Nick O'Leary - Year of the TE
Los Angeles, Calif. - The August release for the Scout.com recruiting rankings for the Class of 2011 mark a close in the year long scouting circle for the current class of upcoming seniors.
For the large majority of college football prospects, the scouting process
begins as soon as they hit the field their junior seasons. Sure there are
prospects ahead of the curve that hit the recruiting radar during their
sophomore seasons or earlier, but for most of the 2,500 prospective student
athletes that will sign college scholarships it's the junior season that
really begins the scouting process.
With their senior season merely days away, the Class of 2011 has been through a
football season, the winter combine circuit, spring 7v7s and passing leagues,
summer college camps, summer skill camps and more. And Scout.com was there along
for the ride with its team of scouts from coast to coast.
The preseason release of rankings represents nearly 1600 prospective student
athletes that have been ranked according to projected college position. By far
the most of any media company in the country for the fourth consecutive year. No
one matches Scout's manpower in the field and no one comes close to matching
Scout in depth of rankings as we head for over 2000 ranked players again this
Each recruiting class seems to have a signature position, and for the Class of
2011 that position appears to be the tight end.
Initially, we were hesitant to front load the top of the rankings with tight ends
considering that it seems to be a position on the way out. I asked our team of
scouts to name a true five-star type of tight end in all of college football last
year. Was there are tight end in the country that looked like a top fifty player?
The only two tight ends taken the first two rounds of the NFL Draft didn't even
play in 2009. Oklahoma's Jermaine Gresham (21st overall to Bengals) and
Arizona's Rob Gronkowski (42nd overall to Patriots) both missed all of last year
However with the class of 2011, the college ranks look to be getting an influx
of talent at the tight end position not seen for years. Jay Rome of Valdosta,
Ga., Nick O'Leary of Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., Austin Seferian-Jenkins of Gig
Harbor, Wash., and Ben Koyack of Oil Slick, Pa. are all rated five-star prospects
on Scout. Those four players represent the largest contingent of five-star prep
tight ends ever in one class on Scout, and there are several other players that
have a pedigree that rival those listed above them.
By contrast, the wide receiver position has good depth but lacks marquee talent
at the top. With the Class of 2008 as the recent high mark for receivers (Julio Jones, A.J. Green, Michael Floyd, and DeAndre Brown among others), Trey Metoyer
of Whitehouse, Texas found the top spot by default as we nitpicked the nation's
best receivers and found Metoyer to have the best combination of physical talent
as well as desire in the country to this point.
If not for the tight ends, the story of the Class of 2011 may be the running
backs. Malcolm Brown of Cibolo, Texas and Isaiah Crowell of Columbus, Ga. could
duel for the top spot all season. Athlete extraordinaire DeAnthony Thomas of Los
Angeles, Calif. is currently listed ahead of Brown and Green, but has been moved
to corner at Scout because that would likely be his best position on the college
level. But should he end up at running back at USC, he'd likely be considered
the top running back in the country as well.
Currently Scout has seven prospects rated as 5-Stars, equal to the amount of
running backs in Scout's Top 50 for the Class of 2010, but the Class of 2011
more closely resembles the star studded Class
of 2006 that included players like Chris Wells (Ohio State), C.J. Spiller
(Clemson), LeSean McCoy (Pittsburgh), and Knowshon Moreno (Georgia) among
While the sizzle may be on offense, it's still a defensive end that holds on to
Scout's coveted number one position overall. Jadeveon Clowney of Rock Hill, S.C. has
a stranglehold on the top spot heading in to his senior year. Here's hoping
Clowney's career is absent the drama surrounding many of Scout's former top
prospects including Seantrel Henderson '10 (asked out of LOI), Bryce Brown '09
(transfer), and Terrelle Pryor '08 (delayed signing six weeks after signing
Miller Safrit, Scout.com
Some of the biggest movers over the last year include quarterbacks Jeff Driskel
(Florida) of Oviedo, Fla. and Kiehl Frazier (Auburn) of Springdale, Ark. Both
players are not only terrific passers, but both are good enough athletes that
they could play other positions. That athleticism will serve them well in their
respective offenses on the next level.
It is not an especially deep year at quarterback with 15 quarterbacks rated
4-Stars or better tying the Class
of 2008 as the lowest amount ever at Scout, but the players at the top
including Driskel, Frazier, Braxton Miller, Christian LeMay, and Teddy Bridgewater make for a talented group in the Top 5 capable of beating teams in
multiple ways and fitting the new spread offenses well.
While the prospects across the country are completing what amounts to their
first full scouting cycle, they are by no means finished being evaluated by
Scout. Players develop at different rates and the next six months before signing
day allow for currently ranked players to solidify their positions and late
bloomers to jump on the national scene with strong senior seasons.
Scout.com will be there to bring you the most in depth look at recruiting in the