Blog Entry

2012 Athletes to Watch

Posted on: April 5, 2011 11:52 am
Posted by Bryan Fischer

Olney (Md.) star Stefon Diggs is the top athlete in the nation according to CBS Sports/MaxPreps Recruiting Analyst Tom Lemming but there's a lot of football to be played between now and Signing Day. Here's five other players - in alphabetical order - who you need to keep an eye out for this year. Each of them has a chance to move Diggs off the top spot and become the top athlete for the class of 2012.

Nelson Agholor (Berkeley Prep, Tampa, Fla.) 

Height: 6-foot-1 
Weight: 185 pounds 
Offers from: Auburn, Florida, Georgia, LSU, Notre Dame, USF, Tennessee, USC, Vanderbilt

What's to like: Agholor is an exceptional athlete and does so well at both defensive back and wide receiver, it's hard to figure out which position he actually would be better at in college. He's a big play receiver and has a tremendous leaping ability to go up and snatch the ball out of the air. He's fluid running routes and can sit down, catch a pass and then take off. Defensively, he plays press coverage very well and can turn and run like the best of them.

Needs to work on: There's not a lot that Agholor can't do. It would be nice to see him improve his tackling and aggressiveness.

Arik Armstead (Pleasant Grove High, Elk Grove, Calif.) 

Height: 6-foot-7 
Weight: 280 pounds 
Committed to USC

What's to like: The argument could be made that Armstead is the top player in the country and top offensive tackle. He also plays along the defensive line as a mammoth defensive tackle who can really fill two gaps and explode off the line. At this point however, he seems best suited as a left tackle at the next level. His size and strength allow him to simply overpower most of the competition and he has surprising quickness and speed to boot.

Needs to work on: Because most feel he's best suited to be a tackle, staying at the position and working on pass protection would be the one thing Armstead could do to really prepare himself for college.

Ronald Darby (Potomac High, Oxon Hill, Md.) 

Height: 5-foot-11 
Weight: 180 pounds 
Offers from: Alabama, Florida, Florida State, Georgia Tech, Maryland, Michigan, North Carolina, N.C. State, Notre Dame, Penn State, Rutgers, Tennessee, USC, Virginia, West Virginia

What's to like: Darby is one of the fastest players in this class and he can turn on the jets on offense and dart his way past defenders. He's very quick as well and closes on the ball as a defensive back like few others. He could fill a variety of roles on offense but might be best suited for safety in college.

Needs to work on: He still needs to learn the nuances of the safety position and could also work on his tackling if he ends up on defense.

Davonte Neal (Chaparral High, Scottsdale, Ariz.) 

Height: 5-foot-9 
Weight: 175 pounds 
Offers from: Arizona, Arizona State, Arkansas, Auburn, LSU, Miami, North Carolina, Northwestern, Notre Dame, Oregon State, Penn State, Texas A&M, UCLA, USC

What's to like: Neal is a firecracker on offense and a dynamic threat that can take it to the house at anytime. He is a good kick/punt returner who is shifty enough to make defenders miss. On defense, he's a solid corner who is a real ball hawk.

Needs to work on: He's a bit stiff in the hips to play corner and is so good on offense he'll likely end up on that side of the ball in college. Neal should continue to work on his speed and quickness as well.

Justin Thomas (Prattville High, Prattville, Ala.) 

Height: 5-foot-11 
Weight: 185 pounds 
Committed to Alabama

What's to like: Thomas is one of the fastest players in the state and is a legitimate threat to score because of his ability to shift into that top gear. He plays quarterback in high school mostly because he is the best player on his team but he won't be playing that position in college. His quickness and ability to make people miss is something that is pretty special.

Needs to work on: He will be raw wherever he starts out in college so trying to get some work in at receiver (likely in the slot) or at defensive back will help him adjust to his future role. Learning the little things will be his biggest challenge but he's smart enough to adjust.

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