- Craig Haubert, ESPN Staff Writer
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The 2006 recruiting class saw Florida State freshman Myron Rolle go wire-to-wire as the No. 1-ranked player in the country. The Class of 2007, however, has been a different story with now a third prospect -- running back Joe McKnight (River Ridge, La./John Curtis) -- taking hold of the top ranking.
Coming off a championship season, McKnight's accomplishments in 2006 were nothing short of amazing. He ran for 709 and yards and scored 14 touchdowns on only 45 carries, an average of more than 15 yards per rush. His playmaking ability was also evident at receiver, where he caught 24 passes for 735 yards and 13 touchdowns, averaging a stunning 30.6 yards per catch.
McKnight is a playmaker and a threat to score every time he touches the ball. He reached the end zone once for every 2.5 offensive touches. His prowess as a return man is also illustrated in his statistics. He averaged 22 yards per punt return and 34 yards per kickoff return.
In September, McKnight's Curtis team traveled to Alabama to take on national power Hoover in a game televised nationally on ESPNU. In a 28-14 John Curtis win, McKnight ran for 71 yards on five carries and caught three passes for 134 yards.
Over the course of the season, McKnight's ability and body of work was too impressive to ignore. With his season finally over, the senior is just now beginning to look into recruiting. Teams that seem to be in a good position at this time are USC, LSU, Florida State, Notre Dame and Clemson.
Oaks Christian running back Marc Tyler dropped to No. 3 in the ESPN 150. We are still very impressed with his ability and talent and feel he will be a special talent in college. Much like McKnight, Tyler is versatile and could excel in college as either a running back or linebacker. It was his late-season broken leg that raised some possible future concerns. The injury, coupled with McKnight's performance, caused the change in the rankings.
The ESPN 150 also saw some other changes this week. South Carolina commit Joe Hills (Palmetto, Fla.) has moved up the rankings to No. 60. He is a versatile, good-sized athlete capable of playing quarterback, safety and tight end but likely will be a receiver at South Carolina. Hills' ability could have him poised for a big career in coach Steve Spurrier's pass offense.
Quarterback Robert Marve (Tampa/Plant) enters the ESPN 150 at No. 147. We have been very impressed with Marve since the spring, when we originally evaluated him, and we felt he earned a bump with his play this season. Marve, an excellent, athletic passer, led his team to the Florida Class 4A state title and set the Florida single-season record with 49 touchdown passes.
Marve has been an Alabama commit, but the shortage of available quarterbacks and Alabama's coaching situation has made him very popular as of late. The senior also is looking strongly at South Florida, among others.
Running back Joe McKnight of John Curtis Christian High School in River Ridge, La. is the new No. 1 prospect in the Class of 2007.