Breaking Down 2013’s Top 10 Prospects
By Matthew Osborne
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The south is littered with quality high school prospects in the class of 2013.
We are just starting to come down off of the anxiety and excitement that came with Nation Signing Day 2012, and college coaches have already set their sights on the top prospects in this year’s junior class.
As Southern Pigskin prepares to release the RealTree Energy Southern Top 100 in the upcoming months, here is a breakdown of the top ten players in the Southern Pigskin coverage area for the class of 2013.
Note: States in Southern Pigskin’s coverage area include Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, Kentucky, Tennessee, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Arkansas.
#1 – DT Robert Nkemdiche (Grayson HS) Loganville, GA
There are no real flaws in Nkemdiche’s game. He is an athletic freak who reminds me a little of South Carolina’s Melvin Ingram. He is an absolute monster in the middle of the defensive line, but is still athletic enough to play running back for his high school team. Many people would agree with my assessment that Nkemdiche was the best defensive player in high school this past season, regardless of class. Running a 4.56 40-yard dash at his size is simply unfair.
#2 – OLB Reuben Foster (Troup County HS) LaGrange, GA
Much like our No. 1 player, it is nearly impossible to find a weakness in Foster’s game. In addition to being an elite athlete, Foster has supreme defensive instincts. He diagnoses plays quickly and then uses his speed to track down the ball carrier. Foster arrives to the ball with bad intentions and punishes anyone who gets in his way. He is currently committed to Alabama, and he will be a candidate for immediate playing time in Tuscaloosa.
#3 – ATH Derrick Henry (Yulee HS) Yulee, FL
At 6-3 and 220 pounds, Henry is exceptionally big and strong for a high school junior. Even more impressive than his size is his deceptive speed. He is a long-strider who runs with the nimbleness of players half his size. Henry has already pledged his commitment to Georgia, although it is not known which position he will play in Athens. With the additions of 2012 running backs Keith Marshall and Todd Gurley, expect Henry to at least begin his collegiate career at linebacker.
#4 – S Antonio Conner (South Panola HS) Batesville, MS
There might not be a more impressive athletic specimen at a skill position in the 2013 class than Antonio Conner. To give you an idea of his speed, he ran a 10.6 second 100-meter dash as a freshman in high school. He could play any number of positions at the next level, but he projects best as a safety because he plays with a tremendous amount of physicality that you don’t normally see from prospects with his speed and quickness.
#5 – OT Laremy Tunsil (Columbia HS) Lake City, FL
Tunsil is one of the best pass blocking offensive tackles that we have seen at the high school level in recent years. He possesses a good frame (6-6, 275) and moves his feet exceptionally well for such a young lineman. He could stand to add an additional 20 pounds before enrolling in college. Overall, his combination of size and athleticism is what sets him apart from the other lineman in this class.
#6 – DT Montravius Adams (Dooly County HS) Vienna, GA
Adams’ quickness off of the ball is what makes him the top defensive tackle prospect in the region for this class. He explodes off the ball with a tremendous burst, usually blowing right past opposing offensive linemen. Adams had 45 tackles for loss as a junior, and he compliments his exceptional quickness and athleticism with a healthy dose of strength. He is just too much for any high school offensive lineman to handle.
#7 – CB Vernon Hargreaves III (Wharton HS) Tampa, FL
Hargreaves has the potential to be a lockdown corner on the next level. He already excels in man-to-man coverage and is steadily increasing his understanding of zone concepts. Hargreaves moves his hips extremely well and bursts out of his breaks better than any other cornerback in this class. He also is an outstanding leaper, which allows him to defend passes against larger receivers.
#8 – ILB E.J. Levenberry (C.D. Hylton HS) Woodbridge, VA
Levenberry is an extremely instinctive football player. He tracks the football well and delivers punishing blows when arrives at the scene. He is a physically dominating player who uses his size and strength to shed blockers and make tackles. Levenberry is a good athlete, but it is his nose for the football that makes him one of the top linebackers in the country. He is also very good in pass coverage, which is rare for a high school linebacker.
#9 – RB Altee Tenpenny (North Little Rock West HS) North Little Rock, AR
The thing that sets Tenpenny apart from other running backs in the region is that he possesses the total package out of the backfield. He has great vision, blazing speed and open field moves that leave defenders grasping at air. Tenpenny is a north-south type of runner, but he is still very dangerous when he is in space. He is the type of runner that can consistently pick up positive yardage, but is also a threat to take it the distance every time he touches the ball. Tenpenny has committed to Alabama.
#10 – DT Dee Liner (Muscle Shoals HS) Muscle Shoals, AL
At 6-4, Liner is a huge presence in the middle of the defensive line. He anticipates the snap well and uses his supreme strength to bull rush his way through opposing offensive linemen. While he still needs to fine tune his technique, Liner is surprisingly quick for a man of his stature. He is athletic enough that there has been discussion of him playing defensive end at the next level. He has given an early commitment to Auburn University.