Linebacker Aaron Taliaferro , No. 20 on this list, already has committed to the Hoos.
While quarterbacks are ranked 1-2 in The Sabre Pre-Summer Virginia Top 30, it is the players who protect them that are the highlight of the 2007 recruiting class. Seven offensive line recruits have received scholarship offers from Division 1A programs, so it is obvious where the strength of the class is position-wise. Five of those seven are ranked in the top 13.
Overall, there appears to be solid depth in this class as over 30 kids hold Division 1A scholarship offers. While not spectacular, it’s definitely a solid year in the state of Virginia. And, unlike last year when a lot of talent left the Commonwealth, Virginia and Virginia Tech should do well with the in-state recruits. UVa is off to a great start, and both teams are well positioned for remaining prospects.
Best of the Best
No. 1. Hampton star Tyrod Taylor gets the nod as the top player in the state. A leader on and off the field, a poised Taylor led the Crabbers to a state championship last season and is primed for a run at another in 2006. Tyrod is effective throwing and running the football. He has the ability and the intangibles to be an outstanding quarterback on the next level.
No. 2. West Springfield signal caller Peter Lalich comes in at No. 2. A traditional pocket passer, Lalich operates out of a spread offense and performed well last year, his first full season as the starting quarterback. He has shown an excellent work ethic this offseason, with hopes of improving upon his natural abilities. Lalich combines excellent size with a very strong arm and, like Taylor, shows leadership qualities.
No. 3. Jay Smith is a talent each of the two quarterback prospects would love to have in their arsenals. He is rated here because of his combination of size (6-2, 190 pounds), athleticism (4.49 40-yard dash), and toughness. He also works hard, using each offseason to improve his route running and overall receiving ability. Jay only caught 17 passes last season as a junior, but was a very good blocker in the running game.
A pair of potential linebackers rounds out the top five.
No. 4. Christchurch star J’Courtney Williams combines a 6-3, 220-pound frame with outstanding athleticism. Though a knee injury forced him to miss a majority of last season, he was able to come back in the team’s final games and perform very well. He plays safety for head coach Ed Homer and is being recruited by Virginia as a safety. He’s versatile, but the safe bet may be that he ends up at linebacker due to his size. J’Courtney is a very talented basketball player as well.
No. 5. This slot was a tough one to rank, but the speed, athleticism and potential that Terence Fells-Danzer brings to the linebacker position gives him the edge. Fells-Danzer showed his toughness by playing through an ankle injury for the majority of his junior season, but he still managed to finish with 50 tackles. He is now 100 percent healthy and showed his athletic ability at a recent Nike Camp, running the 40 in 4.6 seconds.
Now, back to the impressive group of offensive linemen in this year’s class.
Finding the headliner of the group proved difficult and, honestly, I think the Postseason rankings may be more accurate (as is the case most of the time, anyway). But, based on what I’ve seen so far, I put Hylton’s William Alvarez at the top of the O-line list and as the No. 6 prospect overall. He has excellent size at 6-5, 310 pounds. On film, he looks very agile for his size and comes off the ball with explosion. He’s a raw and inconsistent prospect, having only played fulltime on the offensive line for one season, but he looks to have a lot of upside if he can continue to work hard.
Following Alvarez are Stone Bridge standout Andrew Nuss at No. 8, Clover Hill’s Blake DeChristopher at No. 10, Denbigh’s Jaymes Brooks at No. 11 and Manchester’s Khalil Latif at No. 13. Nuss is a hard-working, high-motor type of player who has a good frame. He’s working hard this offseason on improving his overall athleticism. DeChristopher has all the physical tools and is looking for a great senior season. Brooks does not have great height, but he is, in my opinion, the most athletic of the bunch. He carries his weight well and could blossom after a year in a college weight room. Latif is a tough, physical player who is also a very good athlete.
This is the preliminary top 30 list. I will produce another one prior to the start of the 2006 season. By that time, I hope to have seen more film. There usually aren’t too many changes from this one to the next, but you never know. Then, I will release a Postseason Top 30. This is my final list and the most complete list, as I would then take into account senior season performances.
Pre-Summer Top 30
1. QB Tyrod Taylor – 6-1½, 195 pounds, 4.5, Hampton
Tyrod Taylor accounted for 2,500 yards of total offense and 32 touchdowns last season in leading the Crabbers to a state championship. Taylor uses excellent acceleration and good speed to make plays with his legs. To show how well he can pass the ball, he attended several combines this spring and ended up earning a spot in the Elite 11 camp. He has a strong arm, is accurate, and plays with excellent poise. Taylor is a leader on and off the field.
Committed to Virginia Tech
2. QB Peter Lalich – 6-5, 230, 4.75, West Springfield
A first-team all-combine performer at the Army All-American junior combine in San Antonio in January, Lalich combines prototypical pocket quarterback size with a very strong arm. Last season, he threw for 2,671 yards at a pass-completion rate of 57 percent. He had 22 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. A solid athlete with the ability to make plays on the ground if necessary, he has actually played wide receiver at time in his West Springfield career. Lalich has shown good work ethic this offseason and is looking for a big-time senior season.
Committed to Virginia
3. WR Jay Smith – 6-2, 195, 4.49, Kempsville
A balanced receiver, Smith has shown ability as a receiver and a blocker. He has worked hard over the years on his route running, which has improved each year on the high school level. He possesses very good speed and is aggressive when going after the ball. Smith has become one of the fastest rising prospects in the country in terms of scholarship offers and was named MVP of the Scout.com combine in Durham, North Carolina.
A knee injury hampered J’Courtney Williams ‘ junior season, but he showed flashes of his abilities toward the end of the year as he became 100 percent healthy. His combination of size and athleticism certainly stand out. A player who flies all over the field, Williams’ closing speed is excellent. He also has a nice competitive streak.
Committed to Virginia
5. LB Terence Fells-Danzer – 6-2, 230, 4.6, Culpeper
6. OL William Alvarez – 6-5, 310, Hylton
7. DB Davon Morgan – 6-0, 178, 4.55, Varina
8. OL Andrew Nuss – 6-6, 285, Stone Bridge
9. DB/WR Cris Hill – 5-11, 175, 4.4, Highland Springs
10. OL Blake DeChristopher – 6-5, 295, 5.0, Clover Hill
11. OL Jaymes Brooks – 6-2 ½, 296, 4.93, Denbigh
12. RB Max Milien – 6-1, 198, 4.4, Yorktown
13. OL Khalil Latif – 6-3, 285, Manchester
14. RB/DB D.J. Thomas – 5-9, 168, 4.5, Patrick Henry (Ashland)
15. DB C.J. Fleming – 5-11, 175, 4.55, Highland Springs
16. RB Kevin Simmons – 5-9, 185, 4.6, Kempsville
17. TE Brian Linthicum – 6-4, 220, 4.72, St. Anne’s-Belfield
18. QB/ATH Bradley Starks – 6-3, 180, 4.6, Orange
19. ATH Savion Frazier – 6-2, 210, 4.55, Gar-Field
20. OLB Aaron Taliaferro – 6-2, 220 pounds, 4.75, Gloucester
21. WR/DB Kris Burd – 6-1, 180, 4.55, Matoaca
22. TE Greg Nosal – 6-7, 255, 4.9, Kellam
23. ATH Brandon Hogan – 5-11, 160, 4.5, Osbourn
24. QB/ATH Russell Wilson – 5-11, 180, 4.6, Collegiate
25. OL Maurice Hampton – 6-4, 290, Phoebus
26. LB/DE Jamar Jackson – 6-4, 235, 4.65, Varina
27. LB Jared Detrick – 6-2, 225, 4.6, Woodside
28. LB Landon Givers – 6-2, 215, 4.6, Phoebus
29. LB Tolbert Matthews – 6-1, 225, 4.8, Norview
30. DT Bud Tribbey – 6-0, 288, 4.9, Varina
Best of the rest …
Kempsville CB Lester Bell