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June 20, 2005
With more than 300 players signing Division I scholarships in Texas for the past seven years and 180-plus players in the class of 2006 with scholarships already on their resumes, picking the cream of the crop in the Lone Star State is always a daunting task. That's why there is always plenty of debate when Rivals.com releases its preseason Texas Top 100 list.
But it's Texas, so the debate between the local teams is always heated. And with an elite crop of three five-star prospects and plenty of other blue-chippers in the Lone Star State this season there is plenty of big and better talent to discuss.
With signing day still a long eight months away, the Texas Longhorns and Mack Brown have raced out of the gates and look on track to possibly eclipse their amazing run in 2002. Vincent Young highlighted that class, which included six five-star prospects and 15 four-star players.
UT already has commitments from five-star players Sergio Kindle, ranked as the No. 1 player in the state, and Eddie Jones, who is No. 3. The Horns also have pledges from top 25 players in running back Emmanuel Moody, offensive tackle J'Marcus Webb, cornerback Deon Beasley, receiver Phillip Payne and running back Vondrell McGee.
In all the Horns have commitments from 16 of the top 50 players in Texas.
Texas A&M has also gotten off to an impressive start with commitments from five players ranked in the top 55.
The Aggies' top commitment on the list so far is from defensive tackle Leslie Ray of Midland Lee at No. 26. Aggie offensive line pledge Lucas Patterson is ranked as the No. 32 player and defensive end commitment Cody Williams comes in at No. 35.
Overall, the Aggies have nine players committed to them on the top 100.
Mike Leach's Texas Tech squad has consistently improved its recruiting effectiveness in the Lone Star State the past few years and so far his staff's effort has paid off with pledges from five players on the top 100 list.
The foundation of the class so far is quarterback Taylor Potts of Abliene, but linebacker Blake Collier (No. 61), running back Baron Batch (No. 74) and offensive lineman Buddy Brumit are also special players.
Both Oklahoma and Oklahoma State always seem to snag their fare share of blue-chip prospects in Texas, and with the starts the Sooners and Cowboys have gotten off to so far that doesn't look to be changing.
Oklahoma State has the top commitment on the board from the two schools as Jersey Village safety Patrick Lavine surprised people last week with a soft commitment. The Cowboys also have a pledge from defensive back Deron Fontenot of South Grand Prairie, and they are also in great shape with quite a few other prospects like Keith Toston. The Sooners have a pledge from Schertz Clemens safety James Henry, who is the No. 41 player in the state. OU also remains heavily involved with quite a few other elite prospects.
There are three players ranked rather low because of injury that sidelined them for a majority, if not all of their junior seasons.
Houston St. Pius offensive tackle Ian Symonette, Cuero running back Latreal Cooper and Pflugerville Hendrickson receiver Terrell Reese each were the victims of major injuries in their junior seasons and if they come back and live up to some of the impressive scholarship offers they have on their resume then each will end up being ranked as four-star prospects in the top 30 in the state.
As predicted with the class of 2006, it's an especially strong year for defensive backs, offensive line and running backs in Texas. There were 19 defensive backs, either safeties or cornerbacks, which made the top 100 followed by 14 offensive linemen and 14 running backs.
Every year it seems like legitimate defensive backs emerge midway through the spring evaluation period and this year isn't different. Stars Chykie Brown, Leonard Hewitt, Terrance Anderson, Jordan Pugh and Jonathan Nelson were all ranked in the state top 30.
Moody is the top running back in the state, followed closely by Michael Goodson, Mon Williams, McGee, and Jamaal Evans. Each of those backs is also ranked in the state top 25.
The top uncommitted offensive lineman in the state is Corsicana's Cory Brandon at No. 22. Klein offensive tackle Chris Stewart is at No. 28 just ahead of offensive tackle Curtis Bailey at No. 30. All three of the prospects have major scholarship offers from many of the nation's top programs.
There were several sleepers that made the list that haven't drawn as much attention as they deserve.
Carrollton American Heritage athlete Chip Gregory is ranked as the No. 80 player in the state. At 6-foot-3 and 212 pounds, Gregory is one of the top private school players in the state and with scholarships on his resume from Oklahoma State, Arkansas, Kansas State and Notre Dame he might also be one of the best-kept secrets.
Fullback Cameron Hackney of Jacksonville comes in at No. 94 on the list and many college coaches agree that a good argument could be made for him being the top pure fullback in the state. Watch to see if his stock continues to rise throughout his senior season.
Maybe the biggest sleeper in the bunch if Scurry (Texas) Rosser athlete/running back D'Marcus Lang. Rosser isn't a major stop for coaches looking for talent and his big-time game has definitely flown under the radar for quite some time. However, his coach Virgil Crow thinks that once the word gets out about his 6-foot-3, 200-pounder then he'll be one of the hottest targets in the Lone Star State.