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November 8, 2007

Rivals.com's staff of recruiting analysts offer thoughts on things they learned while on the road scouting some of the nation's top prospects in this week's edition of From the Road. Here is a closer look at some of the sights, storylines and recruiting scoop from the big weekend in high school football.

Jeremy Crabtree, Rivals.com Recruiting Editor
Butler County (Kan.) Community College defensive tackle Swanson Miller is ranked as a four-star prospect, and he definitely played like one last Sunday in a 33-9 victory over rival Coffeyville (Kan.) Community College.

The 6-foot-4, 330-pounder dominated from his interior line spot, racking up seven tackles, two tackles for a loss, one pass breakup and a sack.

"I'm a run stopper, but when I have to run I will," Miller said. "That's what defense is all about. It's about running to the ball and going 100 miles an hour on every play. Our coaches instilled that in me, too. They're always telling me to get to the ball, no matter where it's at."

Miller said Troy, Oklahoma State, Louisville and Auburn are his top suitors at this point.

Wired shut: Coffeyville defensive back and Auburn commitment Blair Irvin missed the game because he had to have his mouth wired shut after last week's game. Irvin was on the sidelines at the game and was as vocal as you can be with your mouth wired shut.

There's no question he's heading to Auburn as he was seen after the game talking to Butler County star running back Beau Johnson. Irvin told Johnson after the game that he needed to get him to "join him down at Auburn."

Passing the test: Four-star cornerback Maurice Gray from Butler County was tested on Sunday for almost the first time this season. While most teams stay away from the 5-foot-10, 180-pounder because of his lockdown ability, Coffeyville tested him early and often in the game. The end result was an interception and five tackles.

"This is the only team - Coffeyville is - the only team that's come out each time and thrown it at me," Gray said. "It's a rivalry game, and they wanted to try and get into my head. Nobody has really come after me, but I stepped up to the plate and made plays all game long."

Gray said he plans to visit Ole Miss and Kansas, and is also thinking about visits to N.C. State and Arkansas also. Most people at Butler County believe Kansas is the team to beat.

Offensive spark: About the only sparkplug Coffeyville had on offense was running back Nate Guillory. The speedy all-purpose back accounted for 73 yards of tough running against a stout Butler County defense. He was especially deadly on sweeps to the outside where he could use his speed in the open field. He had one rush of 20 yards on the sweep play.

Guillory originally committed to North Carolina two weeks ago, but he later said there was a mix up in the offer and he remains open. Many in the Coffeyville community think he's bound for Kansas State, where he'll team up with former Red Raven star Deon Murphy.

Felder coming back: Butler County defensive end Antonio Felder was positioned to become one of the most dominating players in the Jayhawk Conference this season, but a season-ending knee injury put him on the shelf after the first game.

That's not dampened his spirits at all. He admits it is frustrating to watch his teammates go to war every week, but he's doing his best to be there in support and cheer them on.

"I'm almost 100 percent now, but it's really frustrating to see the guys out there," Felder said. "I wish it could be me, but that's Ok. It's a real inspiration to see my boys Markus White and Swanson Miller out there flying around making plays."

Felder said the recruiting attention hasn't let up, despite the injury.

"K-State, KU, Troy, and Middle Tennessee are recruiting me the heaviest," he said. "I've got a visit to K-State set up for the 18th of January, and I'm going to set one up to KU, too. I'm also going to take one to Troy sometime in January, too."

Defensive standouts: Even though Coffeyville's offense was never able to get on track, several of the Red Raven's top defensive prospects were impressive.

Linebacker Ade' Manga was all over the field with nine tackles. Somebody is going to get a steal out of the 6-foot-2, 220-pound outside linebacker. Three-star safety Jamail Berry also had a big game with six solo stops and an assist.

And despite going against countless double-teams all game long, Florida defensive tackle commitment Troy Epps was impressive. He had five solo tackles, one tackle for a loss and one sack on the game. He also pressured the pocket quite a bit on passing plays and was an emotional leader on the sidelines, trying to keep the Red Raven's spirits up all game long.

Four-star defensive end Larry Ford was almost non-existent in the game, registering only one assisted tackle. The West Virginia commitment looked the part, but was not as dominating as others in the game like Epps, White and Miller.

Barton Simmons, Rivals.com Recruiting Analyst
Madison (La.) at Richwood (La.)
Last Thursday night, Louisiana's Richwood High School hosted Madison High School on a senior night that played out more like a walk-through than a region game. After jumping out to a 43-0 halftime lead, the Richwood Rams cruised to a 49-0 victory in a game that wasn't even as close as the score.

Playing in Louisiana's class 3A, Richwood features loads of talent, including three explosive underclassmen in Greg Johnson, Richard Wilson and Rashad Givens.

Johnson, a junior, plays quarterback for the Rams, but at only about 5 feet 10 projects best as a defensive back. He had his way against the Jaguars on Thursday night, doing damage through the air and the ground. On the night, Johnson eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark in passing and rushing and finished the regular season with 1,101 yards passing with eight touchdowns and 1,092 yards rushing with 15 touchdowns.

Johnson is a strong compact athlete that looks fully capable of being an impact player at several positions, but has proven that he can be extremely productive as a high school quarterback.

Johnson's favorite target is junior wide receiver Richard Wilson. Wilson stands only at about 5 feet 9 and has a fairly slight build but he has explosive speed and elusiveness, evidenced by his 463 yards receiving and seven touchdowns. Wilson, who also has 236 rushing yards on 18 carries this season, was having his way with the outmanned Madison defenders, particularly on the bubble screens and reverses that Richwood's spread offense employs.

With his build and his ability to make plays in space, Johnson may be best suited for the offensive side of the ball despite his size but could certainly move over and be an effective cornerback. Between Wilson and Johnson, Richwood has two juniors that will be definite 2009 kids to watch.

On the defensive side of the ball, one player in particular stood out. Sophomore defensive end Rashad Givens was extremely disruptive on every play and played with a great motor. He stands 6 feet 4, weighs 225 pounds and is very athletic. Givens is a transplant at Richwood from Hurricane Katrina and will be a force for the next two years that few 3A offensive linemen will be able to handle.

Outside of Johnson, Wilson and Givens, the Rams boasted several other good young athletes. Sophomore defensive tackle LaCraig Brown was equally as disruptive as Givens. Cedric Goins is a 6-foot-1 receiver that gives Johnson another dangerous weapon. Sophomore running back Greg Hudson rushed for 127 yards on 15 carries and junior offensive tackle Andre Sanford anchored the front line.

Bastrop (La.) at Carroll (La.)
It wasn't just coach speak when Bastrop head coach Brad Bradshaw said that the 1-8 Carroll Bulldogs were a talented and dangerous team. Bastrop, one of the top teams in the state in any classification, came into Friday night's game undefeated. However, during warm-ups of Carroll's senior night, it was clear that the 1-8 record didn't reflect the kind of talent that the Bulldogs possessed.

Carroll featured two quality players up front in two-star defensive tackle Khalid Wilson and an athletic, active defensive end Kadeem Taylor. Both led a Carroll team that played with a lot of emotion early but couldn't keep up with the Bastrop machine.

On the first play of the game, Bastrop wide receiver Rueben Randle attempted a reverse pass to quarterback Randall Mackey. Though the pass fell incomplete, it was a sign of things to come for the Rams on the night as they would pull out all of the stops in a 51-14 blowout.

Randle showed why he is considered one of the top junior wide receivers in Louisiana. He is big and strong at 6 feet 4 and is very fluid as a route-runner with great hands. Randle caught five passes for 98 yards including one touchdown grab. He also had a punt return for a touchdown that was called back on a penalty.

In the second half with the game in hand, Randle played one series at quarterback, giving a sneak preview of the role he will be playing next season. The drive was executed to perfection as Randle completed five straight passes for 40 yards and a touchdown. He could probably be a top-tier prospect at quarterback, but his upside at wide receiver will make him one of the nation's best for 2009.

Mackey and Patterson shine: For the 2007 Bastrop team, Randall Mackey is clearly the leader of the pack. He is only 5-11, which limits his potential as a quarterback at the next level but he is a winner and he showed Friday night that he has the arm to be a very productive quarterback somewhere in college.

The athletic quarterback threw for 242 yards on 13-19 passing, bringing his total to 2,253 yards on the season. He has also rushed for close to 600 yards and 12 touchdowns as a senior.

With offers currently from Louisiana Tech and Louisiana-Monroe, someone will end up very happy they signed Mackey.

Edward Patterson is another senior that could be a big time sleeper. He plays cornerback, wide receiver and kick returner for Bastrop and is committed to Louisiana Tech. Patterson looks natural flipping his hips and running with receivers on defense and pulled down an interception in the first half.

On the first possession of the second half, Patterson showed that he can be dangerous as a receiver as well. After catching a quick hitch in the flat, Patterson froze the cornerback with a stick move and sprinted down the sideline for a 53-yard score.

Controlling the middle: Bastrop's two junior defensive tackles are fun to watch. 6-2, 255-pound Josh Downs and 6-2, 265-pound DeQuinta Jones dominated the line of scrimmage against Carroll. The two were flying around all night, playing fast and hard.

It can be dangerous for a team to stretch a run play against Bastrop because of the pursuit of the two defensive tackles. If a running back can't get to that sideline or tries to cut the ball up field, more likely than not, Downs or Jones has already honed in for the hit. Downs has a quick get-off for a player of his size and Jones bullies whatever offensive lineman is in his way.

Between Jones, Downs and Randle, Bastrop will be a team with loads of talent for the class of 2009.

Barry Every, Rivals.com Recruiting Analyst
Shakerin propels Alta to victory: The much anticipated Rocky Mountain showdown between Orem (Utah) Timpanogos and Sandy (Utah) Alta ended 35-28 in favor of the Alta Hawks.

Hawks tailback Sausan Shakerin finished the game with 169 rushing yards on 33 carries and four touchdowns. He was aided by a strong defensive performance by teammates Jefferson Court and Derek Keller. Court finished the game with five solo tackles, three assists, three and a half TFL's and one forced fumble from his linebacker spot, while Keller had an astonishing four and a half sacks from his defensive end position.

The Timpanogos Timberwolves boasted a defensive star of their own in massive defensive end David Kruger. Kruger had 11 tackles and three sacks in a losing effort. One to watch in the future for Timpanogos is sophomore Joe Kruger, David's younger brother. The 6-foot-7, 220-pound Joe Kruger plays both tight end and defensive end.

The Alta Hawks now hope to avenge an earlier season loss at the hands of top ranked South Jordan (Utah) Bingham Miners in the semifinals of 4A this Friday.

Snow College dominates anticipated match up: The No. 4 ranked Eastern Arizona Gila Monsters made the long trip to Ephraim, Utah to challenge the #1 ranked Snow College Badgers. Snow College would turn the Eastern Arizona trip into a major disappointment by winning 55-21.

Snow College racked up 678 yards of total offense behind a dominating performance by its offensive line. The offensive line was lead by a pair of sophomores in 6-foot-6, 330-pound Andrew Mitchell, and 6-foot-4, 320-pound Aarron Po'uha. Mitchell used his long arms and nasty disposition to ward off the Gila Monster pass rushers, while Po'uha smashed large holes up the middle to help aid the Badger rushing attack.

There were two bright spots for Eastern Arizona sophomore Pat Riley, and freshman Ronald Robinson. Riley showed exceptional change of direction and speed from the quarterback position, and also did a fine job punting, while Robinson chased the Badger offense all over the field from his defensive end spot and excelled on special teams.

No. 1 ranked Snow College will now try to end the regular season undefeated as they play host to New Mexico Military Institute on Saturday.

Chad Simmons, Recruiting Analyst
Awesome showing by Allen: Fayetteville (N.C.) Terry Sanford four-star tight end Dwayne Allen is an impressive athlete. At 6 feet 4 and 235 pounds, Allen is very quick off the line and he gets down field.

Terry Sanford lost its game against Pine Forest 14-0, but Allen showed soft hands, the ability to get off the line and to get separation. He caught the ball away from his body and always looked to get yards after the catch.

Allen is a solid blocker, but is a bigger threat in the passing game. He has very good speed for a tight end, he is powerful and he is a nightmare for linebackers to cover down field. Allen was flexed out a lot and ended up with three receptions for 67 yards on the night. He was open much more than that, but the quarterback did not have time to find him.

In recruiting, Allen remains a "soft" commitment to Georgia, but they still appear to be in good shape when it comes to signing him. He will be in Athens this weekend for his official visit, but he still plans to visit other schools before that first Wednesday in February.

Junior OL to watch: Troup County High School has produced a number of Division I prospects over the years and the next bid one looks to be Chris Burnette.

Burnette is a 6-foot-3, 280-pound interior lineman that could play guard or center on the next level. He controls the line of scrimmage, uses great technique and he really fires off the ball.

He is a very smart player and that could help him at center. Making the calls, reading the line and being the leader on the offensive line is something he is very capable of doing. Not only will he be an ACC/SEC type player next fall on the field, but he is an honor student as well. He has a perfect 4.0 grade point average as a student.

He is already hearing from Clemson, Vanderbilt, Georgia Tech, Florida and others. Burnette likes the in-state schools right now.

A Sleeper heading to South Florida: The South Florida Bulls have taken a lot of not-so-high-profile recruits and turned them into major players to help them put their program on the map.

They may have another one this year in defensive lineman Corey Grissom. Grissom is a 6-foot-2, 275-pound interior defensive lineman that will fit right in down in Tampa.

He quietly picked up double-digit offers this year and the Bulls may be getting a steal. He explodes off the ball, he keeps his pad level low and he is dominant with the bull rush.

Grissom was mainly a pass rush guy on the edge last year, but this year he moved inside and has become a more balanced defensive lineman. He has good size, good quickness and he plays hard. He is a good get for the Bulls.

Big prospect to watch in 2010: The small town of Greenville has not produced too many big-time football prospects in recent years, but they may have one ready to be that guy in 2010.

Kenarious Gates immediately passes the eyeball test when you see him. He stands 6 feet 5 and is put together at 275 pounds. He is only halfway through his sophomore year and he is already on the radar of colleges.

Gates played only tight end as a freshman and that shows how athletic the big man is and now he is playing defensive end and some offensive tackle in 2007. He moves well, is very coordinated for his size at such a young age and he is definitely one to watch.

Expect to see Gates at combines and camps next spring and his name is only going to get bigger if does what he needs to on and off the field over the next two-plus years.

Previous From the Road: Sep 6 | Sep 13 | Sep 20 | Sep 27 | Oct 4 | Oct 11 | Oct 18 | Oct 25 | Nov 1

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