Hot 100 - Southeast

It's not and easy task to pair a region as talented as the Deep South down to just 100 players, but that is what I've attempted to do in this look at Pre-Season Southern 100 Team. Here is a quick look at the cream of the crop among the Top 100 players in the south.

Hot 100 - Southeast

The south is loaded with excellent quarterback prospects. The state of Florida and Georgia each placed four quarterbacks on this Hot 100, and Cornelius Ingram of Hawthorne, FL is at the top of the heap going into this fall. At 6-4 and 191 pounds, Ingram has the ideal frame of a pocket passer, but he also has great mobility. Two recruiting battles will have to take place for Ingram. The first battle will be to sign him, and the second battle will be to keep him from choosing to play basketball full time. 

There may not be a first team All-American at the running back position in the Deep South, but there is an abundant supply of difference makers nonetheless.  Markus Manson of Tuscaloosa, AL is the most physically gifted tailback prospect on the Hot 100. At a shade over 6-1 and 190 pounds, Manson has broken a 4.4 forty on several occasions, including a fast day at the Nike Camp in Auburn, AL. His forty inch vertical was the best mark among 400 prospects at that very camp. Manson is a home run hitter that is a threat to score every time he touches the ball. 

Charlie Jones of Homestead, FL is more of a battering ram type of running back. He doesn't have the speed of Manson, but he runs with more power. At 5-11 and 202 pounds, Jones has excellent balance and vision and can bust through the line of scrimmage to hit pay dirt on any given carry. 

The south is never short on top-notch wide receiver prospects, and this year is no different. Early Doucet, Xavier Carter, Calvin Johnson, and Nikita Stover each bring something different to the table. While that's four receivers on the All-South team, each one of these players needs to be listed. 

Early Doucet of St. Martinsville, LA is the most explosive player in the south. He plays quarterback in high school, but he will make the move to wide receiver on the next level. He has the type of skills and ability in the open field that makes his opponents look like they are playing in sand. 

Xavier Carter of Melbourne, FL is the fastest player in the country, but he is not just a track star playing football. He runs good routes and catches the ball with his hands very well. At 6-3 and 195 pounds, Carter is a big target that uses his body as well as his speed to fend off smaller corners. 

Calvin Johnson is the biggest wide receiver of the three mentioned. The Tyrone, GA native looks like a high school clone of San Francisco 49ers star Terrell Owens. He is huge target at 6-4 and 200 pounds, and like Carter, he uses his size to his advantage when going up for the ball in traffic. Johnson has excellent speed, and with his size and strength is a devastating blocker. 

Nikita Stover is the state of Alabama's top ranked player this season. He is the most elusive of the three players, and is electrifying with the ball in his hands. Stover of Hartselle, AL is also a big target at 6-2. An All-Region team consisting of Carter and Johnson on the outside with Stover in the slot position would be a devastating combination. 

After a relatively thin year for offensive tackles, the south has an abundance of pure tackles in the class of 2004 this season. The best of the bunch looks to be a player that is being projected at the position based on pure physical talent. 

Glen Davis of Baton Rouge, LA has never played offensive tackle, but at 6-8 and 350 pounds, he is the most physically gifted big man in the country. He plays fullback in high school, and watching a man of that size with feet that quick makes college scouts start to drool. He hasn't played offensive tackle yet, but with his athleticism, it will be an easy transition for him. Like Cornelius Ingram though, it will be a battle to keep Glen "Big Baby" Davis off of the hard court. 

B.J. Stabler of Grove Hill, AL is the second best offensive tackle prospect in the south. Unlike Davis though, Stabler looks as though he was born into protecting the quarterback's blind side. He has amazingly quick feet, and at 6-5 and 290 pounds, he has the size and strength to negate a bull rushing defensive end. 

Micah Brown of Kentucky is another big offensive tackle prospect. He has the size and quickness to play offensive tackle, but he also has the strength and power to play on the interior line. 

Drew Miller of Sarasota, FL was the consensus top offensive line prospect at the Gainesville, FL Nike Camp, and he earned that distinction because of his long frame and quick feet. At 6-5 and 290 pounds, Miller projects as a pure offensive tackle as well, and he dominated the pass rushing drills at the Nike Camp. 

Jeremy Ciulla of Kennesaw, GA is in the same mold as Eric Young from the class of 2003. Ciulla is relatively new to the game of football, but he has physical attributes that cannot be denied. He too excels in pass protection at this stage of his career, but at 6-5 and 270 pounds he has the frame to add several dozen pounds of muscle on the next level. 

Moving to the defensive side of the ball, the only logical place to start is at the deepest position in the entire country: the linebackers. As many as 10 linebackers could be named All-South, but it's my job to pick out the three best going into the season. 

The head of the class is Willie Williams of Miami, FL. Williams is a 6-3 and 225 pounds machine on the football field. He has the speed (4.5) to play outside, and the size to play inside. Because of an eligibility ruling that went against him this summer, his high school playing career is over, but football fans will not have to wait long to see him in action. Williams will be on the field as a true freshman in the fall of 2004. 

Brandon Miller of Colquit, GA may be the most versatile player in the country. At 6-4 and 217 pounds, Miller lines up at wide receiver, running back, tight end, linebacker and defensive end in high school. He will play on the defensive side of the ball on the next level though, and his size currently has him slotted for the outside linebacker position. 

Keith Rivers of Lake Mary, FL is another player that had nothing to prove at the Nike Camp in Miami, FL, but went out and proved he was one of the top linebackers in the country anyway. Physically, he is a clone of Williams at 6-3 and 225 pounds. 

The Hot 100 possesses two of the top defensive tackle prospects in the nation. Eric McLendon of Vidalia, GA is the top prospect in the state of Georgia, and he is an absolute physical phenom. He is a rock hard 6-5 and 290 pounds, and has been timed under 5.0 in the forty. Despite his height, McLendon has great flexibility and leverage in order to stand up shorter, squattier interior linemen. 

Demonte Bolden of Chattanooga, TN is a demon on the defensive line. He lives in the backfield of his opponents and generally makes life miserable for opposing offenses. At just under 6-4 and pushing 300 pounds, Bolden has sub 5.0 quickness and has the ideal size to play defensive tackle. 

Moving to the end positions, we find the nation's top ranked defensive end in Hawkinsville, GA's Charles Johnson. Johnson is much like another Georgia product Brandon Miller in that he does it all in high school, but he will find a home on the defensive side of the ball. 

Xavier Mitchell of Long Beach, MS is also a one man wrecking crew. Mitchell strictly plays defensive end for the most part in high school, but that gives him more than ample time to take over a game. Teams run away from the talented end in high school, but Mitchell has excellent quickness and pursuit. Once his team gets a lead, Mitchell pins his ears back and generally keeps the quarterback on his back. 

The defensive backfield will be well patrolled by safety prospects Tony Bell and Michael Grant. Bell from Alabaster, AL stands at 6-2 and just over 200 pounds. He is a big hitter that excels in coverage and will make an ideal strong safety. He may end up at linebacker on the next level, but he is currently the top strong safety prospect in the south. 

Grant from Stone Mountain, GA would be the fastest player on any All-Region team that did not include Xavier Carter.  Like Carter, Grant is much more than a track star playing football. He covers the backfield sideline to sideline, and he can come up and lay a hit as well. 

While Thomas Brown of Tucker, GA is primarily being recruited as a tailback, it would be remiss to talk about the top players in the south and not bring up his name. So I'm placing him at corner on my All-South team. While he is a dynamite running back and has an NFL future at that position, he is an even better corner. This versatility makes Brown one of the most sought after prospects in the Peach State. 

J.R. Bryant of Miami, FL is a tall cover corner prospect that coaches covet to help combat taller receivers of today's game. Bryant stands at 6-0 and 171 pounds, and he has the quickness and hip turn to be one of the top corner prospects in the country. 

This is a quick look at the top players at each position from Hot 100. The south is so deep that a Second Team All-South squad would give the first team a run for its money. The depth is especially prevalent at linebacker, quarterback, and offensive line this year, and it will be a lot of fun to watch these players continue top develop and ultimately choose a destination.  We will re-visit the Hot 100 each month or so.

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