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June 1, 2010

Breaking down the first five-stars for 2011

MORE: The Rivals100 | Clowney tops initial Rivals100 | Five-star gallery | Vote: Who's your No. 1?

They are the best of the best. The players that are wanted by every program and destined to make a big impact at the college level and beyond. So what makes them so special?

We take a closer look at the first five-star prospects in the 2011 class.

The First Five-Stars
11. LB Lawrence Thomas, 6-4/232, Detroit Renaissance
Thomas Highlights
WHY HE'S A FIVE-STAR: "Thomas has an extremely rare combination of size and speed. At 6-feet-4 and 232 pounds, the Michigan State commitment can play multiple positions on defense in college. He even plays receiver for his high school team. Thomas is the highest ranked Rivals100 prospect ever to come from the Detroit Public School System." - Rivals.com Recruiting Analyst Greg Ladky
HIS COACH SAYS: "He has the intangibles, like leadership. He has two really good parents to keep him grounded and focused. Athletically, he's just scratching the surface." - Renaissance assistant coach Antoine Edwards
TOP SCHOOLS: Thomas committed to Michigan State on March 5 over offers from Ohio State, Florida, Alabama, Notre Dame, USC, Penn State, Oklahoma, Miami and Cincinnati and others.
10. RB Malcolm Brown, 6-0/210, Cibolo (Texas) Steele
Brown Highlights
WHY HE'S A FIVE-STAR: "This downhill runner is dangerous in short yardage situations and in the red zone. He loves to accelerate just before contact, leaving defenders damaged and making it hard for them to get up off the ground. But Brown is not just a power back; he is a patient runner who allows his blockers to do their jobs and open holes. His size and speed will allow him to see playing time early in college." - Rivals.com Recruiting Analyst Barry Every
BROWN SAYS: "I'm always trying to work on something to get better."
TOP SCHOOLS: Texas, Florida State, Alabama, and Oklahoma are among his favorites.


9. LB Brent Calloway, 6-1/210, Russellville (Ala.) High
Calloway Highlights
WHY HE'S A FIVE-STAR: "Calloway is really the complete package at linebacker. He has good size and length. He tests off the charts, but he is not just a workout warrior. Calloway makes plays when the pads and the lights are on, and he does it on both sides of the ball. He led his team to the state championship game with more than 1,400 yards rushing while also dominating on the defensive end. He's one of those rare athletes that can really run but also hits with the best in the country." - Rivals.com Recruiting Analyst Barton Simmons
CALLOWAY SAYS: "I don't ever leave the field unless it is a blowout. I pretty much leave it all on the line every Friday night and I feel it big time on Saturday morning."
TOP SCHOOLS: A long-time Alabama commitment, Calloway still plans to visit Auburn, Clemson, Miami, Florida State and USC.
8. LB Curtis Grant, 6-3/222, Richmond (Va.) Hermitage
Grant Highlights
WHY HE'S A FIVE-STAR: "Grant already looks like an NFL linebacker. He has amazing sideline-to-sideline ability. A versatile defender who could play inside or outside linebacker, Grant has superb read and recognition skills. He is a heavy hitter, and uses his length to chase things down. He is also very strong at the point of attack. Grant is a quick-twitch player with great explosion. - Rivals.com Recruiting Analyst Mike Farrell
HIS COACH SAYS: "He's fantastic. He runs very well to the ball and you put that together with his height and size. He has good athletic skills and will have a lot of choices come senior year. He's a two-sport athlete as well, he plays basketball too." - Hermitage coach Patrick Kane
TOP SCHOOLS: Grant has close to 30 offers from the likes of Alabama, Boston College, Duke, Florida, LSU, Maryland, Miami, Michigan, Nebraska, North Carolina, North Carolina State, Ohio State, Richmond, Tennessee, Texas Tech, UCLA, USC, Virginia, Virginia Tech and West Virginia.
7. OT Cyrus Kouandjio, 6-7/322, Hyattsville (Md.) DeMatha
Kouandjio Highlights
WHY HE'S A FIVE-STAR: "Kouandjio is a rare specimen at offensive tackle, a 6-foot-7, 311-pounder who looks and moves like a tight end. He has tremendous athleticism, great feet, the ability to easily get to the second level and consistently hit moving targets. On top of all that, he has a mean streak on the field. Because of his size and agility, he could be one of those rarities at his position that people talk about for years - a la Jonathan Ogden." - Farrell
KOUANDJIO SAYS: "I think I'm the loudest person on the field. I'm a hardcore football player, but I'm humble. I'm the most friendly guy off the field."
TOP SCHOOLS: Kouandjio has roughly 40 scholarship offers and says he is open. His brother, Arie, signed with Alabama in 2010.
6. OT La'El Collins, 6-5/285, Baton Rouge (La.) Redemptorist
Collins Highlights
WHY HE'S A FIVE-STAR: "Collins is clearly a five-star from a physical standpoint, but he also has a five-star mentality and disposition on the field. Collins is an extremely athletic left tackle prospect that has a great pass set, can run and block on the second level and is physical at the point of attack. More importantly though, he's nasty. He plays both sides of the ball and is a high-effort kid on every play. You want your best player to be your hardest worker, and Collins has that kind of drive." - Simmons
COLLINS SAYS: "I take pride in my pass blocking my run blocking, just one-on-ones, double teaming and everything. Everything that I practice, everything that I work on I know that I can achieve."
TOP SCHOOLS: Collins committed to LSU on September 28 along with his teammate Jeremy Hill.
5. RB De'Anthony Thomas, 5-9/160, Los Angeles Crenshaw
Thomas Highlights
WHY HE'S A FIVE-STAR: "De'Anthony Thomas has been one of the most talked-about prospects in the Golden State for years. He is a Pop Warner legend that was given the nickname "The Black Mamba" by famous rapper Snoop Dog. Thomas terrorized opponents as a youngster, and he has done the same thing in his time at Crenshaw. He put the team on his back last season, helping carry them all the way to the state championship game. When he went out with an injury in the title game, it was very clear how important Thomas was to the Crenshaw team. His squad could not get back on track without Thomas. While most schools are recruiting Thomas at running back, his game on the defensive side is just as impressive. Some think he could develop into an NFL cornerback down the road." - Rivals.com Recruiting Analyst Jeremy Crabtree
THOMAS SAYS: "I live in a tough environment. I'm just trying to stay out of trouble, do good in school and just hopefully I can make it and become the next million-dollar man (at USC)."
TOP SCHOOLS: Thomas committed to USC on May 19 over offers from UCLA, Oregon, Cal, Washington, Florida and others.
4. WR George Farmer, 6-2/192, Gardena (Calif.) Junipero Serra
Farmer Highlights
WHY HE'S A FIVE-STAR: "Farmer first emerged on the scene as a freshmen when he wowed everybody in attendance at the National Underclassmen Combine by clocking a 4.38-second time in the 40-yard dash. He followed that up with standout performance at USC's Rising Star Camp in 2008 and dominating performances in both his sophomore and junior seasons, allowing him to become one of the most heavily courted players in the nation. The star receiver has a tremendous combination of size, speed and playmaking ability, which makes him one of the rarest combinations in this year's recruiting class." - Crabtree
FARMER SAYS: "I care because it's a new goal for me (to be the nation's No. 1 receiver). The other thing is I can't let it get to me. You have to keep playing. You have to keep going. There are times people tell me that. By the end of the year I want to be first."
TOP SCHOOLS: Farmer could also play basketball in college. USC leads a long list of suitors. He plans to announce choice at 2011 U.S. Army All-American Bowl.
3. ATH James Wilder Jr., 6-2/219, Tampa (Fla.) Plant
Wilder Highlights
WHY HE'S A FIVE-STAR: "Wilder is an impressive physical specimen; he is ripped from head to toe. This stellar two-way player is a winner who already understands the importance of leading by example. His versatility allows him to project as a linebacker, running back, or possibly a weakside defensive end at the next level." - Every
HIS COACH SAYS: "I haven't seen everybody in the whole country play this year, but if there is a better, more dominant player than he is, I'd have to see him on film. He's been amazing for us." - Plant coach Robert Weiner
TOP SCHOOLS: Wilder's list includes Florida, Florida State, Miami, Georgia, USC and many others.

2. LB Tony Steward, 6-2/225, St. Augustine (Fla.) Pedro Menendez
Steward Highlights
WHY HE'S A FIVE-STAR: "Physically, Steward has the body of a Greek god. Athletically, he has the speed and hips to run with any running back in the country. He is one prospect whose film and camp performances mesh; he was dominating in both evaluations. Steward plays downhill and hits opponents like his life depends on it." - Every
STEWARD SAYS: "My speed on the field is one of my strengths. I find the ball and make tackles. I am just an explosive defensive player. If there's something that I really need to work on it's just playing really hard on every play."
TOP SCHOOLS: Florida State, Clemson and Alabama lead a growing list of offers.


1. DE Jadeveon Clowney, 6-5/225, Rock Hill (S.C.) South Pointe
Clowney Highlights
WHY HE'S A FIVE-STAR: "Clowney's game is all about speed and length. At 6 feet 6 and 225 pounds, he has plenty of room to fill out his frame. Clowney has very long arms and excellent pursuit speed. No matter where the ball is on the field, he's a threat to make a play. He can do it all: run down plays to the outside, catch guys from behind, sack the quarterback or stuff the run. He is arguably the most athletic defensive end prospect since Julius Peppers." - Farrell
HIS COACH SAYS: "I have coached five NFL football players in my 27 years of coaching high school football. We had two Parade All-Americans and two Under Armour All-Americans and two Shrine Bowl players here last year. I also coached Ben Watson when I was at Rock Hill. I thought those guys got a lot of mail in regards to recruiting until I saw Jadeveon Clowney." - South Pointe coach Bobby Carroll
TOP SCHOOLS: North Carolina, Alabama, and South Carolina lead a long list of offers.



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