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June 9, 2006

Which state is the top Rivals100 talent producer?

The first Rivals100 was released this week and resulted, as usual, in much debate across the network. As expected, the state of California was well represented with 10 players making the cut. However Florida and Texas each had 13 prospects in the Rivals100, tied for the most and a dead heat on paper. So the question begs to be asked which state actually has more talent in the Rivals100?

This is a controversial subject because there is such pride that emanates from each state. There are a few ways to look at this statistically, subjectively and head-to-head.

The statistical way to approach this is to simply add up each numerical ranking and whoever comes in the lowest wins the battle. For example, Florida's highest-ranked player is No. 7, defensive tackle Torrey Davis while the top guy from Texas is No. 9, offensive guard Tray Allen. So after the first two guys, Florida is ahead 7 to 9. Make sense? I hope so, because here's what I came up with.

Florida checks in with a score of 586 based on the numerical rankings of its 13 commitments. Texas? They come in with a score of 581. That makes Texas the slight winner by just 5 points, a very close race. In fact, it's so close that the difference is less than 1% based on my meager math skills. Too close to call? Perhaps, but Texas wins this portion of the contest nonetheless.

Subjectively it's also very close. Each state has four five-star recruits so that's even. Each state has a five-star quarterback, obviously the most important position on the field, so that's a wash as well. Texas is loaded on the defensive side of the ball while Florida is loaded on offense. When it comes to potential immediate impact, the nod goes to Florida because they have less offensive linemen. When it comes to long-term potential Texas has the edge because they have more guys who are academically sound and are certain to be in college.

Rivals100 Fantasy Football
Here are the potential rosters and matchups for a fantasy football game between Florida and Texas Rivals100 members:
Position Florida Texas
QB John Brantley Ryan Mallett
RB/WR/LB/DB Noel Devine Lennon Creer
RB/WR/LB/DB Armando Allen John Chiles
RB/WR/LB/DB Enrique Davis Terrance Toliver
RB/WR/LB/DB Deonte Thompson Curtis Brown
RB/WR/LB/DB Alphonso Bryant Ben Wells
RB/WR/LB/DB Major Wright Malcolm Williams
Athlete Stephen Garcia (QB) Derrick Stephens (LB)
OL/DL Torrey Davis Tray Allen
OL/DL James Wilson Michael Huey
OL/DL D'Angelo McCray Richetti Jones
OL/DL John Brown Andre Jones
OL/DL Jacoby Monroe Aundre McGaskey
But when it comes down to sheer talent this year, the nod goes to Florida in my opinion. Running back Noel Devine is the big wildcard here because he arguably has more talent than anyone else in the country and is the kind of prospect that comes along once every five years or so. If Devine gets his academics set and his off-field issues don't hinder him, we could be looking at a Heisman Trophy player. But if is the biggest word in the dictionary. In this case, he's the x factor that pushes Florida ahead slightly.

So how about head-to-head? You have to wonder what I'm talking about so I'll explain. With 13 prospects from each state, a football team could technically be assembled for each side. Let that sink in a little bit and let's take a look.

Imagine this a front four of Davis, John Brown, D'Angelo McCray and Jacoby Monroe going up against an offensive line anchored by Allen, Michael Huey and Aundre McGaskey. Which quarterback, Brantley or Mallett, would play better under pressure? And how about the wide receiver-defensive back matchups? Deonte Thompson and Alphonso Bryant locked up against Curtis Brown and Ben Wells. Terrance Toliver and Malcolm Williams against Major Wright and, well, who knows? Clearly there will be mismatches on each side.

Florida would come out running behind an offensive line that consists of James Wilson, McCray, Monroe, Brown and Davis while Texas would counter with a defensive front of Andre Jones, Allen, Michael Huey and Richetti Jones. Certainly many of the units on the field would be patchwork, but that's what happens when you have only 13 players. The three-headed monster of Devine, Armando Allen and Enrique Davis would be hard to handle as fresh legs would be shuttled in and out, but linebackers Derrick Stephens, John Chiles and running back Lennon Creer would do their best to no avail. Brantley would occasionally air it out to Thompson and Bryant, but Florida's strength would be on the ground because Texas has Brown and Wells in the secondary.

When Texas has the ball, its offense would be more pass oriented. Behind Texas' big offensive line led by Allen, Huey, McGaskey, and Andre and Richetti Jones, Creer would get his chances, but Florida would have no solution for the passing game. Mallett, if he had time, would pick apart cornerbacks Bryant and Devine and safeties Thompson and Wright. Toliver, Williams and Chiles would have a field day with the inexperienced secondary and Florida doesn't have a solution at linebacker with players like Stephen Garcia, Enrique Davis and Allen trying to hold their own. This one would be obviously high scoring with the Texas air attack edging the Florida ground game by a score of 55-45.

Does head-to-head prove anything? Of course not, but it's fun to think about. The bottom line is that the Texas vs. Florida Rivals100 argument is a subjective one we won't know the true answer until a few years from now. Both sides are very well represented and I'll take the lame way out on this one. Florida has more sheer talent now, but I think we'll see more of the Texas kids make an impact in college.



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