By Rodger M. Wood
There are definite signs portending its professionalization but high school football is still a game. As college football, I dread it ever losing that natural purity.
I spent most of this past September and October at high school games, practices, and individual shoots photographing high school senior Division 1 football players for the brand new Sporting News “Recruiting Guide,” which made news stands nation-wide in mid – December, 2010.
Traveling around Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Michigan, Ohio, and Kentucky, I came in contact with many top high school players, who will have the opportunity to play college football at a Division 1 college.
If they realize their unlimited gridiron potential, they could progress onto NFL fame and a lifetime of millions dollars playing a game, which drives the American public into a wild frenzy every Sunday.
It was difficult to rank these young men in order of their ability and potential, but combined with the intangible factors of like-ability, cooperation, and heart, I was so presumptuous as to rank “Rodger’s Top 10 Division 1 Football Picks,” below:
1. Kevin McReynold, DT, 6-2, 280, St. John’s HS, (Washington, D.C.).
Ranked the Sporting New #36 recruit In the 2011 class, but Rodger’s #1.
I immediately liked this serious young man at a photo shoot last year. He went through all my photography antics without complaint, and two hours later went out to play a tough football game against Bishop McNamara. After the game, he wanted me to meet his parents. I also saw him play in six other games the past two years.
Kevin has the athletic genes of his father, who played college basketball at Virginia Tech.
Kevin played both offensive tight end and defensive tackle this season and has the speed (4.97 seconds in the 40 –yard) to catch a running back.
Kevin is seriously considering scholarship offers from Arkansas, Illinois, Maryland, North Carolina, Ohio State, Oregon, Rutgers, and UCLA.
2. Landon Turner, OT, 6-5, 311, Harrisonburg HS, (Harrisonburg, VA)
Ranked the #86 Sporting News recruit in the 2011 Class.
I watched Landon’s at practice and afterwards, had a photo shoot in mid-October at Harrisonburg, VA, which is the home of Division 2 James Madison College, who pulled off the upset of the 2010 Season beating neighbor Division 1 Virginia Tech 21-16.
Always smiling, he’s Mr. Nice Guy, and a young man, who you want to see succeed. I promised to see him in the State of Virginia Division 2 Championship game if Harrisonburg made that game, which they did the second Saturday in December against Briarwood HS at Lynchburg, VA.
Declining scholarship offers from West Virginia, where his father West Turner played, Virginia, and nearby Hokieland, he will be playing offensive tackle at North Carolina University in 2011.
3. Jameel Poteat, RB, 5-11, 195, Bishop McDevitt HS, (Harrisburg, PA)
Ranked the #76 Sporting New recruit in the 2011 class.
I hugged Jameel, after he ran a 65 yard touchdown off right tackle, straight at my camera lens, while I depressed my finger on the motor drive. It took until the second half to get these great shots and I was
overjoyed when it happened.
I met Jameel’s mother, Linda Poteat, at half time and she is a nice lady.
Wanting to emulate his cousin Hank Poteat, who played safety there before nine NFL seasons, Jameel committed to the University of Pittsburgh.
Jameel has the power and speed to run over and away from opposing defenders. He ran for 1,664 yards and 24 touchdowns in the tough 2010 Harrisburg PA high school competition.
4. Cyrus Kouandjio, OT, 6-7, 322, Dematha HS, (Hyattsville, MD)
Ranked the Sporting News #1 recruit in the 2011 class.
I saw Cyrus in six games in 2009 and 2010, including the both WCAC Championship Games against Good Counsel at Annapolis.
Older brother Arie, who played with alongside Cyrus at Dematha HS in 2009, Is an offensive tackle at Alabama. Cyrus is raw and needs to fine tuning. I don’t think he’s developed his football instincts yet but has the size and potential to be great.
He has offers to play at Alabama, Georgia, Iowa, Maryland, Miami, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Pittsburgh, Tennessee, USC, and Virginia, but is still undecided.
5. Jamal Lewter, OT, 6-7, 265, Ballou HS (Washington, D.C.)
Ranked in Sporting News top 300 recruits of the 2011 class.
I saw Jamar play football against Dunbar one night in October at Ballou HS in the Anacostia section of our nation’s capital.
I think this big raw boned youngster will surprise a few people. He has the heart, big body, and ability to play big time football. He accepted an offer to play offensive tackle at North Carolina in 2011.
6. Vincent Croce, LB and TE, 6-4, 260, Good Counsel HS, (Washington, D.C.)
Unranked in the Sporting News Top 300 recruits of the 2011 class.
The Washington Post ranked him the 2010 Metropolitan Washington D.C defensive player of the year.
I saw Vincent play in games against St. Johns, Dematha three times, and Gonzaga, and never saw his team, Good Counsel, lose. He was a dominant middle linebacker and captain on defense as a junior
and senior on WCAC championship teams.
Good Counsel smoked perennial champion Dematha in the 2009 and 2010 WCAC championship games.
Vincent has committed to the University of Virginia in 2011.
7. Curtis Grant, LB, 6-3, 220, Hermitage HS, (Richmond, VA)
Ranked the Sporting News #16 recruit in the 2011 class.
I saw him play in a game against Godwin HS in October in Richmond VA.
Curtis was a tough middle linebacker for Hermitage HS, but most college coaches see his future at outside linebacker.
His senior year football team lost the 2010 Virginia State A – Championship game to Battlefield, to finish with a 13-1 overall W-L record.
He received his first scholarship offer from West Virginia as a high school freshman, but is also seriously considering subsequent offers from Virginia Tech, Florida, Alabama, Miami, and Virginia.
8. Zach Dancel, QB, S, 6-0, 192, Good Counsel HS, (Washington, D.C.)
Unranked in Sporting News Top 300 recruits in the 2011 class.
In 2010, he developed into an effective run-pass option quarterback. He works hard and gets better every year.
Zach was the winning quarterback in three games I saw him play in 2009 and three games in 2010, including the two WAAC championship games against Dematha.
He has scholarship options from Illinois, New Mexico, Stony Brook, and Towson and visited Georgia Tech.
9. Kevin Hogan, QB, 6-4, 200, Gonzaga HS, (Washington, D.C.)
Unranked in Sporting News top 300 recruits in the 2011 class.
He has accepted a scholarship to back up Heisman Trophy runner up Andrew Luck at Stanford in 2011.
He was named the 2010 Washington Post top D.C. Metroplitan QB.
He was the losing QB In the semi final WCAC championship game against Good Counsel, but gave it his best shot.
I saw Kevin quarterback in two games against Good Counsel, and one against Bishop McNamara this season. He is the best pass – run high school quarterback I have ever seen. He and Zach Dancel will both make their marks in college football.
10. Terrell Chesnut, QB, DB, 5-11, 180, Pottsgrove HS (Pottstown, PA)
Ranked the Sporting News #57 recruit in the 2011 class.
He has accepted an offer to play college football at Pittsburgh in 2011.
I drove to Pottstown PA for a photo shoot with Terrell in early October, but never saw him in a game.
His future may be in the secondary on defense, rather than quarterback, but this young man will be happy to play wherever his team needs him.
He is a fine young man, who will make the effort to do everything well, both on and off the gridiron.