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April 30, 2008

Five-Star Academies produce plenty of highlights

Five-Star Academy Recaps: Akron | Anaheim | Athens | Baton Rouge | Charlotte | Chesapeake
Chicago | Columbia | Cincinnati | Dallas | East Lansing | Fort Lauderdale | Houston
Memphis | Oakland | Phoenix | Rutgers | Salt Lake City | Tallahassee | Tampa Bay

Now that the Rivals.com Five-Star Academy has made its final stop of the year, it's time to reflect back on some of the top talent that made this year's tour the best ever.

From the first-stop at SMU in early February all the way to the events in Virginia, Utah, Arizona and Memphis in April, more than 2,500 prospects from all over the nation attended the Rivals.com Five-Star Academy. This included many of the nation's top prospects.

Household names like Cierre Wood of Oxnard (Calif.) Santa Clara, Russell Shepard of Houston Cypress Ridge, Devon Kennard of Phoenix Desert Vista, Kevin Newsome of Chesapeake (Va.) Western Branch, Chris Davenport of Mansfield, La., and Craig Loston of Aldine (Texas) Eisenhower were all there.

At the event they learned more about how to handle the recruiting process and get better prepared for life as a college football player and life when football is complete.

"I've been to two Rivals.com Five-Star Academies," Wood, the nation's No. 3 player overall, said. "And the program is great for players at all levels. Even if you have 50 scholarship offers, the program had something for you. I use a lot of the information from the speeches to help guide me through the recruiting process every day."

Here's a look at each event, including headliners, sleepers to emerge and links to every player's bio page that attended the Five-Star Academies.

Headliner: Justin Turner, S, Massillon (Ohio) Washington

Turner was definitely the headliner in an event that was loaded with talent. While other stud recruits like John Simon and Jack Mewhort were there, it was Turner that looked amazing in Akron. Turner measured in at 6-foot-2 and 186 pounds. Seeing how much he's grown physically made it clear that he's got the frame to be an elite prospect. Just a few weeks after the event he committed to Michigan.

Sleeper to emerge: Patrick Nicely, QB, Willoughby (Ohio) South

Nicely looked great on film, but seeing him in person reinforced that he's going to be one of Ohio's top recruits. Measuring in at 6-foot-4 and 209 pounds, Nicely looked great and drew rave reviews from Rivals.com recruiting analyst Barry Every.

Anaheim Five-Star Academy
Headliner: Vontaze Burfict, LB, Corona (Calif.) Centennial

Of all the events nationwide, there probably wasn't one as strong as the one in Anaheim. There were 19 players ranked four-stars or higher at the event, including Wood, a five-star running back, and five-star linebacker Vontaze Burfict. It's hard to argue that they weren't the headliners because they were, but the one guy that really turned everybody's attention at the event was Los Angeles Cathedral stud receiver Randall Carroll. He looked amazing, measuring in at 5-foot-10 and 175 pounds.

Sleeper to emerge: Michael Philipp, OG, San Bernardino (Calif.) Arroyo Valley

Plenty of players were talked about as being elite recruits in California, but nobody ever mentioned Michael Philipp of San Bernardino (Calif.) Arroyo Valley. But after he showed up at Anaheim and measured 6 feet 4 and 305 pounds, his name really started to heat up with the college coaches. He's now quickly climbed the charts this spring and has offers from every Pac-10 team, except USC.

Athens Five-Star Academy
Headliner: Chris Burnette, OG, LaGrange (Ga.) Troup

LaGrange (Ga.) Troup offensive guard Chris Burnette looked right at home at the University of Georgia facilities during the Five-Star Academy held there on March 29. At 6 feet 2 and 300 pounds even, the U.S. Army All-American wandered the weight room of his future home among some other top prospects from within the Peach State. After committing to Georgia in early February, Burnette has been active in trying to bring other top prospects from around the state into the 2009 Bulldog recruiting class.

Sleeper to emerge: Kellen Williams, OT, Snellville (Ga.) Brookwood

Momentum was really starting to build for Snellville (Ga.) Brookwood offensive lineman Kellen Williams prior to his appearance in Athens for the Five-Star Academy. Just days before the event, Williams picked up offers from Vanderbilt, Rutgers and Arkansas, adding to his list of UAB and UCF. After measuring in at a sturdy 6 feet 3 and 295 pounds, Williams' stock continued to sky-rocket. He picked up several more offers from Boston College, Florida State and others before committing to Alabama in mid-April.

Baton Rouge Five-Star Academy
Headliner: Chris Davenport, DT, Mansfield, La.

When Chris Davenport walked through the door at LSU, everybody turned their heads and a few other prospects shook their heads in amazement. Davenport passed the eyeball test, measuring in at 6 feet 4 and 307 pounds. It's easy to see by looking at him why he's one of the most heavily recruited players in the Southeast. Davenport was also a very humble something you like from an elite prospect.

Sleeper to emerge: Billey Joe Johnson, RB, Lucedale (Miss.) George County

It was a sophomore that fills this role from the Baton Rouge event. Lucedale (Miss.) George County 2010 standout Billey Joe Johnson looked great. As a running back, Johnson measured in at 5-foot-10 and a powerful 220 pounds. He should be one of the top players in Mississippi in next year's class after rushing for more than 2,500 yards the first two years of his high school career.

Charlotte Five-Star Academy
Headliner: Jheranie Boyd, WR, Gastonia (N.C.) Ashbrook

Nearly 200 players made it to the event in North Carolina, making it one of the most successful Five-Star Academy events in the nation. Led by Gastonia (N.C.) Ashbrook wide receiver Jheranie Boyd there were many good-looking players on hand. Boyd, who measured in at 6-foot-2 and 184 pounds, has everything you want in a wide receiver physically. He has room to grow on his frame, long arms, big hands and terrific enthusiasm and character.

Sleeper to emerge: Jonathan Stradford, DE, Charlotte (N.C.) Olympic

As always, there were a few players not so much on the radar who looked the part. Charlotte (N.C.) Olympic defensive end Jonathan Stradford looked good at 6 feet 4 and could end up as a linebacker for someone at 196 pounds.

Chesapeake Five-Star Academy
Headliners: Logan Heastie and Tajh Boyd

Nearly half the players that attended the event at Oscar Smith High School held Division I offers, but the headliners were West Virginia bound teammates Logan Heastie and Tajh Boyd. Heastie and Boyd are both early commitments to West Virginia. Both players measured in a bit bigger than advertised. Heastie checked in at 6 feet 3 and 194 pounds while Boyd was 6 feet 2 and 194 pounds.

Sleeper to emerge: Phillip Sims, QB, Chesapeake (Va.) Oscar Smith

Top 2010 quarterback Phillip Sims is likely to be the next great quarterback from Hampton Roads. He is 6 feet 2 and 201 pounds and should be receiving verbal offers very soon. Georgia, Florida and Clemson are at the top of his list now.

Chicago Five-Star Academy
Headliner: Chris Watt, OG, Ellyn (Ill.) Glenbard West

It's the year of the offensive lineman in Illinois, and the leader of the pack is Glen Ellyn (Ill.) Glenbard West four-star offensive guard Chris Watt. Watt looked amazing with a very solid 6-foot-3, 280-pound frame. His appearance at the event at Naperville North High School helped cement his spot as a Rivals100 prospect. He along with Leon Hill and Patrick Ward all looked great at the event as all three linemen are ranked as four-star players that made it to the event.

Sleeper to emerge: Zachary Moore, DE, Chicago Simeon

There's still not a lot known about him, but there's no question one of the most remarkable looking players to show up at the event was Chicago Simeon lineman Zachary Moore. He measured at 6 feet 6 and 235 pounds and passed the look test without a doubt. If he can play a lick of football, somebody is going to take a chance on him.

Columbia Five-Star Academy
Headliner: Ronnie Wingo, Jr., ATH, St. Louis (Mo.) University

The top player in the Show-Me State is four-star athlete Ronnie Wingo of St. Louis University. He showed up at the event and measured in at 6 feet 3 and 212 pounds. Combine that amazing size with his speed (4.4) and play-making ability, and you've got the perfect combination of an elite prospect. Wingo's a special breed of athlete. Not only does he dominate in football, he's also one of the nation's top sprinters. He's already clocked a 10.8 this season, which is amazing for a 6-3, 212-pound kid.

Sleeper to emerge: Ian Knight, DE, Wichita (Kan.) Heights

Wichita (Kan.) Heights defensive lineman Ian Knight was one of the bigger surprises of the event. Even though he wasn't near the originally listed 6-foot-4, he definitely passed the eyeball test, and with offers from Illinois, Iowa State and Tulsa he'll be one of the top recruited players from the event.

Cincinnati Five-Star Academy
Headliner: Jordan Whiting, LB, Louisville (Ky.) Trinity

The event in Cincinnati featured four-star Rivals100 linebacker and Ohio State pledge Jordan Whiting. There had been some questions by people nationally how tall he was and how much he weighed, but he more than answered those questions measuring in at 6-foot and 230 pounds. "It's not always the size of the linebacker," Whiting said. "It's the size of the linebacker's heart. And I think I have a lot of heart and desire. I'm not going to let anybody outwork or outhustle me, because I know that you have to keep working hard to be the best."

Sleeper to emerge: Justin Green, CB, Louisville (Ky.) Male

Louisville (Ky.) Male cornerback Justin Green walked into the event as a virtual unknown to those outside of Louisville. Sure Louisville and Minnesota already jumped on board with scholarship offers, but he wasn't a big name nationally. That changed after his film was shown to the Rivals.com recruiting analysts. He not only looked the part, measuring at 5-foot-11 and 178 pounds, but his film showed he plays the part.

Dallas Five-Star Academy
Headliner: Ryan Mossakowski, QB, Frisco (Texas) Centennial

One of the top names on the list of more than 250 players to attend the first event of the year, was Frisco (Texas) Centennial quarterback Ryan Mossakowski. He turned a lot of heads at the U.S. Army Combine in San Antonio and then proved at the event in Dallas that he has the size to play quarterback at the next level. He measured 6 feet 3 ' and 201 pounds.

Sleeper to emerge: Rhontae Scales, OT, Killeen, Texas

Among several players that passed the eyeball test on the day was Killeen, Texas, offensive lineman Rhontae Scales. At just under 6 feet 6 and 299 pounds, Scales went on to earn offers from Texas Tech, Houston, Oklahoma State and Texas A&M shortly after the event in early February. It was the offer from A&M, he decided to jump all over and commit to the Aggies.

East Lansing Five-Star Academy
Headliner: Edwin Baker, RB, Oak Park, Mich.

Four-star running back Edwin Baker was already one of the nation's top running back prospects. But getting an accurate measurement on him of 5 feet 9 and 204 pounds at the East Lansing Academy helped solidify his position as one of the best of the best. Not only does his film look great, his frame looks great to play in the Big Ten.

Sleeper to emerge: Jordan Luallen, QB, Greenwood (Ind.) Center Grove

It's honestly hard to call Greenwood (Ind.) Center Grove quarterback Jordan Luallen a sleeper, but he wasn't a truly national name until the Rivals.com analysts got a chance to see him in person in East Lansing. He showed up and looked great at 6-foot-3 and 195 pounds. He's now blowing up and will have his pick of schools.

Fort Lauderdale Five-Star Academy
Headliner: Frankie Telfort, LB, Miami (Fla.) Gulliver Prep

Top 100 prospect Frankie Telfort of Miami Gulliver Prep showed up and despite only measuring in at 5 feet 11 and 194 pounds, his film and then later stellar performance at the NIKE Camp helped cement his spot as a national recruit.

Sleeper to emerge: David Gilbert, DE, Oakland Park (Fla.) Northeast

David Gilbert of Oakland Park (Fla.) Northeast was the first player to arrive heck, he even helped set up at the event. And while he was a somewhat unknown player heading into the event, his great 6-foot-3, 210-pound frame and then impressive film helped him find a spot in the Rivals250.

Houston Five-Star Academy
Headliner: Russell Shepard, QB, Houston (Texas) Cypress Ridge

They called it Super Sunday for a number of reasons. At the University of Houston, the second-stop on the Rivals.com Five-Star Academy featured some super talent, including five-star athlete Russell Shepard. On the same day as the Super Bowl, Shepard, the nation's No. 4 player for the Class of 2009, highlighted a talented group of prospects from all over the Lone Star State and even from as far away as Arkansas. But the biggest news from the event was the appearance of Shepard, the star from Houston Cypress Ridge that committed to LSU. Shepard measured in at 6 feet 1 and 183 pounds.

Sleepers to emerge: Justin Gilbert and Joseph Okafor

Several top sophomores were also at the event, including Huntsville, Texas, athlete Justin Gilbert and Houston Bellaire athlete Joseph Okafor. Gilbert came in at 6-0 and 173 pounds, and Okafor was amazing looking at 6-foot-6 and 231 pounds. Watch for both to become headline recruits in the class of 2010.

Memphis Five-Star Academy
Headliner: Austin Long, OT, Memphis (Tenn.) Briarcrest Christian

The Five-Star Academy circuit came to a close with the final stop taking place at the University of Memphis. The event pulled in talent from the greater Memphis area, Arkansas, Northern Mississippi, Middle Tennessee and Kentucky, but the headliner had to be Austin Long of Memphis Briarcrest Christian. The Rivals250 selection measured in at 6 feet 5 and 268 pounds. The recent Georgia commitment's long arms and lean body give him some tremendous upside.

Sleeper to emerge: Will Gilchrist, QB, Savannah (Tenn.) Hardin County

Savannah (Tenn.) Hardin County's Will Gilchrist is starting to pick up quite a bit of attention, especially after the event at Memphis. At just under 6-foot-2, Gilchrist looks strong at 188 pounds and should see more schools added to his offer list that currently consists of Louisiana Tech.

Oakland Five-Star Academy
Headliner: Chris Martin, LB, Oakland (CA) Bishop O'Dowd

Oakland Bishop O'Dowd 2010 prospect Chris Martin already has drawn major attention from colleges coast-to-coast. And after seeing him in person, it's easy to see why. Martin has a remarkable frame that measured in at 6 feet 4 and 214.5 pounds. It's going to be scary to see what he looks like when he's a senior. He has the type of frame that could easily hold 235, 240 pounds without any issues Martin's play also matches his frame. As a sophomore, Martin was named all-league after he recorded 108 tackles, five sacks, four forced fumbles and two interceptions. That play has already drawn scholarship offers from Cal, Stanford and Colorado. Martin lists Colorado, Cal, Stanford, Oregon, Florida and Notre Dame as some of the top teams that he's considering early on.

Sleeper to emerge: Kevin Greene, DE, San Francisco (Calif.) Sacred Heart Cathedral

San Francisco Sacred Heart Cathedral defensive end Kevin Greene is about as raw as it gets. A defensive end, Green was definitely put together and more than passed the eyeball test. He measured in at 6-foot-3 and 229.4 pounds. What makes Greene potentially special more than his amazing frame is that he oozes potential. In his first year of playing football, Greene recorded 22 sacks. He was mainly a basketball player, but now he's understanding that football is his future.

Phoenix Five-Star Academy
Headliners: Devon Kennard and Corey Adams

It doesn't get much bigger than five-star defensive end Devon Kennard. Kennard was one of the top players to attend the events all year long. He showed up at the Phoenix event at Chandler's Hamilton High School, measuring in at 6-foot-3 and 257 pounds. He along with Corey Adams, a four-star defensive tackle, were easily the headliners at the event. Kennard and Adams give Arizona a great one-two punch when it comes to national prospects, but the overall depth at the event was one of the best in the country.

Sleeper to emerge: Bryan Burke, DE, Payson, Ariz.

When he walked through the door, everybody's heads turned. Payson, Ariz., defensive end Bryan Burke is still a relatively unknown name on the recruiting front, but when it comes to passing the eyeball nobody other than Kennard or Adams looked better at the event. His film is currently under review and if it looks as good as he does physically look out.

Rutgers Five-Star Academy
Headliner: Je'Ron Stokes, S, Philadelphia (Pa.) Northeast

Philadelphia Northeast four-star receiver Je'Ron Stokes showed everybody at the event which combined to include a workout as part of the N.J. Premier Showcase why he's ranked as one of the nation's top 50 players. Stokes showed that he's going to be a great slot receiver for Tennessee. Match him up with a cornerback and he'll be tough to cover in college but with a safety? Certainly a mismatch.

Sleeper to emerge: Dillon Quinn, DE, Pawling (N.Y.) Trinity Pawling

Talk about coming out of nowhere. Pawling (N.Y.) Trinity Pawling defensive end Dillon Quinn was a late addition and started off at offensive tackle where he did okay. But when he moved to defensive end, he bull rushed everyone in sight and pancaked numerous big guys.

Salt Lake City Five-Star Academy
Headliner: Xavier Su'a Filo, OT, Provo (Utah) Timpview

By the time the recruiting season is over, there's a good chance that Xavier Su'a-Filo will be the highest ranked player in Utah and one of the nation's premiere line prospects. At 6 feet 4 and 285 pounds, Su'a-Filo was one of the most impressive looking players to attend the event at Cottonwood High School. He's got a lean frame that will only getting bigger and better when he gets to college.

Sleeper to emerge: LT Filiaga, LB, South Jordan (Utah) Bingham

South Jordan (Utah) Bingham inside linebacker LT Filiaga has to be one of the most unheralded recruits in the West. At 6-foot and 235 pounds, he has the frame of a great inside linebacker and watching his film, it's easy to see why schools in the region are jumping on him and offering. He has the potential to develop into a national recruit.

Tallahassee Five-Star Academy
Headliner: Willie Ferrell, LB, Tallahassee (Fla.) FAMU High

Tallahassee (Fla.) FAMU four-star linebacker Willie Ferrell already had a slew of national offers before attending the event held at Florida State. He measured in at 6 feet 2 and 222 pounds, looked great physically. After turning down offers from Minnesota, Ole Miss, USF, South Carolina and others, he committed to LSU in late April.

Sleeper to emerge: Cody Ledford, LB, Tallahassee (Fla.) North Florida Christian

Another North Florida commodity was Tallahassee North Florida Christian's Cody Ledford. The inside linebacker was measured at just under 6 feet and just over 200 pounds. He doesn't have offers now, but will likely have them as the recruiting process continues.

Tampa Bay Five-Star Academy
Headliner: Kamran Joyer, OG, Zephyr Hills (Fla.) Wesley Chapel

Zephyr Hills (Fla.) Wesley Chapel offensive lineman Kamran Joyer is already considered one of the best linemen in the state, and he showed up at the Tampa Bay event looking great. He measured in at 6 feet 3 and 316 pounds. With early offers, the interior lineman has a big upside.

Sleeper to emerge: James Washington, RB, Orlando (Fla.) Boone

Orlando Boone running back James Washington rushed for 1,760 yards and 16 scores as a junior, and from looking at his 5-foot-10, 170-pound frame it's easy to see that he'll have a shot at being a good prospect to keep an eye on. Washington definitely looked the part and has the frame to match it.



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