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Rising States: Virginia is loaded

As the 2014 recruiting cycle comes into full focus, we examine states that are trending up in terms of elite talent. In the last of a five state series, the loaded state of Virginia comes into focus.

Andrew Brown is the No. 9 overall prospect in the 247Composite for the Class of 2014.

Virginia boasts 14 prospects rated four stars in what is a second straight year with impressive depth, but it's the top tier talent that has people talking about the best class in Virginia since a 2002 class that featured Marcus Vick, Kai Parham, Ahmad Brooks and Michael Johnson among others.

"When talking about the state of Virginia in recruiting, the talk usually begins with the 2002 class,” Jaime Oakes of Wahoos247 said. “A class that boasted heavy star-power with players like Marcus Vick, Kai Parham, Ahmad Brooks, and Michael Johnson. All were consensus five-star prospects. The 2014 boasts as much star power, but much more depth. This is a class that people have seen coming for some time.”

Leading the way is the current top-ranked prospect in the country, defensive end Da'Shawn Hand (Woodbridge). The 6-foot-5, 250-pound Hand is the first No. 1 prospect out of the state since Percy Harvin in the 2006 class. Hand, like Harvin before him, is considering the Florida Gators; but most consider the true student-athlete a slight lean to Virginia Tech or Michigan over Alabama and others.

Joining Hand among the state’s five-star prospects are defensive tackle Andrew Brown (Chesapeake/Oscar Smith) and recent Virginia safety commitment Quin Blanding (Virginia Beach/Bayside). The 6-foot-4, 282-pound lightening-quick Brown is considered a Virginia lean by some, with childhood favorite North Carolina and Alabama in the thick of the race.

The 6-foot-2, 200-pound Blanding is the No. 5 ranked prospect in the 247Composite, while Brown is currently No. 9.

Staying in the "757", two-way budding star Jalyn Holmes (Norfolk/Lake Taylor), athlete/receiver Jamil Kamara (Virginia Beach/Bishop Sullivan Catholic), Virginia Tech running back commitment Marshawn Williams (Hampton) and defensive tackles Derrick Nnadi (Virginia Beach/Ocean Lakes), Ricky Walker (Hampton/Bethel) are among the nations top prospects.

The 6-foot-5, 225-pound Holmes has Virginia and Virginia Tech among his top group schools in what is expected to be a fluid recruitment, while the 6-foot-2, 195-pound Kamara is heavy lean to the Cavaliers. The 6-foot-305-pound Nnadi is also considered a slight lean to Virginia over Virginia Tech, but it's close.

Holmes is the No. 56 ranked prospect in the 247Composite, while Kamara checks in at No. 87 and Nnadi No.161.

Four-star quarterback Caleb Henderson could be bound for the Big Ten with Michigan State in good shape early.

On offense, quarterback Caleb Henderson (Burke/Lake Braddock) is the top ranked prospect, checking in at No. 48 in the 247Composite. While the 6-foot-3, 220-pound Henderson continues to consider Virginia, having visited last week, many believe he is Big 10 bound with Michigan State having a good chance to reel in the talented signal caller.

Should Henderson eventually select a Big 10 university, he would be the second quarterback in the second quarterback to do so following 6-foot-6, 220-pound Wilton Speight (Richmond/Collegiate School). The three-star prospect committed to Michigan February 6.

Staying on the offensive side of the ball, the top lineman in the state is guard Steven Moss (Fredericksburg/Chancellor). Virginia is consider the in-state leader with schools from the Southeastern Conference also in the thick of things.

Switching gears back to the defense, the depth in the state is very impressive. Top247 linebacker and Notre Dame commitment Greer Martini (Woodberry Forest) is one of a handful of four-star defensive prospects that can seemingly fly under the radar in the uber-talented class.

Defensive end Vincent Mihota (Fredericksburg/Massaponax) is a Virginia Tech commitment who was just offered by Alabama, while safety M.J. Stewart (Arlington/Yorktown), tackle Ricky Walker (Hampton/Bethel) and athlete C.J. Reavis (Chester/Thomas Dale) are considering both regional and national offers. Reavis is considered a heavy lean to Virginia Tech.

The depth in the state also goes beyond the four-star prospects. Three-star defensive end Xavier Burke (Lawrenceville/Brunswick) is committed to Virginia Tech and was one of the more impressive jumbo athletes at the U.S. Army All-American Combine, while all-purpose backs Vincent Lowe (Chesapeake/Grassfield) and Anthony Scott (Virginia Beach/Green Run) have offers in hand. Athlete Marcus Boone (Woodbridge) and center Coleman Thomas (Max Meadows/Fort Chriswell) are two other mid-three star prospects with regional interest and offers.

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