North Carolina's Top 50 Prospects: #1-10

After attending seven combines, watching hours of film and speaking with numerous high school coaches across the state, we at Inside ECU Sports feel confident that no one has spent more time evaluating the in-state class of 2008. Today we continue our evaluation of the in-state class with the top 10 prospects in the state of North Carolina.

  • North Carolina's Top 50 Prospects: #41-50
  • North Carolina's Top 50 Prospects: #31-40
  • North Carolina's Top 50 Prospects: #21-30
  • North Carolina's Top 50 Prospects: #11-20

    Legend: (o)-offer, (L)- our opinion of who may lead for a particular prospect, (c)- camp

    10. ATH Marquan Brown...5-8, 160 pounds, 4.35/40...Gray's Creek HS... Hope Mills, NC
    Notes...If you were to base rankings solely off of film, Brown would likely be the top prospect in the state this year. He is an amazing athlete with speed and quickness that is off the charts- in fact, he's probably the quickest player in North Carolina for the class of 2008. Brown has tremendous explosion and acceleration and very few on the high school level can contain him. His lack of size is somewhat of a drawback and he'll need to make up some ground in the classroom to be eligible to play in 2008. Brown committed to East Carolina in May and is the crown jewel of Skip Holtz's commitments thus far.

    Schools...East Carolina commitment

    9. QB Jacob Charest...6-3, 190 pounds, 4.7/40...Butler HS...Charlotte, NC
    Notes...Charest has good size and mobility and impressed at each combine he attended over the spring. He has a quick release and is a very solid student of the game. He doesn't necessarily have a cannon of an arm but is extremely accurate in the short and intermediate passing game and with time, will get even stronger. Does a good job of throwing outside the pocket and his mechanics are fluid. With the talent he has around him, could put up huge numbers for Butler in 2007.

    Schools....California(o), Oregon(o), Louisville(o), NC State(c), Illinois(o), Akron (o), Iowa (o)

    Just our opinion...While schools like Oregon and California can't be ruled out, we think odds are in favor of Charest staying closer to home should the opportunity present itself. Enter NC State. If the Pack offers Charest (and he should be a strong candidate to earn an offer at State's camp this month), the Pack has a solid chance of emerging as a team to beat for his commitment. With Louisville already landing a QB, they are probably not as much of a viable option at this point.

    8. LB Dwayne Maddox...6-2, 220 pounds, 4.65/40...Crest HS... Shelby, NC
    Notes...North Carolina boasts several talented linebackers but Maddox is probably the closest physically to where you want your LB's to be in college. What jumps out with Maddox are his natural instincts and ability for the linebacker position. Probably not as quick or rangy as Abrams-Ward or Manning but plays with toughness and loves to hit. Could ultimately project as a middle linebacker. Maddox does a great job of hitting holes to get into the backfield and he may be the best tackler in the state. He has quite a bit of upside and could emerge into a standout collegiate LB in a few years.

    Schools...NC State(o)(L)(c), UNC(o), Clemson(o), South Carolina(o), Alabama (o), East Carolina (o), Florida

    Just our opinion...Maddox has fairly consistently stated that he is open but when he has named favorites, NC State has been the school out front. Behind the scenes, word has the Pack as the team to beat. Maddox will reportedly announce his decision in the next few weeks, and he is down to NC State, UNC, and Clemson.

    7. S Robert Blanton...6-1, 175 pounds, 4.45/40...Butler HS...Charlotte, NC
    Notes...Blanton is probably the more polished of the three Butler defensive backs. He has impressive coverage skills and his fundamentals are solid. Blanton has proven speed and the quickness to make up ground in a hurry. Because of that quickness, he could also get a look at cornerback. He has been one of the state's most heavily recruited players during the spring evaluation period.

    Schools...Michigan (o)(L), UNC (o)(L), Virginia Tech(o), NC State(o), Georgia(o), South Carolina(o), Notre Dame

    Just our opinion...It appears likely that Blanton will play his college ball out of state and Michigan or Notre Dame appear to be two strong contenders. Should he decide to stay in-state, UNC could prove tough to beat.

    6. TE Dwayne Allen...6-3, 225 pounds, 4.7/40...Terry Sanford HS...Fayetteville, NC
    Notes...When scouting Allen, he has the look of a prospect that should be playing division one football now. He has the perfect frame for tight end and surprising speed for a player his size. Allen has above average athleticism and agility that enables him to make the tough grab. However, he's also tough and aggressive enough to stand out as a blocker in the run game as well. Although NC State was an early leader for Allen, he committed to Georgia once Chuck Amato was fired.

    Schools...Georgia commitment....NC State(c), UNC

    Just our opinion...Allen has maintained his commitment to Georgia although UNC and NC State are making concerted efforts to change his mind. Allen is close friends with Pack basketball commit C.J. Williams and he will camp at State this summer. Should the Wolfpack win enough games this upcoming season, perhaps they can become a serious player to change his mind. UNC will definitely be a factor as well.

    5. LB E.J. Abrams-Ward...6-5, 210 pounds, 4.6/40...Thomasville (NC) HS
    Notes...Abrams-Ward is a dual threat player that has starred at QB and LB for Thomasville. It appears that QB is his position of choice but there's little doubt that his future is at LB or perhaps even defensive end down the road. Abrams-Ward is probably the most athletic linebacker in North carolina this year and we feel he compares well with former Pack DE Manny Lawson at similar points in their careers. He moves extremely well laterally and has the quickness to make plays all over the field. Although he is ranked fairly high now, Abrams-Ward has a huge ceiling and could rise up the rankings even farther down the road.

    Schools...UNC(o), NC State(o), Florida, East Carolina (o), Tennessee(o), Georgia, Clemson(o), Alabama(o)

    Just our opinion...Right now we really don't have one. Abrams-Ward really hasn't named any favorites although we certainly feel UNC, Tennessee and Florida could quietly be major considerations.

    4. DE Quinton Coples...6-6, 230 pounds, 4.7/40...Kinston (NC) HS
    Notes...Coples is the state's most athletic jumbo athlete with a super combination of size, quickness and agility. He is extremely quick off the line and has a frame that can add quite a bit of size. Didn't dominate as much as one would expect on film but he's raw and with time, should improve his technique at defensive end. It wouldn't be out of the question that Coples could ultimately grow into a defensive tackle down the road. Upside is probably the key word with Coples.

    Schools...UNC(o)(L), Florida(o), NC State(o), East Carolina (o), Michigan, Clemson(o)

    Just our opinion...While Coples hasn't narrowed his list completely down, many insiders feel UNC, Clemson and Florida to be the teams to beat. East Carolina is the local school, but the Pirates appear to be on the outside. Coples will reportedly transfer to Charlotte- presumably to improve his academics and some feel that could be a move that ultimately helps UNC and Clemson.

    3. ATH Brandon Barnes...6-0, 180 pounds, 4.4/40...Bunn (NC) HS
    Notes...Few players in North Carolina created as much buzz over the spring than Barnes. With reported offers from as far away as Southern Cal, he is one of the hottest prospects in the state. What makes him so attractive is his versatility. Barnes could project at running back, wide receiver, defensive back or special teams. He has a good combination of size and speed but his athleticism is what sets him apart. Didn't put up huge numbers as a junior and shared time with other Bunn RB's at running back. However, he is a potential game-breaker every time he touches the ball and should be the focal point of his team's offense in 2007.

    Schools...Auburn(o), Clemson(o), NC State(o), Penn State(o), Florida, Michigan, Southern Cal(o)

    Just our opinion....The conventional wisdom is that NC State leads in-state while Auburn and Clemson are Barnes' top, out of state schools. Many feel family ties could keep Barnes closer to home but that's certainly not a definite. For now we consider it a virtual toss up between NC State, Clemson and Auburn.

    2. OL R.J. Mattes...6-7, 265 pounds, 5.0/40...Jay M Robinson HS...Concord, NC
    Notes...Some may disagree with our selection of Mattes as the state's number two prospect but we dare anyone to name a more technically sound master of his position. He is a remarkable technician of the offensive tackle position and his sound fundamentals are rarely seen on the high school level. Once he physically catches up with his knowledge of the position, he could become a dominant offensive tackle. Mattes has the frame to play in the 290-300 pound range and the coaching he's received from his father (former OL at Virginia) is readily apparent.

    Schools...UNC(o), NC State(o)(c), Virginia(o), Clemson(o), Miami(o)

    Just our opinion....we feel fairly confident at this point that Mattes will ultimately end up at Virginia, NC State, Clemson or UNC. State has probably made up more ground than anyone during the spring and desperately needs tackles in this class. However, ties to Virginia through his father make them a serious candidate and the connection he's made with coach Napier at Clemson have the Tigers as a strong possibility. A recent camp trip to UNC has also helped establish the Heels as a major option. For now, it's impossible to pick a particular favorite.

    1. LB Terrell Manning...6-3, 205 pounds, 4.6/40...Scotland County HS... Laurinburg, NC
    Notes....While Manning has an impressive frame and speed, it's his results on the football field that have landed him as our choice for the state's number one player. While many players may have the size and quickness, Manning also boasts tremendous natural instincts and ability for the linebacker position. He has a knack for reading plays, taking good pursuit angles and finding gaps to get to the ball-carrier. Once he decides where he wants to go, his quickness, agility and athleticism take over. Manning finishes that off with solid tackling fundamentals and he doesn't shy away from contact. When combining athletic ability, potential, work ethic and performance in the classroom, no one in North Carolina is better.

    Schools...NC State(o)(L)(c), UNC(o), Virginia Tech(o), Clemson(o), Florida(o)

    Just our opinion...NC State, Clemson and Virginia Tech look particularly strong. The fact that he will enroll in college early makes him even more attractive. Were signing day tomorrow, we think State would get him but there's still a ways to go and anything can happen.

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