(Director of Scouting):
If it weren't for Scout's No. 1 overall prospect Robert Nkemdiche at defensive line, 2014 prospect Da'Shawn Hand (6-4/245) out of Woodbridge, Va., could be the top defensive lineman in this class. He is powerful at the point of attack and has athleticism to play outside linebacker.
I'm very interested to see how running back Sony Michel (5-11/195) of Plantation, Fla., comes back from his injury. He was one of the top backs in the country as a freshman before missing his sophomore season with an injury. When healthy, he is an elite talent.
Leonard Fournette is a running back out of Louisiana that looks like he ought to be suiting up for the LSU Tigers right now. He is a back that runs with power and grace as well. He can break tackles, run through defenders, and run past them.
Bo Scarborough is an athlete that may draw some comparisons to 2013 five-star Derrick Henry. Like Henry, some may think Scarborough is too big to play running back on the next level, but his mind is set on that position. He is coming off an ACL tear in 2011, but he is elite, and he is one of the most sought after prospects in America. He is another kid that looks like he should be playing college ball this fall, not high school.
Bob Lichtenfels (East):
Two of the best in the nation in the class of 2014 will hail from the state of Virginia and both are defensive linemen. Woodbridge standout Da'Shawn Hand is one of the premier defensive end prospects in the nation, regardless of class. He has attended a number of big camps since January and proved that he is an elite player.
Indian River defensive tackle Andrew Brown is right there with Hand as a dominating force. It is still a toss-up to decide which one is actually the top guy. There is a third Virginia prospect -- Bayside safety Quin Blanding -- who could end up being the best of the bunch. As things are shaking out right now this trio could be amongst the top prospects on the entire east coast next season.
Offensive tackle Braden Smith, from Olathe South High School, is a mammoth lineman who already looks like a college-level athlete. He already has verbal offers coming in from all over the country. Schools like Iowa, Kansas, Kansas State, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio State, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Stanford, TCU and Virginia have offered.
The Lone Star State will be heavy on defensive back talent, but offensive tackle Demetrious Knox, of All Saints Episcopal School, has been the talk of the spring. It seems like every coaching staff that has stopped in to see him has offered. He shows nice athleticism and has quick feet to go along with his prototype frame.
Allen Trieu (Midwest):
Malik McDowell from Detroit Loyola and Jamarco Jones from Chicago De La Salle are two top guys. The Midwest is usually the place for good big men and these two young guys definitely are continuing that tradition.
McDowell is 6-foot-6, 275 pounds, very athletic and still continuing to learn and grow. His upside is tremendous. He has offers from around the country already and many more should come along. Jones is a nicely built kid with long arms, athleticism and good strength. He's been doing very well at recent camps, including Ohio State, where he earned an offer. There are many more, but these two, along with Iowa product Ross Pierschbacher are the ones that are on a bit of a roll right now.
Los Angels (Calif.) Salesian athlete Marquis Ware is already one of the most versatile players in the West region and has the ability to play two or three different positions at the next level. He plays a hybrid defensive end/linebacker role on defense and tight end on offense and has scholarship offers at all three positions. He's an explosive pass rusher with a great first step and can really close on the ball. He runs very well, has tremendous athleticism and shows soft hands catching the ball. With his size and athleticism, Ware is probably best suited to play outside linebacker in college and will likely have his pick of just about any school in the country.
You can make an argument that Gardena (Calif.) Serra defensive back Adoree Jackson is the top corner prospect in the West right now. He's definitely the most athletic and has a chance to break the national long jump record when he's a senior. Jackson has tremendous speed and ball skills, is a physical player and understands how to play the position. He has a strong frame and will continue to fill out and will be among the most heavily recruited corners in the nation as a senior.
The last two years, the premier prospects from the West have been guys that could star on either side of the ball: Shaq Thompson and Arik Armstead in 2012 and Su’a Cravens in 2013. For 2014, Tyler Luatua fits that bill. With 15+ offers, from schools like Alabama, USC and Oklahoma, it’s clear that college coaches want Luatua from coast to coast, much like Thompson, Armstead and Cravens. And like those three, Luatua could be elite at a number of positions, playing tight end, receiver, linebacker or defensive end. He’s almost 6-foot-4, 215 pounds, with room to grow, and how much he grows will really dictate what position he’ll end up playing.
Jordan Poland could have been the answer to this question a year ago. The 6-foot-7, 315-pounder was on our Scout 2013 Top 100 list when he was in Arizona, but then moved to San Diego and reclassified to the 2014 class. That just makes his future even better, with two more years of high school before he’ll sign with anyone. He’s a big-bodied tackle, who can play either left or right tackle in college, and real athletic, playing basketball as well, and with USC already having a fine 2013 class, the Trojans got an early verbal from Poland this month.