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2007 All-Southern team: STRONG OF THE SOUTH
They want their names to shine bigger and brighter than Tim Tebow and Tom Brady. They want their reputations to loom larger in the Sunshine State than icons Danny Wuerffel and Ken Dorsey.
Simply put, they want to be stars. Jacory Harris and E.J. Manuel, two of the hottest senior quarterback prospects in the country and members of the Orlando Sentinel's All-Southern team, have their sights set on turning around the once-elite Miami and Florida State programs that have fallen on hard times.
Fans chatter about the prolific passers daily on Internet message boards, anointing the quarterbacks as their saviors.
They dull the pain of Miami's tepid play and Florida State's academic woes with talk about Harris' speed and Manuel's strong arm.
Can Harris and Manuel possibly live up to all this hype?
Players and coaches think so, but recruiting analysts are more circumspect.
Harris is oozing confidence.
He led Miami Northwestern to a 15-0 season capped with a 41-0 shutout of Boone for the Bulls' second consecutive Class 6A state championship.
Northwestern also clinched the mythical national title.
Harris, who is 6 feet 4 and 185 pounds, thrived on piloting the Bulls' spread offense.
He passed for 6,365 yards and 86 touchdowns in two seasons.
"There's no question he's the best player we faced all season," Boone Coach Phil Ziglar said. "Usually a quarterback has some kind of weakness. If they throw well, they usually can't run. If they can run, their arm usually isn't as strong. And a lot of them don't make real good decisions under pressure.
"Harris was different. He could do it all. Miami's really getting a solid football player."
Harris is on the mend after suffering a knee injury in the fourth quarter against Boone.
He told the Miami Herald he only strained his anterior and medial cruciate ligaments, avoiding dreaded tears that could have derailed his chances of playing for the Hurricanes next season.
Harris is graduating from Northwestern this month and will enroll at Miami in January.
This will give him a head start on learning the Hurricanes' offense, which in turn gives him a better chance of beating front-runner Robert Marve for Miami's starting job.
"You can tell Robert Marve I'll be ready to compete with him in the spring," Harris told the Herald when discussing his knee injury.
Manuel speaks of his future with just as much bravado.
While spread offenses are all the rage in high school, Manuel was taught a pro-style offense.
He is still shifty and speedy enough to evade trouble, but he looks to pass first.
Manuel, who is 6-5 and 215 pounds, passed for 1,896 yards and 19 touchdowns his senior year at Bayside High in Virginia Beach, Va.
He has more than 5,800 career yards in four years as a starter at Bayside.
His size, strength and textbook-perfect delivery this season led recruiting service Rivals.com to name Manuel the No. 1 quarterback in the country.
"They are seeing what I've seen for years," Bayside Coach Darnell Moore said. "You can just look at him warming up throwing the ball and you know he has it.
"He has so much raw talent and worked so hard to develop as a quarterback that he really is the complete package right now. If you look up the word quarterback in the dictionary, you might see a picture of E.J. Manuel there."
Manuel will stay at Bayside for the spring semester, but he is following a Seminole conditioning and meal plan to bulk up.
He plans to graduate in June and enroll at Florida State two days later.
He said he is eager to play for Seminoles Coach Bobby Bowden and his successor, offensive coordinator Jimbo Fisher.
"I want to be the guy who puts them back on top," Manuel said. "I know it will take a lot of work, but I can do it.
"I want to send Coach Bowden out on a high note and help Florida State win a national championship."
Allen Wallace, a national recruiting editor at Scout.com, has vastly different expectations of Harris and Manuel.
He has seen hundreds of promising high school quarterbacks, who were preordained college superstars, crash and burn at the next level.
"The quarterback position is so much harder in college," Wallace said. "We thought Jimmy Clausen was a terrific high school quarterback and everyone said he would be a star in college, but he played as a freshman and has been part of the worst Notre Dame football team in 50 years."
Wallace argues Manuel and Harris have a much better shot at success if they redshirt their rookie seasons and are eased into starting quarterback jobs.
"There are Tim Tebows walking around out there, but they're a rare breed," Wallace said.
"It's just impossible to tell right now whether a player will be able to handle all the pressure and be a star quarterback in college."
JACORY HARRIS Position: Quarterback
Size: 6-4, 185
High school: Miami Northwestern
College choice: Committed to Miami
Emulates: Vince Young
Stats: Passed for 6,365 yards and 86 touchdowns in two seasons. . . . Led Northwestern to back-to-back Class 6A state titles and helped the Bulls win the mythical high school national championship.
The b uzz: Harris capitalized on his lanky frame to evade defenders in high school, but he needs to bulk up to weather the beating he will take piloting the Hurricanes' offense.
Size: 6-5, 215 pounds
High school: Virginia Beach (Va.) Bayside High
College choice: Committed to Florida State
Emulates: Tom Brady
Stats: Passed for 1,896 yards and 19 touchdowns his senior year, leading Bayside to the state playoffs for the first time in eight years. . . . Passed for more than 5,800 career yards in four years as a starter.
The buzz: Manuel appears to be the complete quarterback package, but he wasn't tested by the best high school competition in the country and it's unclear how he will fare against a college defense.
MEET THE 2007 ALL-SOUTHERN FOOTBALL PLAYERS OF THE YEAR
Player of the Year Ht./wt. Yr. High school College WR Julio Jones 6-4/210 Sr. Foley, Ala. Ala. FSU, LSU Others Ht./wt. Yr. High school College RB Anthony Landrum 6-0/205 Sr. Sweetwater Undecided OL Tyler Love 6-7/285 Sr. Mountain Brook Alabama QB Barrett Trotter 6-2/195 Sr. Briarwood Chr. Auburn RB Justin Rogers 5-11/185 Sr. Vestavia Hills Undecided LB William Green 6-4/215 Sr. Hoover Spain Park Undecided ATH Mark Barron 6-2/202 Sr. Mobile St. Paul's Alabama LB Jerrell Harris 6-3/215 Sr. Gadsden City Auburn DE Courtney Upshaw 6-3/230 Sr. Eufaula Alabama QB A.J. McCarron 6-4/195 Jr. Mobile St. Paul's Underclass RB Justin Albert 5-8/175 Sr. Prattville Undecided<
Player of the Year Ht./wt. Yr. High school College RB Dennis Johnson 5-8/180 Sr. Texarkana Undecided Others Ht./wt. Yr. High school College WR Tyler Serrano 6-2/185 Sr. Nashville Undecided ATH Joe Adams 6-0/170 Sr. L.R.C.Ark.Christian Southern Cal RB De'Anthony Curtis 5-10/209 Sr. Camden Fairview Arkansas WR Jarius Wright 5-11/180 Sr. Warren Arkansas DE Carson Knowlton 6-2/215, Sr. West Memphis Undecided QB Tyler Wilson 6-3/185 Sr. Greenwood Arkansas OL Matt Hall 6-10/320 Sr. Russellville Arkansas TE Jake Byrne 6-5/240 Sr. Rogers Wisconsin QB Jim Youngblood 6-2/220 Sr. Camden Fairview Arkansas WR Cruz Williams 6-4/206 Sr. L.R.Pulaski Academy Arkansas
Player of the Year Ht./wt. Yr. High school College QB Jacory Harris 6-4/170 Sr. Miami Northwestern Miami Others Ht./wt. Yr. High school College CB Patrick Johnson 6-2/190 Sr. Pompano Beach Ely Miami QB B.J. Daniels 6-1/203 Sr. Tallahassee Lincoln Undecided WR/DB Derek Winter 6-0/178 Sr. Tampa Plant Undecided DL Marcus Forston 6-2/290 Sr. Miami Northwestern Miami DB Brandon Harris 5-10/174 Sr. Miami Washington Undecided ATH Janoris Jenkins 5-11/185 Sr. Pahokee Florida RB Carlton Thomas 5-8/175 Sr. Frostproof Georgia LB Nigel Bradham 6-3/225 Sr. Wakulla Co. Florida State OL Mike Brewster 6-6/305 Sr. Edgewater Ohio State RB Bubba Brown 5-9/180 Sr. Osceola Undecided ATH Jeremy Gallon 5-8/165 Jr. Apopka Underclass
Player of the Year Ht./wt. Yr. High school College RB Washaun Ealey 6-1 / 215 Jr. Emanuel Co. Inst. Underclass Others Ht./wt. Yr. High school College DL DeAngelo Tyson 6-2/276 Sr. Statesboro Georgia ATH James Fortson 6-3/222 Sr. Columbus Carver Auburn ATH Richard Samuel 6-0/197 Sr. Cartersville Cass Georgia RB Debrale Smiley 5-11/235 Sr. Thomas Co. Central Undecided RB Tijuan Green 5-11/190 Sr. W.R. Northside Undecided DE Cornelius Washington 6-4/220 Sr. Burke Co. Georgia DL Omar Hunter 6-2/290 Sr. Buford Notre Dame WR Brice Butler 6-2/178 Sr. Norcross Southern Cal RB/DB Greg Reid 5-9/185 Jr. Lowndes Co. Underclass QB Michael Tamburo 6-1/185 Jr. N. Gwinnett Underclass
Player of the Year Ht./wt. Yr. High school College QB Corey Robinson 6-0/190 Sr. Lone Oak Undecided Others Ht./wt. Yr. High school College WR Aaron Boyd 6-6/210 Sr. Lexington Henry Clay Undecided WR John Cole 6-0/170 Sr. Somerset Vanderbilt DB/WR Winston Guy 6-0/185 Sr. Lexington Catholic Kentucky DE Dexter Heyman 6-4/220 Sr. Louisville Male Undecided QB Alex Matthews 6-3/195 Sr. Shelby County Undecided WR D.L. Moore 6-5/185 Sr. Bowling Green Undecided DL Brandon Newman 6-1/300 Sr. Pleasure Ridge Park Notre Dame OL Sam Robey 6-5/240 Sr. Louisville Trinity Florida OL/DL Dave Ulinski 6-6/270 Sr. Louisville Manual Kentucky TE/DE Ryan Wallace 6-5/230 Sr. Bowling Green Undecided
Player of the year Ht./wt. Yr. High school College QB Jordan Jefferson 6-4/200 Sr. Destrehan LSU Others Ht./wt. Yr. High school College WR Damaris Johnson 5-7/175 Sr. Destrehan Undecided RB Luther Ambrose 5-8/165 Sr. St. James Undecided QB Randall Mackey 5-11/200 Sr. Bastrop Undecided OL Clay Spencer 6-5/280 Sr. Parkview Baptist LSU TE/DE Tyler Edwards 6-3/230 Sr. Monroe Ouachita Undecided WR Tim Molton 6-3/200 Sr. Destrehan LSU DE Chase Clement 6-5/240 Sr. Thibodaux White LSU QB Ryan Lewis 6-3/215 Sr. Baton Rouge Cath. Rice QB Blaine Gautier 6-0/194 Sr. Lutcher La.-Lafayette RB Vince Collins 6-0/180 Jr. Westlake Underclass
Player of the year Ht./wt. Yr. High school College RB Darius "Tig" Barksdale 5-11/200 Sr. South Panola Ole Miss Others Ht./wt. Yr. High school College WR DeAndre Brown 6-6/205 Sr. Ocean Springs HS Undecided RB Jason McNair 5-11/180 Sr. Mount Olive Undecided DB Alonzo Lawrence 6-1/187 Sr. George Co. Undecided RB Kenneth Davis 6-1/215 Sr. Tupelo Ole Miss LB Andre Wadley 6-2/255 Sr. Hernando Undecided QB/DB Akeem Davis 6-0/180 Sr. Laurel Undecided DL Willie Packer 6-2/260 Sr. Moss Point Ole Miss DB Charles Mitchell 5-11/190 Sr. Clarksdale Undecided LB Marlon Walls 6-2/225 Sr. Olive Branch Ole Miss ATH Dennis Thames 6-0/180 Jr. Louisville Underclass<
Player of the year Ht./wt. Yr. High school College QB Braden Hanson 6-6/200 Sr. Charlotte Latin North Carolina Others Ht./wt. Yr. High school College LB Kevin Reddick 6-1/210 Sr. New Bern North Carolina TE Dwayne Allen 6-4/245 Sr. Fayetteville Terry Sanford Georgia RB Eric Breitenstein 5-11/201 Sr. Boone Watauga Undecided LB Terrell Manning 6-2/205 Sr. Laurinburg Scotland Co. N.C. State DB Robert Blanton 6-1/175 Sr. Matthews Butler Notre Dame OL R.J. Mattes 6-6/260 Sr. Robinson Virginia Tech QB Jacob Charest 6-4/195 Sr. Matthews Butler Illinois LB E.J. Abrams-Ward 6-5/210 Sr. Thomasville Undecided DB Brandon Barnes 6-0/185 Sr. Bunn N.C. State OL Michael Via 6-6/260 Sr. NE Guilford Virginia Tech
Play er of the year Ht./wt. Yr. High school College WR A.J. Green 6-4/185 Sr. Summerville HS Georgia Others Ht./wt. Yr. High school College RB Andre Ellington 5-10/170 Sr. Moncks Corner Berkeley Clemson DL DaQuan Bowers 6-5/275 Sr. Bamberg-Ehrhardt Clemson DL Everett Dawkins 6-3/250 Sr. Duncan Byrnes Florida State QB Will King 5-11/155 Sr. Rock Hill Northwestern Undecided OL Dalton Freeman 6-6/270 Sr. Pelion Undecided LB Bruce Taylor 6-3/230 Sr. Myrtle Beach Virginia Tech QB Richard Mounce 6-0/190 Sr. Blythewood Clemson ATH Gene McCaskill 5-11/160 Sr. Chester Kentucky QB Michael Ruff 5-9/170 Sr. Whitmire Undecided OL Kenneth Page 6-4/300 Sr. Columbia A.C. Flora South Carolina
Play er of the year Ht./wt. Yr. High school College QB Brent Burnette 6-2/193 Sr. Maryville HS Undecided Others Ht./wt. Yr. High school College DL LaDarrius Verge 6-3/235 Sr. Riverdale Undecided WR Marlon Brown 6-5/205 Jr. Memphis Harding Academy Underclass ATH Deaunte Mason 6-4/215 Sr. Pearl-Cohn Kentucky ATH Randall Cobb 5-11/176 Sr. Alcoa Kentucky OL Barrett Jones 6-5/271 Sr. Evangelical Chr. Alabama LB Don'ta Hightower 6-3/215 Sr. Marshall Co. Alabama OL David Spurlock 6-4/280 Sr. Riverdale Florida State WR Rodriguez Wilks 6-1/195 Sr. Smyrna Tennessee OL Preston Bailey 6-5/315 Sr. Montgomery Bell Acad. Tennessee TE/DL Aaron Douglas 6-6/245 Sr. Maryville Tennessee
Play er of the year Ht./wt. Yr. High school College RB Jacquizz Rodgers 5-6/175 Sr. Lamar Consol. Oregon State Others Ht./wt. Yr. High school College QB Riley Dodge 6-0/185 Sr. South Lake Carroll North Texas RB Jermie Calhoun 6-1/210 Sr. Van Oklahoma DE R.J. Washington 6-4/235 Sr. Keller Fossil Ridge Oklahoma QB Andrew Luck 6-4/215 Sr. Houston Stratford Stanford WR Jason Bird 5-11/155 Sr. Lake Travis Undecided RB Aundre Dean 6-1/200 Sr. Katy UCLA LB Dravonnti Johnson 6-2/230 Sr. Nederland Texas OL J.B. Shugarts 6-7/321 Sr. Klein Ohio State DB Aaron Williams 6-1/177 Sr. McNeil Texas LB Chris Williams 6-1/220 Jr. Abilene Undecided QB Marcus Wright 6-1/185 Sr. S.A. Reagan Tulsa
Play er of the year Ht./wt. Yr. High school College RB Kevin Whaley 5-11/170 Sr. Salem Undecided Others Ht./wt. Yr. High school College QB Mike Glennon 6-6/195 Sr. Centreville Westfield N.C. State RB Ryan Williams 5-10/192 Sr. Manassas Jackson Undecided QB E.J. Manuel 6-1/200 Sr. Virginia Beach Bayside Florida State RB DeAntwan Williams 5-9/203 Jr. Woodbridge Underclass DL Antoine Hopkins 6-1/275 Sr. Highland Springs Virginia Tech ATH Ben Barber 5-10/200 Sr. Alexandria Edison Virginia Tech DB Jeron Gouveia 6-2/180 Sr. Stone Bridge Virginia Tech DL Kyle Long 6-7/280 Sr. St. Anne's-Belfield Florida State RB Arlandis Harvey 5-11/200 Jr. Flint Hill Academy Underclass OL Bobby Massie 6-8/335 Sr. Liberty Christian Virginia Tech
Iliana Limón can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
THE ALL-SOUTHERN FOOTBALL TEAM WAS COMPILED BY RECRUITING GURU BILL BUCHALTER, SENTINEL STAFF WRITER BUDDY COLLINGS, PETER THOMSON, AND JODY DEMLING OF THE (LOUISVILLE) COURIER-JOURNAL.