The Class of 2009 will put pen to paper on National Signing Day on Wednesday Feb. 4, 2009, but like college coaches, the scouts of Scout.com have been busy tracking next year's batch of prospects.
The Class of 2010 has long been considered by those of us at Scout.com as a benchmark class that is deeper and more full of talented prospects than classes of the last several years. Scout will work its way to ranking over 1,500 college football prospects, but as a first look to the Class of 2010, we've rated our Top 100.
As we make our way deeper into the rankings, we'll follow the same protocol with the Top 50 five-star players regardless of position, and the Top 300 (51-300) receiving four stars.
The first Scout.com Top 100 of 2010 includes 10 five-star prospects, headlined by probable No. 1 overall Marcus Lattimore of Byrnes High School in South Carolina.
Scout.com's Miller Safrit, a South Carolina native, has had the pleasure of seeing Lattimore up close and in person for years.
"On a team widely known as one of the top passing offenses in the country, Lattimore became the workhorse for Byrnes in the playoffs this year," said Safrit. "Lattimore ran for 260 yards against a nationally ranked Dorman team, and then topped the 300-yard mark in the state championship game."
Having been able to watch Marcus since he started as a freshman, he has grown in
all phases of the game, whether it be the patience most running backs grasp in
college, the willingness to block in pass protection, the hands out of the
backfield to the point where he can be a legitimate threat as a wide receiver,
or the natural burst and vision that separates him from the rest of the field.
He's the total package at running back."
Everyone knows a back can only be good as the players in front of him, and it's the North Region that boasts three five-star offensive linemen. North Regional Manager and National Recruiting Analyst Bob Lichtenfels weighs in on the prized big men.
"It's fairly common knowledge that if teams want linemen, they look to the North Region," said Lichtenfels. "The North is loaded with exceptional linemen in the class of 2010. The top three players that we have identified as elite five-star prospects in the early going are all can't-miss type of players, and it's rare to have three offensive linemen in one region who are that good.
"Saint Paul (Minn.) Cretin Derham Hall offensive tackle Seantrel Henderson may be the best prospect in the country before all is said and done. The 6-foot-8,
"Not far behind Henderson is Palantine (Ill.) Fremnd offensive guard Christian Lombard. Lombard, 6-5 and 280-pounds is a punishing lineman with exceptional skills.
"When we saw Mike Adams last year we figured it would be several years before we
saw another lineman in Ohio as good as him. Well, it hasn't even been a year
since Adams signed on to play at Ohio State and Cincinnati (Ohio) Anderson
offensive tackle Andrew Norwell has already caught our eye as one of the best in
the nation. If he continues to get better he could even surpass Adams as being
the best the state has produced since Orlando Pace."
While teams continually look to the North for skilled offensive linemen, they also continue to go West for passers. The West's top prospect this year is once again a quarterback.
"Jake Heaps, of Skyline High School in Issaquah, Wash., is the top quarterback in the West, and the top offensive prospect," said Brandon Huffman, West Regional
However, it's not all about offense in the West this year.
"Chris Martin, of Bishop O'Dowd in Oakland, Calif., is the best defensive prospect in the West. He can play with his hand down as a pass-rusher or line up as a linebacker and drop into coverage. He came to the Oakland Scout Combine and worked exclusively at tight end after a passing league tournament earlier in the day, and made life tough for the linebackers with his athleticism and ability to catch the ball.
"Heaps and Martin may be the best overall players in the West. But what will make the 2010 class special are the running backs. This may end up being the best crop of running backs from the region in a decade, with powerful backs like Malcolm Jones or lightning-quick backs like D.J. Morgan mixing it up."
Any time the top prospects in the country come into discussion, we'd be remiss not to pay a visit to the Midlands, which includes the biggest state of them all, Texas. Plano, Texas product Jackson Jeffcoat headlines the defensive side of the ball in the Midlands.
"Jackson Jeffcoat is a special player," said Baron Flenory, Midland Regional Manager and National Recruiting Analyst. "He has all the tools needed to a great defensive end: long body frame that can hold solid weight, long arms to keep defenders off of his body, tremendous strength, and great feet. He plays with good pad level and is explosive and strong at the point of attack.
"Jeffcoat is also a fierce competitor who rises to the occasion, playing his best football against top talent. When matched against Cedar Hill in the Texas State playoffs,
It's a receiver to the north of Jeffcoat who has grabbed Flenory's attention.
"Justin McCay of Bishop Miege in Shawnee Mission, Kan. is as athletic a player as we'll find in the class," Flenory said. "McCay has a college-ready body and is bigger, stronger and faster than most high school athletes. Displaying naturally soft hands, excellent leaping ability, and above average change of direction, McCay has the high-level skill sets that are needed in order to ascertain five-star honors.
"On the offensive side of the ball, McCay is fast and athletic enough to stretch the field on deep routes but is also dynamic enough turn curls, crossers, reverses, and screens into touchdowns. He is electric with the ball in his hands. In the red zone he will come down with the football.
"On the defensive side of the ball, he has great lateral range, flying sideline to sideline with relative ease. He attacks the ball carrier but is more of a tackler than a hitter. At 6-foot-4 and 200 pounds, McCay's projection depends on the school he chooses."
Roughly 2,500 players will sign college scholarships in the Class of 2010 out of over 1,000,000 high school football players. Scout will expand on this initial Top 100 as we move to 300 next month, then to 1,000 and then to 2,000 next year.
We expect this list to change over the coming year, but without a doubt, these players will be heavily recruited athletes for the Class of 2010.
If you have any questions or comments for us, please come by the Scout Recruiting Message Board.
Scout Top 100 Class of 2010: The List*
*Players are sorted by rating (stars) then alphabetically.