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December 20, 2007
Pundits in Mississippi will tell you that some of the best high school football in the country is played in their state.
Now those pundits have another source to back up that sentiment.
Two of the Magnolia State's star prospects made monster leaps in the newly updated Rivals100 released on Thursday.
Making the most significant jump was Ocean Springs, Miss., receiver DeAndre Brown. The 6-foot-6, 208-pounder was outstanding at the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Classic. He worked hard every day in practice, excelled in the game and did everything that you expect from one of the nation's elite prospects.
HIGH RISER: ALONZO LAWRENCE
"If you knew Plaxico Burress was coming out of high school where would you put him in the Top100," Every asked when talking about Brown. "He has excellent hands, and is every bit of 6-foot-6, with very good speed for his size.
"When I saw him, he didn't disappoint in any area. He should be a true star on the college level and then later on in the NFL. He's got it all."
Brown wasn't the only Magnolia State star to make a major jump.
Lucedale (Miss.) George County cornerback Alonzo Lawrence moves all the way from the three-star level to the No. 39 spot overall. The Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Classic was the first real chance Rivals.com had to evaluate Lawrence, and he didn't disappoint. He still needs to work on qualifying academically, but he's a tall cover corner with great ball skills.
Lawrence impressed all week long in practices and in the game, including when he took an interception back 94 yards for a touchdown.
"Alonzo is tall corner with tremendous ball skills," Every said. "He also posses very good speed, is very competitive and shows the propensity to hit like a ton of bricks."
There was one more addition to the five-star ranks, and observant fans will remember that the player was ranked as a five-star early in the recruiting process.
Paris, Texas, offensive lineman Stephen Good was one of the original five-star prospects when Rivals.com released its first rankings for the class of 2008. However, when he missed most of his senior season with torn cartilage in his right shoulder, he was lowered to one of the highest four-star recruits in the nation.
After months of rehab, Good has wiped away any doubt that he could be a dominating offensive lineman. His senior play ? against quality competition in East Texas ? was actually more impressive than his amazing junior film. He dominated enough in the final two games of his senior season to earn district lineman of the year.
"Good has shown no ill effects when it comes to his return from injury, and his aggressive nature has not been curtailed at all," Rivals.com national recruiting analyst Mike Farrell said. "A shoulder injury is always a concern for an offensive lineman because of the need to use their arms and get off the ball with a strong punch. He has shown he's as strong, physical and nasty as he was before getting hurt."
There's also a new "King" of football in Michigan.
Detroit Martin Luther King defensive end Nick Perry climbed up from the Rivals250 all the way to the No. 31 spot and earned a 6.0 rating on the Rivals Rating Scale. Nobody in nation had a more dominating season than Perry did on the defensive side of the ball. In 14 games, Perry recorded 147 tackles and had 36 sacks. That number shattered the Michigan state record for sacks by 10.
He also led his team to a perfect 14-0 record and a state championship. The title was not only the first for King High School, but also the first won by a Detroit Public School League program.
Perry has focused his attention down to five schools at this stage. They include Michigan, West Virginia, USC, Michigan State and Miami. He took his first official visit of the process to Michigan State the weekend of Dec. 7, and is set to visit Miami in January.
The only other dramatic move in the newly released rankings came at the No. 94 spot.
That's where do-it-all Louisiana athlete Brandon Taylor of Franklinton is slotted. After reviewing senior tape, it's clear that Taylor is one of the nation's elite athletes.
"Taylor just goes out on the field and makes plays," Rivals.com national recruiting analyst Barton Simmons said. "He was a do-everything guy for a team that went undefeated before losing in the playoffs to the eventual state champions in Louisiana's 4A division. He does a lot of things well. He has a great nose for the ball. He is a big hitter and he is explosive when the ball is in his hands. He's a kid that just knows how to win."
Rivals.com analysts loved Taylor's play-making ability and think he could be a great cornerback - or even a highly talented safety. Either way, keeping him out of the Rivals100 was impossible after seeing some of his senior season performances.