Local prep football guru Brad Crawford spent April, May and June studying film, talking to coaches and taking in practices to determine finalists during his Top 25 player selection process. He has covered Robeson County football since 2006.
25. Dewayne Fairley, 6-6, 190, Jr., TE/WR, Red Springs: Raw. Fairley's soft hands in the post helped Glenn Patterson's basketball team at Red Springs as a sophomore and now the 6-foot-6 tough cover is testing his talents in a Blake Greene-led offense on the gridiron. Fairley led the Red Devils in catches during passing leagues and if the consistency improves, his first year in a pads will be a special one.
24. Christian Wearins, 5-7, 185, Sr., DL, Swett: Now you see him, now you don't. Wearins is easy to miss from the sideline at 5-foot-7, but the Rams' veteran defender sticks out on a film as a hard-nosed player with a knack for getting to the football. He'll be utilized more this season along the front four instead of linebacker. When Swett coach Mark Heil selects captains in August, Wearins will certainly be one of the squad's leading candidates.
23. Travis Suggs, 5-10, 165, Jr., DB, Lumberton: A safety that uses his outfield expertise to hisadvantage on the gridiron, Suggs was one of the Pirates' leading tacklers as a sophomore and consistently improved throughout the season. He's one of first-year defensive coordinator Ron Cook's fastest players in the secondary and is skilled in coverage.
22. Tevin Thompson, 6-1, 215, Sr., LB, Swett: The first of two Swett linebackers on this list, Thompson has the body all college coaches covet on the outside as a pass-rushing specialist. He underperformed as a junior in the stat book but a lot of that had to do with Swett's disappointing season from a team standpoint. Thompson's excelled this summer protecting the right side of the Rams' defense and anchors a front seven that has the potential to be one of Heil's best in Pembroke.
21. Zach Caudle, 6-0, 175, Sr., DB, Fairmont: Consistency. Rarely do you see Fairmont's starting safety out of position or cheating toward the line of scrimmage. Caudle is a by-the-books defender with size, strength and tenacity. He's a baseball player with a football frame who has also split time in the backfield since beginning his prep career at Lumberton. The Golden Tornadoes are preparing for another all-county campaign from Caudle.
20. Terry Collins, 6-0, 235, Sr., OL, Red Springs: An all-conference selection and the team's only returning starter on the offensive line, Collins has been Mr. Reliable in the trenches throughout his career for the Red Devils. Center is the most important position up front and in Red Springs' no-huddle Air Raid, it's even more under the microscope. Collins provides stability.
19. Silas Oxendine, 6-3, 270, Sr., OL, Fairmont: Protecting the quarterback is Oxendine's specialty and with good size at 6-3, 270 pounds, he's one of the Three Rivers Conference's best-looking blockers. Becoming more consistent in the run game and zone blocking scheme is key for Oxendine and Fairmont's offensive line starters on an offense that runs exclusively out of the shotgun.
18. Derrick Baker, 5-10, 180, Sr., RB, Fairmont: Baker averaged 7.1 yards per carry as a junior and scored five touchdowns, peaking early in the season prior to the Golden Tornadoes' suspension-riddled season. He's one of three backs that will get ample playing time in Randy Ragland's uptempo attack this fall and should be in for an impressive final campaign.
17. Javon Crawford, 6-2, 170, Sr., DB/WR, St. Pauls: With athleticism on defense needed, Crawford makes the move from offense to defense this fall to strengthen a St. Pauls secondary that was a weakpoint in 2012. He grew two inches over the summer and coaches say he will still take a few snaps every game at wide receiver where he caught 19 passes and scored six times as a junior.
16. Jarrod Neal, 6-0, 180, Sr., QB, Fairmont: The first of three quarterbacks in this year's rankings, Neal saw his all-conference caliber junior season cut short with an ankle injury but returns at full strength with his sights set on a conference championship. He's cool in the pocket, has a strong arm and will produce big numbers with a handful of weapons at receiver.
15. Juan Ellerbe, 5-9, 165, Sr., ATH, South Robeson: Making the move from Purnell Swett to South Robeson this summer wasn't easy for Ellerbe who was in line to be the Rams' starting tailback. He's switching primary positions as a senior and the Mustangs hope Ellerbe's blend of speed and athleticism makes for an easy transition into the back end of their defense. Expect him to get a few carries in South Robeson's spread as well.
14. Jazabeian Thompson, 6-1, 215, Sr., DE, South Robeson: The freakish athlete in the trenches with broad shoulders and powerful legs is one of the program's strongest players with a 515 deadlift. Thompson bookends a South Robeson defensive line that could be one of the conference's toughest down the stretch this season. Teams ran away from his side as a junior.
13. Da'Shawn Fields, 6-1, 165, Sr., WR, Fairmont: The Golden Tornadoes' deep threat runs, jumps and catches the football a lot like Randy Moss with his lanky frame and toned body. He picked up an offer from Campbell in July after a nifty catch-and-getaway during a 7-on-7 team camp that impressed coaches in Buies Creek.
12. Michael Smith, 5-9, 160, Sr., DB, South Robeson: As a returning all-conference safety, the Mustangs expect Smith to anchor the secondary alongside Ellerbe and cause havoc when the ball's in the air. Smith has looked good throughout the summer at wide receiver during passing drills and made a diving interception against E.E. Smith that still has coaches talking about it.
11. Shemar Barfield, 6-2, 170, Sr., WR, Fairmont: Yet to decide between football or basketball at the next level, Barfield's footwork is among the best in the county at the wide receiver position. He's quick out of his cuts and has big hands for hauling in the football who's also dangerous in the return game.
10. Jermaine Williams, 6-3, 245, Jr., DL, Lumberton: The highest-rated of four juniors in this season's rankings, Williams is an immovable force along Lumberton's defensive line who has a chance at leading his team in sacks and tackles-for-loss this season. Defensive coordinator Ron Cook likes his lineman's raw strength and says his upside is unmatched by any of Lumberton's other defenders.
9. Doody Lesane, 5-10, 195, Sr., RB, Red Springs: A hard-nosed runner that welcomes contact, Robeson County's top returning rusher last season averaged nearly 10 yards per carry and became Red Springs' reliable workhorse in October. This offseason, Lesane's worked on becoming more of a receiving threat out of the backfield in his team's screen game making him even more of a dangerous option as a senior.
8. Markeiss Blue, 6-1, 215, Sr., LB, Red Springs: Blue opened eyes this summer with a 4.6-hand timed 40, one of the fastest marks for linebackers in the area. He returns as the leader of Red Springs' defense and was the top tackler for his unit in 2012. Blue's an expert against the run and moves well in coverage with an above average reaction time.
7. Demetri Sheridan, 5-11, 185, Sr., LB, Lumberton: The 'quarterback' of Cook's defense for the Pirates, Sheridan calls the shots and makes sure teammates are in the proper position before the snap. Pound for pound, he's one of Lumberton's strongest players and brings an intensity level that's tough to replicate. If the Pirates had 11 players like Sheridan on his side of the football, they'd be in the conversation with other elite 4A programs.
6. Chuck Oxendine, 6-0, 205, Sr., LB, Swett: The last of three linebackers in the Top 10, Oxendine has the potential to be the Southeastern Conference's best player on defense with natural instincts geared toward finding the football. He roams the line of scrimmage for the Rams finding gaps to attack. Aided by former UNCP All-American linebacker Adam Deese as his position coach and Swett's defensive coordinator, Oxendine should have a spectacular senior season.
5. Tyler Maynor, 5-10, 170, Sr., WR, Swett: A physical specimen without an ounce of fat on his body, Maynor's decision to go full steam ahead with football this summer when baseball was on the table benefits the Rams in a big way. He's a combo receiver with the size and strength to snare a pass out of the air and has the speed to beat the opposition's best coverman. Playing too many snaps early could be a concern should Swett need his services in the secondary.
4. Shayron Jones, 6-2, 325, Sr., OL, St. Pauls: If there's one offensive lineman who can dominate a football game it's Jones and his massive 6-foot-2, 325-pound frame. He paved the way for Shawn Williams' 2,000-yard season as a junior and will try and do the same for tailback Daymien McMillan this fall. Want to see how to make pancakes on grass? Visit the guard's three years worth of highlight film.
3. CJ McGeachy, 5-10, 170, Sr., ATH, Red Springs: Robeson County's best two-way player moves primarily to offense this season to make up for the loss for two all-county wideouts in the Red Springs attack. McGeachy will still return kicks and play some snaps at corner, but coach George Coltharp says he'll try and save his veteran standout's energy as an offensive weapon.
2. Malik Livingston, 5-11, 170, Sr., QB, St. Pauls: The Bulldogs' conference championship hopes fall on the shoulders of Livingston, a multi-year starter who has sacrificed his senior campaign with a change of positions to quarterback. He's more comfortable at wide receiver, but has the natural ability and passing savvy to make the right read and deliver the football where it needs to be without much effort. With a focus on tempo, Livingston's dual-threat capabilities will be magnified in what will likely be one of the state's most prolific offenses.
1. Blake Greene, 5-10, 170, Sr., QB, Red Springs: Greene's back in the top spot for the second consecutive year after the singlemost dominant junior season on offense in Robeson County history. Can he eclipse his own record-setting mark of 63 touchdowns for his encore? With 51 scores, Greene will be alone in second place all-time in state history behind Charlotte Independence's Chris Leak for most touchdowns in a prep career. It'll be a long time before another quarterback with Greene's numbers comes through this area.