The class of 2007 will likely go down as one of the deepest classes ever for the state of North Carolina. Talent abounds from nearly every corner of the state and Pack Pride breaks down 70 of those special athletes as we present our annual look at the best North Carolina has to offer. Today, we rate prospects 1-30.
Summarizing the Top 70:
Number of prospects that made the list from each position:
Number of prospects in the top 70 that have already committed to a college:
36 or 51%
Schools that are leading with the most in-state commitments:
The Top Thirty
1. OL Trinton Sturdivant...6-4, 280 pounds, 5.2-seconds in the 40...Anson County HS, Wadesboro, NC
Notes...Sturdivant was our initial choice as the state's top prospect and we decided to stick with him in our official listing. Although he didn't look as sharp during the combines this spring, we felt that was attributable to his recovering from an injury. On film, Sturdivant looks great. He routinely dominates the opposing defensive lineman and has a world of potential. Had numerous offers from around the region but committed to Georgia.
2. WR Greg Little...6-2, 210 pounds, 4.5-seconds in the 40...Hillside HS, Durham, NC
Notes...Little is the state's top athlete in our opinion. He has a college-ready physique now and could be a major player on the next level once he matures. Little is adamant about playing wide receiver but he is extremely raw. It won't surprise us if he is asked to move to defense at some point during his career. Has been hard to pin down as far as favorites go but Notre Dame and Texas as well as UNC have appeared to be serious players at one point or another. NC State chances look slim at this point.
3. CB Marcus Gilchrist...5-11, 170 pounds, 4.4-seconds in the 40...Andrews HS, High Point, NC
Notes...Gilchrist has the prototypical skills of what you're looking for in a cornerback. He boasts solid coverage fundamentals, good hips and the speed to make up ground when beaten. He also doesn't mind mixing it up physically when need be. Gilchrist had offers from all over the country but has committed to Clemson.
4. DT Tydreke Powell...6-3, 290 pounds, 5.0-seconds in the 40...Hertford County HS, Ahoskie, NC
Notes...Powell is a powerful interior lineman that knows how to get under his man and routinely make plays in opposing team's backfield. Has a great frame and moves extremely well in a small space. He has offers from all the major schools up and down the east coast but grew up a UNC fan and they currently lead. NC State has former teammate LaMarcus Bond but the Pack has been fighting an uphill battle for Powell since the beginning of his recruiting.
5. DE Travian Robertson...6-4, 225 pounds, 4.6-seconds in the 40...Scotland County HS, Laurinburg, NC
Notes...Robertson suffered a serious knee injury as a junior but colleges love his potential. He has a frame to play much heavier in college, runs extremely well and is cat-quick off the ball. The only question mark is how long it may take to overcome the mental aspect of returning from his injury. Clemson, South Carolina, NC State and UNC have been the main players but Robertson has basically narrowed it down to the Gamecocks and Tigers. A decision could come at any time.
6. DT/TE Wes Saunders...6-5, 270 pounds, 4.85-seconds in the 40...Riverside HS, Durham, NC
Notes...Saunders is a very gifted athlete who boasts a tremendous frame but speed and athleticism that you don't see often with a player his size. Could play tight end in college but may be better suited for defensive tackle if he develops a nasty streak. UNC has long been considered the leader but Notre Dame has received some consideration recently. NC State has basically no shot here as things stand currently.
7. OL Landon Walker...6-6, 270 pounds, 5.1-seconds in the 40...E Wilkes HS, Ronda, NC
Notes...Of all the offensive linemen in North Carolina, Walker may be the best right now. However, the range of his upside may be somewhat limited. That is not to diminish his skills, though. He moves well, has a very muscular build and is technically sound for this point in his career. NC State appeared to hold an early lead but a trip to Clemson unraveled that and the Tigers earned his commitment earlier this summer. The Pack could hypothetically get back in the race but we think that's an extreme longshot.
8. WR Dwight Jones...6-5, 210 pounds, 4.7-seconds in the 40...Cummings HS, Burlington, NC
Notes...Jones is the top jumbo athlete in this class in our opinion. He has been slated for wide receiver in college but we feel, because of his size, has the versatility to project at a number of positions which is always a plus for a coaching staff. Jones has good speed and hands and the measureables that can't be coached. Grew up a UNC fan and committed to the Heels earlier this year.
9. RB Ryan Houston...6-2, 250 pounds, 4.9-seconds in the 40...Butler HS, Matthews, NC
Notes...On film, Houston looks like the second coming of Jerome Bettis. He can run defenders over but also has some shiftiness which is impressive given his size. Hurt himself some during the combine tour when his weight ballooned and speed was unimpressive. If he can keep his weight down and stay focused, he has the potential to be a very good college player. Reported offers from around the region but committed to UNC after being told he was their number one choice at running back. NC State never appeared to be a major factor.
10. S Chris Culliver...6-0, 190 pounds, 4.4-seconds in the 40...Garner (NC) HS
Notes...To be brutally honest, film of Culliver is rather unimpressive. Based on that alone, he would likely have no offers. However, he has the size and speed that is rare. Players with his potential don't come along often. If he develops the football skills to match his physical attributes, he could be a NFL-caliber safety. Schools like NC State, Florida State, Clemson, UNC and Florida are betting on that too as all have offered. NC State has received a soft verbal commitment but in all reality, it will likely be close to signing day before we know for sure where Culliver is destined.
11. OL Desmond Roberts...6-5, 270 pounds, 5.3-seconds in the 40...Northhampton West, Gaston, NC
Notes...Roberts is much like Sturdivant that we have rated as the number one player in the state. He is nowhere near what you'll see out of him in college. Roberts has a great frame that college coaches can build on and boasts a world of upside once he receives more coaching and fills out his body. Will probably play center in college. UNC, Virginia Tech and NC State appear to be the main three with our money on the Wolfpack right now.
12. RB Tyrell Worthington...6-0, 185 pounds, 4.45-seconds in the 40...S Central HS, Greenville, NC
Notes...Worthington is an ultra-gifted prospect with superb overall athleticism. He has legit 4.45-second speed, is silky smooth running the ball and explodes in the open field. He could also play cornerback and, size-wise, that may be a better fit for teams that prefer bigger backs. The biggest consideration for any team hoping to land Worthington will be baseball. If you want to land him you better show off your baseball program right after touring the football facilities. UNC, Virginia Tech and NC State look like three main players. Early on, we felt really good about NC State's chances but it appears this battle will be drawn out for quite a while.
13. QB Rodney Cox...6-5, 210 pounds, 4.7-seconds in the 40...Harnett Central HS, Angier, NC
Notes...Cox has emerged as a major player of importance for NC State fans and for good reason. Above all else, Cox is a super athlete. He can make magic with the ball in his hands in an open field. His throwing mechanics are unorthodox which, combined with his ability to make plays on the run, has drawn comparisons to Vince Young. We're not ready to make those comparisons but the styles are similar. Cox grew up a State fan and we feel they are in great position right now.
14. QB/LB Quan Sturdivant...6-2, 225 pounds, 4.65-seconds in the 40...W Stanly HS, Oakboro, NC
Notes...Sturdivant is a solid high school QB but it is unlikely he'll stay at that position once in college. He has great size for linebacker and the speed to match. It may take a while for him to develop into that position since his primary focus in high school has been on offense but if the lightbulb clicks on, could become a good one in college. It appears that UNC holds a solid upper hand for Sturdivant at the current time.
15. LB Albert Craddock...6-2, 195 pounds, 4.65-seconds in the 40...SW Guilford HS, High Point, NC
Notes...Craddock received a lot of great pub during the early stages of the recruiting season. We may not be quite as high on him as others but he is a very solid prospect at LB. Will need to get bigger and if he can maintain his speed with the added bulk, will become a solid player for UNC. It appears grades could be a major concern for Craddock headed into his senior year.
16. WR Steve Howard...6-3, 180 pounds, 4.55-seconds in the 40...Olympic HS, Charlotte, NC
Notes...Howard is a physical, possession-type receiver that utilizes his size to dominate smaller defensive backs. Not a burner but has the skills to find seams and get open. Howard is a good route runner and that may be his strongest suit. Lack of blazing speed prevented him from being rated higher. He committed to NC State earlier this year over offers from Wake Forest and Vandy. Florida was also highly interested.
17. RB Daronte McNeil...6-2, 220 pounds, 4.6-seconds in the 40...Northeastern HS, Elizabeth City, NC
Notes...McNeil is a player that we loved on film. He has a huge frame, shows good vision and instincts and simply dominates on the high school level. Ran some disappointing 40's during the spring so speed could be a concern but it's not out of the realm of possibility that McNeil could play a different position. He reports offers from Florida, East Carolina, Virginia Tech, Virginia and others but we have heard grades could be an issue. McNeil says he has no favorites. NC State has not been mentioned very much with McNeil up until this point.
18. DE Linwan Euwell...6-2, 210 pounds, 4.6-seconds in the 40...SW Edgecombe HS, Tarboro, NC
Notes...Euwell is in the Manny Lawson mold of defensive end although he certainly has a long ways to go to get to Lawson's level. Somewhat undersized now but has the long arms and frame that he should one day play in the 240-250 pound range. Blistering quick off the edge and almost impossible for high school offensive linemen to contain him one on one. Could start college career at OLB. Was reportedly impressive at UNC's camp but maintains that he is a solid NC State commit. Euwell is a kid that could move up the top 30 list as the year progresses.
19. S/RB Jonathan Williams...6-2, 205 pounds, 4.55-seconds in the 40...Rose HS, Greenville, NC
Notes...Physically, Williams is off the charts and he backed that up with tremendous rushing numbers as a junior despite splitting the rushing load. He'll be the feature back as a senior where he can fully utilize his strength and athleticism. Talent-wise, we think Williams is one of this year's big sleepers. May be best suited for safety in college. NC State and East Carolina have offered but Williams grew up a UNC fan. He claims no favorites. Grades may be an issue.
20. DT Kyle Linny...6-3, 275 pounds, 4.9-seconds in the 40...Alexander Central HS, Taylorsville, NC
Notes...NC State was the first school to offer Kyle Linny and there is no question the Wolfpack coaches know talent when it comes to the defensive line. After seeing Linny in person, we saw exactly why the Pack coaches are so high on this rising senior. Although perhaps an unfair comparison, he really reminded us of former State DT John McCargo. He gets great leverage at the point of attack and plays aggressive. Also has a non-stop motor that pursues all over the field. He currently favors NC State and has offers from South Carolina and ECU as well.
21. DE Kerry Neal...6-2, 225 pounds, 4.8-seconds in the 40...Bunn (NC) HS
Notes...We were blown away by Neal when we first viewed his film earlier this year. He was super whether it be at defensive end or tight end. Neal showed super speed off the edge and was a one man wrecking crew for Bunn at times. At tight end, he's able to make the difficult, acrobatic catch as well as the tough catch in traffic. Ran some disappointing times during the spring which dropped him some with us. Committed to Notre Dame almost immediately after getting an offer from the Fighting Irish.
22. TE George Bryan...6-6, 250 pounds, 4.7-seconds in the 40...New Hanover HS, Wilmington, NC
Notes...One college coach (not from NC State) reportedly called Bryan the top tight end on the east coast. We don't know about that but Bryan certainly has a world of potential and fortunately for NC State, he grew up a Wolfpack fan. Bryan has the perfect frame for tight end in college and the fact New Hanover flexes him out as a receiver tells you that he can run. Shows good hands and needs to really focus to take his game to the next level as a senior. Committed to NC State over offers from Clemson, UNC and East Carolina among others.
23. LB Melvin Ingram...6-2, 225 pounds, 4.55-seconds in the 40...Richmond County HS, Rockingham, NC
Notes...Ingram is another player that hasn't received a lot of pub but we suspect many recruiting fans from several schools will be hanging on his every word before all is said and one. Ingram is still raw but he runs extremely well and that was verified at combines this spring. Has good size already and is able to make plays all over the field. Grades could be a concern and tempering interest somewhat. Favors NC State and UNC but only the Wolfpack has solidly offered.
24. CB Dominique Ellis...5-11, 185 pounds, 4.65-seconds in the 40...E Wake HS, Wendell, NC
Notes...In a short period of time, Ellis became a major priority for several colleges. He was somewhat lost in the shuffle early due to transferring to NC from Georgia. Ellis has great cover skills for a corner but is a somewhat interesting prospect. His straight-line speed isn't overwhelming but his lateral quickness is amazing. Proper coaching and training should bring his overall speed up with time. Ellis was a huge pickup for NC State earlier in the summer.
25. ATH Darryl Vereen...5-11, 190 pounds, 4.4-seconds in the 40...N Mecklenburg HS, Huntersville, NC
Notes...One look at Vereen and you knew he was a kid destined for major college interest. He has a leopard-like physique with no fat whatsoever. He also runs like a leopard and he's a guy you could see doing a myriad of things in college from special teams to slot receiver to defensive back. Size may hinder him from staying at his preferred position of running back. Committed to Tennessee earlier this year.
26. DL Sam Jones...6-5, 265 pounds, 5.0-seconds in the 40...Fuquay Varina (NC) HS
Notes...Jones exploded onto the scene earlier this year after a super showing at the Shrine Bowl combine. He moves extremely well and showed the ability to get after ball-carriers all over the field. A gentle giant away from football, Jones emerged as a major target for NC State and they were able to land him a short time after offering. Will start his career at DT but we think he would make a heck of an offensive lineman as well.
27. LB Barquell Rivers...5-11, 200 pounds, 4.65-seconds in the 40...Anson County HS, Wadesboro, NC
Notes...Rivers had a lot of hype in the early part of the recruiting season, especially with teammate Trinton Sturdivant garnering so much attention. He is a solid play maker on defense for Anson County. Rivers boasts decent speed and quickness but is smallish at this point in his career and will need to really develop a nasty streak in preparation for the next level. Virginia Tech leads currently over schools like UNC and NC State. We're not completely sure how heavy NC State's interest level is. Rivers may be making a decision in the next month or so.
28. LB Alonzo Winfield...6-0, 200 pounds, 4.6-seconds in the 40...Carver HS, Winston-Salem, NC
Notes...Winfield is another of the state's hidden gems. Went almost exclusively under the radar but reportedly was extremely impressive at NC State's camp and likely would have received an offer. However, Winfield camped at Tennessee, received an offer and committed on the spot. May start career at safety but could grow into an OLB after a couple years in college.
29. DE Kevion Latham...6-6, 235 pounds, 4.8-seconds in the 40...Page HS, Greensboro, NC
Notes...Latham was measured at 6-1, 183 pounds with 5.02-second speed in the 40 after participating in the all-american combine held in San Antonio last year. Since then he has reportedly grew five inches and gained 50 pounds. That is a serious growth spurt. He reported several offers although NC State wasn't one of them. Penn State was impressed, however, and they earned his commitment earlier this summer.
30. RB Josh Oglesby...5-11, 205 pounds, 4.45-seconds in the 40...Garner (NC) HS
Notes...Oglesby is a compact, powerful runner that also showed off 4.4-second speed recently at Virginia Tech's camp. Played FB as a junior but will move back to his preferred position of RB as a senior. Lifelong UNC fan but Heels stalled on an offer so Oglesby committed to Virginia Tech over Wake Forest, UNC and NC State.