Scout Prospect Rankings
The Class of 2012 is shaping up to be the year of the big man. It's an incredibly deep year at the offensive tackle position including the No. 1 prospect in the country. Ironically, there was a debate as to if he was even the best offensive tackle in his own region let alone the top prospect in the country.
The skill players usually get the headlines, while the offensive tackle position ends up being the second highest paid player in the NFL. For the Class of 2012 though, it's the big man that makes headlines. An incredible three out of the top four prospects on Scout.com are offensive tackles.
That's not to say there aren't skill players to celebrate around the country. The Class of 2012 has the best receiver prospect since the heralded Class of 2008 that included A.J. Green and Julio Jones among others as well as explosive running backs and hard hitting safeties.
But it's the big men that take center stage early on this year including Scout's No. 1 overall Arik Armstead (6-8/275) of Ek Grove, Calif. While Armstead is No. 1 in the country, he had strong competition in his own region according to West Regional Manager Brandon Huffman.
"It wasn't the runaway like DeAnthony Thomas last year or Matt Barkely in 2009," said Huffman, "but this was more along the lines of Ronald Powell/Robert Woods in that it literally could have gone either way. Ultimately the choice for number one in the West was Armstead over Tempe (Ariz.) Corona del Sol offensive tackle Andrus Peat (6-7/280). The younger brothers of a pair of four-star defensive tackles in Scout 300's of the
Armstead is a two sport star who also stars on both sides of the ball. He's good enough to play college basketball, offensive or defensive lines. "What clinched it for Armstead is the superior athleticism he has compared to Peat. Peat is slightly bigger, while Armstead is a more agile. Both have tremendous strength and quickness off the ball, both excel in pass pro and in run blocking, but the quickness and mobility Armstead has eventually moved him in to the front."
It's not just about the tackles as the nation's No. 1 safety resides in the Golden State as well. "Armstead and Peat were really the main candidates for the top prospect in the region, Shaquille Thompson (6-1/195), the five-star safety from Sacramento Grant is the top skill prospect in the West, but in a year of elite lineman throughout the region, Armstead and Peat are clearly the class of the region."
Armstead and Peat are at the top of the class in the West, but they're not alone. "The common theme is just how strong the West is in in the trenches," continued Huffman. "Nine of the top 10 players in the region are either offensive lineman or defensive lineman. Any other year, players like San Clemente (Calif.) offensive tackle Kyle Murphy (6-7/268), Puyallup (Wash.) guard Joshua Garnett (6-5/275) or Encino (Calif.) Crespi offensive guard Jordan Simmons (6-5/330) would be the top lineman, such as in last year's class. But this year they merely round out a stellar list. Defensively, Aziz Shittu (6-3/275) from Atwater (Calif.) Buhach Colony and Ellis McCarthy (6-5/295) from Monrovia (Calif.), stand out as top 10 prospects, both at the defensive tackle position."
While Armstead currently has a grip on the No. 1 position, he not only faced intense competition from his own region, but he got a strong challenge from the best receiver prospect since the Class of 2008.
"Dorial Green-Beckham (6-6/220) looks like an NFL player right now," said Midland Regional Manager Greg Powers. "He is big, strong, fast and has the ability to go up and snag the deep ball out of the air at the highest point, creating mismatches that seem unfair in high school. Guess what? There
The Midland Region seems to be the only one not loaded with big men in the trenches, but the state of Texas boasts a pair of players who will challenge and benefit the nation's best offensive lines. "Defensive end Mario Edwards (6-4/26) of Denton Ryan and running back Johnathan Gray (5-11/195) of Aledo were the two players pushing Green-Beckham for the top spot in the Midlands. Edwards is a well-schooled and aggressive defender who excels in stopping the run, and Gray is a home-run hitting runner who puts his foot in the ground and gets the ball upfield in a hurry. Both are excellent players, but just a half-step below the aforementioned stud receiver." said Powers.
While the offensive tackles top many lists around the country, the interior linemen fittingly are in the middle of the country. "There are definitely some talented players at the tackle spots in the Midlands, but there a large amount of talented interior linemen as well. The Midlands boasts the top two centers in the country in Evan Boehm (6-3/290) of Lee's Summit, Mo. and John McGee (6-3/275) of Texarkana, Texas, and there are six offensive guards in the Scout300 after only one made that list a year ago."
While the East produces the smallest amount of Division 1 Signees among the Scout Regions, the players at the top of the list are extremely talented. five of Scout's Top 16 prospects reside in the East, including the Nation's No. 1 defensive end.
"The top ranked player in the East Region is Harrisburg, Pa. defensive end Noah Spence (6-4/240)," said East Regional Manager Bob Lichtenfels. "The rush end has recorded more than 40 sacks in three seasons as a starter and he is good at getting after the quarterback as anyone in the country. Spence is consistent and very athletic."
The state of Pennsylvania also has a running back that reminds Lichtenfels of another Northern back who made headlines recently.
"One player who was considered for the top spot in the East was Hopewell, Pa. running back Rushel Shell (5-11/215). Shell reminds us a lot of former Heisman winner Mark Ingram. He plays on a team with limited talent and everyone in the stadium knows he is getting the ball, but Shell still posts staggering numbers."
The run on offensive tackles may have taken a break in the East and the Midlands, but it picks right back up as we move South.
"John Theus (6-6/292) of Jacksonville, Fla. was the top prospect in the South because he is the total package," said South Regional Manager Chad Sommons. I have been watching him closely for two plus years and he was good in 2009 and he is great in 2011. He is up to 6-foot-6 and 292 pounds and he has everything together on and off the field. He comes from a great program in Bolles (Jacksonville, Fla.), so he is being well coached.
Theus was pushed for the top spot by a player he could end up paving the way for on the next level. "It came down to Theus and running back Keith Marshall (5-11/190) with defensive tackle Quay Evans (6-3/300) not too far behind. There are just no real questions or concerns about Theus and while Marshall and Evans are not too far behind, Theus is the clear number one guy at this time."
Like many of the managers, Simmons is in awe of the talent in the trenches this year. "Offensive tackle is a very strong position in the South this year like it is across the entire country. It is crazy this year at that position. The state of Florida is known for speed and guys at the skill positions, but my top three prospects in that state right now all play offensive tackle. Four offensive tackles in the South are five-star prospects and six of the offensive tackles in this Region were named in the top 74 prospects in the country. It is a very strong year at tackle in the South and it is good at the top and with good depth as well."
While the Midwest lacks some of the talent at the top of the list that we're accustomed to seeing, there is a lot of depth just below the Top 15 list including five prospects in the next 15 such as Scout's No. 1 quarterback Gunner Kiel (6-4/215) of Columbus, Ind.
The Midwest boasts two of the nation's best quarterbacks in Kiel and Zeke Pike (6-6/225) of Fort Mitchell, Ky. Kiel and Mitchell are similar passers with excellent frames and big arms, but Kiel has been a little more consistent to this point of his career and got the nod heading into the spring and summer evaluation period.
Adolphus Washington (6-6/240) of Cincinnati, Ohio is a defensive end that drew consideration for the top spot at his position, and athletically, he may still be the best in the country. He is a player to keep an eye on to keep pushing his way higher as he develops as a senior.
Scout currently has roughly 550 players ranked as we're in the heart of the Spring Evaluation Period, and we will continue to update the rankings as we go through the rest of the evaluation period, the summer camp season, senior years, all-star games and more as we countdown to signing day in February of 2012.