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*Despite being a Class 2A program in Florida, Hollywood Chaminade-Madonna annually ranks as one of the top teams in the Sunshine State. 2006 should be no different for the Lions, as coach Mark Guandolo returns several standouts from an 11-2 team that captured the 2A state title in 2005.
Leading the charge will be 5-9, 215 pound Xavier Stinson, who was recently named Broward County Small Schools Defensive Player of the Year by the Sun-Sentinal. Stinson first impressed last spring at the NIKE Camp in Miami, where he clocked a 4.68 40 and benched 20 reps on his way to a superb 78.63 SPARQ Rating, which ranked amongst the camp's 20 best.
This fall as a junior, Stinson starred at linebacker for the Lions, totaling 76 tackles with 12 tackles for loss and four sacks. He also was no slouch carrying the ball, rushing for over 900 yards and 17 touchdowns.
Despite his short stature, Stinson should be amongst the state's top recruits in the Class of 2007, as he compares favorably to former Chaminade standout and current Miami starting LB John Beason, who is also short of 6-feet tall. Early on in the process, Stinson lists Georgia, Virginia Tech, USC, Miami and Florida State as his favorite colleges.
Stinson figures to pick up additional carries next fall with the graduation of Willie Floyd and he should have a great line to run behind. Both 6-5, 305 pound Edward Ferguson and 6-5, 265 pound Emeka Nwankwo are legit D-I talents and were all-county picks this fall. They return along with 6-0, 265 pound Ryan Goldman, a two-time all-county selection, and second team all-county pick Vinnie Hardelli, both of whom should see considerable interest as well.
Akeem Auguste rivaled Stinson as the Lions' top defender in '05, picking off seven passes from his cornerback spot. The 5-11, 175 pounder, totaled 60 tackles and also averaged over 25 yards per punt return. Kamar Aikens and Eain Smith are two other Chaminade defensive backs to look for in 2006. Aikens was a second team all-county pick while Smith was one of the team's leading tacklers.
*The Griffin (Ga.) High Bears stormed to a 12-2 mark last fall under coach Steven DeVoursney and return enough firepower next year to hopefully advance past the Class 4A semifinals and into the state title game.
DeVoursney will rely on 5-8, 200 pound running back Bobby Rainey to carry the load next year, and Rainey, who was a Class 4A honorable mention all-state pick this fall, should be up to the task after rushing for over 1,400 yards as a junior.
While the quick and powerful Rainey should be Griffin's top prospect next year, don't sleep on 6-5, 220 pound DE Ahkeem McKinney, who DeVoursney feels is a high level Division I prospect. If anything should happen to Rainey in the backfield, another rising senior, 5-10, 175 pound Sidney Harris, could step right in. Harris rushed for 1,200 yards while contributing 67 tackles at free safety as a junior. A Class of 2008 stud to watch for at Griffin is 6-4, 255 pound DT Toby Jackson, who recorded 10 sacks as a sophomore.
*He may play at a smaller school, but there is nothing small about 6-6, 220 pound Rocky Weaver's game. In 2005, Weaver caught 54 passes for 1,025 yards and 13 touchdowns, while also playing a large role at defensive end for his Battle Creek (Mich.) Harper Woods squad, earning Class B all-state and MichiganPreps.com Junior all-state honors.
"The thing that stands out about Rocky is that he is just a great competitor," says Harper Creek head coach Ed Greenman. "He will get much bigger too."
That growth should eventually lead Weaver to the tight end position in college. Greenman also says his 6-2, 185 pound QB Nate Smith could develop into a Division I prospect with another solid season. As a junior, Smith hit 137 of 238 passes for a whopping 2,508 yards and 28 touchdowns with just five interceptions. A second team all-state pick, Greenman says of Smith, "He's a smart kid with a 4.0 GPA who's like a coach on the field, just a flat out winner."
*Hugoton (Kan.) isn't a school that is a frequent recruiting stop for Big 12 coaches, but it could be this next year. That's because the Eagles return massive 6-8, 310 pound offensive tackle Aaron Allen, who coach Tom Schroeder projects as a high level Division I recruit in the Class of 2007. "Aaron has great size that college coaches look for and moves very well for a big man," raves coach Schroeder.
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.