Counting down the state's top athletes

For a state of its size, Alabama has always been noted for the relatively large number of Division 1A football prospects it produces. And 2002 looks to be a banner year. <br><br><I></I> contributing writer Freddie Kirby of <I>Pigskin Preps</I> has ranked this season's Top 30 state players. Today we list numbers 21-30.

# 30, Jake Tompkins, Quarterback

6-2, 206, 4.55, Russellville, Alabama, Russellville High School

One of the top rated quarterbacks in Alabama and in the south, Tompkins has a bulky frame that allows him to withstand oncoming rushers and stand strong in the pocket. He is a strong armed passer, but he's also more than capable of tucking the ball and picking up major yardage.

He is looking at Clemson, Tennessee, Ole Miss, Southern Miss, UAB, Auburn, Alabama, and Georgia. But at this point in the process he reports Clemson as his clear leader.

# 29, Greer Barnett, Tight End

6-3, 220, 4.56, Birmingham, Alabama, Mountain Brook High School

Greer Barnett

Possibly the top receiving tight end prospect in Alabama, Barnett plays in the wide open passing attack of Coach Joey Jones where he gets plenty of opportunities to showcase his hands and running ability. He has terrific speed and is a surprisingly good blocker for his size.

Barnett's brother, Brodie Barnett played football at West Alabama, while his Grandfather, Jess Foshee coached and played at Alabama.

He lists his favorites as LSU, Alabama, Arkansas, Louisville, and Southern Mississippi.

# 28, Jason Jude, Running Back

6-1, 222, 4.60, Athens, Alabama, Athens High School

The Athens News Courier Player of the Year as a junior after leading his team to the state playoffs, Jude is the top returning power back in North Alabama. In addition to his power, Jude has great "football speed."

Jude finished his junior year with 1700 yards and 19 Tds, despite playing the final five games with a separated shoulder. He has been compared favorably to Rudi Johnson (Auburn, Cincinnati Bengals) as a runner. His collegiate future could be at linebacker.

He lists his school interests as Tennessee, Auburn, Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia Tech, Georgia, and North Carolina State.

# 27, Eric Brock, Cornerback

6-1, 180, 4.50, Alex City, Alabama, Benjamin Russell High School

Eric Brock

Brock is a talented cover corner with an aggressive mentality that allows him to stick his nose in the receivers face mask and have confidence that he can't be beaten on the play. He was the top cover man for the 5A State Champions and his break on the ball when it is in the air is worth the price of admission.

Brock is quick, fast, and dependable, plus he is versatile enough to play receiver on offense.

His Dad, Jimmy Brock, played at Auburn. He has a list that includes Georgia, Auburn, Alabama, LSU, and Florida.

# 26, Jai Miller, Athlete

6-4, 187, 4.55, Selma, Alabama, Selma High School

Jai Miller

Considered one of the top three basketball prospects in the state, Miller is a dynamite athlete that can adapt to any skill position in any sport. Also excelling in baseball, Miller could be the state's top all-around athlete.

He plays quarterback in high school, but he could also handle receiver or safety. Many consider his skills the equal of former teammate Ben Obomanu (Auburn).

Miller wants to play both football and basketball in college, a difficult double to pull off. His top schools at this point appear to be Alabama, Auburn, Georgia Tech and Stanford.

# 25, Eric Packer, Running Back/Athlete

Eric Packer

5-9, 184, 4.32, Camden, Alabama, Wilcox Central High School

An early commitment to Alabama, Packer ran away from the competition his sophomore and junior seasons. He has over 4800 yards and 54 Tds entering his senior year and was a finalist for the Class 5A Back of the Year as a junior.

College coaches have timed him with sub-4.40 speed, and he's been measured with a 41-inch vertical jump.

Packer had offers from both Alabama and Auburn, but he has decided to run with the Tide.

# 24, Michael Hill, Defensive Line/Defensive Tackle

6-3, 275, 4.75, Smiths, Alabama, Smith Station High School

Michael Hill

A versatile big man who is a major college prospect at defensive tackle and at tight end, Hill finished his second year of football with 43 tackles and two sacks.

He is an excellent student with the frame to grow into a defensive tackle. Hill has a 24-inch vertical jump and has been timed at 25.2 in the 200 meters.

It's possible that he and high school teammate Mitchell Thomas (linebacker) will attend the same school. Hill lists his early favorites as Alabama, Tennessee, Miami, Clemson, Michigan, and Auburn.

# 23, Lloyd Blevins, Defensive End

6-4, 220, 4.60, Birmingham, Alabama, Wenonah High School

Lloyd Blevins

An unheralded defensive end prospect entering his senior year due to the fact he only played 5 games his junior year, Blevins can be a force rushing the quarterback off the corner.

Blevins is athletic enough to play several different positions, but defensive end is where he'll likely project in college. He has an impressive physical presence and has the frame to add more weight.

Blevins is seriously considering Alabama, Tennessee, Auburn, Florida, and Southern Miss.

# 22, Mario Lane, Tight End/Defensive End

6-5, 250, 4.70, Montgomery, Alabama, Carver High School

Mario Lane

Mario is a three-sport athlete who not only stars on the football field, but also in basketball and as a baseball pitcher. He plays both tight end and defensive end in football and he is being highly recruited at both positions.

Lane was an early commitment to Alabama, whose coaches had scouted him extensively as a junior.

Lane caught 36 passes for 960 yards as a junior. Defensively, he was credited with 85 tackles and eight sacks.

He committed to Alabama over interest from Tennessee, Florida, Nebraska, and Arkansas.

# 21, Kelcy McKissic-Luke, Quarterback/Athlete

6-1, 196, 4.56, Phenix City, Alabama, Central High School

Name goes here

The younger brother of Triandos and Nic Luke (both at Alabama), most obervers say Kelcy is the most talented athlete of the three. Luke was the All Bi-City Offensive Player of the Year as a junior after leading his team to a 9-2 season and the second round of the state playoffs.

Equally dangerous running or passing the football, he is also rangy and tough enough to play defense in college. Given Dennis Franchione's preference for signing athletic quarterbacks, Luke could be his man this season.

McKissic-Luke lists his favorite schools as Alabama, Auburn, Tennessee, Ole Miss, and West Virginia.

EDITOR'S NOTE: We'll continue our countdown of the state's top players. Look for parts two and three in coming days.

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