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June 17, 2010

Close call for California's top prospect

Preseason State Rankings:

Debates raged about whether George Farmer or De'Anthony Thomas should be the top player in the Rivals.com California Preseason Top 100 for the 2011 class and while Farmer, the wide receiver from Gardena (Calif.) Junipero Serra, won out, Thomas was not far behind.

Farmer ended up fourth in the national rankings and Thomas, a running back/cornerback from Los Angeles Crenshaw, was fifth, both prospects were five stars and not surprisingly there's a good chance both will end up at Southern Cal.

Thomas, who's known as The Black Mamba around Los Angeles, has already committed to the Trojans. Farmer is considered a Southern Cal lean and his father has vociferously defended the program after the recent NCAA sanctions levied against it.

Despite the recent spate of difficult news, USC's recruiting efforts have not dipped at all with many of the state's top prospects.

"Both players are exceptionally talented and have the potential to be superstars in college," Rivals.com recruiting editor Jeremy Crabtree said.

"Farmer won state championships in basketball and football. He's a winner and comes from a football family because his dad played in the NFL. Thomas has earned a big-time reputation in Los Angeles and has been on the scene for years. He could play running back or cornerback in college and there's no question he can excel at either position."

Farmer and Thomas are the two five-star recruits in the California Top 100 but there's hardly a big drop-off when it comes to the top four-star prospects.

Fresno Central East running back Brendon Bigelow is third, followed by Beverly Hills defensive end Greg Townsend Jr. and Fontana Summit athlete Devon Blackmon.

USC is well represented in the top group. Thomas is second, quarterback commits Cody Kessler and Max Wittek are sixth and No. 12 respectively, linebacker pledge Tre Madden is No. 7 and wide receiver commit Victor Blackwell is No. 13. Seven of eight USC pledges are four-star recruits or better.

"Even with a new coaching staff, USC continues to land many of California's top players because Lane Kiffin has come in and aggressively pursued them during his first year," Crabtree said.

"There is no doubt Kiffin and his staff have already made good impressions on many of the best prospects in the state, in the region and around the country."

Sacramento Grant defensive tackle Viliami Moala, Gardena Junipero Serra athlete Marqise Lee and Lakewood defensive end Todd Barr round out the top 10.

Big things are expected from Junipero Serra again this year especially since Farmer and Lee are in the top 9 and then defensive end Jason Gibson checks in at No. 18.

It's a diverse year in California where one position doesn't dominate the rankings. There are two running backs, two athletes, two defensive ends, one wide receiver, one quarterback, one linebacker and one defensive tackle in the top 10.

The first defensive back on the list is Sacramento Grant safety James Sample at No. 14. Recent Cal commit Jordan Rigsbee is the first offensive lineman off the board at 15. Anaheim Servite's Troy Niklas is the state's top tight end and he's No. 24 in the rankings.

Also being released Thursday are the Wisconsin Preseason Top 15, Maryland Preseason Top 20, Iowa Preseason Top 10 and the Oregon Preseason Top 5. Look for the state rankings from Ohio, Georgia, North Carolina and the Rocky Mountain states on Friday.



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