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September 20, 2006

Cooper on top of prep school rankings

The 2006 Rivals.com prep school player rankings for the recruiting class of 2007 are out, and while it's not as star-studded a group as 2006, there are plenty of players who will make an immediate impact next year and beyond. Led by New Berlin (N.Y.) Milford Academy Academy running back Graig Cooper, this year's crop is loaded with speed.

Cooper, who signed with Miami in February out of Memphis (Tenn.) Melrose has been tearing things up at Milford. According to Milford head coach Bill Chaplick, Cooper has stepped up his game a notch.

"Coop is averaging more than 15 yards-per-carry through four games and has added an extra step of speed since high school," he said of his 5-foot-11, 185-pounder. "If he's not the best running back out there I'd like to see who is."

Cooper's backfield mate is former Harrisburg (Pa.) Bishop McDevitt running back LeSean McCoy, a much more hyped prospect coming out of high school. McCoy will also head off to Miami to play college ball.

"Shady is coming along," said Chaplick. "He came in a bit out of shape because he missed our camp, but each week he's worked hard to get back. This past week he rushed for more than 100 yards for the first time for us and his quickness is coming back. It'll be very hard to take the job from Coop, but we have a good 1-2 punch."

Sandwiched between the two Milford running backs are eight players from Chatham (Va.) Hargrave Military Academy and one player from Fork Union (Va.) Fork Union Military. Former Hampton (Va.) Phoebus speedster Brent Vinson checks in at No. 2 and is playing both ways for Hargrave.

"He's so fast, he could end up being the fastest player we've ever had here," said Hargrave head coach Robert Prunty. "We've got him at wide receiver and cornerback. Against West Virginia, a team we've never beaten until this year, he had more than 400 total yards of offense. He's a game changer."

Vinson was signed and placed by Tennessee.

Following Vinson is former New Haven (Conn.) Hyde Leadership offensive tackle Bruce Campbell, former Tallahassee (Fla.) Godby safety DeAndre McDaniel, former Fort Valley (Ga.) Peach County wideout Chris Slaughter and former Ocilla (Ga.) Irwin County offensive lineman Justin Anderson.

"Campbell is our best offensive lineman," said Prunty. "He reminds me of Jared Gaither because he's so big and long but has great feet. He's got to be around 300 pounds by now. McDaniel is just killing people out there, he's a big-time hitter. Slaughter is the real deal, he's has NFL potential like these other guys. And Anderson is a beast, you just line up and run behind him all day."

Campbell was signed and placed by Maryland, McDaniel by Clemson, Slaughter by Auburn and Anderson by Georgia.

Ex College Park (Ga.) Banneker defensive tackle Olufemi Ajiboye and former Chesapeake (Va.) Deep Creek star Ras-I Dowling rounds out the Hargrave group in the top 10.

Ajiboye was signed and placed by Virginia Tech and Dowling by Virginia.

"Ajiboye has one of the best first steps I've seen for a defensive lineman, he's is so quick," said Prunty. "And Dowling is a shutdown cornerback for us, he just locks players down. He has good size and great hips."

Checking in at No. 9 is Fork Union linebacker Gerald Williams who hails from Lauderdale Lakes (Fla.) Boyd Anderson. Williams signed with Tennessee back in 2005 and still needs a test score to qualify. He's now 6-foot-4 and 245 pounds and will be a monster on defense for head coach John Schuman.

Others of note in the top 50 include Georgia commitments Clifton Geathers and Ben Harden, Louisville commitments Kareem Crowell and Emanuel Francis, Penn State commitment J.B. Walton and Syracuse signee Jermaine Pierce.

Of the uncommitted players, Milford's Devin Parrish, Hargrave's Jamie Childers and Fork Union's Dwayne Priest stand out. Parrish, the cousin of former Miami wide receiver Roscoe Parrish and is expected to take an official visit to Florida for their home game against Alabama. Childers, a tall, athletic quarterback, is being recruited by schools like West Virginia, NC State, North Carolina and others and Priest is an undersized hitter with looks from Virginia, Virginia Tech and others.



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