Who is the nation's best player?

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Seantrel Henderson of St. Paul, Minn., a 6-8, 340-pound offensive lineman, was my choice as the No. 1 player in the nation in the class of 2010 as far back as March, 2008, when he was a sophomore. I haven't changed my mind. He still is best of all.

Others followed. And others continue to disagree. They opt for running back Lache Seastruck of Temple, Texas, or running back Marcus Lattimore of Duncan, S.C., or defensive lineman Jackson Jeffcoat of Plano, Texas.

I'm sticking with Henderson. He was at the top in my evaluations and nobody knocked him off. He plays against the best competition in Minnesota. He is considering Ohio State, Notre Dame, Minnesota, USC, Florida and Oklahoma. It is rare for a lineman to be rated No. 1 but Henderson is special.

What you need to know about Fremd's Christian Lombard, the best lineman in Illinois, is he has played just as well as Henderson this season. I have seen him on three occasions and the 6-6, 295-pounder is a dominating performer. I rate him among the top four offensive linemen in the nation. I certainly can't understand why one recruiting service doesn't even rate him among the top 250 players on its list.

Who are the top juniors in the country? Who are the leaders of the class of 2011?

There is no knockout junior like Henderson. At this time, the front-runners are running back Kenny Hilliard of Patterson, La., and cornerback Jabriel Washington of Jackson, Tenn.

Hilliard, a 6-0, 220-pounder, is going for his third 2,000-yard rushing season in a row. He plays against top-flight competition in Louisiana. He is considering Florida and LSU.

I just returned from a trip to the South and I saw Washington, a superior athlete who has played quarterback, running back, wide receiver, safety and cornerback. He already has 19 scholarship offers, including Notre Dame, Tennessee and LSU.

It appears the top-rated junior in Illinois will be linebacker Nick Lifka of Naperville North, who was named to the Sun-Times' 25-man All-Chicago Area team. He was singled out as the defensive player of the year in the DuPage Valley, a sizable achievement.

I plan to visit all 50 states for the first time as I evaluate the top 1,500 players in the nation for the class of 2011. I went to Oxford, Miss., to promote the movie "Blind Side" and made a side trip to Tennessee to see Washington. I will drive 60,000 miles, fly to Anchorage from Seattle and see five kids from Alaska. I also will go to Hawaii after Thanksgiving to attend the Polynesian Bowl on Dec. 11.

December in Hawaii. And my teachers at Reavis always thought I wasn't too smart.

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This page contains a single entry by Second Season published on November 25, 2009 2:00 PM.

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