The list below is the opinion of Inside Kentucky's Rob Gidel; whom after months of researching and contacting the most respected opinions across the state, developed the list below of Kentucky's Top Ten PROSPECTS in the state. This list is NOT a list of the Top 10 best players in the state, but rather the list of 10 prospects that have the most collegiate potential to date. It will be re-produced and updated as the season approaches. Enjoy!
10. David Jones RB/DB 5'10 170 Belfry, KY (Belfry HS)
You can't make a list of the best ten prospects in the state without including perhaps the quickest or fastest player in Kentucky. That would be Belfry's David Jones and what Jones may lack in size, is made up for in that very characteristic. The Belfry native certainly passes the all important, "look test," from the get-go. At 5'10, he is a chiseled 170 pounds of lean muscle. His lower body is even more encouraging, as he possesses a nice foundation which can add weight and get even stronger. UK offered him early in the process and is believed to be the front-runner to garner his services if Ohio State does not offer before signing day. Whoever gets the star athlete will be getting a steal of a player that plays with heart, determination, and grit; but most of all, a speedster who brings "flexibility," to any program. (*Update: David Jones committed to UK*)
9. Michael Schwindel WR/S 6'4 205 Lewisport, KY (Hancock Co. HS)
I did not want to make a list without seeing each one of the state's best prospects in person. After witnessing Schwindel for myself this past Thursday in Owensboro, I can see why Kentucky offered him so early into the process. The 6'4 wide receiver from Hancock County has got all the tools to be a great receiver at the collegiate level and is a nice prospect because he has so much "growth potential." His upper and lower body will need to add a substantial amount of weight, but his added athleticism and speed from the "Get Quick" camp in Owensboro moved him outside the Top 10 into the #9 spot. The future looks bright for this Ed McCaffery type receiver from Hancock County if he can keep the newly found speed and find a home at either receiver or safety.
8. Earl Heyman DT/DE 6'4 230 Louisville, KY (Ballard HS)
You cannot put a price on a great defensive tackle prospect and the state has arguably one of the best in Earl Heyman from Ballard High School in Louisville. Heyman has a great foundation in his lower body and also tremendous feet for a player of his build and size. He has been dominating offensive lineman for three years now, but it's not necessary that which separates the Ballard product from the rest. The Louisville native can beat you any which way he likes; using his tremendous quickness and speed to beat guys up in front or with his deceiving strength up high. Much like his counterpart in James McKinney, Heyman gets off the ball so much quicker then most defensive tackles at a similar stage, it amazes even the most modest recruiting analysts. That is what makes him such a visible prospect on film and such a nice collegiate prospect.
7. Curtis Pulley ATH 6'4 195 Hopkinsville, KY (Hopkinsville HS)
The athlete from Hopkinsville is a sleeper to some outsiders but make no mistake about it, the kid can play. When you first gaze your eyes on the gun-slinger, you can't help but salivate at the possibilities. At 6'4, Pulley has the size to play linebacker, quarterback, safety, tight end, or receiver at the next level. He's got the 4.6 speed and can beat you with his arm or legs if he chooses to play quarterback in college. If he chooses receiver or safety, he has that "long" build that takes up plenty of space. It is that growth potential that makes Pulley one of the state's best prospects. From his upper and lower body to his speed and size, what separates Pulley from the rest is his play-making ability. Nobody demands more attention and respect then "Pull." He is the type of player you can't help but want the ball in crunch time and that rare athlete that plays his best when the spotlight shines the brightest.
6. Maurice Grinter ATH 6'4 225 Louisville, KY (Fairdale HS)
Nobody's early decision hurt more then Grinter's commitment to Louisville for the Wildcat staff. Coach Archer's defensive staff felt compelled to offer the Fairdale star in February, in hopes of getting him in for a visit during Spring Practice. Unfortunately for Wildcat fans, that did not happen; as Louisville promised Maurice more then Kentucky could offer. The Cardinals' in return may be getting one of the best athletes to come out of the state since Michael Bush. Grinter can play not only a variety of positions at the next level, but has the speed to be dominant at wherever he is placed. He's got a tremendous amount of growth potential, having a very nice upper body that has not nearly been, "tapped," as far as hitting the weight room is concerned. If he adds 15-20 pounds of muscle and maintains his speed, he could be a very good linebacker prospect at UofL. If he stays at wide reciever, I am afraid he might never fulfill his potential as a player.
5. Alfonso Smith DB 6'1 190 Louisville, KY (Waggener HS)
The Waggener star running back/defensive back was somewhat of a sleeper coming into the summer months, but the quiet storm has erupted into a hurricane these days, as Smith's name has surfaced across the midwest and into the Eastern US. What sets Smith apart from the rest, is his size. At 6'1, Smith is taller then the majority of the cornerbacks currently listed on UK's roster and the majority of cornerbacks in the SEC. Couple that with his tremendous break-away speed and leaping ability, and you've got yourself a high division 1A prospect. Whomever takes Alfonso Smith from this recruiting year will be getting a steal of a player.
4. Brandon Deaderick DE 6'4 235 Elizabethtown, KY (Elizabethtown HS)
The dandy of them all and perhaps the most important to UK's incoming class of 2005; Deaderick possesses that big defensive end body that Coach Mike Archer loves and needs in this class. His energy has been questioned at times, but nobody can argue about his physical appearence. At 6'4 he is a long and wide on the outside, but still possesses that SEC type speed at the end spot, which makes him such an attractive prospect for a man of his build. College coaches have obviously agreed; as Deaderick claims offers from some of the best schools in the SEC, as well as North Carolina, Michigan State, and Louisville.
3. Brandon Logan LB 6'1 235 Lexington, KY (Lexington Catholic)
No matter how you spin it, their just is no way of describing how big of a prospect Brandon Logan is, especially to UK fans. Although small for a linebacker, Logan has got some serious wheels, running a reported 4.4 at the Michigan camp his sophomore year of high school and recently running a 4.5 at UK's camp. He's got a nice stocky body that resembles a bulldog from a distance. Logan hits like a truck and runs like a train, already gaining the attention of the "who's who," in college football. Logan sports offers from Florida, Michigan, and Tennessee among others and will be fought over by UofL and UK 'till the end. In my opinion, if Logan continues to hit the weight room hard, he could be in the NFL in four years. He's that good and that special of a player at linebacker, regardless of size.
2. Cory Zirbel OL 6'7 275 Murray, KY (Murray HS)
The Micah Jones of 2005, Zirbel is Kentucky's best offensive line prospect and could be one of the top offensive lineman in the country. He currently holds 28 offers including Miami(FL) and now Michigan. The Murray star has one character trait that is unteachable; size. At 6'7, Zirbel is almost impossible to beat. He utilizes his size so well, having great lateral movement off the snap of the ball. He has no visible weaknesses to his game at this point and could be an even better prospect then Micah Jones because of his size and his coaching. With Zirbel's father as a mentor, he can become a dynamite prospect for the future. Wherever Zirbel chooses, his hard work alone will make him one of the best players to come out of the state in the past few years.
1. James McKinney DL 6'4 245 Louisville, KY (Central HS)
For the second straight year, this spot is a total NO brainer. James McKinney is and will continue to be the best prospect in the state of Kentucky. Everyone else is playing for second if the Central High School star is involved. What makes McKinney such a hot commodity and rare prospect is his ability to move off the ball. He's got the technique, the size, the speed, and the quickness to beat any offensive lineman in the country, already. Watching him go one on one reminds me of Sweet Pea Burns with size. He's got that explosiveness, the determination, and the technique to blow by anyone. And he possesses these characteristics as a 17 year old. There just is no telling how good McKinney could be with the right coaching. His potential is endless.
Our next installment of the rankings will be brought to the table sometime in the in August. Be sure and check out the front page, daily for new updates on in-state recruits. Inside Kentucky will be checking up on the state's best recruits each and every day till signing day and beyond. Be sure and get your premium subscription ASAP!