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August 16, 2005

LBs ending it early

Over the past few years, the biggest trend has been more and more kids making oral commitments early in the recruiting process.

Quarterbacks are traditionally known for making commitments early, but of the 88 linebackers that are ranked officially for the first time today by Rivals.com, 42 percent of them have already made up their mind.

That list includes the No. 1 inside linebacker Sergio Kindle and the No. 2 inside linebacker Brandon Graham. Kindle is heading to Texas and Graham is heading to Michigan, and both players are major pieces of the puzzle to both the Longhorns and Wolverines' early success.

The inside linebacker position - ranked from one to 45 - has the most commitments as 23 of the players have already made pledges. An even more telling figure is that six of the nation's top 14 inside linebackers have already decided on where they're going.

Heading to Texas with Kindle is Jared Norton, the No. 8 inside linebacker, and heading to Michigan with Graham is Cobrani Mixon, the No. 10 inside linebacker.

Also making an early pledge was Eric Gordon at No. 14 heading to Michigan State and Ross Homan at No. 9 heading to Ohio State.

Texas also has another solid inside linebacker committed with Dustin Earnest, who is ranked at No. 15. Virginia has two inside linebackers already committed with Mark Herzlich (No. 27) and John-Kevin Dolce (No. 24). Pittsburgh has also snagged commitments from inside linbackers Dan Loheyde (No. 19) and Greg Webster (No. 18).

Outside linebacker looks to be a little more wide open as only 14 of the 43 ranked players at the position have made pledges so far. The only player committed in the top five is Akeem Hebron, who pledged to Georgia and is ranked as the No. 5 outside linebacker.

The state of Georgia is becoming more and more of a monster in the national recruiting landscape and if you're looking for an outside linebacker the Peach State is the place to be.

Four Georgia outside linebackers are ranked in the top 25 at the position, headlined by Atlanta Westlake star Morrice Richardson.

The 6-foot-2, 228-pounder is a four-star prospect and is getting major looks from Alabama, Florida, Nebraska and Oklahoma.

"I just know the game," Richardson said. "That is a big strength of mine. I can make plays happen. I can find the ball real easy and fight blocks well, too."

Not too far behind him in the ranking is Darryl Gamble of Bainbridge, Ga. Gamble, who is 6-foot-2 and 215 pounds, is a four-star player that comes in at the No. 14 spot. At No. 19 in the ranking is Conyers (Ga.) Heritage linebacker Bo Harris. He is followed by Stone Mountain (Ga.) Stephenson star linebacker Perry Riley at No. 23.

Florida also has five outside linebackers ranked in the top 25 with Tampa Middleton's A.J. Jones at No. 10 leading the way.

Florida Gator commitment Dustin Doe is at No. 13, followed by Tallahassee Lincoln's Craig Stevens at No. 15, Miami Columbus' Antonio Lowery at No. 17 and Clearwater Catholic's Colin McCarthy at No. 21.

Rivals.com inside linebackers
Rivals.com outside linebackers


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