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June 8, 2012

Power Positions: Speed to burn at Lincoln

Tallahassee (Fla.) Lincoln wide receivers Reggie Davis and Taj Williams already have teamed up to win a state championship once this year.

They're eager to do it again in the fall.

Davis and Williams were part of the Lincoln 4x100-meter relay team that posted a championship time of 41.06 seconds in the Class 3A state track meet last month. Now they'll try to help Lincoln's football team win its second state championship in three years.

If the Trojans reach that goal, they can thank the track speed of Davis and Williams, who help give Lincoln arguably the nation's most star-studded high school receiving corps. It's tough to catch either of these two Rivals250 recruits, which makes it extremely difficult for opponents to catch up to Lincoln.

REGGIE DAVIS
Position: Wide receiver
Height/Weight: 6-foot/158
Rating: Four stars (No. 17 WR; No. 134 overall recruit)
College: Georgia

Notable: Davis didn't put up huge numbers last season while playing alongside 2012 three-star recruit and Florida signee Raphael Andrades, but his speed makes him a major prospect. Davis placed seventh in the 100-meter dash with a time of 10.93 seconds at the Florida Class 3A state high school track meet. He also was part of the 4x100 relay team that posted a winning time of 41.06 seconds. That speed makes Davis a dangerous weapon on offense and special teams. He verbally committed to Georgia last week after also receiving offers from Alabama, Auburn, Clemson, Florida, Notre Dame, Ohio State and Penn State among others.

Quotable: "He's just got an extra gear when it comes to top-end speed. He really can go. When he gets the ball in his hands, he can take a short route and turn it into a big play. He's just kind of a playmaker in that regard. I think he's a guy who's going to see the field really early in his college career on special teams as a return man because he's great at finding that hole, shooting through that hole and accelerating."
- Rivals.com Florida recruiting analyst Chris Nee

TAJ WILLIAMS
Position: Wide receiver
Height/Weight: 6-foot-4/166
Rating: Four stars (No. 26 WR; No. 189 overall recruit)
College: Undecided

Notable: Williams actually spent much of his junior season at cornerback because of Lincoln's needs in the secondary, but he should get to focus more on offense this fall. He is being recruited as a receiver and has an offer list that includes Alabama, Florida, Florida State, Miami, Notre Dame, South Carolina, UCLA and USC.

Quotable: "He's a kid who's got great length. He's really thin, but he has big hands and lanky arms. He's a guy who can go across the middle or can go vertical and win the ball in the air. Last season he was used a lot on defense and not relied upon as heavily on offense as he will be this year. I've seen him at 7-on-7s at that spot and he's been excellent, but I think he is going to be a major impact player on the offense for Lincoln as a senior. Reggie's been more of the primary receiver out of those two in recent years. But I think at the next level, both will be big assets down the field. They can get open. They can catch the ball in a lot of different ways. And after they catch the ball, they're very good at doing something with it in yards after the catch."
- Rivals.com Florida recruiting analyst Chris Nee

MYLES GAINES
Position: Wide receiver
Height/Weight: 5-foot-10/170
Rating: Two stars
College: Undecided

Notable: Gaines works primarily as a slot receiver for Lincoln. Although he isn't as heralded as Davis and Williams, Gaines has received offers from FCS programs Appalachian State and Furman.

Quotable: "He just kind of gets overshadowed because he is surrounded by really good talent in Taj and Reggie, especially Reggie, who's been such a big part of that offense. But he's a solid receiver. He's a pretty complete kid. He's got decent size. He's a legit 5-10 and 170. He moves well down the field. He's not a blazer by any stretch, but he's not a slow-footed kid either. At this point, he only has Appalachian State and Furman, but he's going to camp at Duke and N.C. State this weekend. He's going to camp at some other schools throughout the summer. It wouldn't shock me if he picked up a low-level D1 offer, something along the lines of a Sun Belt school. He's a good receiver. He's a talented kid and an excellent complement to two standouts in Reggie and Taj."
- Rivals.com Florida recruiting analyst Chris Nee

"If you're playing in the state of Florida, you'd better be fast," Lincoln coach Yusuf Shakir said. "If you don't have a fast team, you're not going to win a state championship in the state of Florida. If you don't have difference makers and don't have guys who are special with their speed, you can't win in this state."

Lincoln annually has plenty of difference makers with speed. That helps explain why the Trojans have won three state titles (1999, 2001 and 2010) over the last 13 seasons while producing Division I prospects with assembly-line precision.

Since the current version of Rivals.com started in 2002, Lincoln has developed two five-star prospects (safety Pat Watkins in 2002 and wide receiver Fred Rouse in 2005), 15 four-star recruits and 25 three-star players. The list includes New York Jets cornerback Antonio Cromartie and current USF quarterback B.J. Daniels.

That makes Shakir's comments about Davis all the more remarkable.

"He's one of the fastest players who ever played here at Lincoln," Shakir said.

Davis' statistics won't jump off the page. He caught 26 passes for 385 yards and four touchdowns last season while complementing three-star prospect Raphael Andrades, who collected 37 receptions for 750 yards and 10 touchdowns on his way to accepting a scholarship offer from Florida.

But he has much more promise than those numbers suggest. There's a reason he heads into his senior season as the No. 17 wide receiver and No. 134 overall prospect in the 2013 class.

Davis' track statistics arguably provide a better glimpse of his potential. Davis, who verbally committed to Georgia on Sunday, placed seventh in the 3A state meet in the 100 with a time of 10.93 seconds.

"If it wasn't for my speed, I don't think I'd have the offers I have," Davis said.

While Davis thrives on his speed, Williams benefits from his height. Williams' 6-foot-4 frame should make him a matchup nightmare for opposing defensive backs.

Williams ought to know how those guys feel. Even though he's rated as the No. 26 receiver in the 2013 class, Williams spent much of his junior year playing in the secondary because of Lincoln's defensive needs. He gets to focus more on wide receiver this fall.

"Obviously being 6-4 is going to help you, but he's not just a red-zone threat," Shakir said. "He's basically a tall guy who can do what smaller guys can do. He can sink and bend his hips and change direction like a small guy. That's what makes him so special as a taller player."

Lincoln also features Myles Gaines and Jamerson Blount. Gaines, a two-star slot receiver, has earned offers from FCS programs Appalachian State and Furman. Blount has made enough of an impression to earn a file on the Rivals.com database, though he has no rating or reported offers.

Those receivers have the benefit of working with a former college star and second-round draft pick. Jacquez Green is perhaps best known in Tallahassee for breaking the hearts of Florida State fans in 1997 with a 63-yard reception that set up Florida's game-winningtouchdown in a 32-29 upset, knocking the Seminoles out of national title contention. After playing five seasons in the NFL, the former Gator now works as Lincoln's offensive coordinator and head track coach.

"He does a phenomenal job," Shakir said. "When these guys work, they're not just around catching balls. He works with them on all the fundamentals. ... These guys are good at all the small things. What I love is all the things you don't see. They love to block for each other. All of them play special teams -- the kicking teams and return teams."

Green will help these receivers adjust to a new situation this fall.

The departures of Andrades and Tennessee State signee Ronald Butler will force these receivers to take on expanded roles in the offense while adapting to a new quarterback. Cameron Joseph and Kendall Randolph are competing for the right to replace Butler as Lincoln's starting quarterback. Randolph already has offers from the likes of Arkansas, Auburn, Georgia, Miami and South Carolina, though the 2014 prospect is primarily being recruited as a cornerback.

Taking over the offense of an annual state title contender is a challenge for any first-year starting quarterback. Having the opportunity to throw to a pair of four-star recruits should make that task much easier.

"If a team has just one special corner, you can't guard both of us at the same time," Davis said. "If one person's having a bad game, hopefully the other will have a good game.

"Hopefully, both of us will be having a good game."

When that's the case, the opposing defense will have little hope at all.

OTHERS OF NOTE (in alphabetical order)

Cedar Hill (Texas): Quincy Adeboyejo (three-star prospect, 5.6 rating, committed to Texas A&M), Laquvionte Gonzalez (four-star prospect, 5.8 rating No. 24 wide receiver and No. 164 overall recruit in 2013 class, committed to Texas A&M), Brandon Harris (2013 prospect in database, though he doesn't have a rating or any offers)

Cleveland Heights (Ohio): Shelton Gibson (four-star prospect, 5.9 rating, No. 14 wide receiver and No. 122 overall recruit in 2013 class), De'Niro Laster (three-star prospect, 5.7 rating, No. 65 wide receiver in 2013 class), Dorien Hudson (unranked prospect with an offer from FCS program St. Francis, Pa.),

Elkton (Md.) Eastern Christian: Dhameer Bradley (three-star prospect, 5.5 rating), Freddy Canteen (2014 prospect with offers from Hawaii and Rutgers), Neiko Creamer (three-star prospect, 5.5 rating), Daikiel Shorts (three-star prospect, 5.5 rating)

POWER POSITIONS: WHAT IT'S ABOUT
As we head into the summer, we've decided to look ahead to the 2012 fall football season by rating which high schools have the best prospects at each position unit. Here is the series schedule:

Wednesday: Offensive Backfields (QB/RB)
Thursday: Pass-Catch Duo (QB to Ind. WR)
Friday: Receiving Corps (Entire Group)
Saturday: Offensive Line
Sunday: Defensive Line
Monday: Linebackers
Tuesday: Secondary

Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) University School: Jordan Cunningham (four-star prospect, 5.8 rating, No. 21 wide receiver and No. 154 overall recruit in 2013 class), Dionte Taylor (three-star prospect, 5.6 rating, No. 93 wide receiver in 2013 class), D.J. Woods (two-star prospect, 5.4 rating)

Immokalee (Fla.): J.C. Jackson (2014 prospect committed to Florida State), Tshumbi Johnson (high school quarterback being recruited as a receiver, three-star prospect, 5.6 rating, No. 51 all-purpose athlete in 2013 class, has made soft commitment to USF), Xavier Richardson (three-star prospect, 5.5 rating, committed to USF)

Manvel (Texas): Austin Bennett (three-star prospect, 5.7 rating, No. 61 receiver in 2013 class), TE Koda Martin (2014 prospect with offers from Baylor, Colorado, Colorado State, Memphis, Texas State, Texas Tech and UCLA), Kyrion Parker (three-star prospect, 5.6 rating, No. 69 receiver in 2013 class, committed to LSU), Carlos Thompson (2013 prospect in database, though he doesn't have a rating or any reported offers)

Orlando (Fla.) Evans: Tony Stevens (four-star prospect, 5.8 rating, No. 25 receiver and No. 187 overall recruit in 2013 class, committed to Florida State), Dominic Walker (three-star prospect, 5.7 rating, No. 52 receiver in 2013 class)

St. Petersburg (Fla.) Lakewood: Rodney Adams (four-star prospect, 5.8 rating, No. 36 receiver and No. 242 overall recruit in 2013 class, committed to Florida), Jocqui Ellison (unranked prospect with offer from Toledo), Donterio Fowler (2014 prospect in database, though he has no reported offers), Marquez Valdes (three-star prospect, 5.5 rating)

Tyler (Texas) John Tyler: Darion Flowers (2013 prospect in database, though he's unranked and has no reported offers), Justice Liggins (two-star prospect, 5.4 rating), Fred Ross (four-star prospect, 5.8 rating, No. 34 receiver and No. 231 overall recruit in 2013 class, committed to Oklahoma State), Greg Ward (all-purpose athlete who plays quarterback in high school but is being recruited as a wide receiver or cornerback, three-star prospect, 5.5 rating)

Wylie (Texas) East: Marcell Ateman (four-star prospect, 5.8 rating, No. 41 receiver in 2013 class, committed to Oklahoma State), Vequan Jones (three-star prospect, 5.7 rating, No. 57 receiver in 2013 class, committed to Baylor)


Steve Megargee is the national college columnist for Rivals.com. He can be reached at smegargee@rivals.com, and you can click here to follow him on Twitter.



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