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June 2, 2010

Initial Rivals250 shows depth of class

MORE: The Rivals250 | Breaking down the five-stars

Wednesday marks the first release of the Rivals250 for the 2011 class, and the first name outside of the Rivals100 speaks to the talent and depth of this class.

Widely regarded as one of the top cornerbacks in the country, Virginia Beach (Va.) Bayside's Demetrious Nicholson kicks off the second portion of Rivals.com's initial rankings.

Rivals.com national analyst Mike Farrell has had the opportunity to evaluate Nicholson is several different settings.

"Nicholson has great hips, a smooth backpedal and sneaky closing speed," Farrell said. "He's not a burner but has football speed and seems as comfortable moving backward and forward. Plus, he's always around the football."

That presence around the ball is evident. A savvy and instinctual corner, Nicholson picked off nine passes as a junior and holds offers from all along the Atlantic Coast.

He is not alone as a big-name prospect in the Rivals250. George Atkinson III and Max Wittek are both headliners out of California who come in at Nos. 102 and 103, respectively. Atkinson holds several West Coast offers and others from around the nation. Wittek hopes to continue the outstanding recent success at the quarterback position at USC.

While Wittek, Atkinson and Nicholson all had well-established names coming out of their junior seasons, Marcus Roberson's name emerged this offseason. The long cornerback hails from powerhouse Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) St. Thomas Aquinas and didn't even start as a junior in the defensive backfield. With four seniors signing with Florida, Florida State, Miami and Marshall, he was faced with a tough secondary to crack. After dominating several events this spring, though, Roberson has showed he is more than ready to carry on the defensive back tradition and debuts in our ranking at No. 105.

Another prospect who emerged this spring is Tevin Mitchel of Mansfield (Texas) Legacy. Mitchel arrived at the TCU Nike Football Training Camp with four scholarship offers and very little exposure. He dominated the event and went on to impress visiting college coaches all spring. Now, Mitchel has close to 20 offers, including ones from Oklahoma, Notre Dame and Texas A&M. On the same day that he entered the top 250 with a No. 110 ranking, Mitchel committed to Nebraska.

Ifo Ekpre-Olomu was little-known prior to the Los Angeles Nike Camp. But after dominating nearly everyone he went against - he barely missed out on the defensive back MVP award, losing out to five-star De'Anthony Thomas - Ekpre-Olomu made a statement and earned a national ranking of No. 146.

Rivals.com national analyst Jeremy Crabtree got a first-hand look at Ekpre-Olomu's performance.

"In a down year for corners in California, Ifo Ekpre-Olomu stepped up and proved at the Nike Camp that he's among the best of the best," Crabtree said. "He has good closing speed, excellent ball skills and I loved how he can get physical when he needs to. After the performance, we sought out more film on him, and that also showed many of the same things we saw in the camp setting. He definitely emerged as one of the best at the position in the country."

Speed to burn

The Rivals100 had its share of speed, including five-star running back De'Anthony Thomas. The No. 5 prospect in the nation ran the nation's fastest time in the 200 meters (20.61 seconds) and also won the 100 in the state of California (10.57).

As fast as those times are, there are a few prospects in the Rivals250 who likely aren't intimidated.

LEADING THE WAY
Rivals250 commits by conference:
Big 1232
SEC25
Pac-1013
ACC11
Big Ten10
Big East1
Schools with four or more commits in the Rivals250:
Texas13
Alabama8
Oklahoma7
USC, LSU6 each
Ohio State5
Georgia, Stanford, Texas Tech, Nebraska4 each
Justin Scott-Wesley set the Georgia state record in the 100 with a time of 10.35 seconds and also took first in the state in the 200 with a time of 21.57. That speed is part of the reason why Scott-Wesley, a wide receiver who has committed to Georgia, earned a No. 150 ranking in the Rivals250.

Texas commit Sheroid Evans, another Rivals250 member, put together an equally impressive double victory in his state championships. Evans, a 6-foot-1, 185-pound cornerback prospect, already had a reputation as a world-class track athlete. He put an exclamation point on that reputation with his performance in May's Texas State Track Meet. Evans claimed the 200 and 100 titles with times of 20.82 and 10.39, respectively. Evans is at No. 135 in the Rivals250.

The rich get richer

The talent on the field in the BCS title game between Alabama and Texas was phenomenal. Speed, size and skill were in abundance on both sides.

As their 2011 classes begin to take shape, it is becoming clear that those sidelines will continue to be populated with national championship-caliber players.

Texas and Alabama lead the way in the Rivals250. Texas has 13 commitments in the Rivals250, while Alabama is in second place with eight commits in the top 250.

Texas' fast start helps the tally for the Big 12, which has 31 commits in the Rivals250. Oklahoma is also off to a terrific start with seven Rivals250 commits, third most in the nation.

The SEC is right behind the Big 12 with 25 commits. LSU is pushing Alabama with six commits in the Rivals250, including four among the top 33 prospects in the country.

A run on tight ends

The tight end is alive and well in football. Want proof? Just look at the NFL draft.

There were 20 tight ends selected in this year's draft, following 20 picked in 2009 and 16 in 2008. That kind of premium on a position can certainly have an effect, and this year's class of tight ends coming out of high school is a perfect example.

After having no more than 11 tight ends in the Rivals250 since 2006 and as few as four tight ends in the 2009 class, the 2011 class has 16 tight ends in the Rivals250.

Four of the 16 hail from the state of Texas: Oklahoma commits Max Stevenson and Chris Barnett (Nos. 161 and 203, respectively), Texas commit M.J. McFarland (No. 186) and Texas Tech commit Jace Amaro (No. 155).

Other tight ends of note to debut in the Rivals250 include Boston College commit Brian Miller (out of Andover, Mass., at No. 136), Brandon Fulse (out of Fort Meade, Fla., at No. 156) and big Cameron Clear (out of Memphis, Tenn., at No. 171).



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