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August 5, 2009

Calif. state ranking loaded with talent

Preseason State Rankings:

The battle for the top spot in the California rankings was originally expected to be a three-man race between Ronald Powell, Robert Woods and Chris Martin. But in the end, it was crystal clear that Powell was the best prospect in the Golden State.

After a strong spring and summer campaign that saw him dominate everywhere he went, Powell, the five-star defensive end from Moreno Valley (Calif.) Rancho Verde, was the clear cut choice for the No. 1 spot.

Woods, who was recently promoted to five-stars after a strong showing at the ESPN Gridiron King Camp, in reality isn't that far behind Powell, and Martin ended up moving to Jersey. But in the end, Powell's versatility sets him apart from anybody else in California and he leads off the Rivals.com California preseason top 100.

Powell spent time at different camps this spring and summer playing everything from defensive end, to linebacker to even tight end. He was unstoppable in everything he did, matching the dominating he showed as a junior on film.

"I think I can be successful playing anywhere," Powell said. "As long as you have the right coaches and the right attitude then you'll be successful. Coaches have told me that they find ways to put the most versatile players on the field first, so that's why I felt it was important to show everybody I can be an impact at more places than at defensive end. Some schools have even started talking to me about playing both ways."

Playing on both sides of the ball is also what helped Woods earn his spot as the state's No. 2 prospect and a five-star recruit. The 6-foot-1, 180-pounder from Gardena Serra wowed everybody at the recent NIKE 7on Tournament, and that along with an impressive junior film, helped him stake claim to the second spot in the state.

"He is a dynamic wide receiver with great hands and even better speed and acceleration," Rivals.com analyst Barry Every said. "He's also an excellent defensive back. I think he's got the potential to be an impact player at both receiver and safety. He's that good."

Woodland Hills (Calif.) Taft running back D.J. Morgan is the state's third best player. The four-star recruit is ranked by Rrivals.com also as the nation's No. 1 all-purpose back, and he's had a very stellar summer in both football and track. Just a few weeks ago, Morgan won the 110-meter hurdles at the IAAF World Youth Championships in Bressanone, Italy. He then came back and wowed at the recent FBU Top Gun Camp in Paisley, Fla.

Four-star athlete Anthony Barr of Los Angeles Loyola is the No. 4 player in the state, followed by four-star running back/receiver Dillon Baxter of San Diego Mission Bay. Unlike a lot of other prospects, Barr has spent most of the summer away from camps and competitions, and his ranking is entirely based on impressive junior film. Baxter has continued to do what he does best - dominate the competition at every camp he's attended this spring and summer.

Cornerback Joshua Shaw, all-purpose back Brennan Clay, outside linebacker Tony Jefferson, defensive tackle George Uko and tight end Christian Thomas round out the top 10. All of the players, except for Thomas, are also ranked among the top 250 players nationally.

A few players to keep an eye on early on in their senior seasons that could warrant a move up the rankings are Dietrich Riley of La Canada St. Francis and Davon Dunn of San Diego Lincoln.

The biggest selling point on Riley is that he's first and foremost a tremendous football player. He might not have the true speed to be an elite running back, but he's got all the intangibles as a safety prospect that could make him a future NFL player. And many in San Diego have been whispering that Dunn might be the top prospect from the city and once more film gets out on him from his senior season, he could explode as not just a regional, but a national recruit.

More States

Three high school teammates from Duncan (S.C.) Byrnes take the top three spots in the South Carolina top 30. Running back Marcus Lattimore (No. 1) and defensive ends Corey Miller (No. 2) and Brandon Willis (No. 3) head the list that includes a total of six prospects from the school. Byrnes has won six of the last seven state championships and has more than enough talent to make it seven of eight in 2009.

The state of Tennessee has seen its talent level steadily rise over the past few years. The 2010 class in Tennessee features some tremendous talent at the top of the list with players like James Stone and Jacques Smith both gracing the Rivals100 list. Outside of the six four-stars on the list, the state still has a lot of talent, particularly at the linebacker position where Ferlando Bohanna (No. 8), Jonathan Brown (No. 14) and Avery Williamson (No. 15) all are poised for productive senior years.

Four-star defensive end Dominique Easley headlines the New York top 10 and receiver Raheem Waiters is No. 1 in West Virginia.



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