Peaking at the right time
Charone Peake edges out fellow five-star WR George Farmer for the No. 1 WR spot
There are 24 wide receivers in the ESPNU 150 for the 2011 class, and while that number seems large, keep in mind that there are likely more available wide receivers to evaluate per class than any other position across the board. As we have stated, rounding out the bottom half of the ESPNU 150 this year was a distinct challenge because we felt many prospects possessed similar skill sets and in many instances the wide receiver position won out.
Of the 24 wide receivers in the ESPNU 150, 18 of them fall between Nos. 50 and 150 and are all very close in talent level. While we are not convinced there is a Julio Jones or A.J. Green in the group, we do feel those near the top of the rankings are deserving.
This is an eclectic group of all shapes and sizes, speeds and strengths. However, in this class we have not seen the combination of size and speed that we have seen in the past. In other words, most of the big guys in the class are more possession/red zone types who are productive in contested matchups.
Top prospectsCharone Peake (Roebuck, S.C./Dorman)
Ht.: 6-3 | Wt.: 191 pounds | Stars: 5 | WR rank: 1 | ESPNU 150 rank: 12
It was a harshly scrutinized process for us to determine Peak was No. 1 at the position for now. At times, we felt he actually looked better as a sophomore than he did as a junior, but once all the info was gathered and we examined all his strengths and weaknesses we felt Peake possessed so many fine qualities as an overall player that he warranted the ranking. At No. 12 overall, his combination of height, hands, fluid movements, route-running ability and speed makes him a unique prospect in this group.
George Farmer (Gardena, Calif./Serra)
Ht.: 6-2 | Wt.: 205 pounds | Stars: 5 | WR rank: 2 | ESPNU 150 rank: 13
Farmer is essentially 1A to Peake, which is why we have them ranked next to each other. Farmer, the more physical player, also doubles on defense and we think he would also make a fine safety. He is so strong and fast, and he is one of the best wide receivers in this class after the catch. He can run through you, around you and by you. With refinement as a route-runner, the sky is the limit for this kid.
Bradley Sylve (Port Sulphur, La./South Plaquemines)
Ht.: 5-11 | Wt.: 175 pounds | Stars: 4 | WR rank: 3 | ESPNU 150 rank: 37
Speed and versatility are the two main reasons we have Sylve graded so high. He can play inside, outside and out of the Wildcat, and he also returns punts and kicks. The Alabama verbal commit has proven to be a game-breaker in so many facets of the game. His terrific open-field awareness and change-of-direction skills make him a home run threat each time he touches the ball.
WRs to watch• Big things come in small packages and Tacoi Sumler (Miami/Columbus) may be small, but he can scream and is one of the best space players in this class. One-on-one he may be one of this class's most difficult players to handle in coverage and in the open field. • We are actually very surprised that Eli Rogers (Miami/Northwestern) does not have more offers to this point. We first saw him entering his junior year at a 7-on-7 tournament and then again as a junior in the fall and he can be very electrifying. He can stop and start on a dime and is an excellent route-runner. • Trey Metoyer (Whitehouse, Texas) is one of the better big men in this class, and he is physical with a surprising second gear in the open field. He has not garnered much national attention -- likely because he committed to Oklahoma so early -- but his blend of size, quickness and physicality makes for a nice matchup out wide.
The rest of the packMalcolm Mitchell (Valdosta, Ga./Valdosta) could actually be in the athlete category and is a speedster out wide. ... Ja'Juan Story (Brooksville, Fla./Nature Coast Technical) is one of the few big receivers in this class who runs very well. ... Speaking of speed, DeAnthony Arnett (Saginaw, Mich./Saginaw) can really stretch the field and is a playmaker after the catch. ... Perhaps the best route-runner of the group is Sammy Watkins (Cape Coral, Fla./Cape Coral). ... Marvin Shinn (Prichard, Ala./Vigor) has huge momentum heading into the fall after catching five touchdowns in his spring game. ... We feel Kasen Williams (Sammamish, Wash./Skyline) and Victor Blackwell (Santa Ana, Calif./Mater Dei) are really similar in skill set as well as measurables. ... Justin Scott-Wesley (Camilla, Ga./Mitchell-Baker) has speed to burn. ... Maurice Harris (Greensboro, N.C./Northern Guilford) has excellent size, strength and is a formidable red zone target.
On the outside looking inDanny Woodson Jr. (Mobile, Ala./LeFlore Magnet) is right on the cusp and is a terrific overall athlete we feel could move into the ESPNU 150 by the fall. ... Hakeem Flowers (Greenville, S.C./Wade Hampton) could play safety or wide receiver and has great size. ... Jaxon Shipley (Brownwood, Texas/Brownwood) is savvy, crafty and productive. ... Javares McRoy (Lakeland, Fla./Lakeland) may be small (5-9, 165 pounds), but he has great speed and is a great return man.
Tom Luginbill is ESPN's national director of football recruiting.