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June 4, 2009

Valley area sports multiple football prospects

HARRISONBURG - The broken ankle that cost him all but a quarter of one game last fall hasn't kept Landon Turner off the radar screen of several big-time college football programs.

With two years still remaining in his career at Harrisonburg High School, Turner - now fully recovered from his injury - is on track to become one of the more highly sought-after players the Valley has produced in years.

"It's the early stages," the sophomore offensive tackle said last week of his recruitment. "But now I'm looking at about 25 schools. It is early, and I want to look at all these different schools - I want to be informed."

At the moment, those 25 schools include some of the nation's super-elite programs, notably Florida, Penn State and Texas, as well as powerful Georgia, Virginia Tech and West Virginia. Virginia also is interested.

It's easy to see why recruiters are so smitten with the 6-foot-5, 295-pounder. He has an enticing blend of size, strength and athleticism, and at just 16 years old - his birthday was May 15 - he still has plenty of time to improve.

MaxPreps.com named Turner to its sophomore All-American team, with the site describing him as "perhaps the best sophomore offensive lineman in the nation."

Not bad for a guy who didn't even play last year. Turner was a second-team All-Massanutten District selection as a freshman but broke his left fibula in the first quarter of Harrisonburg's season opener last fall.

"It's cool to see," Turner said of the acclaim, "but I try to stay grounded and remember that it really doesn't mean anything and I have to show up. You've got to go out and rely on your teammates."

While Turner may be the youngest area standout generating buzz, he's far from the only one.

Virginiapreps.com's list of the top Class of 2010 prospects in the state includes three area players: Turner Ashby junior safety Kyle Linn (the No. 19 prospect overall), Rockbridge County junior lineman Caleb Farris (26) and R.E. Lee junior lineman A.J. Scott (27). Farris has already orally committed to Virginia Tech.

In addition, Stuart Draft junior defensive lineman Zach Glass was one of 400 nominees for the prestigious U.S. Army All-American Bowl, which includes top players from across the country.

Here's a look at some of the area's top recruits:

+ Kyle Linn, Turner Ashby junior safety: The 6-foot-3, 170-pound Linn was named Massanutten District Defensive Player of the Year last fall after tallying 102 tackles with four interceptions and six pass breakups.

Linn's size, aggressiveness and 4.6-second speed in the 40-yard dash has attracted interest from several schools. He said the bulk of his attention has come from Virginia Tech and Marshall, and Rivals.com lists Maryland, Wake Forest and West Virginia as also showing interest.

"The first school who offers me is going to definitely be a favorite, no matter who it is," Linn said. "But the way Tech and Marshall have been talking to me, they're pretty interested."

+ Zach Glass, Stuarts Draft junior defensive lineman: Draft coach Rod Bowers said Glass - already considered one of the area's best players - jumped on the national scene with several impressive combine performances over the past year.

The 6-foot-4, 240-pound Glass recorded 70 tackles and 12 sacks while blocking a pair of kicks for the Cougars last season.

According to Rivals.com, Glass' list of suitors includes Florida State, Georgia, Penn State, Virginia and Virginia Tech.

"There's been a lot of people in to talk to him," Bowers said, "and a lot of people are showing interest. It'll come down to his grades and his performance in the classroom. If that continues, Zach's going to make somebody a nice football player. It his SAT gets up to where it needs to be, he'll have his pick of schools."

Caleb Farris, Rockbridge County junior offensive lineman: The Wildcats' junior offensive lineman verbally committed to Virginia Tech in late April, choosing the Hokies over offers from East Carolina and Marshall. He also received interest from Boston College, Maryland and Notre Dame.

The 6-foot-4, 315-pounder is rated a three-star recruit by Rivals.com, as well as the No. 37 guard in the nation.

A.J. Scott, R.E. Lee junior offensive/defensive lineman: The 6-foot-5, 275-pound Scott - a cousin of ex-Lee QB and James Madison commitment Dae'Quan Scott - has picked up offers from I-AA JMU and Liberty since the season ended.

At the Virginiapreps.com Central Virginia combine at Amherst High School on May 18, Scott bench-pressed 185 pounds an impressive 27 times, the most of any player at the event.

Despite all of the attention this group of players has generated, Bowers cautioned them that now is not the time to rest on their laurels.

"This [area] is just a very, very small microcosm of what these college coaches have to pick from," he said. "They have to keep that in mind. You can go to the beach and see some of these guys, two or three of them at every school, and that's something that these young people have to keep in perspective, as well. There's a lot of kids out there that have this potential, and you've got to keep working."

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