Barkley had held the spot from the initial release of the Scout 300, and the MVP Performance at the UnderArmour All-American Bowl may have cemented his spot after what can be considered a sub-par senior season by his standards. But it was another MVP performance by Bryce Brown at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl that swung the final vote his way.
National Analyst and North Manager Bob Lichtenfels has been Brown's biggest supporter this year.
"Whether you're a fan of recruiting or not you have got to love the drama that is caused at the end of the year when two players are running neck and neck for the top spot in the nation," said Lichtenfels. "Brown captured the attention of everyone at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl and the attention of the Scout.com recruiting team. Despite Barkley having an MVP performance at the Under Armour All-American Game, Brown showed that he was the best player in the nation, and he has earned the right to be named nation's top-rated prospect."
Here are a few highlights of Brown in action:
"After the Herbstreit Challenge in Ohio we had contemplated moving Massillon (Ohio) safety J.T. Turner up in the rankings, but it didn't happen then," said Lichtenfels, "Turner, 6-foot-2 and 185 pounds, has always been known as a versatile athlete, but he showed us in San Antonio that just because he is big, it doesn't mean that he has to be a safety. Turner showed that his hips and closing speed are as good as any cover guy in the country. So, we have moved the talented athlete to cornerback and elevated him to five stars."
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Maybe the biggest mover in the entire country was Macon, Miss. wide receiver Pat Patterson. National editor Allen Wallace was instrumental in Patterson's evaluation.
"Patterson is a big, powerful athlete who excels at outmaneuvering defenders with his excellent vertical skill and timing," said Wallace. "He has terrific ball skills, as they say. He's got great hands and is especially superb over the middle and on deep routes, where he can rely on his jumping ability and aggressiveness to out-compete his opponent. This hard-working youngster is also tough to bring down after the catch and seems to have a knack for making receptions in the red zone."
Foley, Ala. OL D.J. Fluker is another prospect who made a jump in the rankings.
"Fluker is a massive prospect at 6-foot-7, 327 pounds," continues Wallace. "He's exceptionally quick off the ball and excels as a drive blocker, often pulling in either direction and punishing defenders with his aggressive style and pure bulk. He needs to work on his technique and balance, and his immediate success will depend on how quickly he assimilates instruction at Alabama, where he has already committed. For now, this is a very raw player with good feet and strength who has the tools to become an excellent blocker in the SEC. Once he learns how to take the upper hand, he could be very hard to handle."
Fresno State made a splash in the 300 with a name that should be familiar with college football fans: Carr.
"Quarterback Derek Carr had a eye-popping senior year, throwing for 4,067 yards and 46 touchdowns," said Wallace "The younger brother of former NFL No. 1 pick David Carr, Derek has a real gun for an arm, moves well in the pocket and can make all the throws. Nice touch and accuracy. He already shows strong mechanics, has a quick release, sets up well and throws nicely across his body. When needed, Carr can also get out of the pocket for the nice gain under pressure. He shows a lot of presence and had he not committed early to Fresno State in May, after transferring from Texas, Carr would have ultimately attracted significantly more attention and offers."
One of the surprises of the recruiting season has been Stanford, and the Cardinal got an early commitment from a linebacker who saw his stock rise continually through the season, all the way to five stars.
"Shayne Skov was the first commit to Stanford's 2009 class, doing so on the first day of his junior year," said National Analyst and West Manager Brandon Huffman. "At the time, he was an unknown, a Northern California native who was going to boarding school in New York. Since then, he's shown that whether he's on the East Coast or West Coast, his athleticism, ability to hit and pursue, and knowledge of the game are what separates him. He was the most physically gifted player at our Oakland Combine last spring, and may be one of the best pure 'football players' in the country."
"T.J. McDonald is a guy who we've seen really grow in the last two years," said Huffman. "He's got the size and speed college coaches covet in a safety, and he has improved in every facet of the game, especially in coverage. He's built like a linebacker, but runs like a safety. The comparisons to Taylor Mays are valid, and McDonald could be next in line at USC at safety. He's got great bloodlines; his dad, Tim, is a former All-American with the Trojans and an All-Pro with the 49ers and Cardinals. Everything he's done this last year has shown that he's got a chance to have a great career. From seeing him at our Scout Combine in Los Angeles as a sophomore through his stellar senior year, he continues to mature into an elite talent."
For Midland Recruiting Manager Baron Flenory Jr., two players stood out after the all-star games. Alex Okafor, a defensive end from Pflugerville, Texas, will be bringing his savage skills to the Longhorns.
"Okafor deserved his jump in the ranking as much as anyone in the nation; if not more," Flenory said.
"After a dominating senior season, Okafor carried his dominance to the main stage in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl. The increase in competition did not slow Okafor down a bit. First of all, he has the body you look for in an elite DE. He is long and holds good weight. When you pair that up with an explosive first stage and a relentless motor, you get a guy that is extremely hard to block coming off the edge, and that is Okafor. At the U.S. Army All-American Bowl, people raved about his ability to blow by players the caliber of D.J. Fluker and Garret Porter. He is a menace in the oppositions backfield."
On the offensive side, Flenory raved about running back Christine Michael, a 5-foot-11 machine from Beaumont, Texas. Michael will be darting away from Okafor as a commit to Texas A&M.
"Christine Michael is an explosive back that hits the hole at full speed," Flenory said. "To be as fast and explosive as he is, you would expect him to he a perimeter guy however, he is just as good between the tackles as he is on the perimeter. He is excellent once he reaches the second level, where he shows the the ability to not only make a defender miss in the hole but, with his shake and sudden cutback ability, he can make a defender completely whiff.
"With that said, he can also lower his shoulders to break tackles and pick up the grind it out yards. At a U.S. Army Bowl practice, he went head on with USC commit Patrick Hall and literally ran over him, putting Hall flat on his back with no chance of tackling Michael. He also displays solid hands out of the backfield. Michael is a complete back."
The Class of 2009 is particularly deep on the defensive line with 13 earning a five-Star rating or better with end Donte Moss and tackle Jacobbi McDaniel leading the way. The defensive back class is also deep including eight five-star athletes, headlined by safety Craig Loston.