Led by a plethora of elite offensive linemen, particularly in the west, the Class of 2012 has a unique makeup at the top.
Offensive tackle Kyle Murphy (San Clemente, Calif.) is one of several highly-regarded offensive linemen in the West for 2012 and is a five-star prospect.
The first full five-star release of the recruiting cycle features three players that project on the offensive line in college from the western part of the country, players from states more known as basketball hotbeds- like Indiana, North Carolina (though that state produces its share of football prospects, too), New York and Kentucky, three from New Jersey (including two from the same high school) and eight total from the usual “big three” states of California, Texas and Florida.
Though it is a good, deep year in Georgia, Ohio and Louisiana, there were no five star prospects from that state.
Overall, it’s a great year for offensive linemen on the West Coast, even beyond the five-stars.
One Pac-12 head coach remarked that “there usually aren’t the linemen” in the region that there are in this recruiting cycle and that he was excited about the potential of that position in this class. Another member of a Pac-12 staff also raved about the group. “Any other year, guys like Max Tuerk, Lacy Westbrook and Cedrick Poutasi would be the top guys in the west,” he said. “There are so many talented guys this year, that you feel comfortable with your school getting any one of these guys.”
Though USC commit Arik Armstead (Elk Grove, Calif./Pleasant Grove) is currently slated to play defensive end for the Trojans, his highest ceiling is at offensive tackle, where we project him to play. In all honesty, he could play either, but playing on offense could be the difference in being really good and being special. Of course, that’s for Armstead, his family and the USC coaches to decide.
Here’s a look at the 21 five-star prospects from 247Sports.
1. Arik Armstead, OT/DE, Elk Grove, Calif./Pleasant Grove
Scouting report: On the hoof there’s probably not a better looking lineman in the country. Armstead is every bit of 6-8 and at that size he can play either side of the football. Though he’s ranked as an offensive tackle, Armstead is projected to play defensive line at USC which shows his remarkable versatility. Armstead is a high-major basketball recruit and that translates to great feet at offensive tackle. He also has a mean streak and toughness that he shows on the defensive side of the ball.
Green-Beckham has tremendous physical gifts.
Recruiting buzz: Armstead has been committed to USC since his sophomore year and is firm in that commitment but does plan fall visits to Florida, Miami, Alabama and Auburn.
2. Dorial Green-Beckham, WR, Springfield, Mo.
Scouting Report:[ There isn’t an offensive skill player in the country as physically gifted as the 6-foot-6, 221-pound Green-Beckham. A big physical player that runs well, can get high in the air, and is dangerous as both a possession receiver and deep threat. He’s also a multi-sport athlete that’s a standout in track and field and basketball.
Recruiting Buzz:The Green-Beckham camp has kept his recruitment close to the vest. Many of the SEC schools figure to be in the hunt. Look for places like Missouri, Nebraska, Notre Dame, Ohio State and Oklahoma to possibly be players as well
3. Eddie Goldman, DT, Washington, D.C./Friendship Collegiate
Scouting report: Goldman is a powerful defensive tackle with quick hands and excellent agility for a 300-plus pounder. He’s dominant at his current level of play, but his ceiling remains high as he is not a finished product by any stretch. Goldman has been on the radar since his sophomore year and there’s a reason why nearly 50 college programs have offered.
Recruiting buzz: Goldman’s recruitment is wide-open. There is some Miami talk. He could visit North Carolina soon. The Heels signed defensive tackle Marvin Austin out of D.C. in the 2007 class.
4. Andrus Peat, OT, Tempe, Ariz./Corona Del Sol
Andrus Peat has the frame to be a big-time offensive tackle at the collegiate level and beyond.
Scouting report: At offensive tackle, size is a very important part of the equation and Peat has got an ideal body and frame to be a franchise left tackle. He is a lean 6-foot-7 and 280 pounds with long arms and he lacks bad weight. Between the whistles, Peat is so powerful through the hips. When he locks onto a defender, he isn’t content just getting a body on a body, he runs his feet, drives his hips and finishes his blocks with a defender’s mentality. As a pass blocker, Peat has a text book pass set, showing a flat back, great knee bend and the foot quickness to combat elite edge speed.
Recruiting buzz: Peat’s brother Todd Peat signed with Nebraska in the class of 2011 so the Huskers will be a factor but the younger Peat looks to be wide open at the moment with offers from around the country.
5. Shaq Thompson, ATH, Sacramento, Calif./Grant
Scouting report: At an athletic 6-1, Thompson has a great safety physique. He’s got length to give him a center fielder’s range and the strength to come up and play in the box. On the high school level, Thompson has demonstrated some terrific versatility as an elite high school running back. In fact, athletically, Thompson has the capability to play running back, receiver safety or cornerback on the next level. As a defensive back he is advanced in his ability to backpedal and turn-and-run and he has very strong ball skills. He also has speed, Thompson has been clocked at under 11 seconds in the 100 and under 22 seconds in the 200 in high school.
Recruiting buzz: A previous Cal commit, Thompson recently de-committed from Jeff Tedford’s program however most expect that he still ends up in Berkeley when all is said and done.
6. John Theus, OT, Jacksonville, Fla./Bolles
Scouting report: Theus has everything one looks for in an offensive tackle both physically and athletically. The 6-foot-6, 295-pound Theus has the height, weight distribution, natural strength and foot quickness to translate to the next level. Not only does he have a quick first step and quickness in his pass set, but he has body quickness and reactionary quickness to react to defenders in front of him or after re-directing an initial pass rush move. He is as adept of a run blocker as pass blocker with the ability to run his feet and work to the second level with fluid movement. His initial punch is powerful and he is a finisher in the run game.
Recruiting buzz: Theus is considered a heavy Georgia lean with Florida running second. His brother, Nathan Theus, signed with Georgia in February.
Keith Marshall, the nation's top running back, is a touchdown waiting to happen.
7. Keith Marshall, RB, Raleigh, N.C./Millbrook
Scouting report: Marshall is the most explosive back in the country. He runs wild through opposing defenses and has excellent balance, vision and feet. Give him a crease and he is gone. Marshall runs a legitimate 4.3-second 40-yard dash and is a standout in track. He’s also a good student who plans to enroll at the college of his choice early.
Recruiting buzz: North Carolina and Georgia have long been considered the favorites, but Florida, Florida State, Auburn, Alabama, Clemson and South Carolina, among others, could get in the mix as well.
8. Stefon Diggs, ATH, Olney, Md./Good Counsel
Scouting report: Diggs is a physical, fast gamer who could play either side of the ball at a high level in college. We like him slightly better as a cornerback because that’s where he is more rare, but could just as likely see him being a high-end receiver at a BCS Conference program. Diggs can re-direct well and is deceptively quick in addition to having legitimate speed and being a straight-up great football player.
Recruiting buzz: Nearly every school east of the Mississippi and many west of the Mississippi has offered. Diggs has given no hints about where he wants to go, except to say at one point he is interested in “Florida schools” Florida, Florida State and Miami (Fla.).
9. Kyle Murphy, OT, San Clemente, Calif.
Scouting report: Murphy is a slender 6-7 275-pounds with plenty of room to add good weight. Already he is a powerful player at offensive tackle. Murphy shows terrific athleticism getting to the second level, locating defenders and being physical at the point of attack. When engaged he keeps a powerful wide base, keeps his legs running and drives through defenders. Athletically Murphy is elite at the offensive line position and that shows in the pass game as well, with a good quick pass set and flexibility through his ankles and hips. A cerebral prospect with a 3.9 GPA and a brother starting at Harvard, Murphy has a low bust quotient as well.
Toughness is a trademark of the nation's top quarterback, Gunner Kiel from Columbus, Ind.
Recruiting buzz: Murphy is open in his recruitment, but has noted that Oregon, Cal, Stanford and USC stick out as he has visited all four.
10. Gunner Kiel, QB, Columbus, Ind./East
Scouting report: The most polished signal-caller in the nation, the 6-foot-4, 210-pound Kiel has great mechanics, a strong arm, and is a physical runner that can make plays with his legs when needed. He displays excellent toughness on film and has other added intangibles that make him the best in the country at his position.
Recruiting buzz: Kiel hasn’t narrowed down his lengthy list of scholarship offers, but a few schools that appear to be in good early shape are Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Missouri, Notre Dame, Oklahoma and possibly USC.
11. Eddie Williams, ATH, Panama City, Fla./Arnold
Scouting report: Williams is impressive at first glance before ever watching a play or game. He is a big safety at 6-foot-3, 210-pounds, that can run, has ideal quickness for his size, has shown timing for the ball in the air, is a hard hitter filling in the run game, eats up ground with a quickness and stride combination, pursues the ball with nasty intentions and intimidates receivers that challenge the middle of the field. His physicality and ability to take on and blow up would be blockers followed by a sure tackle sets him apart from many others. He possesses the body type to carry 230-pounds or more, which brings into question if he will stay at safety long term or grow into an outside linebacker. Wherever he ends up, he’s going to be a playmaker.
Recruiting buzz: Williams committed to Alabama in August of 2010 after considering offers from Florida State, Florida and many others.
12. Yuri Wright, CB, Ramsey, N.J./Don Bosco
D.J. Humphries has everything you want in an offensive tackle.
Scouting report: Maybe the most natural cornerback in this year’s class, Wright has rare instincts that makes allows him to play two steps faster than anyone else on the field. His transition out of a backpedal is smooth and fluid, he can run with any wide receiver and he has elite size when the ball arrives. Wright’s athleticism and makeup speed allows him to be slow in his backpedal and trust his quick recognition skills to make plays big plays downhill in the quick game and the run game. He also brings special teams value as a player that blocks a lot of kicks off of the edge, showing not only athleticism but a playmaking knack.
Recruiting Buzz: With offers from around the country, Wright has listed Michigan, Notre Dame, Rutgers and Georgia as schools that stand out.
13. D.J. Humphries, OT, Charlotte, N.C./Mallard Creek
Scouting report: Humphries has feet and a big frame, is flexible and strong. He’s everything you look for in a big-time offensive line prospect and has a great pass set for a high school trenchman. He gets good extension with his long arms and moves his feet well enough to make life tough for even the best high school-level defensive end. There’s a reason why nearly a half hundred schools have offered.
Recruiting buzz: Humphries is an SEC lean with Florida, South Carolina, Tennessee and LSU high on his list and the Gators the team to beat.
14. Mario Edwards, DE, Denton, Texas/Ryan
Scouting report: Edwards is a unique prospect. He tips the scales at 280-pounds, but has the ability to play strong side defensive end due to combination of natural strength, understanding of leverage, enough quickness and the speed and desire to pursue the football. He is powerful bull rusher that registered nearly 20 sacks in 2010 along with an eye-popping 50 tackles for loss. Doesn’t stay blocked long and is very aggressive with the hands. His initial contact with high school offensive linemen normally ends with the lineman getting knocked backwards, off balance or to the ground. He has the body type to weigh 300-pounds and be a terrific penetrating, pass rushing three-technique down the line. He is the son of former Florida State and NFL cornerback Mario Edwards, who is on the coaching staff at Denton Ryan.
Recruiting buzz: Edwards committed to Florida State March 15 over Texas. Had verbal offers from the majority of the nations top programs.
Jameis Winston is also a talented baseball prospect.
15. Johnathan Gray, RB, Aledo, Texas
Scouting report: Gray is a complete back. At 5-foot-11, 200-pounds, he that rare ability to run the ball inside with vision, quick feet in the hole and subtle run maximizing power as well as the speed and quickness combination to get to the edge. He has the ability to score the ball on long runs or in the red zone. In the passing game, he has quality hands and doesn’t waste any motion after the catch. Also capable as a pass protector. Running back is in the bloodlines. His father, James Gray, played running back at Texas Tech. He will enter his senior season with more than 7,000 career-rushing yards.
Recruiting buzz: Gray is likely to announce his decision on his 18th birthday, April 22. Texas is considered the favorite over TCU and Texas A&M. He has been to each school at least twice since the beginning of February.
16. Jameis Winston, QB, Hueytown, Ala.
Scouting report: There aren’t many concerns when it comes to the ability of Jameis Winston, in fact his baseball ability may be the biggest worry of all. A possible early draft pick in the Major League Baseball draft, Winston’s athleticism is evident. He is a prospect with good size as he continues to add weight. He has a big arm that he uses effectively both inside and outside of the pocket. Winston also has great big-play ability on the ground. He can use his speed and elusiveness not only to extend plays, but also to make defenders miss downfield and outrun opponents.
Recruiting Buzz: Many consider Winston’s recruitment to be a battle between Alabama and Florida State with the Tide on top. Auburn’s recent push has made the Tigers a factor as well.
17. Devin Fuller, QB/ATH, Old Tappan, N.J.
Scouting report: Fuller is an electric offensive football player with breakaway speed and excellent quickness and change of direction. As a quarterback, he’s a good passer in addition to being able to consistently make th magic happen with his legs. If he moves to another position, many believe he could be a big-time cornerback at the college level. After watching him cover at a 7-on-7 event in February, we could see that as well.
Chris Black is one of the most complete receivers in the 2012 class.
Recruiting buzz: Is legitimately wide open. There is talk to watch out for Georgia Tech, watch out for Virginia and some other schools that have talked to him about playing quarterback specifically, but Fuller is the type of prospect that examines and considers every offer equally.
18. Zeke Pike, QB, Fort Mitchell, Ky./Dixie Heights
Scouting report: The 6-foot-5, 220-pound Pike is a football player through and through. Watch his film and he’s not only making outstanding throws and plays from the quarterback position, but he’s also wreaking havoc from his defensive end position and blocking field goals.
Recruiting buzz: Pike has yet to name favorites but said that when he narrows his list, Auburn, Arkansas, North Carolina, Purdue and Tennessee will likely make the first cut. Places like Florida, Florida State, LSU and Michigan could also make a strong push.
19. Chris Black, WR, Jacksonville, Fla./First Coast
Scouting report: Black may not be the most physically imposing wide receiver in the 2012 class, but he is one of the best. The 5-foot-11, 170-pounder is blessed with special quickness and playmaking ability. Black features electric feet, terrific hands, impeccable timing, ideal separation in and out of breaks, the ability to make multiple defenders miss in space and is strong with the ball. His ability to snatch the ball out of the air in a crowd sets him apart, along with his ability after the catch. Black is a threat to score every time he touches the ball. Runs after the catch or in the return game with vision.
Recruiting buzz: Black has Florida State and Alabama as co-leaders with Florida and South Carolina running third and fourth.
20. Darius Hamilton, DT, Ramsey, N.J./Don Bosco
Scouting report: The son of former New York Giant Keith Hamilton, Darius is an active defensive lineman with a quick first step extremely quick hands that lines up both on the inside and outside for his high school team and makes plays in both spots. His versatility, size/speed/athleticism and bloodlines make him a can’t miss type of prospect.
Recruiting buzz: Hamilton is wide open. He plans to make several unofficial visits before beginning to narrow his list. Rutgers would love to keep him and several of his teammates in-state.
21. Jarron Jones, DT, Rochester, N.Y./Aquinas
Scouting report: Jones is raw, but has great quickness and huge upside. Lik Armstead, he could end up on the offensive side of the ball, but has an excellent ceiling on defense as well. Once word of his ability and his film started circulating, Jones’ offer list shot into the double digits.
Recruiting buzz: Is wide-open, but Penn State, Rutgers and schools in the Northeast are all factors. He plans to visit State College in the near future.
National Recruiting Analysts Gerry Hamilton, Barton Simmons and Steve Wiltfong contributed to this report