With the May evaluation period over, it's time for Scout.com's initial set of prospect rankings along with the first installment of the Scout.com National Top 100 for the Class of 2007.
More times than not, it's fairly simple to select the nation's top prospect. But this season was exceptionally difficult with such choices as quarterback Jimmy Clausen (Westlake Village, Calif.), running back Noel Devine (North Fort Myers, Fla.), wide receiver Arrelious Benn (Washington D.C.), offensive tackle Anthony Davis (Piscataway, N.J.), defensive end Everson Griffen (Avondale, Az.) or defensive tackle Torrey Davis (Seffner, Fla.). Each has a solid case as the nation's best. However, after much evaluation, research and debate, Scout.com tabbed defensive tackle .Marvin Austin as its preseason No. 1 prospect.
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“It's an honor to be named the nation's top prospect,” Austin said. “I have done a lot of hard work and it has paid off. I appreciate this honor and I will remain humble and work even harder.”
The selection of Austin may surprise many out there because of the talent that Devine and Clausen, in particular, bring to the table. However, Austin is a star in the making despite not playing the glamourous position of running back or quarterback.
“Maybe I can bring some glitter and glitz to the (defensive) tackle position,” Austin said jokingly. “The quarterbacks, running backs or skilled people always get all the glory. Well, this season it is a little different.”
Austin, 6-feet-2 and 300 pounds, is a man among boys. If there is a linemen out there who can garner attention like this, it's Austin. He can play over the center or the three-technique. Austin, from Coolidge High School in Washington, D.C., plays low and uses his hands well. He consistently beats the double team to disrupt plays or make the play. Austin shows good quickness off the ball, moves well laterally, and has very good speed for a player of his size. He can rush the passer or play the run.
“When we saw Marvin as a sophomore, we all knew he was going to be special and that has come to fruition,” said Bob Lichtenfels, Scout.com East Recruiting Analyst. “He is an elite player because he has God-given talent and works as hard as anyone you will find. Austin has that rare combination of speed, power, agility, toughness and desire that set's all the great one's a part from the rest. He could have a Warren Sapp type impact at the college level.”
Coming in at No. 2 overall is running back sensation Devine, 5-8 and 180 pounds, who has it all except for that great size you like to see in a running back. He is a special talent, one that comes along rarely. Foremost, Devine has unbelievable instincts and does things on the field you can’t coach. He has unreal vision and balance, two traits most of the great running backs all have in common. Devine has super speed and quickness and will blow you away with his surprising power. In space, he is absolutely deadly but he can shake and bake with the best of them or run right through defenders.
“Noel Devine could easily be the most talented player in this year’s class,” said Miller Safrit, Scout.com Southeastern Recruiting Analyst. “Devine is able to mix balance, vision, speed, and even some pretty good power in his lower body to find some daylight and become a threat to score any and every time he touches the ball.”
Jimmy Clausen checks in at No. 3 and is the nation's top signal caller in a year with some outstanding quarterback prospects. In fact, Clausen leads a group of seven five-star quarterbacks. Clausen, 6-3 and 195 pounds, is a drop-back passer who is very polished and advanced at this stage of his young football career. He has good size, mobility and very good arm strength. When he sets his feet he can throw with a ton of velocity and is deadly accurate. When he is forced from the pocket he shows good mobility and he has the ability to throw on the run with precision. Clausen has an exceptional release and can make all the throws you look for – the deep out, the long ball, etc. He can also throw with touch and makes good decisions in the pocket.
“Jimmy Clausen is an intelligent, poised player who reads coverages well and has a knack for spotting and exploiting weaknesses,” said Allen Wallace, Scout.com National Recruiting Analyst. “From a physical vantage point, Clausen demonstrates a very quick release, good athleticism and shows remarkable touch on a variety of passes. Though he doesn't run exceptionally well, he throws accurately rolling out in either direction. Lastly, he's a winner who has proven to his teammates that he will do what it takes to be completely prepared. That may be the hidden quality about Clausen that serves him so well--his commitment to what it takes to be great.”
Two more from the East Coast slide in at No. 4 and No. 5, respectively, in offensive tackle Antthony Davis and wide receiver Arrelious Benn. “The one position that is the hardest to fill at any level is a quality offensive tackle to protect the quarterback's back side,” Lichtenfels said. “Davis can do that and he is very light on his feet for a prospect of his size. Davis has an oustanding frame and a long wing-span. He can get to the second level and seal linebackers. Davis can handle speed or power rushers at the point of attack. Linemen who are equally adept at run and pass blocking are a rarity.
“Benn is not your typical long and lanky wide receiver nor is he the short and elusive type. He is a combination of the two. Benn plays bigger than his size, he has breakaway speed and is very strong. Benn has outstanding concentration and ball skills and he is truly a treat to watch in the open field, after the catch.”
Scout.com boasts the top team of recruiting analysts anywhere. Along with the first installment of the Scout.com National Top 100 are the initial prospect player rankings. Most positions are ranked 25 deep or so at this time. About every four to six weeks we will update, revise and add to the rankings at each position.
In this installment of the Scout.com National Top 100 there are 55 offensive prospects and 45 defensive prospects. The Southeast has 27 players to lead all regions. The Southwest has 23 followed by the East (19), West (18) and Midwest (13). Texas produced the most prospects per state (15), followed by Florida (13), California (11), Georgia (6) and New Jersey (6).
The top 50 prospects all receive five stars. The Southwest region led the way with 14 five-star prospects, followed by the West (11), South (11), East (9) and Midwest (5). The quarterbacks, offensive linemen and defensive tackles led all positions with seven five-star prospects each, followed by running backs (6), defensive ends (5), wide receivers (4), safeties (4), cornerback (4), tight end (3) and linebacker (2).
“This year's Scout.com Top 100 team is top heavy at the running back position, with three ballcarriers notching spots in the top ten (Devine, Tyler, and King),” Wallace said. “No surprise there. Running backs are used to getting the attention.
“It is unusual, however, to see two players from the same team ranked so highly - quarterback Clausen (No. 3) and running back Tyler (6), both from Oaks Christian High School in California. There's been considerable debate at Scout.com about who is the more promising prospect, the more heavily publicized Clausen, or Tyler, the son of former UCLA and Los Angeles Ram star Wendell Tyler.
“Notice we are sticking our neck out here and choosing amazing defensive lineman Marvin Austin over Devine, the eye-popping mover-and-shaker out of Florida. Take a look at Austin's workout tapes and you'll see what we mean about the 6-3, 300 pounder. He may not have the upside of the Reggie Bush-like Devine, but on the other hand, he may be more of a sure thing in the minds of college recruiters.”
Scout.com National Top 100
Prospect Player Rankings