The state of Virginia’s class of 2013 is a good, solid group highlighted by skill position athletes. In this, my final ranking of the top 40 high school seniors in the Commonwealth, 36 have committed to play on the major FBS level. This group also features 10 players selected to play in either the Under Armour All-American Bowl or U.S. Army All-American Bowl.
This is a tremendous quarterback class with four prospects in my top 20. Defensive back and linebacker are strong positions, and there are three running backs in my top 20 as well. A defensive end, though, gets the nod as the top overall player in the state.
The Top 10
Stone Bridge (Ashburn) standout Jonathan Allen topped my preseason in-state top 40 ranking. Following yet another productive season for the 2012 Division 5 state runner-up Bulldogs, the 6’3″, 255-pound defensive end remains in the top spot in the postseason ranks.
Putting Allen in the top spot was not a clear cut decision, but in the end, above all other prospects, I am impressed with not only what he has done in three years at Stone Bridge (he transferred in after his freshman year) but also his potential on the college level.
Allen had 119 tackles including eight sacks during his senior season, giving him over 300 tackles and 43 sacks over the course of Stone Bridge varsity career. It’s not all about getting to the quarterback for Allen, who had seven batted balls and five blocked kicks his senior season. On the next level, I feel Allen can be an every down defensive end capable of stopping the run and getting to the quarterback.
The U.S. Army All-American and Gatorade Player of the Year in the state of Virginia will take his talents to the SEC, having verbally committed to reigning national champ Alabama.
Fork Union (VA) quarterback Christian Hackenberg was fourth on my preseason list, but after further consideration I decided to move the 6’3″, 210-pound signal caller into the no. 2 spot. That’s not a knock against Derrick Green and Taquan Mizzell , running backs he leapfrogged to gain this position, but a reflection on the upside potential I feel he possesses.
Hackenberg has all the tools to be a big-time major college quarterback. He has the size. He can escape pressure and make plays with his legs. He can easily make all the throws. But beyond the impressive physical package, Hackenberg just has a poise and confidence about him. He doesn’t get rattled, and from all accounts is a tremendous competitor and good leader.
Hackenberg, an Under Armour All-American, chose Penn State over offers from a host of other schools, including Alabama.
Hermitage (Richmond) running back Derrick Green slips from no. 2 to no. 3 on my list. The workhorse for head coach Patrick Kane’s Panthers each of the past two seasons, Green rushed for 1,493 yards and 19 touchdowns his junior season and rambled for 1,285 yards and 20 scores his senior year. He also showed well in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl, finishing with 48 yards rushing for the victorious East squad.
At 6’0″ and a rock solid 230 pounds or so, Green is a bulldozing back with quick feet and deceptively good speed. Most offenses utilize two running backs in this day of football, but Green can carry the load and is the type of back that wears on a defense as the game goes on.
A pair of U.S. Army All-Americans — Bayside (Virginia Beach) running back Taquan “Smoke” Mizzell and Hylton (Woodbridge) linebacker EJ Levenberry — round out the postseason top 5.
Smoke enjoyed a productive senior season, totaling 1,231 yards and 26 total touchdowns. The UVa commit isn’t the biggest, checking in at 5’10” and 190 pounds, but he has great acceleration and quickness. He has good feel and vision as a runner, and from what I’ve seen he runs pretty well inside and outside the tackles. What separates Mizzell, though, is his ability to impact the game in other areas as well. He is a terrific receiver out of the backfield, and on special teams he returned three kick-offs for scores this past season.
Moving into the no. 5 spot is Levenberry, a player with excellent size (6’3″, 230 pounds) at the linebacker position. Levenberry moves well sideline to sideline, and he can really lay a hit. His monster senior season included 129 solo tackles and 23 tackles for loss.
Liberty (Bealeton, VA) defensive lineman Wyatt Teller (committed to Virginia Tech), Salem (Virginia Beach) quarterback Bucky Hodges (Virginia Tech), Manchester (Midlothian, VA) safety/linebacker Holland Fisher (Virginia Tech), Briar Woods (Ashburn) linebacker Matt Rolin (Florida), and Stone Bridge (Ashburn) quarterback Ryan Burns (Stanford) round out the postseason top 10.
All but one player (Hodges) in the final top 10 earned a major postseason bowl invite. Teller and Burns played in the U.S. Army All-American, while Fisher played in the Under Armour All-American Bowl. Rolin was invited to the Under Armour Bowl as well, but he had to sit out while recovering from surgery to repair a torn ACL suffered in his senior season.
Thirty-six of the top 40 players have made verbal commitments. Virginia Tech leads all schools with 12 recruits, including three of the top 10. UVa (7 recruits) and Penn State (3 recruits) follow the Hokies. Duke and Wake Forest each have two commits. Alabama, Connecticut, Florida, Florida State, James Madison, Maryland, N.C. State, Notre Dame, Stanford, and Vanderbilt have one apiece.
Four prospects, including the aforementioned Green, are undecided.
The 2013 Postseason Top 40
1 – Jonathan Allen , DE, 6’3″, 255 pounds, Stone Bridge (Ashburn), Committed to Alabama
2 – Christian Hackenberg , QB, 6’3″, 210 pounds, Fork Union Prep (Fork Union), Committed to Penn State
3 – Derrick Green , RB, 6’0″, 230 pounds, Hermitage (Richmond), Committed to Michigan
4 – Taquan “Smoke” Mizzell, RB, 5’10”, 190 pounds, Bayside (Virginia Beach), Committed to UVa
5 – EJ Levenberry, LB, 6’3″, 230 pounds, C.D. Hylton (Woodbridge), Committed to Florida State
6 – Wyatt Teller , DL, 6’5″, 272 pounds, Liberty (Bealeton), Committed to Virginia Tech
7 – Bucky Hodges , QB, 6’6″, 225 pounds, Salem (Virginia Beach), Committed to Virginia Tech
8 – Holland Fisher , S, 6’2″, 200 pounds, Manchester (Midlothian), Committed to Virginia Tech
9 – Matt Rolin , LB, 6’4″, 220 pounds, Briar Woods (Ashburn), Committed to Florida
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 UVa
12 – Doug Randolph , LB, 6’3″, 225 pounds, Woodberry Forest, Committed to Notre Dame
13 – Donta Wilkins , DT/OL, 6’3″ 300 pounds, Potomac (Dumfries), Committed to UVa
14 – Anthony Shegog , S, 6’2″, 200 pounds, North Stafford (Stafford), Committed to Virginia Tech
15 – DaeSean Hamilton , WR/DB, 6’1″, 175 pounds, Mountain View (Stafford), Committed to Penn State
Unranked in the preseason, Malcolm Cook vaults to no. 16 in the postseason ranks. He had double-digit interceptions in his senior season.
16 – Malcolm Cook , S, 6’1″, 200 pounds, Fork Union Military Academy (Fork Union, VA), Committed to UVa
17 – Braxton Pfaff , OL, 6’4″, 290 pounds, Liberty Christian Academy (Lynchburg), Committed to Virginia Tech
18 – DJ Reid , RB/ATH, 6’0″, 215 pounds, Thomas Dale (Chester), Committed to Virginia Tech
19 – Corwin “Turtle” Cutler, QB, 6’3″, 190 pounds, Ocean Lakes (Virginia Beach), Committed to UVa
20 – Andrew Motu’apuaka , LB, 5’11”, 200 pounds, Salem (Virginia Beach), Committed to Virginia Tech
21 – Oren Burks , LB, 6’4″, 200 pounds, South County (Lorton), Committed to Vanderbilt
22 – Cequan Jefferson , CB, 5’11”, 170 pounds, Henrico, Committed to Virginia Tech
23 – Charles Clark , Jr., DB, 5’11”, 185 pounds, King’s Fork, Committed to Virginia Tech
24 – Deon Newsome , ATH, 5’11”, 175 pounds, Hampton, Committed to Virginia Tech
25 – Ryheem Lockley, ATH, 6’4″, 215 pounds, Middlesex (Saluda), Committed to Miami
26 – Zack Jones , WR, 5’11”, 190 pounds, Oscar Smith (Chesapeake), Committed to UVa
27 – David Prince , WR/DB, 6’1″, 175 pounds, Patrick Henry (Roanoke), Committed to Virginia Tech
28 – Parker Osterloh , OL, 6’7″, 270 pounds, Warhill (Williamsburg), Committed to Virginia Tech
29 – Michael Parker, S/LB, 6’4″, 195 pounds, Kettle Run (Nokesville), Uncommitted
30 – Kwamane Bowens , WR, 6’0″, 185 pounds, Salem (Virginia Beach), Uncommitted
31 – Jack English , DT/TE, St. Christopher’s (Richmond), Committed to UVa
32 – Eric Tetlow , OL, 6’6″, 290 pounds, Mills Godwin (Richmond), Committed to UVa
33 – Evrett Edwards, CB, 5’11”, 175 pounds, Woodbridge, Committed to Duke
34 – Chris Burton, TE, 6’4″, 245 pounds, George Washington (Danville), Committed to N.C. State
35 – Chris Holmes , ATH, 6’2″, 190 pounds, Chancellor (Fredericksburg), Committed to Duke
36 – Demitri McGill, DT, 6’2″, 300 pounds, Ocean Lakes (Virginia Beach), Committed to Maryland
37 – Josh Marriner, RB, 5’10”, 180 pounds, Western Branch, Committed to Connecticut
38 – Tanner Hartman, OL/DL, 6’5″, 250 pounds, Liberty Christian Academy (Lynchburg), Committed to Penn State
39 – Cam Serigne , TE, 6’3″, 225 pounds, Briar Woods (Ashburn), Committed to Wake Forest
40 – Melvin Vaughn, WR/TE, 6’1″, 210 pounds, Oscar Smith (Chesapeake), Committed to Old Dominion
A Look Back: Revisiting The 2012 Final Top 10
1. Eli Harold , DE, UVa
Harold played in all 12 games for the Hoos. He progressed throughout the season, finishing with 36 tackles including 7 tackles for loss and 2 sacks.
2. Alex Carter , CB, Stanford
Carter started eight games for the Rose Bowl champion Cardinal.
3. Joel Caleb , WR, Virginia Tech
Caleb, a quarterback at Clover Hill High School in Midlothian, red-shirted as a freshman.
4. Ken Ekanem , DE, Virginia Tech
Ekanem red-shirted this past season.
5. J.C.Coleman, RB, Virginia Tech
The 5’8″, 170-pound former Oscar Smith standout started six of Tech’s 13 games. He ended the season averaging 4.5 yards per carry and rushing for 492 yards. Coleman added 21 receptions for 132 yards. He had three total touchdowns. On special teams, Coleman returned 19 kick-offs for 410 yards.
6. Kwontie Moore , LB, UVa
Moore saw action in all 12 of Virginia’s games. He primarily played special teams but could be the team’s starting middle linebacker next season.
7. Korren Kirven , DT, Alabama
Kirven red-shirted for the national champion Crimson Tide.
8. Trey Edmunds , RB, Virginia Tech
Edmunds has promise on either side of the ball, but Tech decided to put him on offense. He red-shirted last season but will compete for extensive playing time in 2013.
9. Deon Clarke , LB, Virginia Tech
Clarke played in Tech’s first three games of the 2012 season, seeing action in 14 plays on special teams and nine on defense. He was in on one tackle, which went for a one-yard loss.
10. Anthony Cooper , S/WR, UVa
Cooper worked at receiver before moving to safety, and he played in all 12 games. Cooper primarily played special teams but saw action on 19 defensive plays against UNC.
A Look Ahead: An Early Top 10 For the Class Of 2014
Per Rivals, 24 in-state juniors boast at least one scholarship offer. Four — Brunswick (Lawrenceville) tight end/defensive end Xavier Burke (Virginia Tech), Woodberry Forest linebacker Greer Martini (Notre Dame), Massaponax (Fredericksburg) defensive end Vinny Mihota (Virginia Tech), and Hampton running back Marshawn Williams (Virginia Tech) — have made verbal commitments.
There are three sure-fire 5-star prospects in the state’s class of 2014, including Bayside (Virginia Beach) safety Quin Blanding , Oscar Smith (Chesapeake) defensive lineman Andrew Brown , and Woodbridge defensive end Da’Shawn Hand . In my early top 10 in the state, I have Hand at no. 1, Blanding at no. 2, and Brown at no. 3.
I’ll have a more in-depth look at the in-state class of 2014 in February, but for now here is my initial top 10.
1. Da’Shawn Hand , DE, Woodbridge, 6’5″, 250 pounds
2. Quin Blanding , S/WR, Bayside (Va. Beach), 6’2″, 200 pounds
3. Andrew Brown , DL, Oscar Smith (Chesapeake), 6’4″, 285 pounds
4. Jalyn Holmes , DE/TE, Lake Taylor (Norfolk), 6’5″, 225 pounds
5. Derrick Nnadi , DT, Ocean Lakes (Va. Beach), 6’4″, 290 pounds
6. Steven Moss , OL, Chancellor (Fredericksburg), 6’5″, 275 pounds
7. Vincent Mihota, DE, Massaponax (Fredericksburg), 6’4″, 250 pounds
8. Travon McMillian , QB/ATH, Hylton (Woodbridge), 6’0″, 200 pounds
9. Caleb Henderson , QB, Lake Braddock (Burke), 6’4″, 225 pounds
10. Jamil Kamara , WR, Bishop Sullivan (Va. Beach), 6’2″, 190 pounds