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January 30, 2009
From the Road: The year's top performances
MORE: Counting Down to Signing Day | Announcement Watch | Expert Commit Predictions
Rivals.com's recruiting analysts traveled across the country to scout the nation's top talent all year long, and along the way were treated to some outstanding performances from some of the top prospects in the country.
Here are some of the best individual performances our analysts saw in person during the 2008 season.
Going strictly by numbers, it's hard to top watching Trent Richardson rush for 420 yards or Marlon Brown roll up 338 yards of total offense and four touchdowns on just 12 touches, but the performance that continues to linger is Patrick Patterson's state championship game night.
The stat line was good: seven carries for 49 yards and four receptions for 104 yards, but that didn't quite encapsulate his impact. Patterson also added a 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown, only to have it called back. He intercepted a pass on defense, and he played almost every play on both sides of the ball in a game where every play mattered.
But what was most impressive was his cornerback play. At 6 feet 3 and 215 pounds, he looked like he could be an SEC shutdown corner and he helped negate the impact of his counterpart across the line, four-star wide receiver Kevin Norwood.
I had a chance to see four great performances in the fall.
First it was Pahokee, Fla., standout Nu'Keese Richardson's dazzling running display (playing quarterback) against a very talented Olive Branch, Miss., team during the first week of the season. Richardson was electric in one of the best games of the year, a 48-47 Olive Branch victory. Then I got to see Tampa (Fla.) Chamberlain standout Dontae Aycock's five-touchdown performance against Tampa (Fla.) Gaither, showcasing Aycock's playmaking ability both on the ground and in the air.
But the performance of the year goes to two teammates in Sanford (Fla.) Seminole's Ray Ray Armstrong and Andre Debose in the 6A state championship game against Miami Northwestern. On this stage, these two had dominant games. Seminole rallied from a 21-0 deficit to win 28-21 on a touchdown pass from Armstrong to Debose with 30 seconds remaining. Debose's catch was David Tyree like and was certainly the play of the game. But it was Armstrong's performance, especially at quarterback, that made him the player of the game. He led his team, moved the chains and showed no fear against the talented Bulls.
In my 10 years of covering recruiting, I've seen plenty of amazing individual performances. I remember Adrian Peterson ripping off a 300-yard game during his junior season, which still goes down as the best I've ever seen in person.
Sophomore quarterback Cameron Coffman of Peculiar (Mo.) Raymore-Peculiar, however, has a spot right up there with Peterson. Back in early September, Coffman shattered a Missouri state record when he threw for 430 yards and three touchdowns in the first half of an impressive 60-41 victory over Liberty.
Coffman is the younger brother of Missouri All-America tight end Chase Coffman and Kansas State quarterback Carson Coffman. He is also the son of former Kansas State great and NFL tight end Paul Coffman, but by the time he was done that Friday night he showed he's also destined for greatness. By the time the smoke cleared, Coffman, who is 6 feet 2 and 175 pounds, finished 18-for-21 passing for 534 yards and five touchdowns.
The halftime total was enough to break the Missouri state record for yards in a half, and he finished second for total passing yards in a game. And if he had kept passing in the game, he could have easily thrown for 600 yards.
Olney (Md.) Our Lady of Good Counsel linebacker Jelani Jenkins had eight tackles on defense and rushed for three touchdowns in a 42-3 win over Washington (D.C.) St. John's College.
To see his power and explosion on both defense and offense, and his burst and quickness for such a big linebacker was a thing of beauty. Add in his face paint against the night sky a week before Halloween and he was a scary sight to see.
The most productive performance that I saw this year was by Austin (Texas) Lake Travis quarterback Garrett Gilbert in a 55-14 first-round playoff victory over Austin (Texas) Lyndon B. Johnson.
Weather conditions were less than favorable as wind gusts were in upwards of 30-40 mph. Still he managed to complete 18 of 24 passes for 267 yards and three TDs.
But what made this performance even more amazing was how he managed the game and took what the opponent would give. On several occasions he called quick snaps, catching the defense off guard. Gilbert would rush for 102 yards and four TDs on only 11 carries.