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September 27, 2007

Rivals.com's staff of recruiting analysts offer thoughts on things they learned while on the road scouting some of the nations top prospects in this week's edition of From the Road. Here is a closer look at some of the sights, storylines and recruiting scoop from the big weekend in high school football.

From the Road Gallery

Jeremy Crabtree, Rivals.com Recruiting Editor
The Brown brothers senior linebacker Arthur Brown and junior running back Bryce Brown seem like they're the most talked about people from the state of Kansas since Dorothy and Toto. And this past Friday night against a very stout Wichita Bishop Carroll team, both showed why they rank among the nation's best prospects.

The Brown's Wichita East team hasn't had a winning season since 1992 and the 13-9 victory over Carroll advanced it to 4-0. The Blue Aces have not won a City League football title since 1983, but East is now the only unbeaten team in the league.

East fans can thank Arthur, who was dominating on both sides of the ball at fullback and linebacker, and Bryce, who racked up 143 yards rushing and scored the go-ahead touchdown late in the third quarter.

"This win means a lot. It's almost kind of hard to put it into words what it means for our program," Bryce said after the game. "A lot of things didn't go our way tonight. It just shows that when things don't go our way, we're going to have to step it up together as a team. That's what we showed. We showed we can win the big game."

Brown showed why he's one of the nation's premiere players in the nation, even though he's still only a junior.

Often lining up 10-yards deep in the I-formation, Brown was faster than anybody else on the field. He would cut, spin, juke, stiff-arm and power through defenders the entire game.

After he scored the go-ahead touchdown late in the third quarter, Brown took over again in the fourth quarter with tough running that helped eat up precious minutes on the clock and keep the ball out of the hands of Carroll's offense.

There have been a ton of different words to describe the play of Arthur Brown. Words like fast, explosive, destroyer and special have all been used, but one word that doesn't get mentioned enough with Brown is heart.

Brown showed a ton of heart Friday night.

Playing both sides of the ball and hardly coming off the field, Brown did it all for East. He was playing with a dinged up left knee but that didn't stop him from rushing for 61 yards at his fullback spot and racking up double-digit tackles for the fourth straight game this season.

While he does fly around and make a ton of plays on defense, he was also quite impressive on the offensive side of the ball. On one play late in the fourth quarter, Brown got the ball from his fullback spot and he drug eight defenders for positive yards. He was also tough as nails when it came to opening up holes for his younger brother.

His game wasn't without flaws, though, as he did jump offsides on a fourth-down punt attempt that gave Carroll a first down in the first quarter. Carroll would later convert on a 42-yard pass for the first score of the game. He also was out of position in some instances when he would fly up so aggressively and the ball carrier would be in a different hole. But there's no question he's got what it takes to be an impact knockback linebacker with elite speed.

Mike Farrell, Rivals.com Recruiting Analyst
Garden State clash: Colonia, N.J., linebacker Eric LeGrand, a Rutgers commitment, led his team to a 20-19 upset over New Brunswick and Rivals100 athlete Brandon Smith this past weekend. LeGrand rushed for 135 yards on 18 carries, including the winning touchdown.

Smith, who plays quarterback and safety, threw and ran for a touchdown on offense and had an interception and fumble recovery on defense. He followed the loss with an official visit to Michigan and rated the visit highly.

2010 offensive lineman Dante Weaver is a name to remember from New Brunswick. The 6-foot-3, 320-pounder could be one of the Northeast's best players down the line.

No match for No. 1: Jeannette, Pa., quarterback Terrelle Pryor had a huge game this past weekend against Southmoreland. He rushed for 143 yards on three carries (all for touchdowns) and completed all seven of his passes for 171 yards and another score.

Pryor also stated that Ohio State, West Virginia and Florida stand out amongst his top six, ahead of Penn State, Texas and Tennessee. Pryor has an official visit set with Ohio State for the weekend of Nov. 2.

Full weekend for Friendly duo: Fort Washington (Md.) Friendly dominated Crossland 36-0 this past weekend and athlete Lamaar Thomas rushed nine times for 122 yards. Thomas took an official visit to Ohio State following the game and came away as impressed as he expected. The Buckeyes are the team to beat but Thomas will take an official visit to Illinois this weekend and might trip to Tennessee before making a decision in October.

Friendly running back Josh Haden had been averaging more than 20 yards-per-carry this season and rushed for 104 yards and two scores on nine carries. He followed the Crossland game with an official visit to Boston College. Haden is committed to BC.

Barton Simmons, Rivals.com Recruiting Analyst
When two players from the Rivals100 to watch list in the class of 2009 were scheduled to play each other in West Monroe, La., it seemed like an obvious opportunity to see two of the best juniors in the country line up and battle it out. The two players in question were Ouachita's Montrell Conner who traveled to play West Monroe's D.J. Banks. Both players put together sophomore years that led to highly-anticipated junior seasons. Adding to the talent was four-star Rivals250 member Tyler Edwards of Ouachita. While not all of the big names dominated the big stage, the 55-23 win by West Monroe was well-worth the trip.

The juniors to watch: The most physically impressive player on the field Friday night was Conner. The junior looked closer to 6-foot-3 than 6-foot-2 and was very well-put-together. With Ouachita's only other running back option going down after the first series with an ankle injury, Conner handled the full rushing load for the Lions and kept them in the game.

Conner is a little bit unnatural as a running back but has the size and athleticism to play a number of positions. On the night, he rushed for 132 yards on 20 carries before leaving the game late with a rib injury.

The second member of the Rivals100 to watch, was less of a factor than Conner. D.J. Banks, who transferred to 5A's West Monroe after spending his sophomore season at St. Frederick of class 2A, had limited touches for the Rebels. He plays primarily as a kick returner and slot receiver and even had some late snaps at quarterback but he had very few opportunities to make plays.

The 5-foot-10 athlete did open up the scoring with an eight-yard touchdown reception and answered an Ouachita touchdown with a 60-yard kickoff return. But for much of the game Banks wasn't even on the field, with West Monroe coach Don Shows opting for his two-back power game instead of a three-receiver set. Banks is still going to be an interesting prospect with his speed and athleticism but at this point, he may be more of a projection due to his limited impact after his move to 5A football.

The other junior: While a big part of the trip to Monroe could be attributed to the above juniors, one other member of the class of 2009 served his notice that he is a player to watch. Ladarius Abrams kicked off the night with a 44-yard run from scrimmage and kept it going from there. By the end of the night, Abrams had played like the best tailback on the field.

Though he is a little undersized, Abrams runs with good vision and balance and maintained good leverage all evening. He finished the night with 149 yards on 16 carries.

Following the Don: Abrams' success on the evening as well as West Monroe's offensive philosophy can be directly related to the game that fullback Don Brown had. The senior was dominating as a blocker and punishing as a runner. He rushed for 146 yards on 14 carries and very few of those yards came without a defender riding his back. Built in the fire-hydrant mold, Brown has had limited recruiting interest but he showed on Friday night that he can be a very productive football player on the next level as a battering ram fullback. Overall, he was the best football player on the field on that night.

Tough night for Edwards: Four-star Rivals250 tight end Tyler Edwards had a frustrating night against the Rebels. Edwards never could get on track against a swarming defense.

The Ouachita coaching staff was constantly trying to find ways to get him the ball on screens, quick hitters, and throw backs. But none of his five catches went for more than a couple yards while one attempt was intercepted for an 86-yard touchdown.

Edwards did showcase a willingness to block in the run game and he could be a good candidate for an H-back type role on the college level.

Lights out: Don'ta Hightower's Marshall County (Tenn.) team toyed with Franklin (Tenn.) Page before Hightower delivered the knock-out blow with two quick touchdown runs as the game neared halftime ( Watch TD No. 1 | Watch TD No. 2) .

The power in the stadium went out shortly after Hightower's second touchdown for a significant delay. It was eventually restored and Hightower proceeded to essentially put the game away with his third TD run on the night on the way to a 35-0 victory.

Hightower finished with 87 yards on just six carries while also manning the middle of the Marshall County defense for most of the night.

Chad Simmons, Recruiting Analyst
Cedar Grove duo not enough against Marist: Wide receiver Joshua Jarboe and athlete Xavier Avery did what they could to bring Ellenwood (Ga.) Cedar Grove back from a 20-point second half deficit against Marist, but they ran out of time.

They were down 28-6 before mounting a comeback in the second half, only to fall short 35-25. Jarboe finished with seven receptions and more than 100 yards, but the moment he will remember is when he dropped an open pass that would have been a 60-yard touchdown.

Avery showed good speed, good lateral movement and the ability to play through pain. He has been playing the last two games with a bad stinger in his shoulder and was limited last week, but stepped up when his name was called.

Georgia Tech commitment Cooper Taylor led Marist to the victory from his spot at quarterback. He ran the option efficiently and made good decisions.

He will play safety at Georgia Tech and he made a couple of big tackles right at the line of scrimmage. He really attacked the ball and showed the ability to play the run, but was not as strong in pass coverage.

Uzzi is back: Chamblee (Ga.) lineman Omoregie Uzzi missed the first game of the season because of an ankle injury, but he is getting back in the swing of things now.

He played equal snaps on the offensive and defensive line last weekend while helping Chamblee beat Therrell 61-0. Uzzi showed good feet, the ability to get up field and he was solid on both sides of the ball.

Four juniors stand out:

Warren Norman of Chamblee is 5 feet 9 and 185 pounds, but he plays bigger and he is an athlete to watch. He could end up at running back, slot receiver or defensive back on the next level. Norman had great strength and speed. He had 100 yard on just five carries last week.

Julian Burnett is a 5-foot-9, 212-pound hard-hitting linebacker at Westside (Ga.) Macon. His size may be a question, but his instincts, play making ability and hustle are not. Burnett attacks the football, he has a great first step and he knows how to find the football. He is averaging 13 tackles a game early this season.

Henry Dixon is strong, quick, explosive and a player to keep an eye on. He is a 5-foot-9, 205-pound junior running back out of Sharpsburg (Ga.) East Coweta that has been timed as low as 4.32 in the 40-yard dash. Dixon shares time with three other backs, so the numbers may not be big, but he has big talent.

David Clark plays a position at Warner Robins, Ga., that does not get a lot of publicity, but this kicker deserves it. He was one of the top soccer players in the south before giving it up to focus on football. Clark has a very strong leg and he can kick off, punt and take care of field goals. Division I schools will come calling next year.

Barry Every, Rivals.com Recruiting Analyst
A true border war took place this past Friday night in South Georgia, when the Lincoln Trojans of Tallahassee, Fla. made the trip north to take on the Valdosta Wildcats.

The first half would be a defensive battle with Lincoln's Jabaris Little, and Jawanza Starling, keeping the Valdosta running game in check. Little's combination of size and speed allowed the Trojans to punish the Wildcat rushing attack for two quarters. Starling would add run support with crushing blows from his safety position. Valdosta was able to take advantage on special teams by blocking a Lincoln punt, which would set up a short touchdown drive by the Wildcats, making the score at the half 7-3.

The second half would be a story of two separate quarters. B.J. Daniels with would lead the Trojans on two touchdown drives, while getting excellent protection on the right side by senior Steven Robinson and junior offensive tackle Shantez Bruce.

The final quarter would bring another prospect to the forefront. David Arnold, the senior tailback from Valdosta, showed off his quickness through the hole and his great cutback vision while rushing for 100 of his 190 total yards in the fourth quarter. He was also able to show his pass catching abilities, taking two short passes and turning them into touchdowns.

This battle between two state perennial powers would end in a big win for the Valdosta Wildcats, 21-17.

From the Road Gallery

Previous From the Road: Sept. 6 | Sept. 13 | Sept. 20

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