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September 23, 2008

From the Road: The defense

MORE: From the Road: Offensive prospects

Rivals.com recruiting analysts had the opportunity to scout some of the nation's top prospects in games this past weekend.

St. Louis Gateway defensive lineman Sheldon Richardson was dominant at times in his team's loss to St. Louis Roosevelt.

Here are some rundowns on the top Class of 2009 defensive prospects they saw in person, listed alphabetically.

DE JASON ANKRAH (6-4/248), Gaithersburg (Md.) Quince Orchard
»FARRELL'S PLAYER OF THE WEEK
CONSIDERING: Tennessee, Michigan, Virginia Tech, West Virginia, Penn State, North Carolina State.
PERFORMANCE: Ankrah had four tackles, with two for a loss, a sack and a hurry in Quince Orchard's 35-3 win over Damascus (Md.) High.
STRENGTHS: Ankrah has a great frame and carries his weight well. He is a long-strider who closes well, and he uses his long arms to keep lineman from locking him up. Ankrah is excellent in pursuit, changes direction well and scrapes off blockers well.
WEAKNESSES: Ankrah has been playing football for just a couple of years, so he's still raw. He gets by on athletic ability and physical dominance more than an array of pass-rush techniques. – MIKE FARRELL
DT ROMARIO CATHEY (6-3/275), Nashville (Tenn.) Maplewood
CONSIDERING: Offers are from North Carolina, Texas Tech and Middle Tennessee State.
PERFORMANCE: Played defensive tackle, defensive end and guard in a 28-12 loss to Nashville (Tenn.) Hillsboro.
STRENGTHS: At his size, Cathey is athletic and plays hard. Going both ways on the line takes a lot out of you, and Cathey worked hard all night. He is quick off the ball, and he has some good pass-rush ability for an interior lineman.
WEAKNESSES: Played out of position a good portion of the night as a standup defensive end and he struggled rushing in the role. Cathey has a tendency to get cute on the pass rush, using moves that are unnecessary. He has the athleticism to just blow past defenders, but at times he makes things harder than they need to be. – BARTON SIMMONS
ATH ERIC GORDON (5-9/190), Nashville (Tenn.) Hillsboro
»SIMMONS' PLAYER OF THE WEEK
CONSIDERING: Alabama, Miami, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Texas Tech.
PERFORMANCE: Scored two touchdowns in 28-12 win over Nashville (Tenn.) Maplewood. One was on a 72-yard touchdown reception and the second was on a 95-yard interception return.
STRENGTHS: Gordon is so explosive coming out of his breaks. He doesn't have great height, but he is compact and physical. He has a nose for the ball and a knack for the big play. In limited touches, Gordon provided loads of excitement. He also has value as a slot receiver and on special teams.
WEAKNESSES: He plays safety for his high school team in order to allow him more playmaking ability, and because of that, most of his movements are downhill or out of zone breaks. He hasn't had many opportunities to show he can turn his hips in coverage or man up on faster wide receivers. It's not necessarily a weakness, but it is a question mark. – B.S.
CB TRAVIS HAWKINS (5-10/181), Gaithersburg (Md.) Quince Orchard
CONSIDERING: Maryland, Georgia, Oregon, Tennessee and Michigan.
PERFORMANCE: Hawkins played cornerback, wide receiver and running back in Quince Orchard's 35-3 win over Damascus (Md.) High. At corner, he made a couple of nice tackles, including one for a loss. On offense, he scored twice on pass receptions.
STRENGTHS: Hawkins has a strong build and is fast. He gets off blocks well to support the run and reads run-pass effectively. He's also physical as a corner. On offense, he has a tremendous burst around the corner and has soft hands.
WEAKNESSES: Hawkins cramped up and didn't play most of the second half, a recurring problem for him. – M.F.
CB T.K. HESTER (5-11/178), Richmond (Va.) Varina
CONSIDERING: Temple, Buffalo, Syracuse and Virginia Tech.
PERFORMANCE: Hester deflected three passes and had three tackles in a 22-8 win over Richmond (Va.) Hermitage.
STRENGTHS: Hester should have had two interceptions on the night, one was an errant pass, but the second was a nice jump by Hester to get in front of the receiver. Hester wasn't challenged much of the night, but when he was he showed quick hands and good speed.
WEAKNESSES: Hester fumbled a key punt at Hermitage's 30 that resulted in the opponent's only score. He played mostly zone coverage and could have trouble in man-to-man with bigger receivers. – M.F.
LB LeDARIUS OSBORNE (6-1/190), Nashville (Tenn.) Maplewood
CONSIDERING: No major offers yet.
PERFORMANCE: Was all over the field for the Maplewood defense in a 28-12 loss to Nashville (Tenn.) Hillsboro on Thursday night.
STRENGTHS: Osborne has a great nose for the ball. In Hillsboro's screen-heavy offense, Osborne was constantly sniffing out the play. He plays with intensity and runs sideline to sideline. He is active and plays fast.
WEAKNESSES: Osborne needs to add weight and keep his speed and high motor to take the next step. He also needs to continue to work towards qualification. He has the potential to be a highly sought-after player. – B.S.
DE DeANTRE RHODES (6-2/279), Richmond (Va.) Varina
CONSIDERING: Tennessee, Virginia Tech, Clemson, Michigan, Maryland, Boston College, Purdue, South Carolina, Virginia
PERFORMANCE: Rhodes registered seven tackles and three sacks in a 22-8 victory over Richmond (Va.) Hermitage.
STRENGTHS: Rhodes was in the backfield much of the night and was credited with three sacks, but he could have had more. He has tremendous speed, strength and awareness, and is excellent in pursuit of the quarterback.
WEAKNESSES: Rhodes has a good first step, but if he could get out of his stance a bit quicker, he could be even more dominant. – M.F.
DT SHELDON RICHARDSON (6-4/292), St. Louis Gateway
»EVERY'S PLAYER OF THE WEEK
COMMITTED TO: Missouri
PERFORMANCE: Had seven tackles, four quarterback pressures and two sacks and also caught three passes for 64 yards in a 29-12 loss to St. Louis Roosevelt.
STRENGTHS: Has the size and strength to be a dominant player along the defensive front. Richardson also has superior change of direction and speed for a defensive lineman.
WEAKNESSES: Has a tendency to play high at the point of attack. – BARRY EVERY
DT TERRENCE STEPHENS (6-2/285), Gaithersburg (Md.) Quince Orchard
COMMITTED TO: Stanford
PERFORMANCE: Stephens had five tackles, including one for a loss, in Quince Orchard's 35-3 win over Damascus (Md.) High.
STRENGTHS: Stephens is active as a defensive tackle. He plays with excellent leverage, peels off double-teams to get back into the play and has a good motor. He made at least three tackles on hustle plays.
WEAKNESSES: Stephens is closer to 6-1 and he looks lighter than his listed 285 pounds. – M.F.
S/WR DEVIN WILSON (6-2/179), Hendersonville (Tenn.) Pope John Paul II
CONSIDERING: Has offer from Navy, and several other schools are expressing interest.
PERFORMANCE: Was one of the few bright spots for Pope John Paul II in a 51-7 loss to Nashville (Tenn.) Montgomery Bell Academy.
STRENGTHS: Though he is listed as a wide receiver, Wilson showed he has more upside as a safety. He is long and rangy, is not afraid to get physical and pursues well. Though his team was overwhelmed by its opponent, Wilson showed that he belonged and played hard whistle to whistle.
WEAKNESSES: Has the frame to develop into a physically impressive safety with the right weight-room work ethic. Needs to continue to get faster. – B.S.
LB TYREL WILSON (6-3/217) Hampton (Va.) High
COMMITTED TO: Virginia Tech
PERFORMANCE: Wilson registered 15 tackles, with seven solos, and had one pass deflection in a 41-14 win over Norfolk (Va.) Denbigh.
STRENGTHS: Wilson's hitting ability is without question, and he runs through his target. He has a good nose for the football and is aggressive. While he isn't the fastest straight-line linebacker, he does have deceptive speed and closes ground in a hurry.
WEAKNESSES: Wilson still is adjusting to the linebacker position after a move from defensive end. He's a bit tight in pass coverage but is improving. He struggles a bit with overpursuit, as well. – M.F.

UP NEXT: Underclassmen from the weekend.



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