It was a strong year, especially at the top, for the defensive end position in 2010. The class produced three ends that ranked among the top 20 players in the nation, including the top two players overall (if you consider ATH Ronald Powell will most likely play defensive end for the Florida Gators). While the 2010 class featured some excellent prospects at the position, the 2011 class has managed to top it.
It is an outstanding year at the position with two of the top three players in the nation being defensive ends led by the No. 1 overall player Jadeveon Clowney (Rock Hill, S.C. / South Pointe). In addition, five ends rank within the top 25 and a total of 16 end prospects made the initial ESPNU 150. While the class offers excellent impact-type talent, what helps make it so strong is the fact that the class has good depth and talent available outside the ESPNU 150.
Jadeveon Clowney (Rock Hill, S.C./South Pointe)
Ht.: 6-6 | Wt.: 240 pounds | Stars: 5 | DE rank: 1 | ESPNU 150 rank: 1
While the talent at the defensive end position is strong, the bar for the position -- and the entire class for that matter -- was set by Clowney. He is an excellent prospect who brings so much to the table. He already has the tools to quickly make his presence known, but he also has good size and a long frame to develop. As a player, he is an impressive mixture of athleticism and speed and can be a disruptive presence all over the field.
Ray Drew (Thomasville, Ga./Thomas County Central)
Ht.: 6-5 | Wt.: 253 pounds | Stars: 5 | DE rank: 1 | ESPNU 150 rank: 3
He is an excellent prospect in his own right. Much like the No.1 player, Drew possesses very good size and a long frame that can continue to be developed. He is a physical and athletic player who can run well and be an impact player at the next level.
Steve Miller (Canton, Ohio/McKinley)
Ht.: 6-3 | Wt.: 226 pounds | Stars: 4 | DE rank: 3 | ESPNU 150 rank: 18
College: Ohio State
He has good size and is a good football player who can make it tough to run at and away from him. Miller has a good reach and uses his hands very well to keep blockers off of him.
DEs to watch
" Jeoffrey Pagan (Asheville, N.C./Asheville) is among the top end prospects in this class. He is a big, thickly built kid with good athleticism and he's the rawest of the top four DEs. However, his technique consistently matches his physical tools and he has the ability to be a disruptive, scary force on the edge.
" New York City was home to the top defensive tackle prospect and No. 3-ranked player in the nation last year, Dominique Easley. In the 2011 class, Ishaq Williams (Brooklyn, N.Y. / Lincoln) follows in his footsteps. Williams is a tall, lean end prospect who needs to keep developing his frame. He is a good athlete who can run and is comfortable playing in space. Overall, he's a good prospect with nice upside and can offer some scheme versatility.
" LaMichael Fanning (Auburn, Ala./Auburn) is a big kid with big upside. He is physically impressive with good height, bulk and reach. Plus, the 6-7, 269-pounder can move for his size. He is still a bit raw and while his size can cause problems, he needs to keep developing his game to complement his natural ability.
Xzavier Dickson (Griffin, Ga./Griffin) can be an explosive player and showcases his athletic ability not only on defense, but also on offense with his ability to make some impressive grabs at tight end. ... Greg Townsend Jr. (Beverly Hills, Calif./Beverly Hills) is the son of a former NFL defensive end and it seems he is soaking up what dad has to offer. The younger Townsend is a savvy pass rusher. ... Anthony Rabasa (Miami/ Columbus) may not be garnering some of the same fanfare as some of the other top end prospects, but the South Floridian is a good, well-rounded and productive football player. ... Brennen Beyer (Canton, Mich./Plymouth) is a good, physical football player who could fit well on the Wolverines' defense at outside linebacker, like former Under Armour All-American defensive end Craig Roh plays for Michigan now. ... Brennan Scarlett (Portland, Ore./ Central Catholic) is a thickly built defender who can run. He could potentially crack the ESPNU 150 in his senior year. ... Jalen Grimble (Las Vegas/ Bishop Gorman) is a good end prospect who could develop into and potentially fit better as a defensive tackle in college.
Craig Haubert is a recruiting coordinator for Scouts Inc. and has more than a decade of coaching experience.