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August 24, 2012
R250: Florida talent shines through
Dallas Jackson is the National Columnist for Rivals.com. Email your comments or story ideas to DallasJ@Yahoo-Inc.com and follow him on Twitter.Following a summer of evaluations at camps, combines and passing tournaments, the Rivals250 was released this week with its typical list of movers and shakers.
One thing that has remained a constant since Rivals.com expanded its coverage from the Rivals100 to its ranking of the top 250 prospects in the country in 2006, is that great players come from great programs.
The list of usual hotspots is always well represented.
Of the 1,156 high school programs that have had at least one player ranked, Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) St. Thomas Aquinas leads with 12 players ranked inside the Rivals250 since 2006. With defensive lineman Joey Bosa comfortably inside the rankings this season, that number is sure to move up by at least one when this class has been completely evaluated in January.
Rivals.com national recruiting analyst Mike Farrell is not surprised that the Florida-based power is atop this list.
"I think St. Thomas Aquinas produces so much talent because it's a well known South Florida program that always seems to be in the hunt for state titles and gets a lot of national attention," Farrell said. "Players going there knowing they will be heavily recruited, get plenty of exposure and they will also be coached-up and play top competition.
"The reputation STA has built over the years is hard to beat."
The Raiders claimed a RivalsHigh 100 high school football national championship in 2008 and finished No. 2 nationally during the 2010 season.
Last season, Rocco Cassullo took over the program from legendary coach George Smith and had the team positioned for another Top 10 run before a rash of injuries derailed the season.
Lost late in the season was Rivals250 member Jelani Hamilton, who finished the year ranked No. 106.
Farrell notes that the list of programs that regularly have elite players can be slanted toward private schools because they have a big edge.
"Private schools have a great advantage over public schools because they can take kids out of district," he said. "But you have to win and put kids in college to be able to recruit them, so to speak, so these successful programs have earned that respect. There is a lot of pressure on kids in certain states to go to the bigger, more successful private schools these days, which is why I see this trend continuing."
Westlake Village (Calif.) Oaks Christian and Olney (Md.) Good Counsel are the other two private schools inside the current leaders for talent producers. Each will be maintaining its spot with players nationally ranked in the Class of 2013.