After months of traveling from one corner of the country to another for Rivals.com Junior Days, NIKE Camps, visits to high schools for spring practices and other camps and combines, the second official player rankings for the class of 2008 have been released today.
The second release is for players that have received the prestigious five-star rating and are ranked from No. 20 through No. 14 overall nationally. They're also ranked as 6.1 on the Rivals Rating Scale, which means they're projected to be the franchise players in this year's class.
These players are truly considered the elite prospects in the country and are deemed to have excellent pro potential. They should be high-major prospects with the ability to make an immediate dent in college football next season.
Rivals.com unveiled players ranked from No. 27-21 on Tuesday, and will release Nos. 13-7 on Thursday and Nos. 6-1 on Friday. On Tuesday, following the Memorial Day holiday, the first official Rivals100 for the class of 2008 will be unveiled. That will be the first time that stars are awarded for those players and they will be ranked numerically from No. 1 to 100.
20.Deion Walker 6-4, 186, WR, Christchurch (Va.) Walker in action Accolades: Walker earned all-state offensive and defensive honors, plus he was a second team all-state kick returner as a junior. He caught 43 passes and scored six touchdowns in 2006. A versatile athlete, Walker also rushed for 330 yards. While playing defensive back, he had 33 tackles, eight pass break-ups, and seven interceptions. Why he's a five-star: "Deion Walker is a prototypical big wide receiver. He uses body leverage well, goes up and gets the football and is hard to defend in the red zone. He can also run after the catch, and isn't afraid to go over the middle. He can be a possession guy when needed and can also be a home-run hitter down the field." ? Rivals.com national recruiting analyst Mike Farrell.
Walker says: "I am a big, tall, lanky guy with speed. I try to be like the early Randy Moss because he could just go up and get it, but he also caught screen passes and would just fly down the field."
Beyond the gridiron: Walker also plays basketball and runs track ? He won the state triple jump in North Carolina as a freshman and sophomore ? Has a 4.2-second time in the shuttle. Top schools: Some of the schools that have offered him include Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Florida State, LSU, Michigan, USC and Tennessee, but Walker contends that he's wide open and hasn't reduced his list at all. Vote: Should Deion Walker be a five star?
19.Baker Steinkuhler 6-6, 290, OT, Lincoln (Neb.) Southwest Steinkuhler in action Accolades: He was a first-team Super State selection as a sophomore and a junior. Why he's a five-star: "We've never had a five-star player in Nebraska before, so Baker is definitely a rare player. He's got a mean and nasty streak that's rivaled by few players in the country, but I also love that he could easily play and project at all three positions on the offensive line. That's the type of thing that helps separate him from all the other linemen in the nation. I also think he's good enough to be penciled in the blindside tackle spot at Nebraska and be a great player there for a long time." ? Rivals.com national recruiting editor Jeremy Crabtree. His coach says: "I've coached two guys that have played in the NFL and several Division I scholarship athletes, but Baker is the best athlete I've ever coached. That includes those guys that play on Sunday. His future is tremendous. You hate to jump ahead too far, but I think he can make a lot of money playing this game. He's just unbelievable." Beyond the gridiron: Steinkuhler is the son of former Nebraska All-American Dean Steinkuhler and the younger brother of current Husker Ty Steinkuhler ... Has been timed at 4.78 seconds in the 40-yard dash ? Also throws the shot put and discus in track.
Top schools: Committed to Nebraska on Sept. 9 of 2006, closing things down before he even had a chance to pick up any other scholarship offers. Vote:Should Baker Steinkuhler be a five star?
18.E.J. Manuel 6-6, 203, QB, Virginia Beach (Va.) Bayside Manuel in action Accolades: Named the second team all-region quarterback after 2006 and will be a four-year starter in his senior season. Threw for 1,973 yards and 15 touchdowns, along with rushing for 345 yards and five scores in 2006. As a sophomore, he racked up 1,332 yards passing and an additional 276 yards rushing.
Why he's a five-star: "Manuel is a thing of beauty at quarterback. He is tall at 6-foot-6, has plenty of room to fill out, he has excellent mechanics, solid footwork and a strong and accurate arm. He's not a speedster, but he is athletic enough to move around and buy himself time. He has a great pocket presence, is a natural leader and has flawless character." ? Rivals.com national recruiting analyst Mike Farrell. His coach says: "I don't know if it's just one thing that the college coaches like the most. He can do such a multitude of things that they will not have to limit their offense. If they want to run out of the spread, they can do that. If they want to drop back, they can do that because he can make all of the throws. Plus, with his height and his size, coaches really like that because they will not have to find throwing lanes because he can throw over the defense." Beyond the gridiron: Manuel is an honor roll student ? Plans to major in biomedical engineering. "I like to build stuff, and I like to be creative," he said ? Carson Palmer is his favorite NFL quarterback. Top schools: Manuel recently reduced his list to Alabama, Florida State, LSU, Maryland, Miami, North Carolina, Oregon, Penn State, Rutgers and Tennessee. Vote:Should E.J. Manuel be a five star?
17.D.J. Shoemate 6-0, 219, ATH, Anaheim (Calif.) Servite Shoemate in action Accolades: Shoemate missed almost all of his junior year after suffering an injury in the first game of the 2006 season. However, he was one of the most dominant players in Los Angeles as a sophomore. He finished his sophomore year with 464 yards rushing and 10 touchdowns. He added 35 catches for 646 yards and five touchdowns. But a lingering foot problem kept him out of action last season. He's poised to return as a senior and re-establish himself as one of the nation's best players. Why he's a five-star: "Shoemate was probably the top player in all of Orange Country as a sophomore. When D.J. is healthy, there are very few players nationally that are as versatile and athletic. Potentially, he could be one of the top 10 prospects in the class of 2008. Knowing what kind of a kid he is off the field, it would be a mistake to doubt his return. And when he does, he might end up being not only the best player in California, but maybe in the entire country." ? Rivals.com national recruiting editor Jeremy Crabtree. Shoemate says: "I want to lead my team in every aspect of the game. I'll play every position my coach wants me to. If he wants me at defensive end, I'll play defensive end. I want to have that type of mentality. If my team needs me, I'm there for them. My goal is to play like that in practice and the games." Beyond the gridiron: Is the son of a minister that spent 20 years in the Marine Corps as a Staff Sargent ? When he was 10 years old his dad would make him go on 3-mile runs with him ? Moved to California from Hawaii when he was 5. Top schools: Shoemate committed to USC in April of 2006. He was one of only two sophomores ever to earn a scholarship offer from Pete Carroll at USC. Vote:Should D.J. Shoemate be a five star?
16.Matt Kalil 6-7, 281, OT, Anaheim (Calif.) Servite Kalil in action Accolades: Earned all-league, all-area and all-CIF honors as a junior and a sophomore. He dominated at the recent Los Angeles NIKE Camp, where he didn't lose a one-on-one battle the entire camp.
Why he's a five-star: "What stands out the most about him are his extremely soft feet and advanced athletic ability. He's also extremely flexible and has long arms, which will allow him to be able to achieve excellence in pass blocking as well as run blocking. Kalil just saw his brother Ryan taken No. 59 overall in the NFL Draft, and there's an excellent chance that Matt will go higher than that if he develops as expected." ? Rivals.com recruiting analyst JC Shurburtt. Kalil says: "I want to start my own business like my pops. He started his own business after playing in the NFL, and he made sure to get his degree. He's living the good life after now, and I like the example he gave me. My dad has opened a chain of coffee shops, so I'm interested in that. They're called Mojos, and it's pretty cool. I love coffee, so maybe I can get involved with that or start my own business. I love the example he set for me." Beyond the gridiron: Brother Ryan Kalil played center at USC. His father, Frank Kalil, was a center at Arkansas and Arizona and then was drafted by the Buffalo Bills in 1982 before playing for the USFL's Arizona Wranglers ? Matt has a 3.5 grade-point average ? Has added 20 pounds from last year. Top schools: Kalil committed to USC in April of 2006. He was one of only two sophomores ever to earn a scholarship offer from Pete Carroll at USC. Vote:Should Matt Kalil be a five star?
15.Arthur Brown 6-1, 225, LB, Wichita (Kan.) East Brown in action Accolades: Brown is the top player to come out of Wichita since Kamerion Wimbley bolted the Sunflower State for Florida State, and eventually the NFL. A headhunter at linebacker, Brown first jumped onto the national scene as a sophomore at Oklahoma's summer camp. Had 132 tackles and 12 sacks as a junior. Why he's a five-star: "Brown is a pure baller, a physical linebacker who loves to hit and does well at the point of attack. He has natural instincts and plays off blockers well. He anticipates the play, has the speed to run things down laterally and is an impressive blitzer. Brown is as pure an inside linebacker as you'll see this year."? Rivals.com national recruiting analyst Mike Farrell His coach says: "I think colleges see the same thing I see. Arthur is explosive, and he has phenomenal feet. He changes directions extremely well. He's also a monster who plays with passion. That really stands out to most coaches on film. When he hits you, you're going down quick. The thing that makes me proud of Arthur is that most of these coaches are saying that he's the No. 1 player on their board." Beyond the gridiron: His brother Bryce Brown will be one of the most heavily recruited players in the nation in the class of 2009. He plays running back for East ? Mentored by Brian Butler, who runs the non-profit organization Potential Players. Top schools: Brown lists Florida, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Kansas, Kansas State, Michigan, Nebraska, Notre Dame, Oklahoma and USC as his favorites. Vote:Should Arthur Brown be a five star?
14.T.J. Bryant 6-1, 175, CB, Tallahassee (Fla.) Lincoln Bryant in action Accolades: The talented corner finished with eight interceptions, four pass deflections, 47 tackles and two special teams touchdowns as a sophomore. Bryant then followed that up with 19 pass breakups, three interceptions and 48 tackles in 2006. Why he's a five-star: "Most close to the Lincoln High program feel that Bryant is the top prospect the school has produced since Antonio Cromartie. Bryant is an excellent athlete with good size and speed. He also has the toughness to come up and be a factor in run support. Bryant also has an excellent mental makeup for the cornerback position, meaning that he plays the game with such a high confidence that getting beat (which will happen to a corner in college) isn't going to be an issue. There is little doubt that he will make an early impact in the secondary for whatever school he picks."? Rivals.com recruiting analyst JC Shurburtt His coach says: "I had a feeling he was pretty special when he first came up to the varsity. Many people know about his talents, but what really stands out about T.J. is how competitive he is out there. He can be hurt and, unless you see it clearly, he won't go out of the game. He's one of the toughest players we have ever had here at Lincoln." Beyond the gridiron: His mom was a talented athlete in her own right, running track for Miami Central high ... T.J. had the top time in the state in the 300-meter hurdles in 2006 at 38.02 seconds. Top schools: Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, LSU, Miami, USC and Tennessee are his top teams. Vote:Should T.J. Bryant be a five star?