SportsWar Preseason In-State Top 40

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Sweat, shown here at a VT camp
Sweat, shown here at a VT camp

Top 10

Josh Sweat, a consensus 5-star prospect, is ranked as the top overall prospect in the nation in the class of 2015 by 247Sports and ESPN. Scout (no. 3 overall) and Rivals (no. 11 overall) do not have him as the top overall player but do rank him as the top defensive end in the country. In what surely is no surprise, the Tigers star holds the top spot in this Preseason Top 40, my ranking of the top rising seniors in the Commonwealth.

At 6’5”, 240 pounds, Sweat boasts unreal speed for his size, posting a 4.46-second 40 at The Opening this month. He was part of a stout Oscar Smith defense last season, racking up 94 tackles with 31 tackles for loss and 22 sacks. The total package – size, speed, athletic ability, production – is there for the consensus 5-star prospect, who has drawn comparisons to former South Carolina and current Houston Texan defensive end Jadeveon Clowney.

Sweat could go anywhere in the country but has settled on five schools for official visits: Florida State, Georgia, Ohio State, Oregon and Virginia Tech. Many feel that Virginia Tech is the school to beat at this point.

University of Michigan-bound Garrett Taylor, a product of St. Christopher’s (Richmond), has all the tools to be an excellent major college cornerback. The 6’0”, 185-pound prospect has the complete game as a corner. He has good reaction and anticipation skills, is a good athlete with excellent make-up speed, and is a good tackler. Barring injury, I view Taylor as one of the safer bets to have a good college career.

Stonewall Jackson (Manassas) defensive tackle Tim Settle is a load at 6’2”, 330 pounds, but he is more than just size. I love his explosion off the ball. I don’t see him as an end in a 4-man front, but he has versatility in that he could potentially see some action as an end or a nose in a 3-man front or an inside player on a 4-man front.

Barring a change of heart, it looks like the talented tackle will head out-of-state for college.

Clelin Ferrell has a similar frame (6’5”, 230 pounds) to Josh Sweat. He is not quite the freak athlete Sweat is, but Ferrell is certainly fast and athletic in his own right. The Benedictine star defensive end, a Clemson commit, will play with a hand on the ground but also saw some time in a standup position in Greg Lilly’s defense. Ferrell definitely has the tools to be a high-impact defensive end on the major college level.

Another defensive player rounds out my initial top 5. Ricky DeBerry Jr., a teammate of Taylor’s at St. Christopher’s, is a 6’3”, 248-pound outside linebacker prospect. What I like most about DeBerry is his football smarts. It’ll be interesting to see where he ultimately ends up on the next level. He could be a rush outside linebacker in a 3-4 or perhaps a hand-on-the-ground defensive end.

DeBerry boasts over 50 offers but has narrowed the field to 20 and will narrow it again to eight in early August. Both Virginia and Virginia Tech will make the next cut, he said in an interview earlier this month.

Hylton (Woodbridge) offensive lineman Matthew Burrell Jr., Rockbridge County (Lexington) offensive tackle Austin Clark, Ocean Lakes middle linebacker Jahvoni Simmons, Thomas Dale (Chester) defensive tackle Darvin Taylor II and Salem (Virginia Beach) defensive end Trevon Hill round out my initial Preseason Top 10. Clark is headed to South Carolina and Hill has committed to Virginia Tech.

DL, WR Are Strengths Of This Class

The defensive end position is not particularly deep, but those at the top are very impressive. Sweat is outstanding. Ferrell impresses as well. Both are tall, fast, athletic players who can really get to the quarterback. Trevon Hill, an all-state performer and the leader of Virginia Beach Salem’s defense, had 23 sacks his junior season despite playing with a torn labrum. Darrell Taylor rounds out the sure-fire defensive ends – there are others, such as Ricky DeBerry, who could end up playing end in college, but for now they are listed at other positions. Taylor is in the Sweat/Ferrell mold in terms of being tall and athletic with speed. There isn’t much in the way of footage of him, but if he has a big senior season he could rise in the ranks. He certainly has an impressive list of scholarship offers that includes Florida, Ohio State, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia Tech. These five schools make up the Hopewell star’s top five.

Moving to the interior of the defensive line, this is a very good defensive tackle class. I have six defensive tackles in the top 40, including four in the Top 25 and two in the Top 10. Tim Settle is the headliner. He has a ton of potential to be an impact player against the pass and the run. Taylor II does not have the explosion Settle has, but he is very strong on the interior. Chance Hall, who I have at number 20, has been a terrific player for Northside, which captured a state championship last season. Virginia Tech-bound Harry Lewis and North Carolina-bound Aaron Crawford round out the defensive tackle prospects in my Top 25. In total, I have six defensive tackles in this initial Top 40.

UVa commit Eldridge, pictured here at the 2014 NFTC in Northern VA, is part of a potentially good group of WRs in the state this year.
UVa commit Eldridge, pictured here at the 2014 NFTC in Northern VA, is part of a potentially good group of WRs in the state this year.

Besides the D-line, I really like the potential of this crop of wide receivers. Jaason Lewis of Ocean Lakes is more of an athlete to me, but receiver is a possibility for him on the next level. Briar Woods star Brandon Polk, a Penn State recruit, is only about 5’10” but has a strong build, excellent speed and good hands. Highland Springs product Felton Davis III blends size with athletic ability and speed. He is Michigan State-bound. A.J. Alexander of Lake Braddock has great size and is a real playmaker on both sides of the ball for his team. On offense, I like his size (6’3”, 220 pounds), quick feet and hands.

I think all four of the receivers I mentioned could be very good college players. I’m interested to see where Lewis ultimately ends up in college. I also really like Kettle Run product David Eldridge III. He is 6’1”, has good length, runs well and has good hands. Eldridge, a Virginia recruit, hasn’t been as talked about as the above prospects, but I really like him and think he could be running a little under the radar.

VIRGINIA 2015 CLASS PRESEASON TOP 40

1. Josh Sweat, DE, 6’5”, 240 pounds, Oscar Smith (Chesapeake), Uncommitted
247Sports In-State Rank: 1
Rivals In-State Rank: 1

2. Garrett Taylor, CB, 6’1”, 190 pounds, St. Christopher’s (Richmond), Committed to Michigan
247Sports In-State Rank: 3
Rivals In-State Rank: 2

3. Tim Settle, DT, 6’3”, 330 pounds, Stonewall Jackson (Manassas), Uncommitted
247Sports In-State Rank: 7
Rivals In-State Rank: 3

4. Clelin Ferrell, DE, 6’5”, 230 pounds, Benedictine (Richmond), Committed to Clemson
247Sports In-State Rank: 4
Rivals In-State Rank: 5

5. Ricky DeBerry Jr., DE/OLB, 6’3”, 235 pounds, St. Christopher’s (Richmond), Uncommitted
247Sports In-State Rank: 5
Rivals In-State Rank: 7

6. Matthew Burrell Jr., OL, 6’4”, 300 pounds, Hylton (Woodbridge), Uncommitted
247Sports In-State Rank: 6
Rivals In-State Rank: 8

7. Austin Clark, OL, 6’6”, 290 pounds, Rockbridge County (Lexington), Committed to South Carolina
247Sports In-State Rank: 8
Rivals In-State Rank: 4

8. Jahvoni Simmons, MLB, 6’2”, 235 pounds, Ocean Lakes (Virginia Beach), Uncommitted
247Sports In-State Rank: 16
Rivals In-State Rank: 6

9. Darvin Taylor II, DT, 6’2”, 290 pounds, Thomas Dale (Chester), Uncommitted
247Sports In-State Rank: 9
Rivals In-State Rank: 10

10. Trevon Hill, DE, 6’4”, 220 pounds, Salem (Virginia Beach), Committed to Virginia Tech
247Sports In-State Rank: 14
Rivals In-State Rank: 19

11. A.J. Turner, RB/S, 5’11”, 190 pounds, Centreville (Clifton), Committed to South Carolina
247Sports In-State Rank: 15
Rivals In-State Rank: 14

12. Tremaine Edmunds, LB/DE/TE, 6’4”, 225 pounds, Dan River (Ringgold), Uncommitted
247Sports In-State Rank: 13
Rivals In-State Rank: 11

13. Darrell Taylor, DE/OLB, 6’4”, 225 pounds, Hopewell, Uncommitted
247Sports In-State Rank: 10
Rivals In-State Rank: 13

14. Jaason Lewis, WR/ATH, 6’3”, 225 pounds, Ocean Lakes (Virginia Beach), Uncommitted
247Sports In-State Rank: 2
Rivals In-State Rank: 12

15. Brandon Polk, WR, 5’10”, 160, Briar Woods (Ashburn), Committed to Penn State
247Sports In-State Rank: 17
Rivals In-State Rank: 16

16. Felton Davis III, WR, 6’3”, 185, Highland Springs, Committed to Michigan State
247Sports In-State Rank: 12
Rivals In-State Rank: 20

17. A.J. Alexander, WR, 6’3”, 200, Lake Braddock (Burke), Uncommitted
247Sports In-State Rank: 11
Rivals In-State Rank: 18

18. Juan Thornhill, DB, 6’2”, 180, Altavista (VA), Committed to UVa
247Sports In-State Rank: 21
Rivals In-State Rank: 15

19. Chad Smith, LB, 6’3”, 220 pounds, Dominion (Sterling), Committed to Clemson
247Sports In-State Rank: 20
Rivals In-State Rank: 9

20. Chance Hall, DT/OL, 6’5”, 290, Northside (Roanoke), Committed to Tennessee
247Sports In-State Rank: 18
Rivals In-State Rank: 33

21. Deshawn McClease, RB, 5’9”, 175, Oscar Smith (Chesapeake), Committed to Virginia Tech
247Sports In-State Rank: 22
Rivals In-State Rank: 23

22. David Eldridge III, WR, 6’1”, 165, Kettle Run (Nokesville), Committed to UVa
247Sports In-State Rank: 26
Rivals In-State Rank: 24

23. Jahque Alleyne, DB, 6’1”, 180, Ocean Lakes (Virginia Beach), Uncommitted
247Sports In-State Rank: 32
Rivals In-State Rank: 17

24. Harry Lewis, DL, 6’2”, 265, Phoebus (Hampton), Committed to Virginia Tech
247Sports In-State Rank: 24
Rivals In-State Rank: 34

25. Aaron Crawford, DT, 6’2”, 300, Stone Bridge (Ashburn), Committed to North Carolina
247Sports In-State Rank: 30
Rivals In-State Rank: 26

26. Blake Camper, OL, 6’6”, 285, Cox (Virginia Beach), Committed to Rutgers
247Sports In-State Rank: 27
Rivals In-State Rank: 29

27. Malik Clements, S/WR, 6’2”, 185, George Washington (Danville), Committed to Cincinnati
247Sports In-State Rank:
Rivals In-State Rank:

28. Justin Skule, OL, 6’6”, 290, Centreville (Clifton), Committed to Vanderbilt
247Sports In-State Rank: 15
Rivals In-State Rank: 27

29. Tanner Karafa, LB/TE, 6’3”, 240, Stone Bridge (Ashburn), Committed to Boston College
247Sports In-State Rank: 38
Rivals In-State Rank: 30

30. Quincy Watts, WR, 5’11”, 175, Landstown (Virginia Beach), Committed to Old Dominion
247Sports In-State Rank: 19
Rivals In-State Rank: 35

31. Gary Jennings, WR/S, 6’2”, 190, Colonial Forge (Stafford), Uncommitted
247Sports In-State Rank: 36
Rivals In-State Rank: 38

32. Mike Majette, DB, 5’11”, 190, Woodbridge, Committed to Maryland
247Sports In-State Rank: 28
Rivals In-State Rank: 39

33. Jamez Brickhouse, CB, 6’0”, 175, Bayside (Virginia Beach), Committed to Old Dominion
247Sports In-State Rank: 33
Rivals In-State Rank: 21

34. Gus Little, LB, 6’2”, 230, Massaponax (Fredericksburg), Committed to Maryland
247Sports In-State Rank: 29
Rivals In-State Rank: 32

35. Channing Hames, DL/OL, 6’5”, 260, Bishop O’Connell (Arlington), Uncommitted
247Sports In-State Rank: 40
Rivals In-State Rank: 31

36. Sterling Hammond, ATH, 5’10”, 190, Essex (Tappahannock), Uncommitted
247Sports In-State Rank: 39
Rivals In-State Rank: 37

37. RJ Proctor, OL, 6’4”, 320, Liberty (Bealeton), Committed to UVa
247Sports In-State Rank: 34
Rivals In-State Rank: NR

38. Chuck Davis, DB, 5’10”, 165, Broad Run (Ashburn), Uncommitted
247Sports In-State Rank: 51
Rivals In-State Rank: 36

39. TJ Griffin, CB/WR, 5’9”, 175, Ocean Lakes (Virginia Beach), Uncommitted
247Sports In-State Rank: 50
Rivals In-State Rank: 25

40. Isaiah Davis, ATH, 6’2”, 210, St. Stephen’s & St. Agnes (Alexandria), Uncommitted
247Sports In-State Rank: 46
Rivals In-State Rank: NR

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1 Responses You are logged in as Test

  1. athletically speaking…Josh Sweat is off the charts and that’s comparing him to Those top ranked Va based DEs: Deshawn Hand, Jonathan Allen, and someone else I can’t remember.

    But as CC points out with his moniker…”The Total Package”…Sweat possesses an old school character of speak softly but carry a big stick. The dude has no tweeter or Facebook account. Based on this day and age, that in itself is many pages of content to discuss. He is humble. He is not taken up in the “I am from Virginia, got a lot of elite offers, so I am going to run away from Va because I feel validated syndrome.” I am going to go ahead and say, meh, Josh picks the hokies. Why not?

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