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August 15, 2005Make no mistake about it, to win in college football today you have to have both beefy interior defensive linemen to stuff the run and the lightning quick defensive end to blitz the quarterback in third-down situations.
It's a good thing that the class of 2006 has plenty of those types of players with the nation's No. 1 defensive tackle Gerald McCoy and the No. 1 defensive end Eddie Jones leading the way.
McCoy, ranked as the nation's No. 14 player overall, is the highest ranked player ever to come out of Oklahoma since Rivals.com has been covering the recruiting. The Oklahoma City (Okla.) Southeast star is a 6-foot-4, 305-pound wrecking ball at defensive tackle.
Not only does he have the size to stop opponents trying to run at him, he reminds many of former Oklahoma Sooner great Tommie Harris with his quickness and ability to find the quarterback.
"We tried to run away from him all game," Ardmore, Okla., coach Mike Lloyd said. "On one play we ran a counter away from him and he split the double team and threw our running back like a rag doll for about an 8-yard loss."
McCoy should be an interesting recruiting battle to watch as Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops will attempt to defend his home turf against a who's who of national recruiting powers, which includes teams like LSU, Miami, Nebraska, Notre Dame, USC, Tennessee and Texas Tech.
While McCoy is still up in the air about his college future there is no question where the nation's top defensive end is heading.
Mack Brown and the Texas Longhorns wrapped up Jones of Kilgore, Texas, back in early April. He would have been one of the most heavily recruited players in the entire nation, but he picked to end the recruiting process early when he committed to the Horns over offers from LSU, Nebraska, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Texas A&M and numerous others.
Longtime Kilgore coach Mike Vallery calls him his most gifted player that he's ever coached and many in East Texas have called Jones the best player in the area for the past three years.
"He has all the God-given tools that you want in an elite player," Vallery said. "He's also one heck of a football player."
So are the others that have cracked the top of the charts on the Rivals.com defensive line rankings.
The strongside defensive end position is headlined by Kentucky star Micah Johnson. The 6-foot-2, 267-pound four-star selection from Ft. Campbell, Ky., is being recruited by many programs as an inside linebacker. But with his frame and ability to get after the quarterback it's easy to project him with his hand on the ground in college.
But it honestly doesn't matter if it's linebacker or defensive end for Johnson because there is no question he is special and well deserving of the No. 1 ranking at his spot.
The LSU Tigers have struck it rich early on at defensive line spots. Not only do the Tigers have the nation's No. 2 defensive tackle Al Woods of Elton, La., committed, but LSU also wrapped up Marcus Tillman, the No. 2 strongside defensive end, early in the process.
If you're looking for the nation's top defensive tackles then a trip to the Sunshine State of Florida is in store for you. Florida is home to seven of the nation's top 30 interior defensive linemen.
The list is lead off by Lake Worth (Fla.) John Leonard standout Kenrick Ellis.
The 6-foot-5, 318-pounder is an interesting prospect to follow because some schools have him No. 1 on their defensive tackle board in the entire country and others won't recruit him at all.
But when he's motivated and plays hard there might not be a better combination of size, speed and skill at the position.
At No. 8 and No. 9 at the spot are two talented tackles from Florida - Charles Deas and Leslie Stirrups. Deas of Ft. Lauderdale Boyd Anderson is a great two-way prospect that could also project at offensive guard and Stirrups is explosive off the ball and is one of the better pass-rushing defensive tackles in America.
Florida landed the No. 16 defensive tackle in Corey Hobbs of Oviedo, Fla. The 6-foot-3, 310-pound four-star selection, picked the Gators back on June 20 over offers from Alabama, Florida State, Georgia, LSU, South Carolina and USC. Tallahassee Godby is home to Kareem Crowell, the nation's No. 22 defensive tackle. The 6-foot-4, 290-pounder lists Auburn as his top team over offers from Clemson, Georgia, Louisville, North Carolina and N.C. State.
Deland, Fla., defensive tackle Reggie Odom comes in at the No. 25 slot, and despite only being 6-foot he is a run stuffing plug in the middle that many college programs are looking for. Florida also struck early to land another talented tackle in Terron Sanders of Bradenton Southeast. The 6-foot-2, 295-pounder is ranked as the No. 27 defensive tackle.
Rivals.com defensive tackle rankings
Rivals.com strongside defensive rankings
Rivals.com weakside defensive end rankings