Below is the SportsWar Postseason Top 40, a listing of our top 40 high school senior prospects in the state of Virginia. We begin with the top five.
There are three 5-star recruits in the state this year, including Woodbridge defensive end Da’Shawn Hand, Bayside (Virginia Beach) safety Quin Blanding and Oscar Smith (Chesapeake) defensive tackle Andrew Brown. All three are rated on the 5-star level by the four main national recruiting outlets – Rivals, 247Sports, Scout and ESPN (no. 3). These players made up my top three in the preseason and remain the top three on this postseason list, beginning with Hand.
Hand, a 6’4”, 245-pound prospect, is the top overall senior in the nation according to Rivals.com. He had 16 sacks as a senior, bringing his career sack total to 56. Hand overwhelmed the competition at times with his strength and athleticism, and he has the potential to be a major force against the run and the pass on the major college level. He is taking his talents to the University of Alabama, spurning scholarship offers from virtually every major school in the country.
Standing pat at number two is Bayside (Virginia Beach) safety Quin Blanding, who ended his distinguished high school career with 118 tackles on defense and over 1,000 yards of total offense. The 6’2”, 210-pound senior has an excellent feel for the game. He can play the run and the pass, and in my opinion he may be the most ready to step in and play a significant role as a true freshman. He’ll get an opportunity to do just that at UVa next fall.
Oscar Smith (Chesapeake) stalwart Andrew Brown, the 2013/2014 Gatorade National Player of the Year, had 31 tackles for loss and 16 sacks in his senior year, helping the Tigers to an undefeated regular season and an appearance in the 6A state championship game. The 6’4”, 295-pound prospect is already enrolled at UVa, where he is expected to contribute as a true freshman next season. Brown has the potential to develop into a dominant defensive tackle on the major college level.
Moving into my top four – he was number five in the preseason ranks – is Ocean Lakes (Virginia Beach) defensive tackle Derrick Nnadi, who has been an absolute load on the Dolphins defensive line the last two seasons. The 6’2”, 300-pound senior had 71 tackles including 20 sacks his senior season, leading a talented Dolphins squad to an undefeated regular season for the second straight year. Nnadi, who has not yet decided where he will spend his college career, stands strong in the middle but also has shown a pension for getting sacks, so he can be a run-stuffer and pass-rusher on the major college level.
Rounding out my top five high school seniors in the state is Ohio State-bound defensive end/tight end Jalyn Holmes. Holmes, who stands 6’5” and weighs 240 pounds or so, has all the physical tools to do well on the major college level. I don’t think he is as ready to step in and contribute immediately as those in my top four, but I think he has good upside on either side of the ball.
- Briar Woods (Ashburn) standout Melvin Holland Jr tops the list of movers from the preseason edition to the postseason ranks. Holland, a 6’3″ receiver, broke out in a big way as a senior, hauling in 64 catches for 1,032 yards and 17 touchdowns. He was outstanding in the 5A state championship game, finishing with 199 yards and three scores in a loss to L.C. Bird. Holland looked strong and fast his senior season, showing good hands as well. He is on the list at no. 24 after not being ranked in the preseason.
Holland did not receive an offer from either in-state school, but reportedly he is most seriously considering Minnesota, Rutgers, and Wake Forest. After watching him in person it is hard to believe neither in-state school offered, but with recruiting taking place earlier and earlier – most kids commit before their senior year and schools are filling up early – some late bloomers may fall through the cracks. I think Holland fits in this category, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he performs better than his ranking.
- Nnadi is the top remaining uncommitted target on the list. He has taken official visits to Florida State, Penn State and Ohio State, and this weekend he heads to Virginia Tech. Nnadi is also scheduled to take an official to Virginia the weekend before Signing Day, but at this point Florida State and Virginia Tech appear to be the top contenders.
In total, six players in this top 40 are still uncommitted.
- UVa has received commitments from four prospects in the top 10, five overall. Virginia Tech leads the way with the most commitments with 11, headlined by running back Marshawn Williams, who moved into the top 10 following a breakout season in which he rushed for over 2,000 yards. UNC has five commitments on this top 40 list. Penn State has two. Alabama, Boston College, Florida State, Michigan, Nebraska, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Old Dominion, Pittsburgh, Tennessee and Wake Forest are represented as well with one commit each.
- Hand, Blanding, Brown, Wilton Speight (QB) and Alec Eberle (OL) were selections to the 2014 Under Armour All-American Bowl. Nnadi, Holmes, Jamil Kamara (WR) and Caleb Henderson (QB) played in the 2014 U.S. Army All-American Bowl. Steven Moss (OL), Ricky Walker (DT), and Xavier Burke (TE) played in the Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl, while CJ Reavis (S), Greg Stroman (CB), and Steven Sobczak (DT) played in the Offense-Defense All-American Bowl.
The Postseason Top 40
1. Da’Shawn Hand, DE, Woodbridge, Committed to Alabama
2. Quin Blanding, S, Bayside (Virginia Beach), Committed to UVa
3. Andrew Brown, DT, Oscar Smith (Chesapeake), Committed to UVa
4. Derrick Nnadi, DT, Ocean Lakes (Virginia Beach), Uncommitted
5. Jalyn Holmes, DE/TE, Lake Taylor (Norfolk), Committed to Ohio State
6. Jamil Kamara, WR, Bishop Sullivan (Virginia Beach), Committed to UVa
7. Caleb Henderson, QB, Lake Braddock (Burke), Committed to UNC
8. Marshawn Williams, RB, Phoebus (Hampton), Committed to Virginia Tech
9. MJ Stewart, DB, Yorktown (Arlington), Committed to UNC
10. Steven Moss, OL, Chancellor (Fredericksburg), Committed to UVa
11. Travon McMillian, QB/ATH, Hylton (Woodbridge), Committed to Virginia Tech
12. Vinny Mihota, DE, Massaponax (Fredericksburg), Committed to Virginia Tech
13. Ricky Walker, DT, Bethel (Hampton), Committed to Virginia Tech
14. CJ Reavis, S, Thomas Dale (Chester), Committed to Virginia Tech
15. Raymon Minor, LB/WR, Benedictine (Richmond), Uncommitted
16. Greer Martini, LB, Woodberry Forest, Committed to Notre Dame
17. Jeremiah Clarke, DL, T.C. Williams (Alexandria), Committed to UNC
18. Coleman Thomas, OL, Fort Chiswell (Max Meadows), Committed to Tennessee
19. Alec Eberle, OL, Atlee (Mechanicsville, VA), Committed to Florida State
20. Wilton Speight, QB, Collegiate (Richmond), Committed to Michigan
21. Greg Stroman, CB, Stonewall Jackson (Manassas), Committed to Virginia Tech
22. Xavier Burke, TE, Brunswick (Lawrenceville), Committed to Virginia Tech
23. Trace McSorley, QB/S, Briar Woods (Ashburn), Committed to Penn State
24. Melvin Holland Jr, WR, Briar Woods (Ashburn), Uncommitted
25. Tyler Powell, DL, Cosby (Midlothian), Committed to UNC
26. Jordan Jackson, OLB/DE, Woodgrove (Purcellville), Committed to UVa
27. Nick Scott, RB, Fairfax, Committed to Penn State
28. Terrell Edmunds, CB, Dan River (Ringgold), Committed to Virginia Tech
29. Jaylen Bradshaw, WR, Oscar Smith (Chesapeake), Committed to Virginia Tech
30. Daniel Ezeagwu, ATH, Colonial Forge (Stafford), Uncommitted
31. Anthony Scott, RB, Green Run (Virginia Beach), Uncommitted
32. Kamrin Moore, S, Bishop O’Connell (Arlington), Committed to Boston College
33. Demornay Pierson-El, ATH, West Potomac (Alexandria), Committed to Nebraska
34. Malik Carney, LB, T.C. Williams (Alexandria), Committed to UNC
35. Tabyus Taylor, LB/RB, Hopewell, Committed to Virginia Tech
36. Steve Sobczak, DT, Massponax (Fredericksburg), Committed to Virginia Tech
37. Nyquan Harris, DL, Lake Taylor (Norfolk), Uncommitted
38. Mike Herndon, OL, Riverheads (Staunton), Committed to Pittsburgh
39. Vincent Lowe, RB, Grassfield (Chesapeake), Committed to Old Dominion
40. DaiQuan Lawrence, CB, Western Branch (Chesapeake), Committed to Wake Forest
A Look Back At The 2013 Postseason Top 10
1. Jonathan Allen, DE, Stone Bridge (Ashburn) – Was a reserve as a true freshman at Alabama, playing in 12 games and finishing with 16 tackles (10 solo) including three tackles for loss and a half a sack.
2. Christian Hackenberg, QB, Fork Union – Hackenberg won Penn State’s starting job as a true freshman and started all 12 games for the Nittany Lions last season. He completed 58.9 percent of his passes while throwing for 2,955 yards with 20 touchdowns and 10 interceptions.
3. Derrick Green, RB, Hermitage (Richmond) – In a reserve role, Green had 83 carries for 270 yards for Michigan.
4. Taquan Mizzell, RB, Bayside (Virginia Beach) – As a reserve for Virginia, Mizzell played in 10 of 12 games last season, missing two to injury. He had 45 carries for 184 yards and 29 catches for 164 yards. He had two total touchdowns. Mizzell also returned 21 kicks for 347 yards.
5. EJ Levenberry, LB, Hylton (Woodbridge) – Played in 10 games, starting in one according to FSU’s official website. He had 39 tackles, 18 of which were solo efforts.
6. Wyatt Teller, DL, Liberty (Bealeton) – Teller started off as a defensive end at Tech before moving to offensive tackle. He dressed for two games before taking a red-shirt year.
7. Bucky Hodges, QB, Salem (Virginia Beach) – Hodges red-shirted, seeing action at quarterback and tight end on the scout team. There is speculation he may move to tight end.
8. Holland Fisher, S, Manchester (Midlothian) – Attended Fork Union for postgraduate work last fall after failing to gain admission to Virginia Tech last summer. Has gained admission to Tech and will enroll this coming May.
9. Matt Rolin, LB, Briar Woods (Ashburn) – A promising preseason came to an end when Rolin suffered a torn ACL that sidelined him for the entire 2013 season. The Florida Gator red-shirted as a result.
10. Ryan Burns, QB, Stone Bridge (Ashburn) – Burns red-shirted for the Stanford Cardinal.