast, and could either play receiver or cornerback. He has excellent ball skills. I saw Sean Spence play live against Miami Central and he was fast, mean, and he literally lifted a running back up off the ground and slammed him down. I also saw him lay a crushing block on punt return. He played the game like it was personal.
"Benjamin Jones is new at his offensive tackle position, but he has great potential. He is tall, and athletic, with long arms. He has a lot to learn, but you can't teach what he has athletically."
Johnson, Spence and Jones made the biggest leap of the newcomers into the 250. Johnson moved all the way up to No. 111, followed by Spence at 155 and Jones at 157. Offensive guard Brandon Washington and quarterback Jacory Harris of Northwestern also moved in at No. 177 and No. 199, respectively.
Also making new appearances from Florida were receiver Frankie Hammond Jr. of Hallendale, Fla., at No. 203, Tallahassee Godby running back British Footman, Tallahassee Lincoln tight end/athlete Jabaris Little and Groveland all-purpose running back Jeff Demps.
The biggest mover was Detroit Martin Luther King defensive end Nick Perry.
The 6-foot-4, 220-pounder moved all the way to the No. 107 spot. Few players had more impressive seasons than Perry. He continued to develop physically, and he was also a force on the field in 2007.
Another high-rising prospect in this month's 250 was Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei offensive tackle Khaled Holmes. Holmes moved up to the No. 108 spot.
A lot of people have been focused on the play of star junior quarterback Matt Barkley. But while watching Barkley it's impossible to overlook the job that Holmes has done protecting him this season. Holmes has also dramatically improved his run blocking. When Mater Dei wants to run, it runs behind him.
Thomasvillle, N.C., athlete E.J. Abrams-Ward also made a nice move up the charts to the No. 109 spot. McKees Rocks, Pa., inside linebacker Christian Wilson also jumped up quite a bit to the No. 126 spot.
Lineman Tony Jerod of DeSoto, Texas, moved into the 250 after impressing quite a bit this season. The Texas A&M pledge has blossomed physically and is now 6-foot-3 and 249 pounds. He moved into the list at No. 170. He is joined by another A&M pledge ? Wichita Falls, Texas, safety Markelle Martin ? as a newcomer to the list. Martin is ranked as the nation's No. 194 player.
Every believes Jerod is a special player.
"I'm always partial to guys that have the body to play defensive end and defensive tackle, along with the ability to be an offensive tackle in a pinch," Every said about Jerod. "In the game I went to versus Arlington Lamar, he hit the quarterback on two occasions so hard that the crowd 'oooh' and 'ahhhed.' He was so impressive looking anyone could have picked him out warming up."
Also moving up from Texas was Flower Mound tight end James Hanna, a 6-foot-5, 216-pounder that is committed to Oklahoma. Hanna is ranked as the nation's No. 246 player.
"McCarthy is a hard-nosed football player and a very good athlete," Rivals.com national recruiting analyst Mike Farrell said. "His future is at safety or linebacker, but he's so important to his team he plays quarterback and has the ball in his hands often. He'll come up and hit you on defense. He has very little fear.
"Saddler is perfect for an offense that is multi-faceted and uses smaller backs out of the backfield and in the slot. He's a high energy kid with great speed and is very evasive."
Out West the biggest mover was Johnathan Franklin of Los Angeles Dorsey. Known as "Jet Ski" to all of his friends and teammates because of his ability to change direction quickly, few players have had the type of season that Franklin had in the Southland. The 5-foot-10, 181-pounder moves all the way to four stars and the No. 181 player in the nation.
"I truly thought Johnathan was the most under-ranked player in the West," Rivals.com recruiting analyst Rick Kimbrel said. "He's played against great competition this season, and he proved he belongs on that four-star level. He can hurt you in so many different ways.
"All the coaches out here think he's the second-best running back behind Darrell Scott, and a few of them even said he was tougher to stop than Darrell."