Everything is bigger and better in Texas, and that's especially correct when talking about the talent in the Lone Star State for the 2010 recruiting class.
In the first edition of the Rivals100, three of the nation's top six players are from Texas.
The nation's top prospect is offensive tackle Seantrel Henderson of Saint Paul (Minn.) Cretin-Derham Hall. But at No. 2 is running back Lache Seastrunk of Temple (Texas) High. Behind him at No. 3 is receiver Darius White of Fort Worth (Texas) Dunbar, and at No. 6 is defensive end Jackson Jeffcoat of Plano (Texas) West.
"This is definitely a special group of players at the top of the list from Texas," Rivals.com analyst Barry Every said. "Seastrunk is one of the fastest players in the nation, and he's got the ability to change the game every time he touches the ball. White is in the same Julio Jones/A.J. Green/Rueben Randle mold. I think he'll be able to have an immediate impact as a true freshman. Then there is Jeffcoat, who is a huge defensive end with a great pedigree and amazing overall athleticism."
Overall, Texas isn't as deep as Florida, which placed 19 players on the Rivals100 compared to the Lone Star State's 13. But Every said one thing that further cements this Texas crop as special is the overall quality of the group.
"I wouldn't necessarily say this Texas group compares to what we saw from Florida last year, when there were 14 players in the top 70 nationally, and it's still behind overall as far as this year is concerned," he said. "But where Texas gets its huge edge is that it has much more balance at each position, especially on both the offensive and defensive line, whereas Florida - as usual - is skill-position heavy."
After a somewhat down year at the top of the rankings in 2009, California is back in full force with five players ranking in the national top 30. This includes five-star prospects Malcolm Jones of Westlake Village Oaks Christian, Chris Martin of Oakland Bishop O'Dowd and Ronald Powell of Moreno Valley Rancho Verde.
Jones first emerged as a freshman, when he helped Oaks Christian capture a state championship while playing linebacker. He has played running back, his natural position, the past two seasons and has flourished. As a junior, Jones rushed for 1,504 yards and 26 touchdowns.
"Malcolm has it all for a running back," Oaks Christian coach Bill Redell said. "He has size, strength, speed and quickness. He is also outstanding out of the backfield catching the football. And if things don't work out at running back, I think he's also definitely one of the nation's best linebackers."
Martin is a hybrid outside linebacker/defensive end who's been terrorizing offenses in the Bay Area for the past two seasons. Martin, who committed early to Notre Dame, has racked up 230-plus tackles the past two seasons and dominated in every camp setting. His upside is through the roof.
"Chris has really matured his game, but he's still a long way away from what we think he'll eventually be," O'Dowd coach Paul Perenon said. "He's a special player, one of the best I've ever coached, but to think what he's going to be like in a few years is amazing."
Powell is a freak-of-nature athlete who could project on either side of the ball but likely will end up at defensive end. At 6 feet 4 and 240 pounds, Powell has a motor that doesn't stop. He also has a college-ready body, and he has attracted scholarship offers from coast-to-coast.
"Ronald was great this season for us," Rancho Verde coach Pete Duffy said. "It's one of those deals where the light went on. He's always had the physical ability, but now he plays with that sense of urgency. He became almost unstoppable."
Jones, Martin and Powell likely won't end up being the only five stars in the state later in the process. Just outside the five-star level are running back D.J. Morgan of Woodland Hills Taft at No. 17, athlete Anthony Barr of Los Angeles Loyola at No. 19 and receiver Robert Woods of Gardena Serra at No. 26.
DOWN YEAR FOR QBS
How ironic is it that the top running back in the country in the 2009 class [Bryce Brown] is coming out of Wichita, and then the following year the top quarterback [Blake Bell] is coming out of Wichita, too?
- Alan Shuckman, Bishop Carroll coach
Every year, there seem to be ebbs and flows at certain positions, but one of the most consistent groups over the past few years has been quarterback. But this definitely is a down year for quarterbacks.
Last year, there were six quarterbacks ranked in the top 60 and three five-star prospects. This year, there are only six quarterbacks overall in the Rivals100, with two in the top 60, and no quarterback earned a five-star designation in the first set of rankings.
Blake Bell of Wichita (Kan.) Bishop Carroll gets the nod as the nation's No. 1 quarterback. In 2008, Bell completed 64 percent of his passes for 2,871 yards and 34 touchdowns.
"How ironic is it that the top running back in the country in the 2009 class [Bryce Brown] is coming out of Wichita, and then the following year the top quarterback is coming out of Wichita, too?" Bishop Carroll coach Alan Shuckman said. "I still think he's relatively young at the position, but his upside is tremendous. Some of the kids from Texas, California and Florida have maximized their potential by their senior years or their first year on campus, but Blake hasn't even tapped how talented he can be some day.
"That's the incredible thing. He has the ability to make all the throws, run when the pocket breaks down, move out of pressure, set his feet and throw the football. He's a tremendous talent, but it's exciting to think what he might be some day."
Other quarterbacks to make the list are Phillip Sims of Chesapeake (Va.) Oscar Smith at No. 52, Austin Hinder of Steamboat Springs (Colo.) High at No. 76, Joe Boisture of Saline (Mich.) High at No. 81, Paul Jones of McKees Rocks (Pa.) Sto Rox at No. 88 and Pete Thomas of El Cajon (Calif.) Valhalla at No. 92.