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January 25, 2006

Harvin tops Virginia

Virginia is for lovers except this year when the Commonwealth was for wide receivers in the final Rivals.com postseason Virginia top 30. The state featured two five-star prospects that ended up being No. 1 and No. 7 overall in the country respectively. But just like most of the other states this year much of the talent decided to head out-of-state, including the nation's best, receiver Percy Harvin.

No surprise at the top is Harvin, who will be taking his non-stop highlight show to Gainesville. The 6-foot-1, 188-pounder accounted for over 1,550 yards of offense and 28 touchdowns as a senior. He capped that by playing in the Army All-American Bowl and although he didn't have many touches, he showed great start-stop ability on a reverse. There's no doubt Harvin will be used in many situations under Urban Meyer next year.

The No. 2 spot goes to Hargrave Military's Vidal Hazelton. Southern Cal currently has him committed, but he's looking at Penn State after Pat Devlin's commitment. The 6-foot-3, 193-pounder played for the postgraduate team in Chatham recording 41 receptions for 922 yards and 13 touchdowns. He practiced all year against some of the top talent in the country. Then he went to San Antonio and made a couple amazing catches including a 58-yarder and a tightrope catch in the end zone that was incorrectly ruled out of bounds. Hazelton has already shown the ability and now maturity to play early at the next level.

Harvin's teammate Damon McDaniel remains at No. 3 after an impressive year in which he caught 80 receptions for 1,700 yards and 24 touchdowns. What is even more impressive is that he did that as Harvin scored 28 touchdowns for Landstown. McDaniel is committed to Florida, but is up in the air between the Gators, Florida State and Ohio State as Signing Day approaches.

Granby wide receiver Chris Bell dropped a couple spots to No. 4. Bell had a tough year getting double and triple teamed, but played well in the Army Bowl particularly on special teams. The 6-foot-3, 205-pounder's big body and long stride will be a big asset for the Nittany Lions.

Topping off the top five is versatile linebacker Jarrell Miller. As a senior, Miller accounted for 99 tackles, 17 for loss and eight sacks. He then played at fullback in San Antonio and showed a wonderful ability to block as well as great hands. Rumor has it Coach Bunting has big plans to utilize Miller all over the field as soon next year.

Offensive tackle Alex Stadler moved up one spot to No. 6. The 6-foot-6, 300-pounder dominated the line again this season and should provide a lot of help in Alabama's run-oriented offense.

Hampton receiver Brent Vinson comes in at No. 7. The 6-foot-2, 180-pounder made a dramatic jump in the rankings from No. 15 after being unheard of a year ago. An impressive showing at the Virginia Tech Nike Camp last spring followed by a stunning season in which he racked up over 1,600 yards of offense and 15 touchdowns has Vinson now headed to Tennessee.

Miami pulled the No. 8 prospect Dedrick Epps out of Huguenot. The 6-foot-4, 227-pounder will look to continue the Hurricanes success at tight end. Last season he hauled in 38 receptions for 700 yards and eight touchdowns.

One of the in-state schools finally gets on the board at No. 9 with defensive end Sean Gottschalk. The Deep Run prospect is solid on both sides of the ball and could play defensive end or tight end for the Cavaliers.

Rounding out the top ten is Varina running back Brandon Minor. The four-star prospect dropped four spots after suffering a season ending injury early in the year. Despite that, Minor has been told he's got a shot at playing time next year for the Wolverines.

The Hokies land on the board at No. 11 with 6-foot-3, 249-pound John Graves. Graves capped a solid year at Meadowbrook with 58 tackles, 14 sacks and one interception. He's one of many good defensive ends Virginia Tech landed this season.

No. 12 Brandon Caleb and No. 15 Greg Davis were the biggest drops in the rankings. Caleb fell eight places while Davis dropped seven. Caleb is still a solid get for the Sooners while Davis is still deciding between North Carolina State, Tennessee and West Virginia.

Virginia Tech hauled in two more recruits at No. 16 and 17 in defensive tackle Daryl Robertson and linebacker Matt Wright. Robertson provides a big body inside for the Gobblers with his 6-foot-3, 300-pound frame. Wright should be an excellent linebacker in the Hokies system with his impressive 4.55-second speed.

A few players jumped into the rankings that weren't there before the season. They included No. 19 John Bivens, No. 20 Cameron Chancellor, No. 24 Rashad Phillips, No. 27 Josh Czajkowski, No. 28 Ras-I Dowling and No. 30 Trevor Bray.

Bivens showed good versatility and is an athlete that was good enough to consider possibly playing Major League Baseball. The 6-foot-4, 200-pound quarterback Chancellor may be utilized in a variety of positions in Blacksburg. Phillips is one of the most hotly recruited tight end prospects in the Mid-Atlantic. He's narrowed his list down to NC State and Syracuse. Future Wolfpack kicker Czajkowski has excellent range having made kicks as far away as 57 yards. Bray is a solid fullback prospect that may see the field for the Yellow Jackets as soon as next year.


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