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June 8, 2004

The next 10: The Rivals100 from 51 to 60

Answer: Two of the best offensive tackles in the nation from Georgia, one of the West's best pass-catchers, a lockdown cover corner from the Sunshine State and a linebacker from a tiny town in Oklahoma.

Question: Who are the players ranked from No. 51 to 60 on the Rivals100 team?

OK, let's stop playing games and get to the next players to be unveiled on the Rivals100 list for the class of 2005.

After much debate as to who is the top offensive tackle prospect in Georgia, Atlanta Booker T. Washington standout Duke Robinson gets the early nod from Rivals.com and is ranked as the nation's No. 51 player.

Robinson is a mountain of a man, standing 6-foot-6 and 330 pounds. But don't let his size fool you; he's mobile and isn't afraid to mix it up with smashing blocks and a never-say-die attitude.

"Every coach that comes through, I do the same thing for them," Washington defensive back coach Eric Reese said.

"I put in the video tape from when we played Westlake last year. Duke is blocking Michael Brown (2004 Florida signee and four star prospect) and driving him five yards off the ball every play and then into the ground or just completely out of the play."

That type of play has already attracted scholarship offers from a who's who in college football, including Alabama, Auburn, Clemson, Georgia, Miami, Oklahoma, Tennessee and UCLA.

Los Angeles Jefferson receiver Austin Usher is ranked as the nation's No. 52 player and is the seventh receiver to make it to the elite national list.

"Austin is legit," Jefferson coach Doi Johnson said. "He can catch, jump and run. Austin is very tough. He's a complete football player now."

To further prove the point, Usher excelled against the best of the best at the Palo Alto, Calif., NIKE Training Camp in mid-May. Usher fits the mold of the tall, athletic wide receiver that is in vogue today. He has a graceful stride that makes his speed deceiving. He's a confident wide receiver who has big-time skills.

Daytona Beach (Fla.) Mainland plays some of the best football in Florida, and it's also home to some of the state's best players each year. This year's offering is highlighted by cornerback Avery Atkins, who is ranked as the nation's No. 53 player.

"He can match up with all the big receivers, or cover the speed guys," Mainland coach John Moronto said. "He has great cover skills, real good timing and instincts. Plus, he's aggressive. He'll come up and hit you. He's just a playmaker."

Measuring at 5-11 and 182 pounds at the Miami NIKE Training Camp, Atkins is the lockdown cover corner needed to succeed in today's college game. With an impressive resume of offers, including from the Big Three in Florida, watch for Atkins to star on a field near you soon.

Rivaling Robinson for the top offensive tackle honors in Georgia, and possibly the Southeast, is Buena Vista (Ga.) Tri-County star Charles Jackson.

The 6-foot-8, 275-pounder has been called a man among boys by his coaches. Jackson isn't just another big kid; he is lean, athletic and chiseled. He runs the 40-yard dash in 5.25 seconds and has a 27-inch vertical jump.

Many college recruiters are pursuing him to play offensive tackle because of his height and ability to add weight. He is also receiving quite a bit of interest from schools on the basketball court, but his future appears to be on the gridiron.

In the sleepy town of Kingfisher, Okla., one of the nation's best kept secrets and the No. 55 player overall resides. His name is Curtis Lofton, a 6-1, 225-pound inside linebacker. Teams such as Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Kansas State hope the word doesn't get out on the national front how good this player is.

"When we watched him on film, it was the last three games of his junior season," one college coach said. "He was flying around making a ton of big plays. We come to find out a few weeks after we offered him on that film that he had a high ankle sprain. That blew me away.

"I've never seen a high school kid play as hard as he does. That's the ultimate complement in my mind. He's freaking relentless. I can't think of somebody that I've seen as a high school player that plays as hard as him."

Westlake Village (Calif.) Oaks Christian is where the nation's No. 56 player does his damage. His name is Aaron Ware, and the UCLA-bound athlete has the ability to project at a number of different positions on the next level because of his 6-foot, 180-pound frame and solid speed.

"Aaron is fortunate that he has the ability to play running back or any of the four defensive back positions on the next level," Oaks Christian coach Bill Reddell said. "As an athlete Aaron is in the Russell White category."

Ware is the younger brother of Matt Ware, who left UCLA early for the NFL. It's unfair to compare the brothers, but the comparisons are inevitable. Matt Ware played quarterback and safety in high school and started as a true freshman at UCLA at corner. He moved to safety as a sophomore, then switched back to corner the last half of his sophomore year and stayed there as a junior. At 6-3, 220 pounds, Matt Ware has safety size but corner appears to be his best position and where he'll be drafted to play as well.

The younger Ware also has good size for a corner and is the fastest member of the family. He clocked a 10.65-second time in the 100 meters as a sophomore. He has great feet, good quickness and tremendous upside as a future college cornerback because of not only his physical size and speed but because he's so smart and heady on the field.

Ranking Memphis Harding Academy athlete Todd Cox at No. 57 in the nation is painful because he has top 20 and five-star potential.

The big question mark with Cox, though, is that he's going to need a little bit of time to find his natural position in college. Most schools project that to be outside linebacker, and for the 6-2, 195-pounder anything is possible when you've been blessed with natural physical ability like he has.

"He's been the fastest kid on the field his whole career - from the eighth grade on up," Harding Academy coach Paul Simmons said. "We've never faced anyone who was any faster. He's one of those kids who just glides. He makes it look effortless sometimes."

Once Cox settles into his natural position in college, look out because he has the tools to be a future All-American and the ability to play a long, long time in the NFL.

Utah usually isn't a stop for top 100 talent, but Provo (Utah) Timpview is home to two-way lineman Matt Reynolds, one of the nation's fastest rising prospects. The 6-foot-6, 270-pound is probably the best prospect to come out of Utah since Haloti Ngata was ranked as the nation's No. 1 defensive tackle in 2002.

Reynolds, the nation's No. 58 player, already has more offers than he can handle, and he does have the ability to project either as a defensive tackle or an offensive tackle.

"My coach says that my athleticism, agility and vision are good," Reynolds said. "He says I can almost see things and react to them before they happen."

Kyle Newell of Bethlehem (Pa.) Catholic is the perfect strongside defensive end prospect that college coaches seek. He's strong and can defend the run at 6-5 and 230 pounds, but he also has that great first step that allows him to rush the passer.

Combine all those things and you have the nation's No. 59 player overall. Newell will need to continue to get stronger as he approaches the next level, but the tools are there for him to be an extremely talented prospect in college.

"I use my speed and ability to keep blockers off me," Newell, who earned all-state and all-region honors as a junior, said.

Continuing the trend that it's one of the best years in Illinois in a long, long time, Wheaton (Ill.) Wheaton South tight end Anthony Moeaki is ranked as the nation's No. 60 player and the No. 3 tight end.

At 6-4 and 250 pounds, Moeaki is a monster blocker, but with his 4.7-speed he's able to also get open in passing situations, making him one of the most complete tight ends to come out of the Midwest in some time.

"He's just so dang strong," one opposing coach said about Moeaki.

"He's no question he's one of several elite prospects from this class in Illinois."

With offers from Illinois, Iowa, LSU, Michigan State, Notre Dame, Purdue, USC, Tennessee, Wisconsin, Oklahoma and several more it's definitely true.


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