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October 13, 2009

Two new five-star prospects in the Rivals100

MORE: The Rivals100 | Rivals100 expert chat

The numbers speak for themselves, but so do the actions.

Gardena (Calif.) Serra five-star prospect Robert Woods is averaging 16 yards per catch, and he has five interceptions and 30-plus tackles in five games. But it's key plays in big games that has helped push Woods into the No. 3 spot in the new Rivals100 that was released on Tuesday.

In Serra's toughest games so far this season, Woods has played his best.

Against a solid Carson squad, Woods had five receptions and led the team in tackles with eight. Then last Friday night against a talented Woodland Hills Taft team, Woods intercepted two passes, made several big stops and then caught a touchdown pass - all in the first 14 minutes. Woods also helped Serra seal the 26-20 win in overtime with some big plays down the stretch.

By the time the game was over, it was clear he is the best prospect in California.

There's no question Ronald Powell - who had been ranked as the best in the Golden State previously - is a franchise recruit, but Woods is one of a kind.

"Pretty much, I'm an offensive player, and I want to play on offense at USC," Woods said. "But maybe someday down the road I would like do something like Charles Woodson. He was a defensive player that played a little bit of offense, so I want to be the vice-versa version. I want to play offense and maybe a little bit of defense.

"If I work hard, I feel like I can do anything. God has blessed me with some talents, and if he wants it for me, then I know I can do it."

Rivals.com analyst Barry Every said the Woodson comparison is a good one, but he also thinks Woods is too good with the ball in his hands to keep him off the field at receiver.

"He will most likely make his impact on the offensive side of the ball," Every said. "He is too fast and electrifying with the ball in his hands to not give that a shot first. Plus, receiver is an easier position to learn because it is proactive."


West Chester (Ohio) Lakota West linebacker Jordan Hicks has been ranked as the nation's No. 1 outside linebacker for quite some time, and his play as a senior has resulted in him being moved up to a five-star prospect - No. 12 overall.

Hicks, who was previously ranked 21st, made the move up after wowing Rivals.com analyst Greg Ladky in an in-person evaluation earlier this season.

"He made one of the best defensive plays I have ever seen by blitzing and tipping a screen pass, making the interception and nearly scoring a touchdown," Ladky said. "Hicks has a tremendous ability to hunt down the ballcarrier and finish plays with hard tackles. He also has great change-of-direction skills and is a very fluid athlete playing the linebacker spot."

It's plays like that have attracted scholarship offers from the top programs in the nation. His final list is a who's who of college football today - Alabama, Florida, Ohio State, Texas and USC - and he has already taken official visits to Ohio State and Texas.

Also making the move up to a five-star prospect is Calhoun, Ga., receiver and Georgia commitment Da'Rick Rogers. The 6-foot-3, 206-pounder was outstanding in early season games, and Rivals.com analysts believe Rogers could have an A.J. Green-type impact at the next level for the Dawgs.

"Rogers possesses excellent body control with strong hands that allow him to catch balls when covered," Every said. "Rogers also has tremendous size and strength, which are used to break tackles in the open field. He will be able to outmuscle and use his deceptive speed to beat most defensive backs."


Port St. Lucie (Fla.) Treasure Coast linebacker Jeff Luc dropped from the No. 12 spot to No. 25, and also slid from five stars to four. The 6-1, 230-pounder remains one of the nation's most elite players, but a senior evaluation by Rivals.com analysts showed a few small flaws in his game.

"Luc struggled to get off blocks and it was apparent that his inability to make plays versus Daytona Beach Mainland was hampered by stiffness issues," Every said. "The bottom line is a five-star linebacker should be making plays regardless of the opponent, and Luc was unproductive.

"That should not take away from all of the positives he brings to the table. We're still talking about a kid that ranks among the top 25 players in the nation. He's still an extremely special player that will definitely see early playing time on special teams and work his way into the starting lineup by his second season. He also remains one of the hardest-hitting prospects in the nation."


Matt James is a new addition to the Rivals100. The 6-8, 280-pound offensive tackle from Cincinnati St. Xavier was previously ranked as the nation's No. 111 player, but he now moves into the No. 58 spot. He will also move up to the No. 7 offensive tackle. James is considering Cincinnati, Notre Dame and Ohio State. Another Ohio player to make a move into the 100 is Youngtown (Ohio) Cardinal Mooney running back Braylon Heard. He jumps into the ranking at No. 95 after being ranked previously at No. 168.

Boston College-bound receiver Shakim Phillips of Wayne (N.J.) De Paul Catholic slid from the No. 37 spot to the No. 70 spot after Rivals.com analyst Mike Farrell saw him play earlier this season. "Phillips doesn't have a lot of shake in the open field and can be tackled too easily," Farrell said. But Farrell did still see plenty to keep him among the nation's best players. "He has good size and straight-line speed," Farrell said. "He is a solid kick returner and is a good route runner. He's a very good downfield blocker."

Olive Branch, Miss., offensive tackle Shon Coleman has climbed all the way from a 5.7 three-star prospect to the No. 76 spot in the nation. The newly minted four-star recruit is already committed to Auburn and the Tigers are getting a good one. Coleman has a great frame that will only improve as he continues to add weight. He plays with great pad level and athleticism.

Corona, Calif., safety Demetrius Wright is a new member of the Rivals100. He was previously ranked at No. 122, but has proven this season that he is a real force for Corona. When Jordon James went down with an injury early in the year, Wright stepped up and made big plays at running back. Despite his increased offensive role, he continues to make a lot of plays as a ball-hawking safety.

Falling out of the Rivals100 were Cody Riggs, Corey Nelson, Damien Robinson and Jonathan Dowling. Three of the four players will make appearances in the Rivals250 released on Wednesday.

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