It's never too early to begin focusing on the Class of 2011. Scholarship offers have been extended since the first day of September and commitments have been made.
In the state of Texas, the top-tier talent as well as depth at running back has been discussed for a while now, but a talented group of linebackers continues to emerge. Leading the way is inside linebacker Anthony Wallace (Dallas/Skyline).
Here is a look at the talented junior group of linebackers in the Lone Star state.
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The 6-foot-2, 223-pounder is as heavily recruited as any junior in the state. The downhill, striking linebacker has received 12 offers to date from the likes of Kansas, Texas A&M, LSU, Miami, Arkansas, Tennessee, Baylor, Texas Tech, Minnesota, Notre Dame, UCLA and the University of Houston.
Trevon Randle (League City, Texas/Clear Springs)
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Randle plays both inside linebacker and running back for the Chargers. The 6-1, 205-pounder may be the fastest linebacker in the class with reported 40 times of 4.48 and 4.52. He doesn't stay blocked long and has the ability to make plays from sideline to sideline.
Randle has offers from Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Baylor with Texas A&M, Texas, LSU and Oregon talking about official, written offers in the near future.
Kendall Thompson (Carthage, Texas/Carthage)
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Thompson may be the most versatile of the linebackers. The 6-3, 230-pounder has terrific hands, timing and physicality. Thompson could be looked at as a linebacker, tight end or even a defensive end in time with a frame that can carry in excess of 250 pounds. At linebacker, Thompson takes very good angles to the ball and arrives with striking ability.
Texas, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, TCU and others are recruiting the East Texas star. His childhood favorite was LSU.
P.L. Lindley (Round Rock, Texas/Stony Point)
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Lindley was a hit in 7-on-7 this summer in College Station, showing his quickness, speed and ability to make plays on the ball. At 6-2, 195 pounds with a strong wiry frame, he is an upside prospect with the ability to run to the football.
Lindley is being recruited by Texas, Baylor, Oklahoma, Texas A&M, TCU and SMU. The Mustangs have offered.
Nathan Broussard (Plano, Texas/West)
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Broussard is a player that will likely move to defensive end on the next level. Already 6-3 and 235 pounds with a frame that can carry 260 pounds or more, Broussard's future may not be at linebacker.
Stanford and Tulsa have offered with California, Nebraska, Kentucky, LSU and Texas showing interest. Broussard played on the same defense the past two seasons with ESPN's top 2010 prospect Jackson Jeffcoat.
Trey Brown (Lancaster, Texas/Lancaster)
Brown is a sideline-to-sideline playmaker. The 6-foot, 205-pounder burst onto the scene as a sophomore on a talented Lancaster team and has continued his productive play this season.
The Sooners have offered with programs such as Oregon, Texas, Oklahoma State, North Carolina, Texas A&M and others showing serious interest.
Steve Edmond (Daingerfield, Texas/Daingerfield)
Edmond played defensive end and tight end as a sophomore, but is putting together a terrific season at inside linebacker for top ranked Daingerfield. Not many have seen the 6-3, 235-pounder as Daingerfield plays on the 2A level and is tucked away in northeast Texas.
TCU, Houston, Nebraska, Iowa State, Kansas State and Purdue are showing interest. Edmond hopes to hear from Florida and Texas, as well. He returned a pair of interceptions for touchdowns in his first round of playoff action.
Edmond is also a capable tight end at the next level.
Ryan Simmons (Cibolo, Texas/Byron M. Steele)
Simmons played with his hand on the ground as a sophomore before moving to inside linebacker this season. The 6-1, 218-pounder has been a force for the Knights with stock that is on rise.
"The move to linebacker has been great," said Simmons. "I'm getting mail from Texas A&M, Houston, SMU, Texas Tech, I get a little here and there from Auburn, Notre Dame and there are some more too."
The Cougars offered after a standout performance at camp during the summer.
Donnie Baggs (League City, Texas/Clear Springs)
Like Simmons and Edmond, Baggs made a position switch heading into the 2009 season. The 6-2, 210-pound, long-armed outside linebacker played safety as a sophomore, but has taken off this season at his natural position.
"I'm a lot more comfortable at linebacker because the position I play now is the position I played my freshman year. I already knew everything about the position. Getting switched back to linebacker was nice. It was an easy move and the game is slow for me," Baggs said.
Baggs has a knack for blitzing off the edge, but is athletic enough to drop in coverage and make plays.
Texas A&M, University of Houston, Texas, Oklahoma, TCU and Baylor are programs that Baggs is considering. He has five sacks on the season.
Best of the rest
Melvin Spears (Allen, Texas/Allen), Derrick Matthew (Houston/North Shore), Devon Hocutt (Killeen, Texas/Ellison), Blake Terry (Denton, Texas/Guyer), Chad Polk (Dallas, Texas/Woodrow Wilson) and Chet Moss (Cedar Park, Texas/Cedar Park).
Brown looking for downhill scheme
Running back Malcolm Brown (Cibolo, Texas/Byron M. Steele) holds scholarship offers from around the country. Oklahoma, Georgia, Notre Dame, TCU, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Stanford, Kansas State and Kansas have offered with Texas to follow suit in February.
With the offer list continuing to build, narrowing down the list before making a decision can be the toughest chore. For Brown, a program's running scheme will be a large part of the equation.
"The first thing is academics and graduation rates," said Brown. "My parents always stay on top of me with that. I want to play in an I-formation, downhill running scheme. That's what I like to do. I'm not really a juking type of guy, but I can if I have to. Of course, a winning program too."
If there are two programs that have the early edge, it's Big 12 South powers Texas and Oklahoma with Notre Dame trying to make up ground.
"I always have conversations with Coach [Major] Applewhite from Texas and Coach [Cale] Gundy from Oklahoma. I'm probably going to start calling a coach from Notre Dame too. I don't know about going too far away from home yet. I'm just going to go with the flow of it for the next year," Brown said.
The 6-foot, 213-pounder was born in Mississippi and has family in Mississippi as well as Orlando. He has attended three college games this season, BYU-Oklahoma, UTEP-Texas and Washington State-Notre Dame.
Warren Central standout likes Hokies
Defensive tackle Kris Harley (Indianapolis, Ind./Warren Central) holds scholarship offers from Virginia Tech, Iowa and Stanford. He is also gaining interest from Ohio State, Notre Dame and a number of other programs.
The 6-2, 260-pounder was especially excited about the scholarship offer from the Hokies. Frank Beamer & Co. signed running back Darren Evans (who is out this season with an injury) out of Warren Central in the Class of 2007.
Harley said he grew up pulling for the Hokies.
"The Virginia Tech offer was huge for me," he said. "I was really excited about it. I have visited there for camp [this past summer]. It's a place that I know I would like to live, not just for the four years of college, but you know, I could live there."
The Hawkeyes were the first school to offer Harley, who has seen time at three-technique defensive tackle, nose guard and defensive end this season and has piled up seven sacks.
"It was real nice to get that offer and it was the first one," he said. "I was very excited to even get an offer from a [FBS] program and Iowa is really good."
Harley, an ESPNU150 Watch List member, said there are three primary things he is going to weigh when he makes a decision.
"First thing, I want to be comfortable with the place I choose," he said. "Second, I want to make sure that they have my major [business]. Third, how good the team is and how good the coaching staff is and all that."
Jersey athlete has offers
Athlete Tanner McEvoy (Oradell, N.J./Bergen Catholic) is a prospect that could potentially play multiple positions in college. The 6-5, 210-pound ESPNU 150 Watch List member has spent this season playing receiver and safety. Next season, he will play quarterback for his high school team and he has a good enough frame to potentially be a tight end in college.
Four schools have taken note of his ability early and have stepped in with scholarship offers.
"Rutgers, Duke, Miami and actually North Carolina just offered me this week," McEvoy said. "Most schools are just recruiting me as an athlete."
McEvoy's brother, Colin, plays linebacker for the Scarlet Knights, so there is high interest in the home state school. Notre Dame, Boston College and Florida all are sending mail, along with nearly every other school in the country.
"Location is going to be pretty big for me," McEvoy said. "It doesn't bother me leaving the state. I also want to look at academics and the type of offense that the team runs."
Gerry Hamilton has covered recruiting in Texas and the Southwest for over a decade. He can be reached at email@example.com.