TheSabre.com’s Preseason In-State Top 40 for the class of 2013 is here. This group is deep at the top, with 12 players currently ranked in the 4-star category. The top 10 includes a good mix of offensive and defensive prospects, including three quarterbacks, three linebackers, two running backs and two defensive ends. Topping the list is Stone Bridge (Ashburn, VA) defensive end Jonathan Allen , a nationally pursued player who committed to Alabama this spring.
The Top 10
Stone Bridge (Ashburn) defensive end Jonathan Allen has been one of the most dominant defensive players in the state over the past two seasons. In that span, the 6’3″, 230-pound Alabama commit totaled 192 tackles with 35 sacks and 10 forced fumbles. Of the 2-time Washington Post first-team all-metro selection, Bulldogs head coach Mickey Thompson said: “I’ve never seen anybody get off the ball that quick. He has quickness off the ball, but he will also smack you in the mouth. He’s relentless.”
With his superior quickness, speed, and playmaking ability, Allen looks to be an outstanding defensive end prospect. The Bulldogs star comes in at no. 1 in my initial in-state top 40 for the class of 2013.
After showing flashes of his talents in 2010, Hermitage (Richmond) running back Derrick Green broke out in 2011, rushing for 1,493 yards and 19 touchdowns. Green, who idolized former Ohio State and NFL running back Eddie George, is truly a physical specimen at 6’0″, 230 pounds. It’s no surprise that, with his impressive size, he is a bruising running back that could carry the ball 30 times a game on the college level. Green combines college-ready strength and size with great feet and the speed to break big plays. Over 30 colleges have offered, but he has not yet narrowed the field.
Green is second on this list, but not by much. Right on his heels is a versatile running back out of Virginia Beach.
Bayside’s Taquan Mizzell has earned the nickname of “Smoke” for good reason. The Virginia Beach native possesses outstanding elusiveness and quickness, and in the open field he is extremely tough for one player to tackle. But there is more to his game than just being good in the open field. He is a fluid and natural runner. He runs very well in between the tackles as well as in the open field, possessing good balance and very good vision as well. The 5’10”, 185-pound rising senior is also a plus receiver out of the backfield, so he is a threat on many levels.
Mizzell has narrowed his list to 10 schools, but most feel Virginia and West Virginia are the favorites right now.
The state boasts three 4-star quarterbacks in this class: Ryan Burns (Stone Bridge), Christian Hackenberg (Fork Union), and Bucky Hodges (Salem (Virginia Beach)). All three players possess good size, with Hodges coming in at 6’6″, 230 pounds, Burns being 6’5″, 220 pounds, and Hackenberg measuring in at 6’4″, 210 pounds. Hackenberg, though, currently tops my in-state quarterback rankings, coming in at no. 4 overall.
Hackenberg, a Penn State commit and son of former UVa quarterback Eric Hackenberg, guided Fork Union Prep to a VIS state title in 2010. I like his quick release and ability to make all the throws. He’s also a pretty good athlete with good footwork. I also like his poise and leadership. Hackenberg shows the ability to stand in the pocket and deliver a good throw in the face of pressure.
“He has a good head on his shoulders. He doesn’t get rattled,” said longtime FUMA postgrad coach John Shuman, who doesn’t coach Hackenberg but knows his game well.
Matt Rolin , whose brother, Scott, was named AA Defensive Player of the Year in 2010, is a fluid, fast, and rangy linebacker prospect. He rounds out my top 5 prospects in the state.
The Briar Woods (Ashburn) product covers a lot of grounds, moving well from sideline to sideline. He’s a tough, solid hitter. The 6’4″, 220-pound prospect needs to gain strength, but he has the frame to add 20 pounds or so on the next level. Rolin drew top scholarship offers from throughout the country before eventually settling on South Carolina, where he has family ties.
Wyatt Teller , a star defensive end out of Liberty (Bealeton), is one of the most intense players in the state’s class of 2013. This intensity comes through on the field, as he plays with an aggressive nature and a high motor. It comes through off the field as well, as Teller, who is dedicated in the weight room, has added 20 pounds this offseason alone to reach the 272-pound mark. At 6’5″, obviously he has the size college coaches covet on the line. In addition to size, he also is a good athlete.
Teller wants to play defensive end, but with his size and athleticism he has promise as a defensive tackle or even an offensive tackle. Most college coaches like him on defense, though. He certainly has the feel of a defensive player, and that’s the side of the ball I think he’ll stick on in college. Virginia and Virginia Tech lead Clemson, Michigan, and Notre Dame right now for Teller, currently my no. 6 recruit in the state.
At no. 7, I’m going with Virginia Tech-bound linebacker/safety Holland Fisher , who came away with linebacker MVP honors at the Baltimore Nike Camp this spring. The 6’2″, 200-pound Fisher, an Under Armour All-American, has the speed and athletic ability to play linebacker or safety. Injuries affected his production last year, but when healthy he can do it all from the linebacker spot.
Linebacker E.J. Levenberry, who transferred to Hylton (Woodbridge) after two years at WCAC power DeMatha Catholic (Hyattsville, MD), physically looks the part of a major D1 middle linebacker. The first thing I noticed was his 6’3″, 230-pound frame. Levenberry looks to be a sure tackler and also a big hitter, producing 151 tackles and eight forced fumbles last season as a junior. He shows a pretty good sense in pass coverage as well, and last season he totaled nine batted passes and three interceptions.
Major college programs from all across the country offered, but the middle linebacker prospect has committed to Florida State. Levenberry is no. 8 on this list.
The aforementioned Bucky Hodges is currently my ninth best prospect in the state. Hodges has been productive since taking over the starting quarterback spot late his freshman year, improving each season on the varsity level. Passing-wise, he probably needs to tighten up his mechanics on the next level, and he doesn’t show great zip on the ball (though he can throw it deep pretty well), but he had great production in the passing game last season as a junior. In 2011, Hodges threw for 2,142 yards with 26 touchdowns and only six interceptions. The 6’6″, 225-pounds rising senior is a good athlete who could be a strong runner in the mold of current Virginia Tech quarterback Logan Thomas . Hodges rushed for over 400 yards each of the past two seasons, totaling 17 rushing touchdowns in the 2-year span.
Hodges’ dual-threat abilities are exactly what Virginia Tech looks for in a quarterback. He committed to the Hokies back in April.
Of the top three quarterbacks in the state, Ryan Burns has the strongest arm and may have the highest upside from a passing perspective. The fact that he has only played one season on the varsity level is a major reason why I have him third of the top three quarterbacks, but he’s a player that could well move up my rankings with a productive senior season. He passed for over 1,800 yards with 13 touchdowns and 14 picks last season as a junior.
Burns, no. 10 on this list, has committed to Stanford.
These are my initial rankings, but one final piece remains before this class of 2013 rankings puzzle is finished. That final piece is the upcoming season, after which my postseason rankings will be released. Several prospects spring to mind as having the potential to rise significantly in my postseason rankings. They are:
Ryan Burns (Preseason rank: 10) – Burns looks like the prototypical major college pocket passer. He has excellent size and arm strength. He’s not a runner, but he can move around the pocket. He only has one season on the varsity level, though, and produced mixed results. Burns has really shown well in camps and combines. If that translates to the field this coming season, expect him to rise in my postseason ranks.
Corwin Cutler (Preseason rank: 28) – Cutler, a quarterback, had a breakout season in 2011, which was his first season with Ocean Lakes (Virginia Beach). The 6’3″ signal caller has the tools to be a very good college quarterback, and I’m anxious to see if he can build upon the success he had last year. I don’t see him cracking the top 10, but certainly he could increase his position significantly.
Tim Harris is ranked no. 11 right now. He could crack the top 10 with a good senior season.
Tim Harris (Preseason rank: 11) – Harris, a DB/WR, was banged up last season, so he didn’t have a big impact on a quality Varina squad. Watching him on the 7-on-7 circuit, you can see what attracts him to college coaches. The Virginia commit is tall (6’2″ is right on), lengthy, and he is a fluid and fast athlete. Harris has high potential at either safety or corner. If he stays healthy and produces a big season, a jump into the top 10 is definitely possible.
Chris Holmes (Preseason rank: 31) – Since last summer, the Chancellor (Fredericksburg) WR/DB added almost two inches of height and saw his frame fill out to 190 pounds. At the same time, the 6’2″ rising senior kept the same athleticism and speed he had before. Holmes played well last season, but he could really break out this coming season.
The Chargers standout has committed to N.C. State.
D.J. Reid (Preseason rank: 13) – This offseason, the Thomas Dale (Chester) product has added about 18 pounds to his 6’0″ frame. He has also kept his sub-4.5 speed. The versatile Reid, who has played several positions for the Knights, could be heading to a breakout season at running back, where he could get 30 carries per game. Green and Mizzell are at the top of the list at running back right now, but Reid has the attributes to be right there as well.
The Top 40
1 – Jonathan Allen , DE, 6’3″, 230 pounds, Stone Bridge (Ashburn), Committed to Alabama
2 – Derrick Green , RB, 6’0″, 230 pounds, Hermitage (Richmond), Uncommitted
3 – Taquan “Smoke” Mizzell, RB, 5’10”, 185 pounds, Bayside (Virginia Beach), Committed to UVa
4 – Christian Hackenberg , QB, 6’4″, 210 pounds, Fork Union Prep (Fork Union), Committed to Penn State
5 – Matt Rolin , LB, 6’4″, 220 pounds, Briar Woods (Ashburn), Committed to Florida
6 – Wyatt Teller , DL, 6’5″, 272 pounds, Liberty (Bealeton), Committed to Virginia Tech
7 – Holland Fisher , LB, 6’2″, 200 pounds, Manchester (Midlothian), Committed to Virginia Tech
8 – E.J. Levenberry, LB, 6’3″, 230 pounds, C.D. Hylton (Woodbridge), Committed to Florida State
9 – Bucky Hodges , QB, 6’6″, 225 pounds, Salem (Virginia Beach), Committed to Virginia Tech
10 – Ryan Burns , QB, 6’5″, 220 pounds, Stone Bridge (Ashburn), Committed to Stanford
11 – Tim Harris , DB, 6’2″, 190 pounds, Varina, Committed to Virginia
12 – Doug Randolph , LB, 6’3″, 225 pounds, Woodberry Forest, Committed to Stanford
13 – D.J. Reid, RB/ATH, 6’0″, 208 pounds, Thomas Dale (Chester), Committed to Virginia Tech
14 – DaeSean Hamilton , ATH, 6’1″, 175 pounds, Mountain View (Stafford), Committed to Penn State
15 – Anthony Shegog , S, 6’2″, 200 pounds, North Stafford (Stafford), Committed to Virginia Tech
16 – Braxton Pfaff , OL, 6’4″, 290 pounds, Liberty Christian Academy (Lynchburg), Committed to Virginia Tech
17 – Donta Wilkins , DT/OL, 6’3″ 300 pounds, Potomac (Dumfries), Committed to UVa
18 – Michael Parker, S/LB, 6’4″, 195 pounds, Kettle Run (Nokesville), Uncommitted
19 – Kwamane Bowens , WR, 6’0″, 185 pounds, Salem (Virginia Beach), Uncommitted
20 – Ryheem Lockley, ATH, 6’4″, 215 pounds, Middlesex (Saluda), Uncommitted
21 – Andrew Motu’apuaka , LB, 5’11”, 200 pounds, Salem (Virginia Beach), Committed to Virginia Tech
UVa commit Zack Jones (Photo by Andy Hilton, Recruit757.com)
22 – Zack Jones , WR, 5’11”, 190 pounds, Oscar Smith (Chesapeake), Committed to UVa
23 – David Prince , WR/DB, 6’1″, 175 pounds, Patrick Henry (Roanoke), Committed to Virginia Tech
24 – Cequan Jefferson , CB, 5’11”, 170 pounds, Henrico, Committed to Virginia Tech
25 – Oren Burks , LB, 6’4″, 195 pounds, South County (Lorton), Committed to Vanderbilt
26 – Parker Osterloh , OL, 6’7″, 270 pounds, Warhill (Williamsburg), Committed to Virginia Tech
27 – Charles Clark , Jr., DB, 5’11”, 185 pounds, King’s Fork, Committed to Virginia Tech
28 – Corwin Cutler , QB, 6’3″, 190 pounds, Ocean Lakes (Virginia Beach), Committed to UVa
29 – Evrett Edwards, CB, 5’11”, 175 pounds, Woodbridge, Committed to Duke
30 – Deon Newsome , ATH, 5’11”, 175 pounds, Hampton, Committed to Virginia Tech
31 – Chris Holmes , ATH, 6’2″, 190 pounds, Chancellor (Fredericksburg), Committed to N.C. State
32 – Brandon Ravenel , WR, 6’0″, 165 pounds, North Stafford (Stafford), Committed to JMU
33 – Chris Burton, TE, 6’4″, 245 pounds, George Washington (Danville), Committed to N.C. State
34 – Jack English , DT/TE, St. Christopher’s (Richmond), Committed to UVa
35 – Eric Tetlow , OL, 6’6″, 290 pounds, Mills Godwin (Richmond), Committed to Wake Forest
36 – Demitri McGill, DT, 6’2″, 300 pounds, Ocean Lakes (Virginia Beach), Committed to Maryland
37 – A.J. Moore, LB, 6’2″, 220 pounds, Highland Springs (VA), Uncommitted
38 – Josh Marriner, RB, 5’10”, 180 pounds, Western Branch, Committed to Connecticut
39 – Cam Serigne , TE, 6’3″, 225 pounds, Briar Woods (Ashburn), Committed to Wake Forest
40 – Mark Wilson, DE, 6’3″, 225 pounds, Phoebus (Hampton), Committed to Old Dominion