Since the start of the 2006 high school football season, we have been on the road and have seen many of the top prospects across the country play first-hand. With those performances fresh in our minds, and given the fact the initial 2007 ESPN 150 was released in July, we feel it's time to make some changes in our national rankings.
After the first four weeks of the season, it is clear that the best player on that team and the best player we have seen, is running back Tyler, not quarterback Clausen. Thus, Tyler we have moved Tyler from No. 3 in the ESPN 150 to No. 1, while Clausen drops from No. 1 to No. 4.
Tyler has earned his spot with exceptional performances. He has outstanding versatility as both a runner and wide receiver, and his power between the tackles is impressive, not to mention his production on defense as a linebacker.
While Clausen is very good and remains the best quarterback prospect in the class, we feel there are prospects who are better all-around football players and who demonstrate impact ability in a variety of roles. Believe it or not, Clausen may very well be challenged greatly at the next level.
Anaheim Servite linebacker Chris Galippo remains at No. 2 as an impact defensive cog, while North Fort Myers running back Noel Devine moves up one spot from No. 4 to No. 3. It is our understanding that Devine has not yet met NCAA academic qualification requirements, but there is no doubt he is the most explosive player in the entire class and has the potential to possibly move into the No. 1 slot at some point.
We always have maintained that versatility and impact on the game at more than one position carries a lot of weight in our rankings. Few players have impressed us in that regard more than John Curtis Christian all-purpose player Joe McKnight, who makes the biggest jump in the ESPN 150 this week.
McKnight jumps from No. 26 to No. 5, and while his impact is obvious, his role on his team is quite a mystery. For example, against No. 1 ranked Hoover on Sept. 29, McKnight rushed for 70 yards on just 5 carries and caught three passes for 174 yards and two touchdowns while playing primarily as a decoy. He only touched the ball eight times, and Hoover kicked and punted away from him the entire night.
Needless to say, McKnight is a dominant player and not just at one position. He could be an impact guy at running back, cornerback, wide receiver and in the kicking game, and he has proved it against the best of the best all season long. What would he do if he touched the ball 20-25 times a game?
Cornerback Eric Berry (Fairburn, Ga./Creekside) jumps one spot from No. 7 to No. 6 after exceptional performances on both sides of the ball. Berry is playing on defense much more this season, which will decrease the learning curve for him down the road.
As always, we will continue to evaluate and monitor the 2007 ESPN 150, and changes will be made when performances dictate them. Several prospects are playing very well right now, including top defensive end Martez Wilson (Chicago/Simeon), who also is making a huge impact as a wide receiver, which shows his athleticism. Wilson did not move up in the rankings, but his play has caused his grade to rise.
Cornerback Golden Tate (Hendersonville, Tenn./Pope John Paul II) also continues to excel in all three areas of the game and is an exceptional overall athlete. Mike Ragone (Cherry Hill, N.J./Camden Catholic) remains the No. 1 tight end prospect but moved down in the overall rankings due to his knee injury.
The ESPN 150 is compiled by Scouts Inc.