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October 31, 2004

Richmond Area Top Junior Football Prospects

            With the early offering and signing periods of the last five years or so.  The recruiting trail game has definitely changed.  More than ever, people already know the top seniors in the region, the state and around the country.  Most of the state’s top prospects have already committed. 

            The uncommitted big name players such as Highland Springs Victor Harris and Oscar Smith’s Greg Boone are well known already.  That means except for a few great uncommitted players and the rarer and rarer occasional dark horses, much of the senior class action is done.  Players are taking their visits during the football season now and most of the stories on the class of 2005 now will be about which college got who and how many. 

            The ahead of the curve action now is finding the big name juniors during their junior football seasons and not waiting until this spring.   Most of the I-A teams are making offers over the summer before the football season even starts.  Many of the top players are off the board before their senior season begins.  So if you are recruiting nut and there must be a lot of you out there, you need to know who the top juniors are right now. 

            There are of course a few easy ones. Big name, big time skill players on the state’s top teams such as Landstown’s Percy Harvin a 6-1 175 wide receiver/defensive back.  Harvin has 4.4 speed and considered by many the most talented player on the Landstown state runner-up team last year.  Harvin won the state AAA long jump title as  a sophomore jumping  24 feet. That would be very competitive at the  college level.  For the non track aficionados that means he jumps just as well as DeAngelo Hall (Atlanta Falcons and Virginia Tech star) and Hampton University football and track  All American and NFL prospect did as seniors when they were state champions as seniors. 

            Another obvious one is defending state champion Westfield ’s star tailback Evan Royster.  Royster gained 1500 yards as a sophomore and was the difference in the state title game.  Royster already has over 1500 yards in just seven games this year for unbeaten Westfield .  Varina’s Brandon Minor a 6-1 210 pound bruising tailback is also well over already 1000 yards this year after gaining over 1300 yards as sophomore for the traditional Central Region power.

            The Eastern region is sort of the state’s golden area with recruiters with so many players produced over the years.  When you have produced players like Henry Jordan (Green Bay Packers Lombardi era), Norm Snead (60’s Eagles great) to Leroy Keyes in the sixties to all time great likes Kenny Easley, Ron Springs, Dwight Stephenson and the great Lawrence Taylor in the seventies  and eighties you get that type of respect.  When your recent products are the likes of Michael Vick, DeAngelo Hall, Dre Bly , Aaron Brooks,  Plaxico Burress and Ronald Curry the respect continues.  I have made a bunch of people mad because I didn’t mention some Hall of Famer but we don’t mention all of them in the article because we wouldn’t be able to talk about anything else.   

            People used to forget northern Virginia was in the state but the state’s most populated region has been underrated in what it produces.  Ahmad Brooks, Sean Glennon, Mike Imoh and Eddie Royal are very recent products starring in college and the area has become a must stop for national recruiters.  Meanwhile most of the schools in the west have become A or AA but the area productivity is really no lower.  After all this is the area that had Keith Hamilton of the Giants, Anthony Poindexter and Tiki and Ronde' Barber playing in the same district at the same time. 

            The Central Region has been productive in its own right.  Current pros such as Darren and Jamie Sharper, James Farrior, Shawn Barber, Damien Woody, Erron Kinney, William Henderson, David Terrell and Rudi Johnson represent the area and interest in the area has increased among recruiters lately.   This year’s senior class features Victor Harris, Jeffrey Fitzgerald and other highly thought of national recruits.  Things should not change drastically with the junior class. 

            Leading the way with the class of 2006 may be Meadowbrook junior John Graves.  A major factor in the Monarchs run to the Central region division 5 title game last year, Graves has been even more dominating this year.  Meadowbrook coach Bill Bowles describes Graves as a 6-4 255 defensive end.  Bowles said Graves has been timed at 4.6 in the 40.  The Meadowbrook coach says, “He’s a very talented guy, he could do a lot of things at the next level.  He has excellent lateral speed and of course he has the great straight ahead speed.  He could play tackle, end or even inside linebacker on defense.  He has soft hands and long arms he could play up front on offense or tight end.  On top of that, he is a great, hardworking kid.”

            Varina is always a stop on the recruiting trail. This year Joe Johnson, Alan-Michael Cash, Mario Lester, Daryl Cotman and Marques Charity draw the attention.  Next year it will be a big fast “Varina” style tailback in Brandon Minor.  Minor has over 1000 yards already this year, he gained a 1000 yards as a sophomore, over 500 as a freshman.  At 6-1 210 with 4.5 to 4.6 speed and a physical running style, Minor could be the top recruit in the area and the state at this time next year.  Varina offensive coordinator Blanda Wolfe  said, "The big colleges have told us that he and Royster of Westfield will be the top two recruits in the state next year.  We’ve already heard from people like Michigan and of course the in state schools.  He has Michael Robinson (current Penn State star and Varina legend) type talent as a runner”.    Varina also has offensive lineman Josh Edwards, a 6-4 285 offensive tackle who Wolfe feels will draw some interest and 6-0 170 4.5 defensive back/athlete Marvin White.

            Highland Springs has long been a must stop for recruiters.  People filing in to see Victor “Macho” Harris have already noticed 6-3 215 linebacker Jerrell Miller. Another player that Springer coach Scott Burton expects to draw some attention is 6-1 185 4.6 wide receiver/defensive back Darryl Dickerson.  At another area power LC Bird, there will be 6-3 200  4.5 wide receiver-defensive Kevin Grayson and 6-7 280 offensive lineman Brian Harmon. 

            Hermitage has become a hot bed for recruiters recently and next year should be no different.  The Panthers have two big lineman in 6-5 320 Bryan Hall and 6-3 315 Isaiah Hinson.  The Panthers also have two speedsters in 6-0 185 4.5 wide receiver-defensive back Griff Yancey  and 5-10 190 4.5 tailback/defensive back Lorenzo Goode.  Collegiate has 6-2 175 quarterback-receiver-defensive back Preston Wilson, the brother of UR wide receiver Harry Wilson.   A player several coaches mentioned who might slip under the radar is Hanover running back –defensive back Jimmy Young a 6-0 205 4.5 player. 

            Matoaca will have quarterback Lee Haney a 6-1 180 4.7 junior who leads the area in passing and 6-1 180 4.5 wide  receiver-defensive back Kris Burd who leads the area in receiving yards.

            Many more junior names will pop up as the season goes on and especially when spring rolls around but this group will be our mid season junior class starting point.       


More on the top prospects from the Class of 2006!



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