Posted by Bryan Fischer
Harrisburg (Pa.) star Noah Spence is the top defensive end in the nation according to CBS Sports/MaxPreps Recruiting Analyst Tom Lemming but there's a lot of football to be played between now and Signing Day. Here's five other lineman - in no particular order - who you need to keep an eye out for this year. Each of them has a chance to move Spence off the top spot and become the top defensive end for the class of 2012.
Mario Edwards Jr. (Denton Ryan High, Denton, Texas)
Weight: 260 pounds
Committed to Florida State.
What's to like: Edwards is almost a defensive tackle rushing the quarterback from the outside. He plays just as well - if not better - against the urn as he does pass rushing. You can tell he's had some coaching (he's the son of former Florida State and NFL player of the same name) because he's quite polished as a defensive end. His massive size also makes him one of the strongest ends in the country.
Needs to work on: There's a lot to like about Edwards but like most ends in high school, he could work on staying low out of his stance and getting his hands in a better position against taller offensive tackles.
Adolphus Washington (Taft High, Cincinnati, Ohio)
Weight: 240 pounds
Offers from: Alabama, Boston College, Michigan State, Ohio State, Oregon, Texas, Texas A&M, USC
What's to like: Washington has great size, speed and, as a top basketball prospect as well, athleticism. It's simply hard to notice a player who just explodes out of his stance and can move around like a player much smaller than what he really is.
Needs to work on: Washington can get a scholarship in either football or basketball but if it is football, he needs to refine his moves because he is a bit raw. Right now he's a superb athlete but if he sticks with football and refines his technique, Washington might be scary good.
Darius Hamilton (Don Bosco Prep, Ramsey, N.J.)
Weight: 245 pounds
Offers from: Boston College, Cincinnati, Colorado, UConn, Florida, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, North Carolina, Penn State, Pitt, Rutgers, South Carolina, Syracuse, Tennessee, UCF, USC, Wisconsin
What's to like: Hamilton has great size and the long arms you look for in elite lineman. He's got a really good motor and is relentless in his pursuit of the ball. He sheds blocks well and gets to the quarterback quickly. Hamilton could also add some weight to his great frame and slide inside and be a defensive tackle. He also has a good pedigree being the son of former New York Giant Keith Hamilton.
Needs to work on: Hamilton really just needs to refine his techniques and learn the nuances of the position. Going up against some elite offensive tackles this summer might also be a good thing for him as he rarely is challenged in high school.
Jordan Jenkins (Harris Country High, Hamilton, Ga.)
Weight: 225 pounds
Offers from: Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Notre Dame, Purdue, South Carolina, USF, Tennessee, UCF, USC, Vanderbilt
What's to like: Several big-time defensive ends have come out of the state of Georgia the past few years and Jenkins appears to be the next in line. What jumps out is his explosion off the line and into the backfield. He's fast enough to run down ball carriers that run away from him and also makes life hard on the quarterback on a straight speed rush.
Needs to work on: Jenkins isn't the most creative at getting into the backfield and could stand to improve on his pass rush moves by mixing in some swim moves and an improved spin move. He can also improve his play recondition.
Jelani Hamilton (St. Thomas Aquinas High, Fort Lauderdale, Fla.)
Weight: 245 pounds
Offers from: Florida, Florida State, Georgia, Illinois, LSU, Miami, Rutgers, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Texas Tech
What's to like: Hamilton certainly looks the part of a major prospect at the defensive end position. He displays surprising quickness and is quite athletic for his size. Hamilton ends up making plays wherever he is on the field and he should be coveted by some teams for his ability to add some weight and slide inside in some pass rushing situations.
Needs to work on: Hamilton still needs to learn to fire off the line lower and use his tremendous strength to create leverage.