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January 23, 2011

Top 10: Rivals100 suspense

MORE: Team rankings Top 50 | The final Rivals250

With Signing Day quickly approaching, there are some prospects that have been dead-solid locks to certain schools for months and then there are others where you might as well throw a dart at a dartboard and hope you hit the right program.

In the last Rivals100, many prospects fall into the latter category so in our final Top 10 list for the class of 2011, we take a look at the prospects in the top 100 that are the toughest to predict as we head down the stretch. The enigmatic Ray Drew, the "Pastor of Pass Rush", tops the list.

Top 10 all-star surprises
Clowney highlights
School: Rock Hill (S.C.) South Pointe
Buzz: Okay, so maybe this isn't very suspenseful to many people who think the nation's No. 1 player is a lock for South Carolina, but Clowney is the best prospect to come along in a decade according to most and he does have some attractive out-of-state options like Alabama, Florida State, LSU, North Carolina and others. Is it that far-fetched to think the Crimson Tide could steal him away from the Gamecocks? Not really which is why he makes this list, but he's only at No. 10 because this looks to be similar to the Marcus Lattimore situation last year where others will get a long look but the comfort of home is likely to win out. Clowney won't decide until Feb. 14 so that adds to the mystery a bit.

Heyward highlights
School: San Diego (Calif.) Point Loma
Buzz: Heyward is a quiet guy who doesn't like to talk about the recruiting process that much so he's a hard one to read. A lot of people think Arizona could be the choice while others think San Diego State could pull a huge upset. But does USC have room in the class for the talented defensive tackle or can UCLA or Oregon pull reel him in. The less he talks, the more people will guess.

Simmons highlights
School: McKeesport (Pa.) High
Buzz: Simmons was all set to announce his choice at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl a couple of weeks ago and many thought it would be Oregon at the time. However, he had a change of hear and decided to delay his decision. Now it's anyone's guess where he's headed. He still has one official visit left to take and it could be to either Florida or USC and Pitt has now re-entered the picture. Texas Tech is also a very viable option so a lot will depend on what happens in the next week or so with Simmons. Will he take that last visit and if he does, where will he go? Can Oregon hold onto the lead it had a couple of weeks ago or will Texas Tech or Pitt emerge as the winner?

Crowell highlights
School: Columbus (Ga.) Carver
Buzz: Crowell has been back and forth between Georgia and Alabama for months and now Auburn has moved into the picture. While most consider the Tigers to be a longshot in this battle despite the fact that they are a strong favorite for his teammate and friend Gabe Wright, Auburn does get the last official visit. But if it does come down to the Dawgs and the Tide, right now most feel Georgia has the edge over Alabama as Mark Richt is closing strongly in state. But with a third team in the mix and the way Crowell has flipped leaders a few times, this one will be interesting down the stretch.

6) LB Curtis Grant
Grant highlights
School: Richmond (Va.) Hermitage
Buzz: Grant would be higher on this list if he didn't narrow down his favorites to just a few schools and decided to take more visits. He is taking only four of his five official visits and has publically admitted that Virginia, where he is this weekend, is a longshot for his services. That leaves Ohio State, Florida and North Carolina (official next weekend) as the three main choices. It's still unclear whether the Buckeyes or the Gators have the edge following those visits and North Carolina could pull ahead of either after next weekend. And there's always the chance that Grant gets that feeling that he has to stay home following this weekend and pulls a stunner and chooses the Cavs. He's a tough one to predict.

5) LB Lamar Dawson
Dawson interview
School: Danville (Ky.) Boyle County
Buzz: Dawson is all over the map, literally. His list of finalists are in the following states - Kentucky, Oregon, Tennessee, Florida and California. Tennessee gets the last shot at him and is moving up fast according to many while most feel the safe pick is Kentucky. But how can you count out USC with its staff and the way they are closing and Oregon fresh off a Pac-10 title and an appearance in the national title game? UCF appears to be the only team without a chance here, but right now it seems to be a toss up between the rest.

Anthony highlights
School: Wadesboro (N.C.) Anson
Buzz: The five-star linebacker from North Carolina used to name his favorites in order. However, that was a few months ago and now he just has a top six and doesn't give any hints as to who leads and where he is leaning. However, we do know a few things. Anthony likely won't stray far from home which doesn't bode that well for Florida the team that was once his leader. Most people feel that Virginia Tech and Clemson have the edge over NC State with North Carolina a very long shot along with the Gators, but time will tell. The Wolfpack and Tar Heels still have official visits left with Anthony so anything could happen.

Jernigan interview
School: Lake City (Fla.) Columbia
Buzz: Jernigan has already taken an official visit to LSU and is at Florida State this weekend and those two schools appear to be the favorites for the nation's No. 2 defensive tackle, but everyone seems to be wary of Florida because he grew up a huge Gators fan and has always been linked to the program in one way or another. Alabama is also in the mix and Tennessee gets the last official visit next weekend, but right now it's anyone's guess where Jernigan will end up.

Richardson interview
School: Nashville (Tenn.) Pearl-Cohn
Buzz: Richardson has six schools on his mind, doesn't like to pick up the phone very often to talk about recruiting and really hasn't been linked to a leader so many are guessing he stays home and plays at Tennessee. However, LSU, Auburn, Georgia, Miami and others have also been mentioned so no one really knows where he'll end up or who he'll visit before he makes his final decision.

1) DE Ray Drew
Drew interview
School: Thomasville (Ga.) Thomas County Central
Buzz: Drew once had a list of schools well into double digits but that has thankfully been narrowed down to a small handful of programs. However, it's still anyone's guess as to where the nation's No. 9 player will end up. That's mainly because Drew speaks so highly of every school and has never wanted to name a leader but also because there just isn't a lot of good information to be had behind the scenes. Georgia is the default choice of many but some feel LSU and Auburn can steal him away. Miami and Clemson continue to get mentioned and he spoke of Alabama as well recently but no one will really know until he makes his decision a few days before Signing Day.

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