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July 11, 2006
Grand Canyon Greats
The Freak, the blockers and the sacker.
That's the best way to describe the top of the Rivals.com Arizona top 20 list. In a very good year for talent in the Grand Canyon State, there are several truly elite prospects that stand out above the rest, headlined by national top five-player Everson Griffen.
Griffen, the 6-foot-4, 266-pound defensive end, continues to show people why he's known as The Freak to many people in Arizona. After blowing up at the Arizona summer camp, he went and did some amazing work at the USC Rising Senior Camp, including clocking an unbelievable 4.5-second time in the 40-yard dash.
But if you talk to him, he doesn't pay much attention to the rankings. He does admit it's a great honor to be ranked at No. 1 in the state, but he's also got more important things on his mind.
"I just enjoy getting better and working on my game," he said. "I love to practice. We were below five-hundred as a team last year and that's not going to happen again."
The blockers in Arizona this year are highlighted by two four-star prospects - Kristofer O'Dowd and Jaivorio Burkes. Each player are ranked at No. 2 and No. 3, respectively and both are very talented run and pass blockers. O'Dowd is simply one of the most put together players at his position in the nation and he's continued to impress everywhere he's gone this summer.
Burkes is big, athletic and dedicated to getting better and better as a prospect. He knows he's got the physical tools and it's just up to him to harness them and improve.
The sacker that has a lot of people excited is Peoria Ironwood star defensive end William Yancy. While he might not match up to Griffen physically, he does posses a lot of the same qualities that coaches love. He's got an explosive first step and he plays a faster than his 40-yard dash time.
"My strengths are speed off the line, my long armed wingspan and my ability to read plays easily," he said. "I just have the natural ability to play. My brother was a defensive end, so I learned a lot from him."
Both in-state schools have gotten off to a nice start locally, especially Arizona State. The Sun Devils have commitments from three of the top 10 players in the state. The leader in the group is Chandler Hamilton receiver Kerry Taylor at No. 5, but linebacker Colin Parker at No. 9 and receiver T.J. Simpson at No. 10 are also talented.
Taylor is definitely a big time catch for ASU.
"Kerry is very gifted athlete," Hamilton coach John Wrenn said. "He's a great playmaker. He's returned a couple punts for us. He has it. He'll play at a high level of Division I football, and he has the ability to make plays on that next level."
Arizona's early pledge in the top 20 is from athlete Devin Veal. He's ranked as the No. 7 player in the state.