Everything is bigger and better in Texas, and that's especially correct when talking about the talent in the Lone Star State for the 2010 recruiting class.
In the first edition of the Rivals100, three of the nation's top six players are from Texas.
The nation's top prospect is offensive tackle Seantrel Henderson of Cretin-Derham Hall (Saint Paul, Minn.). But at No. 2 is running back Lache Seastrunk of Temple (Texas). Behind him at No. 3 is receiver Darius White of Dunbar (Fort Worth, Texas), and at No. 6 is defensive end Jackson Jeffcoat of West (Plano, Texas).
"This is definitely a special group of players at the top of the list from Texas," Rivals.com analyst Barry Every said. "Seastrunk is one of the fastest players in the nation, and he's got the ability to change the game every time he touches the ball. White is in the same Julio Jones/A.J. Green/Rueben Randle mold. I think he'll be able to have an immediate impact as a true freshman. Then there is Jeffcoat, who is a huge defensive end with a great pedigree and amazing athleticism."
Texas isn't as deep as Florida, which placed 19 players on the Rivals100 compared to the Lone Star State's 13. But Every said one thing that further cements this Texas crop as special is the overall quality of the group.
"I wouldn't necessarily say this Texas group compares to what we saw from Florida last year, when there were 14 players in the top 70 nationally, and it's still behind overall as far as this year is concerned," he said. "But where Texas gets its huge edge is that it has much more balance at each position, especially on both the offensive and defensive line, whereas Florida -- as usual -- is skill-position heavy."
After a somewhat down year at the top of the rankings in 2009, California is back in full force with five players ranking in the national top 30. This includes five-star prospects Malcolm Jones of Oaks Christian (Westlake Village), Chris Martin of Bishop O'Dowd (Oakland) and Ronald Powell of Rancho Verde (Moreno Valley).
Jones first emerged as a freshman, when he helped Oaks Christian capture a state championship while playing linebacker. He has played running back, his natural position, the past two seasons and has flourished. As a junior, Jones rushed for 1,504 yards and 26 touchdowns.
"Malcolm has it all for a running back," Oaks Christian coach Bill Redell said. "I think he's also definitely one of the nation's best linebackers."
Martin is a hybrid outside linebacker/defensive end who's been terrorizing offenses in the Bay Area the past two seasons. Martin, who committed early to Notre Dame, has racked up 230-plus tackles in that time and dominated in every camp setting. His upside is through the roof.
"Chris has really matured his game, but he's still a long way away from what we think he'll eventually be," O'Dowd coach Paul Perenon said. "To think what he's going to be like in a few years is amazing."
Powell is a freak-of-nature athlete who could project on either side of the ball but likely will end up at defensive end. At 6-foot-4, 240 pounds, Powell has a motor that doesn't stop. He also has a college-ready body, and he has attracted scholarship offers from coast-to-coast.
"Ronald was great this season for us," Rancho Verde coach Pete Duffy said. "He's always had the physical ability, but now he plays with that sense of urgency."
Jones, Martin and Powell likely won't end up being the only five stars in the state later in the process. Just outside the five-star level are running back D.J. Morgan of Taft (Woodland Hills) at No. 17, athlete Anthony Barr of Loyola (Los Angeles) at No. 19 and receiver Robert Woods of Serra (Gardena) at No. 26.
Every year, there seem to be ebbs and flows at certain positions, but one of the most consistent groups over the past few years has been quarterback. This, however, is definitely a down year for quarterbacks.
Last year, there were six quarterbacks ranked in the top 60 and three five-star prospects. This year, there are only six quarterbacks in the Rivals100, with two in the top 60. No quarterback earned a five-star designation.
Blake Bell of Bishop Carroll (Wichita, Kan.) gets the nod as the nation's No. 1 quarterback. In 2008, Bell completed 64 percent of his passes for 2,871 yards and 34 touchdowns.
"How ironic is it that the top running back in the country in the 2009 class [Bryce Brown] is coming out of Wichita, and then the following year the top quarterback is coming out of Wichita, too?" Bishop Carroll coach Alan Shuckman said. "Some of the kids from Texas, California and Florida have maximized their potential by their senior years or their first year on campus, but Blake hasn't even tapped how talented he can be some day.
Other quarterbacks to make the list are Phillip Sims of Oscar Smith (Chesapeake, Va.) at No. 52, Austin Hinder of Steamboat Springs (Colo.) at No. 76, Joe Boisture of Saline (Mich.) at No. 81, Paul Jones of McKees Rocks (Pa.) Sto Rox at No. 88 and Pete Thomas of Valhalla (El Cajon, Calif.) at No. 92.