Recruiting: Top Safeties

CSTV Recruiting with Tom Lemming
Generation Next

Sept. 20, 2005

By Tom Lemming

Special to



1. Taylor Mays, O'Dea (Wash.), 6-3, 223 lbs., 4.4 (40-yard dash)


Taylor Mays, easily the best player in the northwest, heads the best class of safeties in a decade. The top spot had previously been occupied by Myron Rolle (No. 2), but Mays' fantastic start for O'Dea has vaulted him to No. 1. As far as size and speed, there's nobody that can compare to him nationally. He's reminiscent of former Seattle Seahawk Kenny Easley in speed, instincts and overall football ability. Mays, who recorded 89 tackles and five picks in 2004, is the state sprint champion (running the 100 meters in 10.5), and also the state's best punt and kickoff returner (having returned three punts for TDs last year). He's committed to USC.  


2. Myron Rolle, The Hun School (N.J.), 6-2, 215 lbs., 4.5


Rolle is a very efficient and smart player who does everything well. He plays running back and defensive back but is best-suited to be either a free safety or strong safety in college. He's the most dominating defensive back in the country, showing exceptional lateral quickness, range and closing speed. On offense, he scampered for 1,501 yards and 16 scores on 142 carries in 2004, with 83 tackles, six sacks, 27 tackles for losses and 4 interceptions on the other side of the ball. It's worth noting that he has the size to possibly grow into a linebacker in a couple years. Rolle has committed to Florida State.


3. Jonas Mouton, Venice (Calif.), 6-2, 210 lbs., 4.5


Mouton's a thumper; he hits like a linebacker but also has the cover skills of a cornerback. The Venice product has outstanding potential and will be a big-time player if he makes it grades-wide, which is his only question mark. Last season, he recorded 88 tackles, five picks and broke up 11 passes at both free and strong safety. Right now, USC, Michigan and Nebraska appear to be the three schools that have his ear.


4. Riley Cooper, Central Catholic (Fla.), 6-3, 200 lbs., 4.4


Cooper is another guy who's been impressive as an athlete. He's got perhaps the best range of all the safeties, instincts and he can catch on offense and defense. He's not a hitter -- not a real physical guy -- but as far as natural athleticism, he's one of the best around. Cooper is being hotly pursued by everybody because he's also one of the best baseball players in the state of Florida (having batted .443 this past spring). He'd like to go to a school like an LSU, Florida State or Oklahoma State because they're all good baseball schools, too.


5. Sergio Brown, Proviso East (Ill.), 6-2, 193 lbs., 4.39


Brown, who has received over 25 offers entering his senior year, is the fastest among the safeties. His 4.39 speed has college coaches very excited about his prospects. As far as safeties go, he's probably the most productive of the whole bunch: he had six interceptions last year and returned five for touchdowns (including a 99-yarder). He's from the same high school that produced Ed O'Bradovich and Ray Nitschke (for football), and Jim Brewer and Doc Rivers (for basketball). Illinois, Notre Dame, UCLA and Nebraska appear to be his four most likely choices.


6. Antwine Perez, Wilson (N.J.), 6-1, 200 lbs., 4.5


The Jersey standout has taken a backseat to Myron Rolle from a publicity standpoint, but, on film, he actually looks a little better. He's not as big as Rolle and, even though he's a good student, he's not the 4.0 GPA that Rolle has -- but his future looks just as bright. On offense, he shows a live arm and outstanding running skills, and on defense he proves to be a natural athlete with great speed to the ball. Right now, it looks like USC and Michigan are his top two schools.


7. Justin Woodall, Lafayette (Miss.), 6-3, 200 lbs., 4.5


Woodall is the most productive guy on the list. His 16 interceptions as a junior in 2004 established a new Mississippi high school state record. Not as fast as the guys above him -- probably closer to a 4.6 or 4.5 -- but he's big and has the best football instincts of anybody in the Top 10. You would have figured by midseason that most opposing quarterbacks would have stayed away from him but that was not the case. He's also one of the more reliable punt and kickoff returners in northern Mississippi. This kid is a great all-around athlete. In the winter, he runs the point and averages 14 points and five rebounds for the Lafayette hoops team, and he's considered the top baseball prospect in the state, having eclipsed the .400 mark in his sophomore and junior seasons. His short list includes Ole Miss, Auburn, Alabama and Mississippi State.


8. Steve Brown, Columbus East (Ind.), 6-1, 200 lbs., 4.4


Brown can fly, can hit and can run. A versatile athlete with five-star skills at wide receiver, tailback and defensive back, he plays some corner but will wind up playing free safety in college. His range is incredible and his speed for the ball is second to none, too. Brown carried 75 times for 700 yards and 13 touchdowns and caught 26 passes for 400 yards and four scores. On defense, he notched 34 tackles, picked off three passes and batted down five others. He's committed to Michigan.


9. Lance Kendricks, King (Wis.), 6-4, 207 lbs., 4.4


Kendricks is a track athlete that's making the conversion to football and doing it well. His hands might be questionable as an offensive player, but not on defense. This guy can run, and can come up and stop the run. Kendricks is very good in pass coverage, picking off six passes in 2004 and returning half of them for touchdowns -- including a 99-yarder you have to see to believe. As far as athletic ability, he might be the best of all of them; this guy is one of the top hurdlers in the country. Wisconsin and Arkansas might be the two leaders right now.


10. Daniel Johnson, Spring Woods (Texas), 6-3, 195 lbs., 4.4


This is another guy with great range and hitting ability. He plays in an extremely tough Houston area, and has proven to be one of best seniors in the region, where he gets a lot of contact from everybody around. He makes play after play from sideline to sideline and does a good job of disengaging from blocks and finding the ball. Once he's let loose, look out! His favorite schools include LSU, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas A&M, Texas, Miami, Arkansas and Texas Tech.



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