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June 1, 2004Save the best for last?
Why wait when you're talking about the top players in the nation? Instead of waiting any longer, Rivals.com unveils the first set of five-star prospects and the top 10 players overall for the Class of 2005. More five star players and the rest of the Rivals100 will be unveiled 10 at a time throughout the month of June.
At the top of the list is Greenbelt (Md.) Eleanor Roosevelt athlete Derrick Williams. Williams, who excels in everything that he does with his 6-foot, 189-pound frame and 4.3-second speed in the 40-yard dash, is an incredible playmaker who could project at a number of different positions. Many colleges see him ending up at receiver due to his amazing playmaking ability.
"Derrick is one of those players that come along once in a lifetime," his coach Rick Houchens said. "He's special. I've coached a lot of great football players over the years, but Derrick Williams is the best of them."
College coaches agree.
"There are a lot of guys that are explosive and can do a lot of great things with the football," one college recruiting coordinator said. "But what makes Derrick Williams the best in the nation is that he has legit 4.3-second speed and the size and overall great football knowledge that you're looking for. He's the most complete package that you're going to find out there this year."
Several others can make solid claims to being the complete package, too.
Miami Carol City star Kenneth Phillips is the Sunshine State's best, and his ability to take over a game from his safety position is unmatched. Along with Phillips' great physical attributes, he has experience, leadership and wisdom that set him apart. Add all of that up and Phillips earns the No. 2 ranking in the nation.
"He's far beyond his age when it comes to his maturity," Carol City coach Walt Frazier said. "He acts like he is 29 with everything he says and he does. He's a good leader. His overall dominance makes kids gravitate to him. He's selective in the things that he does off the field, and that makes all the other kids want to pattern themselves after him."
Seeing is believing, and after seeing the way Scottsdale (Ariz.) Chaparral defensive tackle Ekom Udofia dominated the Stanford NIKE Training Camp in May, there is little doubt that the 6-foot-1, 288-pounder is worthy of the nation's No. 3 ranking.
"Ekom is a big, strong kid who is all muscle," Chaparral coach Ron Estabrook said. "He is as a solid as a rock. Besides being so strong, Ekom moves so well for young man his size."
Tallahassee (Fla.) Lincoln coach David Wilson calls receiver Fred Rouse one of the best players he has coached, and with so many blue-chip players coming through the powerful program, that says a lot. Rouse, 6-foot-3, 185 pounds, might not have the height of a Randy Moss, but with his explosive leaping ability. his game-breaking skill at receiver reminds college scouts of the Minnesota Vikings All-Pro.
All of that physical ability and Rouse's 667 yards receiving and nine touchdowns as a junior put him at No. 4 in the nation.
"He has got explosion," Wilson said. "He has electricity about him when he touches the ball."
Ryan Reynolds, the amazing linebacker from Las Vegas Bishop Gorman, has been getting rave reviews since his sophomore season. He then dominated as a junior with 96 tackles, 12 tackles for loss and six sacks. And most recently he broke national testing records with a record-breaking performance at the Palo Alto NIKE Camp with a 4.38-second shuttle, 47 repetitions in the bench-press and a 30-inch vertical.
Yet, Reynolds is an even better football player. He is a blur coming off the edge in blitzing situations and is the prototype weakside linebacker for the next level. Throw in all of his physical attributes, and it's difficult to imagine that there are many players in America better than Reynolds, Rivals.com's pick for the No. 5 player in the nation.
"Ryan is the most talented player I have ever coached or been around," Bishop Gorman coach David White said. "His work ethic and determination to be the best cannot be measured. Ryan is a great leader both on and off the field. Along with extraordinary strength, he possesses incredible quickness and closing speed to the ball."
In the NFL, pro scouts are looking for offensive tackles with mass, great feet, even better football instincts and the ability to run and pass block. Most high-level college prospects have several of those things, but none in the class of 2005 are quite like Barrington, Ill., offensive tackle Dan Doering, Rivals.com's pick as the No. 6 player in the nation.
"Dan is going to be a future first-round draft pick and has the potential to be a potential top 10 pick if he continues on the track that he's on," one Big Ten recruiting coordinator said. "Not only is he big and strong, he's got great feet. He's a tremendous technician and he's so good at getting up field and getting up to the next level."
Jacksonville (Fla.) Sandalwood running back Maurice Wells is Rivals.com's pick for the No. 7 player and the top running back in the nation. He is a unique combination of explosion, ability to change direction and top end speed. Not only does Wells have great wheels, he owns the single-game record in Florida with 429 yards.
"I think it comes down to one word - speed," Sandalwood coach Adam Geis said. "He blows the door open and nobody can catch him. He has a 4.35-second time in the 40 on a track and he's so fast it's scary. He also has about only two percent body fat. He's built like a rock and has the ability to run between the tackles and around everybody, too."
There has been much debate as to who is the top player in Texas, and after countless hours of evolution, that honor goes to Houston Booker T. Washington offensive tackle Reggie Youngblood. The 6-foot-5, 295-pounder also earns recognition as the No. 8 player in the nation.
"I pass protect as well as I run block," Youngblood said. "I know my assignments and rarely make mistakes. I just like to go out there and have a lot of fun. I'm very aggressive and give 100 percent on every play. I give it my all, every play and every down."
This is clearly a down year for quarterbacks when the top signal-caller is ranked as the nation's No. 9 player, but that shouldn't diminish the playmaking ability of Reserve (La.) East St. John star Ryan Perrilloux.
Perrilloux, who measured in at 6-foot-2 and 207 pounds at the Baton Rouge NIKE Training Camp, is mesmerizing on film and in person.
There isn't a pass that he couldn't complete. He displays incredible arm strength along with uncanny ability to put touch on the ball and get it in the right spots.
The fade? Check.
The 10-yard out? Check.
The 20-yard out? Check.
The stop-and-go? Check.
You name it, Perrilloux can sling it, proving that all of the talk about him being the best in the nation isn't hype.
"I have a stronger arm than every quarterback," he said. "I'm more accurate than any quarterback. I'm faster and bigger, and really think I'm the best quarterback in the country. My favorite pass is the 18-yard out. Nobody else can make that throw but me."
Pittsburgh Gateway two-way star Justin King could project at running back or at defensive back, but it's as a playmaking cornerback that he might be best suited for and why he's ranked as the nation's No. 10 player.
"He's capable of playing any of the skilled positions," Gateway coach Terry Smith said. "He's got a couple things going for himself. He's fast. He was clocked at 4.24 at the Ohio State camp in front of Jim Tressel. He's strong. He's benching 315 pounds. And he's a playmaker. Wherever he is on the field, the opposing team knows where that is and they try to avoid him."
At cornerback, King was put on every team's top receiver and shut him down. He even squared off with current Michigan Wolverine and former Woodland Hills stars Ryan Mundy and Steve Breaston.
"He competed very well with those guys," Smith said. "I'm not going to stir something up, but he went head-to-head with Ryan Mundy and did his job."
An explosive player on both sides of the ball, King had at least one 30-plus-yard play in all 11 games for Gateway.
In the end, Williams might get the nod as the nation's total package, but each and every one of these players in the Rivals.com top 10 have the tools to be instant impact college players.
Along with feedback and support from the Rivals.com network of high school and college publishers, the actual player rankings are compiled after hours of film evaluation, personal observations and input from professional, college and high school coaches.
Rivals.com recruiting analysts Jeremy Crabtree, Bobby Burton, Mike Farrell, Brian Gates, Jon Kirby, Bill Kurelic, Tim O'Halloran, Brian Stumpf, Jeremy Patterson, Rick Kimbrel and Greg Biggins compiled the national top 10.