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November 30, 2011
After playing on the defensive line in 2010, Ryan Anderson of Daphne (Ala.) was good enough to land several FBS scholarship offers. But despite his success at that spot, the 6-foot-3, 250-pounder switched to outside linebacker in part because that is the position Alabama, whom he committed to last spring, recruited him to play.
With the switch, Rivals.com took a wait-and-see approach and started Anderson off as a high three-star prospect. After seeing him play in person this fall, it became clear he was ready for a bump.
Today, he's getting it.
Anderson is one of 12 prospects being moved from three to four stars who fell outside the Rivals250.
"Simply put, Ryan is an excellent fit at linebacker," said Rivals.com Southeast analyst Keith Niebuhr. "Whether playing as a standup backer or in the more traditional role, he has consistently performed at a high level. Not only does he look great in pads, but for a player his size he moves extremely well, has great footwork and is one of the biggest hitters in the region. The other thing you have to like is that Ryan plays with a mean streak. Largely because of how physical he is, he should have little trouble making the transition to life in the Southeastern Conference."
The state of Georgia led the way with two new four-star additions - weakside defensive end Josh Dawson of Tucker and receiver Blake Tibbs of Lithonia Martin Luther King. Dawson, who is listed at 6-4, 225 pounds, is committed to Vanderbilt.
"On a team filled with great athletes, Dawson truly stands out both with his frame and with how he plays," Niebuhr said. "He's an extremely quick and agile player at end, who has the quickness to make plays from sideline to sideline. But he's also strong enough to play the run very well. What also stood out was how he chased plays downfield and never relented in his pursuit."
The speedy Tibbs has pledged to Georgia.
"Blake is really a talented kid," Niebuhr commented. "In catching 64 passes for 1,042 yards, he made the tough receptions in traffic, came away with the clutch grabs along the sideline and was a terrific deep-ball threat. After the catch, he was just as good, combining speed with cuts to cause problems for defenders. Tibbs also is one of the better return men in the South, and it wouldn't be a shock to see him make an early impact in the kicking game at the next level."
Three Midwestern standouts also got ranking promotions - Northwestern defensive tackle commit Greg Kuhar of Concord Township (Ohio) St. Edward, Michigan State weakside defensive end commit Jamal Lyles of Southfield (Mich.) Lathrup and Nebraska wide receiver commit Jordan Westerkamp of Lombard (Ill.) Montini.
"Jamal Lyles is a prospect I have been impressed with since I saw him for the first time last spring playing wide receiver," Midwest analyst Josh Helmholdt said. "Even then, though, I thought this kid could be a big-time rush end with his length and athleticism. He is now 6-foot-4, 230 pounds and I have been told doctors feel he is not done growing yet. His frame easily has room for another 20 pounds, and Michigan State coaches have started talking some defensive end as well if he continues growing. Lyles has all the tools to be a terror coming off the edge in the Big Ten."
"Danielle Hunter has all kinds of potential at the next level," said Texas/Southwest analyst Brian Perroni. "He is still a bit raw at this point but his athleticism is apparent both in person and on film. He has an incredibly quick first step off the snap that makes him hard for offensive tackles to stop."
"Northrup is a very athletic, hard-hitting linebacker who has the ability to make plays all over the field," Nee observed. "He is a productive tackler who is good between the tackles, coming off the edge, or playing laterally in space. He displays very good tackling technique, exhibiting the ability to make secure one-on-one tackles in space. He relishes the opportunity to drop his shoulder and pop the running back as they come through the hole. He has the strength, both in his upper and lower body, to stand a back up and drop him for a loss. His leg-drive upon initial contact is very good. He has quick, active hands that allow him to shed blocks and he is relentless until the whistle."
Uncommitted cornerback Devian Shelton of Inglewood was California's only riser.
"We probably missed on Shelton as a four-star after he had an outstanding summer, especially at the B2G Elite Camp," said West Coast analyst Adam Gorney. "A lot of people thought Shelton had the best season out of anyone at Inglewood this year. He is an outstanding cornerback who is very physical and very athletic. No one really tests him and that's a testament to his skills."
Rounding out the new four-stars outside the Rivals250 are three players from the south - uncommitted inside linebacker Richie Brown of Long Beach (Miss.), LSU receiver commit Travin Dural of Beaux Bridge (La.) and Mississippi State athlete commit Will Redmond of Memphis East.
Here is a look at the current list of four-star prospects outside of the Rivals250: