Commentary

Sunshine State's stellar talent

The state of Florida and University of Texas lead the way in ESPNU 150 talent

Originally Published: August 5, 2009
By Jc Shurburtt | Scouts Inc.

There is a lot of talent at the top from Florida this year. With 27 members from the Class of 2010 ESPNU 150, the Sunshine State has the most representatives on the list.

[+] EnlargeLaMarcus Joyner
Scott Davis for ESPN.comLamarcus Joyner is just another example of the incredible talent the state of Florida produces.

Florida has five of the top 13 players in the country, all of whom are Under Armour All-Americans. Linebacker Jeff Luc (Port Saint Lucie, Fla./Treasure Coast) is rated the highest among the state's players, followed by Florida commits, safety Jonathan Dowling (Bradenton, Fla./Southeast) and defensive back Demar Dorsey (Lauderdale Lakes, Fla./Boyd Anderson). Cornerback Lamarcus Joyner (Fort Lauderdale, Fla./Saint Thomas Aquinas) and wide receiver Chris Dunkley (Pahokee, Fla./Pahokee) round out the top five Florida natives.

Florida is annually one of the top producers of talent in the country, with hundreds of Division I signees each year and a solid number of those players make it to the NFL. During the 2008 season, Florida had the second-highest number of players on NFL rosters behind California.

Texas has the second-highest number of players in the Class of 2010 ESPNU 150 with 24. The Lone Star State has five of the top 20 players, including the nation's top overall prospect, defensive end Jackson Jeffcoat (Plano, Texas/Plano West), and wide receiver Darius White (Fort Worth, Texas/Dunbar), who is also in the top 10.

California and Georgia were tied for fourth on the list with 17 each. Defensive end Ronald Powell (Moreno Valley, Calif./Rancho Verde) and Florida commit, Under Armour All-American running back Mack Brown (Lithonia, Ga./Martin Luther King) are the top players from those states.

South Carolina had the fifth-most with eight representatives on the list. Per capita annually, the Palmetto State produces a large number of NFL players, and in 2008 South Carolina had the ninth-most professionals in the country. Running back Marcus Lattimore (Duncan, S.C./James F. Byrnes) is the state's top overall prospect.

Positions of strength
There is plenty of depth at the receiver position this year. In fact, 21 prospects at that position made the cut. On top of that, there are 13 prospects listed as "athletes," many of whom could potentially end up receivers at the next level.

People who follow college football recruiting will tell you that it's hard to find quality defensive linemen. However, this year the position makes up a little more than 20 percent of the ESPNU 150. There are 32 defensive linemen on the list, including 18 ends and 14 tackles.

There are also 23 defensive backs (many in the the athlete category could end up here, too), including 12 corners and 11 safeties, and 21 offensive linemen (14 tackles, six guards and a center) made the list.

This year, there are 10 running backs and six quarterbacks. The quarterback position is down overall nationally this year.

The leaderboard

Here's a look at where recruitment stands for the top 10 on the ESPNU 150 list.

No. 1 DE Jeffcoat

His top six (in no order) are Texas, Southern California, Houston, Oklahoma, Arizona State and Florida. Jeffcoat said Monday he was in the process of scheduling visits. He did say he enjoyed his experience at USC's Rising Stars Camp during the summer.

No. 2 OLB Jordan Hicks

Alabama, Georgia, Ohio State, Texas, Tennessee and USC are the final six schools on Hicks' list. Some believe he will head to some school in the Sun Belt to play college football.

No. 3 DE Powell

Powell has been pretty with his top two of USC and Florida. The talented defensive end was impressive recently at the Gators' "Friday Night Lights" camp.

No. 4 OT Seantrel Henderson

Many of the top programs in the Midwest and around the country have a shot. Ohio State, Michigan, Notre Dame, USC, Minnesota, Oklahoma and others are in the mix.

No. 5 ILB Luc

He is expected to stay in Florida or perhaps head to Georgia where a teammate is currently committed. Miami (Fla.), Florida State, Florida and USC are all possible visit destinations.

No. 6 RB Michael Dyer

Auburn is strong here, but look out for Arkansas. The Razorbacks do an excellent job of keeping the top talent at home and will pose a stiff challenge to the Tigers.

No. 7 S Dowling

He has committed to Florida.

No. 8 WR White

Oklahoma is believed to be the team to beat, but White is still considering several options.

No. 9 ATH Tony Jefferson

He has committed to UCLA.

No. 10 RB Lattimore

Recently released a top five that included Auburn, North Carolina, Oregon, Penn State and South Carolina. He plans to visit Eugene and State College during the season.

The hot sell

Going off the number of ESPNU 150 commitments each school has, here's a look at some hot sells around the country, and particularly in the South. Four of the top five are SEC programs, while Texas -- the top school -- is also located below the Mason-Dixon Line.

The Longhorns could end up landing the top two players in the country in Jeffcoat and Hicks, and they are also on the mix for White. This could give coach Mack Brown and company, who recruit at a high level annually, one of the best classes in the history of the school.

A look back

Here's a look back at the first ESPNU 150, for the Class of 2006, and a check-in with how those players are doing.

1. S Myron Rolle (Princeton, N.J./The Hun School)

Earned third team All-American honors his last year at Florida State. Is a Rhodes Scholar, who will begin studying at Oxford this academic year.

2. WR Percy Harvin (Virginia Beach, Va./Landstown)

Was a part of two national championship teams at Florida and a first-round pick of the Minnesota Vikings (No. 22 overall) in the 2009 NFL Draft.

3. WR Vidal Hazelton (Chatham, Va./Hargrave Military Academy)

Struggled staying healthy at USC and could not make a push into the starting lineup. Transferred to Cincinnati where he is expected to be eligible to play for the Bearcats in 2010.

4. OL Andre Smith (Birmingham, Ala./Huffman)

A three-year starter for Alabama and a first-round draft pick of the Cincinnati Bengals (No. 6 overall).

5. QB Matthew Stafford (Dallas/Highland Park)

A three-year starter at Georgia and the top overall pick in the 2009 draft by the Detroit Lions.

6. RB DeMarco Murray (Las Vegas/Bishop Gorman)

First team All-Big 12 selection as a redshirt sophomore at Oklahoma. Helped lead the Sooners to the BCS national championship game this past season.

7. LB Sergio Kindle (Dallas/Woodrow Wilson)

On multiple preseason All-American teams heading into the 2009 season. Standout player for Texas on defense.

8. S Taylor Mays (Seattle/O'Dea)

Two-time USC All-American and a leading candidate for the Thorpe Award this year, which is given annually to the nation's top defensive back.

9. LB Micah Johnson (Fort Campbell, Ky./Fort Campbell)

Preseason All-SEC selection for the Kentucky Wildcats.

10. S Antwine Perez (Camden, N.J./Woodrow Wilson)

Started his career at USC before transferring to Maryland, where he played in all 13 games last season.

JC Shurburtt covers recruiting for ESPN.com. He can be reached at jcsespn@aol.com.

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