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October 17, 2010

The top 10: Most versatile prospects

MORE: Top teammates | Top 10 surprises

Los Angeles Crenshaw athlete De'Anthony Thomas has the talent to potentially play on offense or defense at the highest level. Is he the most versatile prospect in the 2011 class?

Rivals.com's recruiting analysts break down the top 10 most versatile two-way players that could play on either side of the ball at the next level.

Top 10 Most Versatile
Position: Wide receiver or defensive back
Buzz: The big 6-foot-2, 190-pound athlete was a freshman in P.E. class when the football coaches took notice of him and convinced him to join the team the next year. Two years later, the Rivals100 prospect is the top defensive back in the state of Texas. A big safety, schools such as Texas A&M and TCU would love to see him man centerfield for their secondaries. However, the Waxahachie, Texas star is also a very smooth route runner at wide receiver and would prefer to play offense at the next level.

Position: Defensive back or wide receiver
Buzz: The Batesville (Miss.) South Panola star is one of the best two-way athletes in the country. He likely projects as a tall corner or a rangy safety at the next level, but he is so explosive and fast that he could also be an offensive star in the right situation. Brassell also could be a guy who could take some direct snaps at quarterback or run a few reverses in college as well.

Position: Wide receiver or defensive back
Buzz: Blackmon is a shotgun quarterback at Fontana (Calif.) Summitt and he's fantastic running the offense. He can throw it and he's exciting to watch as a runner. Almost every college recruiting Blackmon likes him at wide receiver and it should be a perfect fit because he's so athletic and versatile. If offense doesn't work, Blackmon could fit well at defensive back, too. He just seems so comfortable anywhere on the field.

Position: Wide receiver or defensive back
Buzz: Lee is a classic two-way star. Not just a two-way player but Lee is phenomenal on both sides of the ball, an instant highlight show whether it's catching a screen pass and simply being faster than defenders or getting out in passing lanes and getting interceptions. Gardena (Calif.) Serra needed someone to fill the void left by Robert Woods, a freshman at USC, this season and Lee has done so admirably.

Position: Wide receiver, defensive back or running back
Buzz: There seems to be a "problem" with Atkinson: Everyone seems to disagree where he'd best be used in college. Some think wide receiver, others believe defensive back and there is a camp that likes him at running back. After all, that's not a problem at all, just a prospect who has all kinds of abilities and can contribute in lots of places. The Livermore (Calif.) Granada star will likely be very effective at one of the above three positions at Notre Dame.

Position: Defensive back, linebacker or wide receiver
Buzz: The Davenport (Fla.) Ridge Community prospect is considered a five-star prospect at safety by Rivals.com, but as he showed at the Gainesville Nike Camp this past summer, he could also play at the collegiate level as a wide receiver. For his high school squad, Williams handles a multitude of positions including quarterback, running back, wide receiver, and safety. The long and lanky athlete could also play a number of positions at the collegiate level including safety, wide receiver, and outside linebacker.

Position: Defensive end, linebacker or tight end
Buzz: It's always more rare for a bigger prospect to be so versatile, especially a player who could play linebacker, defensive end or tight end. Williams, from Brooklyn (N.Y.) Abraham Lincoln, is best suited as a defensive end despite his thin frame, but he is athletic enough to play linebacker in a 3-4 scheme and has reliable hands as a tight end.

Position: Defensive end, linebacker, wide receiver or tight end
Buzz: French could play four different positions in college but checks in behind Thomas and Wilder Jr. because he is less likely to make as big an impact at any of them. However, French is super athletic and while he projects better on defense, he still could make an impact on offense if needed. With his 6-foot-6 frame at 230 pounds, being a rangy linebacker in a 3-4 or a rush end in a 4-3 is most likely, but what a target he would be as a tight end or wide receiver as well.

Position: Running back or linebacker
Buzz: The Tampa (Fla.) Plant product is heading to Florida State where he plans to play running back for Jimbo Fisher and the Seminoles, but if things don't work out on that side of the ball he could just as easily switch to tackling the ball carrier. Wilder is considered by many to be a better linebacker prospect than running back as his combination of size and speed make him great at attacking from sideline-to-sideline.

Position: Cornerback, running back or wide receiver
Buzz: Thomas, from Los Angeles (Calif.) Crenshaw, is an exceptional running back that is not only super-fast but bounces off tacklers and does an outstanding job of spinning away from and eluding defenders. The scary part is that the Los Angeles Crenshaw prospect will probably play cornerback in college. He's instinctual on defense and always seems to have a beat on the ball. Either way, he has the skills to one day play in the NFL on either side of the ball.



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