Class of 2011 WR superlatives
Peake's incredible hands and Sumler's blazing speed highlight this year's WR crop
There is no shortage of wide receivers in each and every class. In fact, we could probably throw a rock out in the parking lot and likely hit a wide receiver. This year's class of wide receivers is a good group collectively and for the second time in four years our top receiver prospect is a South Carolina native. This year it's Clemson commit Charone Peake (Roebuck, S.C./Dorman). In 2008, it was A.J. Green.
Of the top 30 prospects ranked in the ESPNU 150, eight are still on the market, including two of the top six. Half of those 30 are 6-foot-2 or taller, but there are quite a few undersized water bugs in the group as well.
Let's take a look at who possesses some of the best traits for the wide receiver position.
Strongest, most physical
What we look for: This category is about size, strength and the wisdom of a player to know how to use both to his advantage. It's the ability to handle media coverage, outmuscle defenders for the ball, create separation using one's frame and not go down immediately after the catch.
George Farmer (Gardena, Calif./Serra)
There are guys that are taller than Farmer, but his bulk and physical stature reminds us of Dez Bryant from the 2007 class. He is a galloping horse with speed and quickness and he is a terrific leaper to make plays in contested matchups. Tackling him one-on-one in the open field is a tall order for defensive backs.
Trey Metoyer (Whitehouse, Texas/Whitehouse)
Metoyer may have the best blend of size, strength and speed this class has to offer. He shows the quickness to beat the jam, but also the upper-body strength to throw around defensive backs in press coverage. The Oklahoma commit's range and body control, coupled with his height (6-2) make him a nightmare matchup on the deep ball and in the red zone. He can simply outmuscle defenders for the ball.
Kelvin Benjamin (Belle Glade, Fla./Glades Central)
Running is not Benjamin's best skill set, but he runs well for his size and few 6-foot-6, 210-pound receivers display the bulk and athleticism Benjamin does. He is a mismatch on slants, crossing routes and fade routes due to his mammoth wingspan and overall strength to attack the football. He is a guy that, despite his size, could actually stay at wide receiver and not move to tight end. Time will tell.
What we look for: These players are serious vertical threats defenses must compensate for in the secondary. They have the ability to stretch the field, affect coverage and potentially create big plays. Sometimes this speed is straight-line, and sometimes players possess some wiggle, which is ideal. Speed and fluid hips are a dangerous combination.
Tacoi Sumler (Miami, Fla./Columbus)
Simply put, Sumler is the fastest kid in this class. He gets to top speed in a hurry and you better give him a cushion off the line. The future Oregon Duck possesses the quickness and sudden speed to get off the line, accelerate and track the deep ball. If he catches a seam, he is gone.
DeAnthony Arnett (Saginaw, Mich./Saginaw)
You could argue Arnett has better first-step burst and quickness off the line than Sumler. He has a little more height and comparable top-end speed. Arnett is a little more of a slasher, while Sumler is the wiggle guy. The Tennessee commit does a really good job of attacking cushion and alignment to supplement his terrific speed.
Rashad Greene (Fort Lauderdale, Fla./St. Thomas Aquinas)
Greene is a combination of both guys above -- wiggle and top-end speed. Greene has the ability to get to top speed rapidly with his first step after the catch and the future Seminole has a knack for taking a quick hitter and turning it into a home run.
Best route runner
What we look for: This is generally the area most high school receivers lack. Knowing how to attack coverage alignments, eat cushion, break upon the toes of the defensive back and create separation with technique are all important.
Sammy Watkins (Fort Myers, Fla./South Fort Myers)
Smooth and fluid through the hips is the best way to describe Watkins as a route runner. He can weave and speed cut, set up double moves and is extremely crisp in all his methods. The Clemson commit sets up defensive backs and attacks alignment with a purpose. Watkins is one of the more detailed route runners we have seen at the high school level.
Sumler's blend of speed and quickness make him almost impossible to handle in man-to-man situations. He is so sudden he can break defensive backs down at the top of the stem, get them flat-footed and then get back to top speed so quickly that they can't recover.
Eli Rogers (Miami, Fla./Northwestern)
Rogers may be the savviest of route runners, considering he does not have elite speed. He can stutter-step, weave, attack alignments and shows outstanding burst out of his break to create separation. He also has a great feel for zone coverage and when to settle into soft spots.
What we look for: These pass-catchers are focused on every play. They have the ability to show quick hands, pluck and tuck, and display ideal hand-eye coordination. This group of wideouts must show the body control to adjust to poorly thrown balls and extend to catch balls thrown outside their frame.
He is in this category because of his uncanny similarity to Green. Peake plucks and tucks with ease. He has quick hands and can contort his frame to haul in passes thrown outside his natural catching radius. His focus and intense ability to make plays in a crowd as well as one-handed, acrobatic grabs is as good as we have seen.
Watkins' hands are as quick and fluid as his hips. Some guys just snare balls as effortlessly as they tie their shoes. Watkins catches while on the move without losing any momentum in transition as well as anyone in the class. He makes the difficult grabs look easy.
Jaxon Shipley (Brownwood, Texas/Brownwood)
Just like his brother, Shipley has suction cups for finger tips. He is so reliable, makes the tough and easy grabs effortlessly and does a great job of tucking quickly upon contact. He catches over the middle and can be counted on as a go-to guy in clutch situations.
Best after the catch
What we look for: Some guys are strictly downfield guys, and some are primarily underneath possession receivers, but the guy who can take the short pass and turn it into a spectacular event each time he gets the ball in space is the most coveted of pass-catchers. There are many prospects in this class that could fit into this category.
(Port Sulphur, La./South Plaquemines)
Slashing speed and terrific change-of-direction make Sylve so difficult to handle in the open field. The Alabama commit is dangerous on quick screens and tunnel screens. If he catches a seam, he is a one-step jab and go the distance type of guy.
Javares McRoy (Lakeland, Fla./Lakeland)
McRoy is diminutive in stature, but that's why he is so dangerous. The future Gator has outstanding feet, stop/start ability and gets to top speed rapidly. We think he may end up being a scat back/slot back type at the next level and his upside as a return man is very good.
Malcolm Mitchell (Valdosta, Ga./Valdosta)
Considering Mitchell is 6-foot tall, he sure can make people miss. He has "little guy" moves in a taller, leaner frame. He is fluid and smooth in his movements and has great hips which is why he may be a cornerback candidate.
What we look for: Prospects who consistently display great body control and sideline awareness when adjusting to poorly thrown balls or attacking the football either in traffic or uncontested. Should be good leapers and able to contort their frames to make the spectacular look easy.
This is an area where Peake makes it look so easy. High ball, low ball, backside ball -- it does not matter. Peake just adjusts and makes it happen. He can leap, stop momentum and come back or elevate to the ball and he makes one-handed grabs look routine.
Marvin Shinn (Pritchard, Ala./Vigor)
Shinn is tall with long arms, while his body control and leaping ability make him a red-zone nightmare. The Alabama commit is the type of player that can track the ball, leap and adjust his body while in the air to come down with the jump ball.
Ja'Juan Story (Brooksville, Fla./Nature Coast)
With Story it is all about consistency and maturation, but he has shown flashes of making spectacular grabs. He is built very similar to Peake and Shinn -- long arms and leaping ability. The Florida commit often just out-athletes his defender in one-on-one matchups.
Tom Luginbill is ESPN's national director of football recruiting.
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