Pre-Summer Top 30 Full of O-Linemen

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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.

O-Linemen Rise

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 List

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 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
Playing with a sprained ankle for much of last season, Fells-Danzer finished with 50 tackles and three sacks. He is 100 percent healthy now and recently showed off his speed and athleticism at the State College Nike camp. There, he ran a 4.6 flat in the 40-yard dash and posted a 33-inch vertical leap. He needs to get stronger, but Fells-Danzer projects as a speedy, play-making linebacker prospect on the next level.

Committed to Virginia

6. OL William Alvarez – 6-5, 310, Hylton
Because of his size and athleticism, Alvarez, who was a VHSCA (Virginia High School Coaches Association) first-team all-state selection last season, has tremendous potential on the next level. His potential is a major reason why I have him rated above other quality line prospects in the state. He explodes off the line at times. He has only played one full year on the offensive line, so he remains a raw and inconsistent talent. If he continues to work as hard as he has this offseason and remains motivated, the tools are in place for him to become a very good lineman on the next level.

7. DB Davon Morgan – 6-0, 178, 4.55, Varina
Morgan showed toughness and leadership in leading the Blue Devils to a 9-1 record last season. He had to step up his game after an injury to Brandon Minor , and he did just that. Area coaches respect his athleticism and ability to make plays. He made a whole lot of plays on offense and defense last season. At quarterback, Morgan completed 70 of 138 passes for 1,402 yards, 20 touchdowns, and just 6 interceptions. He rushed 75 times for 505 yards and 7 touchdowns. At safety, he had nine interceptions.

8. OL Andrew Nuss – 6-6, 285, Stone Bridge
Nuss may not be as athletically gifted as some other offensive line prospects in the state, but he is a solid athlete who is quick off the ball. He has shown good work ethic throughout high school and, this offseason, has improved his overall athleticism. He plays both ways for Stone Bridge and displays a high motor throughout an entire game. He also has a frame to which he could add 20-30 more pounds.
Committed to Notre Dame

9. DB/WR Cris Hill – 5-11, 175, 4.4, Highland Springs
Hill is fast and has excellent agility. Out of state schools including Georgia, Michigan, Ohio State, and Tennessee have come in with written offers, with most programs recruiting him as a cornerback. He could rise in the ranks with a productive senior season.

10. OL Blake DeChristopher – 6-5, 295, 5.0, Clover Hill
DeChristopher exploded onto the recruiting scene with a standout performance at the Norfolk combine. There, he posted two 40-yard dash times of 5.0 seconds flat and bench pressed 185 pounds 29 times. He is every bit of 6-5, 295 pounds. The combination of size, strength, and athleticism is hard to ignore. He is another player who, with a big senior season, could move up the ranks.
Committed to Virginia Tech

11. OL Jaymes Brooks – 6-2 ½, 296, 4.93, Denbigh
Brooks displayed his athleticism with a 4.93 time in the 40-yard dash during the Newport News combine last month. On the gridiron, he shows nice versatility as he often lines up at different positions within a series for Denbigh. Brooks is not as big as some of the other offensive line prospects in the state, but he is the most athletic. A year in a college weight room would help a lot as well.

12. RB Max Milien – 6-1, 198, 4.4, Yorktown
Milien is a big back with breakaway speed. Versatile, he has good hands and was used as a major receiving weapon for Yorktown. Last season, he made 26 catches for 414 yards and 9 touchdowns. A very good runner, he had 140 carries for 1,067 yards and 12 touchdowns as well.
Committed to Virginia

13. OL Khalil Latif – 6-3, 285, Manchester
Latif is rock solid physically. He has drawn rave reviews from opposing coaches with his play. He finishes blocks consistently and plays with a mean streak. Latif enjoyed a breakout season in 2005, earning Richmond Times-Dispatch first-team all-metro honors at the offensive tackle position. He finished the year with over 80 pancake blocks.

14. RB/DB D.J. Thomas – 5-9, 168, 4.5, Patrick Henry (Ashland)
Thomas shows good speed, quickness and agility. He’s an elusive runner and runs tougher than his 5-9 frame may indicate. At cornerback, he was extremely productive last season as he finished with 9 interceptions. If he gets his academics in order, he could add a few more offers his senior season.

15. DB C.J. Fleming – 5-11, 175, 4.55, Highland Springs
Fleming’s offers are impressive, with Georgia and Tennessee among the out-of-state schools to offer. Fleming is a competitive player who head coach Scott Burton calls the “hungriest” player he has ever coached. He loves to play the game and loves to work to improve. He doesn’t have blazing speed, but has very good feet and agility at the cornerback position.

16. RB Kevin Simmons – 5-9, 185, 4.6, Kempsville
Simmons runs extremely hard and, while he doesn’t test well in the 40, runs fast in pads. He has broken an extraordinary amount of big plays over the past two years. He is absolutely a talented player (top 10 to15 talent-wise), but off the field concerns are why he is not ranked higher.

17. TE Brian Linthicum – 6-4, 220, 4.72, St. Anne’s-Belfield
A very good overall athlete, Linthicum posted a 4.72 in the 40-yard dash at the State College Nike camp. He has close to 10 Division 1A scholarship offers and projects as an athletic, receiving type of tight end prospect.

18. QB/ATH Bradley Starks – 6-3, 180, 4.6, Orange
An athletic dual-threat quarterback, Bradley Starks also has good size for the next level. He should fit in nicely in West Virginia’s type of offense and could possibly move to another position if necessary.
Committed to West Virginia

19. ATH Savion Frazier – 6-2, 210, 4.55, Gar-Field
Frazier shows elusiveness and quickness running the ball. He played quarterback and running back last season as a junior, and some teams like him as a running back on the next level. He is a competitive player who will player wherever to help his team.

20. OLB Aaron Taliaferro – 6-2, 220 pounds, 4.75, Gloucester
Racking up 19 sacks at the defensive end position last season, Taliaferro is quick off the snap and has a nose for the football. He doesn’t have great speed and will have to improve his lateral movement to play linebacker at Virginia. He will play linebacker this season for Coach Tommy Reamon, so his performance will be interesting to watch. Aaron is a hard-working player on and off the field and will work to improve. He has a good-looking build as well.
Committed to Virginia

21. WR/DB Kris Burd – 6-1, 180, 4.55, Matoaca
With 44 receptions last season, Kris Burd is one of the more productive players in the Central Region. He plays wide receiver and safety and could get a look at either position on the next level. He doesn’t have great speed, but he is an overall good athlete and is a solid route runner. At receiver, he knows how to go up and get the ball and has the vertical leap to do it.

22. TE Greg Nosal – 6-7, 255, 4.9, Kellam
Nosal excels as a blocking tight end. With his size, he projects as a candidate to grow into an offensive tackle – something that shouldn’t be a big adjustment considering the amount of blocking he does in Kellam’s system. If he stays at tight end, he’ll likely be primarily a blocker … but a good one.

23. ATH Brandon Hogan – 5-11, 160, 4.5, Osbourn
More than one opposing coach raved about Osbourn quarterback Brandon Hogan. He is an outstanding playmaker who creates all sorts of problems for the opposition. He will likely end up at another position on the next level and has the versatility and ability to make the change.
Committed to West Virginia

24. QB/ATH Russell Wilson – 5-11, 180, 4.6, Collegiate
Opposing coaches gush over Wilson, who led Collegiate to a state championship last season. He has a strong arm and has been accurate over the past few years. He completed 205 passes out of 361 attempts (56.8 percent) for 3,287 yards, 40 touchdowns, and only 11 interceptions. He rushed 132 times for 634 yards and 15 touchdowns. Wilson is also a good athlete who could end up at a different position in college.

25. OL Maurice Hampton – 6-4, 290, Phoebus
Hampton, who has four 1A scholarship offers according to Coach Bill Dee, possesses the combination of size and athleticism that colleges look for on the next level. He headlines another talented group of Phoebus Phantoms.

26. LB/DE Jamar Jackson – 6-4, 235, 4.65, Varina
Jackson saw his recruitment really pick up during the Evaluation period. He now boasts offers from Boston College, N.C. State, Duke, and Syracuse, among others. He has a good frame and is athletic, so he could project as an outside linebacker or defensive end on the next level.

27. LB Jared Detrick – 6-2, 225, 4.6, Woodside
Detrick is a raw talent, but he does show good athleticism and speed. He was hurt by switching between defensive end and linebacker throughout last season, so he should improve as he plays more linebacker this upcoming season.
Committed to Virginia

28. LB Landon Givers – 6-2, 215, 4.6, Phoebus
Givers is a competitive, athletic defensive end in high school. He likely projects as a linebacker on the next level, and has the athleticism to make the transition.

29. LB Tolbert Matthews – 6-1, 225, 4.8, Norview
An intelligent player, Matthews has accounted for 150 total tackles over the past two seasons. He is the leader of Norview’s defense. He is working on improving his overall speed this offseason, but he certainly can play the game.

30. DT Bud Tribbey – 6-0, 288, 4.9, Varina
Tribbey doesn’t have great height, but carries his weight well and moves well. The strongest player on Varina’s team, he makes a lot of plays along the Blue Devil D-line. He is a sure tackler.

Best of the rest …

Kempsville CB Lester Bell
Varina WR Donte Boston
Maury WR/DB James Butts
Lake Taylor OL Damion Church
Pulaski RB Kevin Crouse
Benedictine TE Kevin Estes
Kempsville DB Trenton Hughes
Atlantic Shores QB/TE Rick Kresinske
Norview LB Tolbert Matthews
Maury WR Dyrii McCain
Massaponax DL Anthony Mihota
Matoaca RB Patrick Mills
Henrico RB/DB Corey Mosley
Osborne Park LB Quillie Odom Committed to Virginia Tech
St. Anne’s-Belfield ATH Colin Pehanick
Hermitage DT Harold Robertson
Stafford ATH Torrey Smith – Committed to Maryland
Essex RB Lamar Stewart
Grafton ATH Phillip Thaxton
Meadowbrook DB Jonathan Wade
Stone Bridge QB/ATH Terence Glenn
Hylton OL Leo Grassilli

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