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June 11, 2004With only 20 spots left to go, competition is heated for the final slots on the Rivals100 team.
Some 25 players could easily fill in the final slots, but the Rivals.com recruiting staff has to draw the line somewhere, and it starts with the unveiling of players ranked No. 81 to 90. Heading the list is Cincinnati (Ohio) St. Xavier quarterback Rob Schoenhoft.
Schoenhoft, a 6-foot-5, 227-pound passing machine, has already been selected to the EA SPORTS Elite 11 quarterback camp, which features the nation's best quarterbacks working out head-to-head. Schoenhoft's stats might not be mind-boggling, but he still completed 45 percent of his passes and threw 12 touchdown passes in a diverse offense that also features him quite a bit as a running quarterback.
"Robby is an incredible athlete and a tremendous overall kid," St. Xavier coach Steve Specht said. "I haven't seen quarterback with a stronger arm. We actually have to make him ease off so his receivers can catch the ball.
"He has great lateral movement and is very capable of running the football. He's very aggressive and never shys away from contact. He also has great hands and would be an elite tight end prospect if we would give him the opportunity."
Schoenhoft is a big, strong-armed signal-caller who gets the ball out quickly for a big man and also has great feet. He's a tough pocket passer and will stand in against pressure and make big plays down the field. But it's his ability to make defenders miss and take off with it, combined with his arm strength, that makes him special.
Stanford commitment Matt Kopa of Elk Grove, Calif., is the nation's No. 82 player.
The 6-foot-6, 265-pound strongside defensive end has the size and motor to be an impact run-stopper and pass rusher. Several college coaches said they loved the way Kopa shot off the ball, and one even said Kopa was best defensive lineman at the recent Palo Alto NIKE Training Camp - even though Ekom Udofia was there. Kopa still has a long and lean frame and will be able to fill into it quite nicely, and it looks like the Cardinal got a heck of a steal.
"Matt has a very wide wingspan and good lateral movement," Elk Grove coach Dave Hoskins said. "He's very instinctive and a natural defensive end."
Louisville Central defensive tackle James McKinney at one point was a Michigan commitment, but that disappaeared after Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oklahoma, USC, Tennessee and Miami called with scholarship offers. It's easy to see why those teams are pursuing the 6-foot-2, 277-pound tackle.
McKinney has an amazing first step off the line and he uses his athletic ability to explode after the quarterback. He's even agile enough to play a lot of tight end, and some teams have talked to him about playing the position some in college.
"James has great feet, great agility and great quickness," Central coach Steve Serotte said.
Combine all of that with a great attitude, and you have the nation's No. 83 player.
Behind McKinney is another defensive tackle, James McGillicuddy of Worcester (Mass.) St. John's. The 6-foot-3, 285-pounder is considered the best player in New England, and he's done his best this spring at the Elite Combine and the State College NIKE Training Camp to prove his ability.
So who was it that said Massachusetts football couldn't keep up with the big boys? McGillicuddy, who ran a 5.07-second 40-yard dash at 285 pounds at the Elite Combine, is a bull of a tackle with a non-stop motor.
"I really credit wrestling and my strength training program I follow for helping me with strength and explosiveness in football," he said. "I think there is a chance I might want to participate in both sports at the college level."
Jermichael Finley, who is also known as J-Mike by his friends and coaches, is an exciting hybrid of tight end, receiver and star basketball forward. But it's his future as a playmaking tight end that has college coaches flocking to Diboll, Texas, to recruit the nation's No. 85 player.
"He's incredible," Diboll coach Finis Vanover said. "I've never coached a guy like him. You ask him to do something, and he goes out there and does it. Plus, does it with three or four defenders draped on him. There is nobody else out there like J-Mike. He's something special."
Indeed he is.
Finley, 6-foot-4, 210 pounds, has the hops and body control usually reserved for only the elite players in either football or basketball. Yet not many of those elite players have the combination of both like Finley. It's no surprise that he wants to play both sports in college, yet, Vanover believes Finley could eventually be an NFL caliber tight end or receiver. And his prospect video proves that.
On the video, Finley is often seen out-jumping, out-muscling or out-hustling everybody around him to make big play after big play. And he also has some amazingly soft hands that he must get from catching bullet bounce passes in basketball.
"He can make some amazing catches in traffic," Vanover said. "If it's thrown to him, he's going to come down with it."
Moreno Valley (Calif.) Canyon Springs offensive guard Rodney Picou has been widely regarded as one of the West's best linemen for two years now. And at 6-foot-4 and 299 pounds, it's easy to see why college coaches from all over the nation flocked to see him during the spring evaluation process.
Picou, ranked as the nation's No. 86 player, has impressive feet for a big and bulky guard prospect. He might need to continue to work on molding his body for the next level, but he's got all the tools to be a special prospect. His coach agrees.
"He's a big-time player and the best prospect we've had here," Canyon Springs coach Shane Prosser said. "He's so athletic that we pull him a lot from his tackle position, but I think guard might be his best college position."
The No. 2 player in Oklahoma is Edmond Santa Fe cornerback Reggie Smith, 6-foot-1, 190 pounds. He is a gamebreaker on both sides of the field, leading his team to the Class 6A state championship as a junior, but his ability to cover defenders and support the run makes him one of the nation's elite prospects.
Smith, ranked at No. 87 on the Rivals100, racked up 963 yards rushing and 11 touchdowns along with 491 yards receiving and 73 tackles and nine interceptions. He has all of the tools to be an impact college cover corner at the college of his choice.
"He's such an amazing athlete," Santa Fe coach Dan Cocannoer said. "He's started every single game for us since his freshman year. He's a special talent and a special kid."
Football in New York City is often overlooked because of the area's rich tradition in basketball, yet Brooklyn Lincoln receiver Nyan Boateng (6-foot-2, 195 pounds) has been shattering those myths with his ability to dominate in football and basketball. Football is likely his ticket to future stardom.
Boateng, who racked up 44 receptions for 940 yards and 14 scores as a junior, saw his recruiting stock rise due to his physical attributes. At the U.S. Army All-America Combine, he recorded a 40-inch vertical leap. At the Elite Combine, he scored a 4.5-second 40-yard dash.
The tall, rangy receiver has great ball skills and will get every jump ball thrown his way, and that's why he's ranked as the nation's No. 88 player.
"I feel that I am at my best when I'm playing offense at receiver," he said. "I'm a deep threat every play. When I'm on the field, I get a lot of attention so it opens things up for my teammates, but I also like to make my fair share of plays."
Salem, N.J., standout linebacker Lamont Robinson is one of the hottest prospects in the nation, especially in the Atlantic East Region. The 6-2, 225-pound Robinson blew up at the Elite Combine and then repeated the performance at the State College, Pa., NIKE Training camp.
His coverage skills in drills at both camps were sickeningly good, and his read and reaction were among the best at the linebacker position.
Combine that with the mental skills required to play big-time football, and 90 tackles and three sacks, and you have an impact linebacker worthy of the nation's No. 89 ranking.
It might sound like a clich?but if you were to look up the word athlete in the dictionary, don't be surprised to see a picture of Grapevine, Texas, athlete Henry Melton. The 6-foot-3, 260-pounder possesses the size, speed (4.6) and athletic ability to project at a number of different positions.
If you can keep Melton's motor turned on in everything he does - on and off the field - he has national top 50 talent, but regardless, the all-district pick as a junior is ranked as the nation's No. 90 player overall.
"I really have no idea where they're recruiting me at," Melton said. "It doesn't matter to me, though, as long as I can make an impact on the team."
Look for somebody to give him a shot, but the biggest question mark is where. He could easily project as a defensive end or eventually a defensive tackle because of his size and build. With playmaking skills like his, some teams are going to be tempted to keep the ball in his hands somehow.