Defensive Top 25 By Position

The following is a position-by-position breakdown of the nation's top football prospects and their college commitments. These lists are based on college potential and not solely on high school accomplishment. Players were ranked based on personal evaluations at the Nike camps, comprehensive film study and their play on the field this past season.

The Class of 2002: The Top 25 Senior Football Players At Each Position


Defensive Tackles

1. Haloti Ngata Highlands, Salt Lake City UT 6-4 310-Oregon

Recruiters took notice of the talented Tongan after MVP effort at the Nike Camp in Texas.

2. Derek Landri De La Salle, Concord CA 6-3 290-Notre Dame

Star on both the defensive and offensive line even kicked an extra point as a senior.

3. Kedrick Golston Sandy Creek, Tyrone GA 6-3 270-Georgia

Golston's recovering from car accident injuries quicker than anyone anticipated.

4. Manuel Wright Poly, Long Beach CA 6-7 305-USC

Unlimited potential on field but grades may ground this star for a year.

5. Marco Martin Mesquite TX 6-3 310-Texas

Saw spot duty at RB for state champs to utilize his size and 4.8 speed.

6. Larry Dibbles Lancaster TX 6-2 285-Texas

Intense competitor who can play either inside or move out to end.

7. Rodrique Wright Hastings, Alief TX 6-5 325-Texas

Immovable object similar to Baltimore Ravens standout Sam Adams.

8. Kwa Kou Robinson Poly Prep, Brooklyn NY 6-4 310-Virginia

Exactly the player coach Al Groh needs for his 3-4 defense to succeed at UVA

9. Fred Matua Banning, Wilmington CA 6-2 280-USC

Charismatic Matua will provide much needed leadership at USC.

10. Jonathan Mapu Kahuku HI 6-3 275-Tennessee

Stunned everyone when he chose Tennessee over Washington and BYU.

11. Kyle Tatum Prattville AL 6-5 270-Alabama

Great lower body strength coupled with quick hands make him nearly unblockable.

12. Quinn Pitcock Piqua OH 6-4 285-Ohio State

Fluid big man can make plays all over the field from DT with his motor and 4.7 speed.

13. Jake Kuresa Mountain Crest, Hyrum UT 6-4 315-BYU

Great athlete who could grow into an offensive lineman in college.

14. Chris Anderson Mandarin, Jacksonville FL 6-3 285-Florida State

Had 27 sacks as a senior and 22 as a junior.

15. Jonathan Lewis Varina, Richmond VA 6-2 285-Virginia Tech

Might be the best defensive lineman to come out of Virginia since Bruce Smith.

16. Chase Pittman Evangel, Shreveport LA 6-5 260-Texas

Will follow in his late brother Cole's footsteps at Texas.

17. Jamie Ryan Marian Catholic, Tamaqua PA 6-5 285-Notre Dame

Reads plays quickly and uses his hands exceptionally well to get off blocks.

18. Chris Turner White, Jacksonville FL 6-3 265-Florida State

Versatile lineman was recruited to the Noles as a defensive tackle.

19. Willie Henderson Ridgeway, Memphis TN 6-7 270-Memphis

Star chose Memphis over Tennessee to stay close to his family.

20. Jason Alford Orange NJ 6-3 270-Penn State

Who says Paterno can't recruit anymore? Not Alford, who committed after a Jan. visit from Joe Pa.

21. C.J. Niusulu Barstow CA 6-2 285-UCLA

Strongman from the desert should be a big hit in Hollywood.

22. Larry Harrison King, Detroit MI 6-4 290-Michigan

Committed to UM nearly a year before the Feb. 6 Signing Day.

23. Doug Planchard Catholic, Baton Rouge LA 6-3 265-LSU

Two-way line standout has a strong lower body and good instincts.

24. David Ligon Christian Brothers, Memphis TN 6-5 270-Tennessee

Broken leg ended senior season, but Ligon still was heavily pursued.

25. Kyle Williams Ruston LA 6-3 285-LSU

Highly motivated player who graduated high school early to enroll at LSU.


Defensive Ends

1. Brian Pickryl Jenks OK 6-5 225-Texas

Speed rusher changes direction very well and pursues with 4.5 speed in the 40.

2. Julian Jenkins Woodward Academy, College Park GA 6-5 225-Stanford

Chose the Cardinal over Notre Dame, Miami and Michigan.

3. Deljuan Robinson Hernando MS 6-4 260-Mississippi State

Big-hitter who played LB in high school but should be an impact DE in college.

4. Donny Mateaki Iolani, Honolulu HI 6-5 265-Washington

Few, if any, have his combination of size and athleticism.

5. Bryan Andrews Lima OH 6-5 220-Wake Forest

Jevon Kearse-type player who may have trouble qualifying.

6. Marcus Jackson Norcross GA 6-2 230-Georgia

Won't stop playing until the QB is on the ground.

7. Tamba Hali Teaneck NJ 6-3 240-Penn State

Won over by Penn State after Joe Pa scrimmaged with Teaneck basketball team.

8. Parys Haralson Madison Central, Canton MS 6-3 230-Tennessee

Two-time All-State selection will wear Tennessee Orange.

9. Baraka Atkins Booker, Sarasota FL 6-5 245-Miami

The most impressive defensive lineman at CaliFlorida Bowl III.

10. Travis Leitko The Woodlands TX 6-5 270-Notre Dame

Solid run-stopper is an underrated pass-rusher.

11. Kareem Brown Norland, Miami FL 6-5 255-Miami

Missed senior year with eligibility issues, but that didn't stop recruiters from noticing him.

12. Jay Moore Elkhorn NE 6-4 235-Nebraska

Should be a monster in a couple of years after going through NU's strength and conditioning program.

13. John Wood American, Miami FL 6-4 240-Miami

Quiet guy whose actions speak volumes.

14. Kevin Harbour Loyola, Los Angeles CA 6-3 250-UCLA

Hard-worker who gets better every time he steps on the field.

15. Nick Johnson Chandler AZ 6-4 240-Arizona State

A sleeper with unlimited potential due to his athletic ability.

16. Brandon Ala Kamehameha, Honolulu HI 6-3 225-Washington

Will join fellow Aloha Stater Donny Mateaki at UW.

17. Tauren Charles Northwestern, Miami FL 6-2 225-Florida

Smallish rush end put up huge sack numbers (20+) as a senior and could slide to LB.

18. Jim Unis Gloucester MA 6-5 235-Boston College

Big-time player in Massachusetts? Yup. Unis had offers from Notre Dame, USC and Michigan.

19. Mike Kudla Highland, Medina OH 6-4 235-Ohio State

Incredible specimen with a near 500-pound bench press.

20. Markell McKinley Weir MS 6-3 260-Mississippi State

Committed early to MSU and should team with Deljuan Robinson to form a dynamic DE duo.

21. Tim Schafer Upper Arlington, Columbus OH 6-5 245-Ohio State

Will remind OSU fans of former Buckeye and current Patriot Mike Vrabel.

22. Ricky Parker Los Alamitos CA 6-4 245-Arizona State

Late bloomer who earned League MVP honors as a senior.

23. Ray McDonald Glades Central, Belle Glade FL 6-3 245-Florida

Had huge senior year with 24 sacks and was named Palm Beach Post Defensive POY.

24. Alonzo Manuel Jennings LA 6-3 240-LSU

Chose LSU over Texas A&M, Auburn and others.

25. Elvis Dummerville Jackson, Miami FL 6-1 240-Louisville

Had over 40 sacks last two years and chose Louisville over most of the Big East and ACC.



1. Ahmad Brooks Hylton, Woodbridge VA 6-4 230-Virginia

Had over 200 tackles as both a sophomore and a senior and has 4.6 speed in the 40.

2. Mike D'Andrea Avon Lake OH 6-3 235-Ohio State

Hero is Chris Spielman but skills are more similar to Andy Katzenmoyer.

3. Kai Parham Princess Anne, Virginia Beach VA 6-3 230-Virginia

Man-child who destroys opposition with 4.6 speed and tremendous strength.

4. Ricardo Hurley Greenwood SC 6-3 235-South Carolina

The top player in South Carolina was a two-time All-State selection.

5. A.J. Nicholson Mt. Tabor, Winston-Salem NC 6-2 230-Florida State

Great speed and production, totaling 168 and 171 tackles over past two seasons.

6. Kamerion Wimbley Northwest, Wichita KS 6-4 225-Florida State

Tremendous athlete will remind FSU fans of Tommy Polley with his playmaking ability.

7. Aaron Harris North Mesquite, Mesquite TX 6-0 230-Texas

Sure tackler will join Mesquite pal Marco Martin at Texas next year.

8. Berkeley Hutchinson Long Branch NJ 6-3 225-Rutgers

Greg Schiano's first headline recruit at Rutgers will be asked to contribute immediately.

9. Marvin Byrdsong Longview TX 6-3 228-Mississippi State

Speedy linebacker who's a sure tackler with a nose for the football.

10. Buster Davis Mainland, Daytona Beach FL 5-10 230-

A big hitter in a small package - no linebacker covers more ground.

11. Nate Harris Edison, Miami FL 6-2 210-Miami

Stays home to play for the Canes and be close to his recently born son, Nate Jr.

12. Tyrone Cox Banneker, College Park GA 6-2 200-

Twenty-plus sacks and 4.49 speed, but grades may lead to a JC before Cox becomes household name.

13. Zach Latimer Gateway, Aurora CO 6-2 215-Oklahoma

Son of former Denver Bronco NG Don Latimer must have inherited speed from his mother.

14. Michael Williams Lindale TX 6-4 225-Texas

Late bloomer whose speed and size fit at LB right now, but maybe at DE later.

15. Chris Herring South Panola, Batesville MS 6-2 250-Mississippi

A big physical inside 'backer with unexpected speed for a player of his size.

16. Justin London Northside, Roanoke VA 6-1 225-UCLA

Announced commitment by removing maroon Va. Tech shirt to reveal powder blue UCLA one.

17. Bobby Carpenter Lancaster OH 6-3 225-Ohio State

Smart player with nice physical tools who hopes to follow dad, Rob, into NFL.

18. Ryan Powdrell Mission Viejo CA 6-1 235-Fresno State

Built like a tank and is everything a coach wants from a middle linebacker.

19. William Beckford Glades Central, Belle Glade FL 6-0 210-Rutgers

Speed 'backer who excels on the blitz.

20. Garnet Smith Lamar, Arlington TX 6-3 210-Texas

Went back and forth between Texas and Oklahoma before signing with UT.

21. Oscar Lua Indio CA 6-2 240-USC

Should add some size and toughness to the Trojans' linebacking corps.

22. Dedrick Harrington Mexico MO 6-4 225-Missouri

Athlete who could also play safety, wide-out, or even defensive end.

23. Scott White Mission Bay, San Diego CA 6-1 225-Washington

The top senior in San Diego, an area that's produced Terrell Davis and Ricky Williams.

24. Jeremy Van Alstyne Center Grove, Greenwood IN 6-4 225-Michigan

Wolverines plucked him from Notre Dame while Irish were busy dealing with the O'Leary fiasco.

25. Will Gilkinson Red Bank Regional, Little Silver NJ 6-2 230-Rutgers

The MVP at the Nike Camp in New Jersey will stay home to help build Rutgers with buddy Berkeley Hutchinson.



1. Devin Hester Suncoast, Riviera Beach FL 5-11 175-Miami

With 4.33 speed and playmaking ability, Hester could also be a star at RB or WR.

2. A.J. Davis Northern, Durham NC 6-0 180-NC State

Lock down cover corner also holds a state record with a 24-10 long jump.

3. Aaron Miller Edison, Fresno CA 6-0 175-Oklahoma

Ball hawk took home Defensive Player of the Game honors at CaliFlorida Bowl III.

4. Edorian McCullough North Garland, Garland TX 5-10 180-Texas

A huge senior year at RB, but size and 10.32 100-meter dash speed make him a natural at corner.

5. Leon Washington Andrew Jackson, Jacksonville FL 5-8 175-Florida State

With 2,357 yards and 22 TDs rushing as a senior, Washington is another CB/RB standout.

6. Terrell Walden Edison, Miami FL 5-11 160-Miami

Led Miami-Dade County with eight picks as a senior.

7. E.J. Underwood Hamilton OH 6-0 175-Ohio State

Early commit often overlooked, but is the most underrated player in OSU's fine class.

8. Jason Carter Jenks OK 5-11 175-Oklahoma

Tremendous speed with a best of 10.35 in the 100 meters.

9. Michael Hawkins Turner, Carrollton TX 6-2 175-Oklahoma

Rare combination of size and speed at cornerback .

10. Quinton McCoy Valley Christian, Chandler AZ 5-10 175-Michigan

Minor knee injury aside, McCoy is one of the fastest corners in this year's class.

11. William Blackmon Bishop Hendricken, Warwick RI 6-0 185-Boston College

MVP of the Nike Camp in New York with a 4.53 in the 40 and a 37-inch vertical jump.

12. Jarrad Page San Leandro CA 6-0 185-UCLA

Might be a safety in college, but could excel at either position with technique and physicality.

13. Greg Threat Lincoln, Tallahassee FL 6-1 175-Miami

Pure cover corner often lost in the shadow of teammate Pat Watkins.

14. Justin Miller Owensboro KY 5-10 175-

Clocked fastest time at Nike Camp in Indiana (4.47) and might also see some action at WR in college.

15. Glenn Sharpe Carol City, Miami FL 5-11 175-Miami

Speedy corner who intercepted 10 passes in his final two high school seasons.

16. Jonathan Wade Evangel, Shreveport LA 5-10 170-Tennessee

Eye-opening speedster who will also run track for the Volunteers.

17. William Cooper Northern, Flint MI 6-1 180-Michigan

One of the Midwest's top cover men, Cooper will have a chance to play as a true frosh.

18. B.J. Fields Camden, Kingsland GA 5-11 180-Georgia

No one rose up the charts faster than Fields with his outstanding senior season.

19. Marques Binns Dorsey, Los Angeles CA 5-11 165-Oregon

L.A. City Section POY who helped Dorsey to a title with his play at both CB and WR.

20. Demario Minter Stephenson, Stone Mountain GA 6-0 175-Georgia

Great technique combined with 4.5 speed in the 40.

21. Ashton Watson Wayne, Huber Heights OH 6-0 165-Michigan State

Needs to add more muscle, but agility and instincts are outstanding.

22. Marcus Hamilton Centreville, Clifton VA 6-1 180-Virginia

Chose Virginia over SEC big dogs Tennessee and Georgia.

23. A.J. Martinez Edison, Huntington Beach CA 5-11 175-Hawaii

Hawaii is getting a playmaker in Martinez, who can also return kicks very well.

24. Sammy Joseph Shaw, Marrero LA 6-1 185-Colorado

Will join his brother, Vance, a former CU player and current coach, in Boulder.

25. Travarous Bain Northwestern, Miami FL 6-0 175-Miami

Speedster who showed well both during the regular season and in All-Star games.



1. Darnell Bing Poly, Long Beach CA 6-2 220-USC

Freakish athlete who could also make the RB rankings if he got more carries.

2. Pat Watkins Lincoln, Tallahassee FL 6-4 195-Florida State

Big-hitter who covers a lot of ground from his free safety spot.

3. Darren Williams Clarksdale MS 6-3 200-Mississippi State

Played mostly QB as a senior, but has limitless potential as a free safety.

4. Eric McNeal Serra, Gardena CA 6-2 195-UCLA

Also a QB as a prep, but he sure doesn't hit like one.

5. Vickiel Vaughn Plano West, Plano TX 6-1 180-Arkansas

Recovered from ACL tear as a junior to have outstanding senior year.

6. Mike Nixon Sunnyslope, Phoenix AZ 6-3 195-UCLA

QB was the West Region POY but his future is at safety, where he has John Lynch-type potential.

7. Nate Salley St. Thomas Aquinas, Ft. Lauderdale FL 6-4 185-Ohio State

Lanky secondary standout also plans on playing some hoops at Ohio State.

8. Vincent Mays Johnson, Sacramento CA 5-11 185-Fresno State

Star RB in high school, Mays' hard-hitting style should fit in well at Fresno.

9. Brodney Pool Westbury, Houston TX 6-3 195-Oklahoma

Sooner fans hope he can be the next Roy Williams in the OU secondary.

10. Matthew Melton John Tyler, Tyler TX 5-11 190-Texas

Unsung cover abilities with good speed and strength.

11. Jeff Francoeur Parkview, Lilburn GA 6-4 195-Clemson

Could also play WR, but may never play football if drafted high enough in the June MLB Draft.

12. Abe Brown Booker, Sarasota FL 6-4 200-Louisville

Spurned offers from Ohio State, Florida and Virginia to sign with the Cardinals.

13. Jim Kanuch Westmont-Hilltop, Johnstown PA 6-2 185-Penn State

Looks like a choirboy but hits like a Mack truck.

14. Brian Crum Camden, Kingsland GA 6-2 215-Florida

Great combo of size and 4.5 speed at strong safety.

15. I'Lario Vital McClymonds, Oakland CA 5-11 205-San Jose State

Do-it-all performer who may end up at RB for the Spartans.

16. Titus Ryan Tuscaloosa County, Tuscaloosa AL 6-1 175-Alabama

Has the speed to play corner, with the mean streak of a safety.

17. Tyler Everett McKinley, Canton OH 6-0 190-Ohio State

Could've played RB for other Big Ten schools, but will play safety for OSU.

18. Jason Spadoni John Curtis, River Ridge LA 5-11 195-LSU

Chiseled athlete with 4.47 speed in the 40.

19. Steve Breaston Woodland Hills, Pittsburgh PA 6-2 170-Michigan

Could end up at WR or CB as well, but we like him at free safety.

20. Robert James Maryvale, Phoenix AZ 5-11 175-Arizona State

Will add weight in college, but already hits like he's 200 pounds.

21. Jimmy Williams Bethel, Hampton VA 6-3 195-Virginia Tech

Another rangy athlete whose talent will fit best at free safety in college.

22. Chris Reis Roswell GA 6-2 205-Georgia Tech

Physical player who craves contact on the field.

23. Brandon Leone Oakridge, Conroe TX 6-1 190-Texas A&M

Sculpted player who is a name to remember for the future.

24. Cardan Alexander New Smyrna Beach FL 6-2 185-

Not many DBs play the ball better in the air than "CD."

25. Jake Carney Lexington Catholic, Lexington KY 5-11 180-Notre Dame

Good athlete and all-around player who will fill many needs for the Irish.

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