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There will be a lot of talk about players like Noel Devine out of North Fort Myers and Lakeland's Chris Rainey as the top Class of 2007 running backs in Florida next year, but one player that certainly deserves to be mentioned in the same breath is Hialeah Miami Lakes speedster Armando Allen.
Allen began to gain notice with a solid sophomore season at HML, earning second team all-Dade County honors from the Miami Herald in 2004, but the 5-10, 195 pounder really burst onto the scene at the NIKE Camp in Miami this past spring.
On his way to taking home Underclass MVP honors, Allen blazed a camp-best 4.31 in the 40-yard dash while also benching 15 reps and posting a 30.6-inch vertical jump. His SPARQ Rating for the day was 75.03, and the little-known back left the camp that day in April as a name to remember for the Class of 2007.
Allen did little to hurt his stock this fall as a junior, rushing for 1,095 yards and 12 touchdowns on just 122 carries in eight games of action. His nine-yards per carry average should garner him numerous honors when the all-area and all-state teams come out shortly in Florida and Allen should be a national top 100 level prospect in next year's senior class.
*Another underclassman that flashed great potential at a NIKE Camp in 2005 and could be a top recruit in the Class of 2007 is massive 6-7, 320 pound offensive lineman Kenny Plue.
The Rensselaer (N.Y) native earned Student Sports Sophomore All-American honors in 2004 and had another dominant season in the suburbs of New York's state capital Albany this fall.
Plue attended the NIKE Camp at State College this past spring and checked in at a legit 6-7, 317 pounds. If he continues to mature into his body and add strength, Plue could be one of the Northeast's top o-line recruits this year.
*High Point (N.C.) Southwest Guilford forged a 5-7 record under coach Bryan Davis this fall, but has high hopes for the 2006 campaign, with three top players returning.
Davis' top two rising seniors are 6-2, 200 pound RB/LB Albert Craddock and 5-11, 182 pound cornerback Markus Hunter. Craddock ran for 1,071 yards, scored 15 times and totaled 68 tackles and three interceptions in 8 games of action this fall. He also clocked a 4.4 40 at the Shrine Bowl Combine this past spring.
Hunter also put up some big numbers at the Shrine Bowl Combine, clocking a 4.31 40 and posting a 39-inch vertical jump according to Coach Davis. His 2005 season wasn't too shabby either, as Hunter tallied 59 tackles and grabbed five interceptions, returning two of them for scores.
Coach Davis says his best prospect may be Class of 2008 athlete Darrius Little. The 5-11, 170 pounder played primarily quarterback as a sophomore this fall, totaling over 1,000 yards of total offense and 16 touchdowns on the ground and through the air. Little also attended the combine this past spring, where he ran a 4.47 40.
*6-3, 225 pound Brent Slusher out of Pineville (Ky.) Bell County is emerging as a player to watch out of the Bluegrass State. A very active linebacker with 4.7 speed in the 40, Slusher recorded 152 total tackles this past fall, with four sacks, three interceptions and five forced fumbles. He also doubled as a tight end, where he caught 14 passes for 353 yards and five scores, averaging a whopping 25 yards per catch.
*St. Paul (Minn.) St. Agnes has two players to watch out for in the Class of 2007. 6-2, 200 pound running back/athlete Curtis Herzberg projects as a Division I recruit after back-to-back solid seasons running the football. The big, rangy 'back ran for 1,348 yards in 2005 with 23 touchdowns, after topping 1,200 yards rushing as a sophomore in '04. Herzberg is the type of athlete that could easily play safety or linebacker on the next level as well.
Also keep an eye out for 6-4, 190 pound receiver Mike Plamann, who has the size that scouts like and just needs to improve his speed to be a potential Division I recruit. Plamann hauled in 22 passes for 435 yards and five scores this year.
If you are a coach or parent that would like to get a top junior involved with the NIKE Camps, NIKE Combines or Elite 11 Quarterback events, or featured on the Junior to Watch Blog, email Brian Stumpf if you are located in the Eastern or Central part of the country ([email protected]) or Greg Biggins ([email protected]) if you are in the West.