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Saturday, January 22, 2011
Updated: January 25, 9:09 PM ET
Tony Steward leads top available ILBs

By Corey Long
ESPN Recruiting

With national signing day (Feb. 2) around the corner, here is a look at the top uncommitted inside linebackers.

Steward

Tony Steward (St. Augustine, Fla./Pedro Menendez)

Player rank: 9 | Position rank: 1 | Grade: 85 | Stars: 5
Height: 6-foot-1 | Weight: 225 pounds | Evaluation
Considering
Florida State Clemson UCLA
Why they want him: Quite simply, Steward goes out and makes plays on the field. He is fast enough to run down anyone, he can get to the backfield on a blitz and goes from sideline to sideline with amazing quickness. Even in a senior year that was hampered by injuries, Steward was a dominant player on the field, whether he was at linebacker, wide receiver, running back or return specialist.
Recruiting update: Jamie Newberg reported that Steward is down to FSU, Clemson and UCLA. He is on his official visit to FSU this weekend and will take in-home visits from his top three schools next week before making a decision on signing day.


Grant

Curtis Grant (Richmond, Va./Hermitage)

Player rank: 46 | Position rank: 3 | Grade: 81 | Stars: 4
Height: 6-3 | Weight: 220 pounds | Evaluation
Considering
Florida North Carolina Ohio State Virginia
Why they want him: A player that really excels when working laterally. This is not to say he's afraid to take on a blocker and stuff the inside run, because he'll do that too. Grant has a never-ending motor and strong athleticism that make him a tough defender when he has to drop in coverage. He's aggressive and tough already but both will improve as he gets stronger.
Recruiting update: Grant is in Charlottesville this weekend checking out Virginia. He has one final visit remaining and that will be at North Carolina on Jan. 28. Then it's decision time.


Staley

Dexter Staley (Williston, S.C./Williston-Elko)

Player rank: NR | Position rank: 18 | Grade: 78 | Stars: 3
Height: 6-2 | Weight: 210 pounds | Evaluation
Considering
South Carolina Georgia Michigan State East Carolina
Why they want him: Staley is as good on offense as he is on defense, so it wouldn't surprise us if the school that lands him keeps its options open on how to use him. That being said, he's a physical presence with good closing speed. His versatility and athleticism give him a leg up when it comes to playing coverage.
Recruiting update: Staley will likely be heading to a prep school for 2011 -- odds are Georgia Military College. From there it looks like Georgia and South Carolina will be the top two battling for his services.


Cody Kurz (Ventura, Calif./Saint Bonaventure)

Player rank: NR | Position rank: 21 | Grade: 78 | Stars: 3
Height: 6-2 | Weight: 240 pounds | Evaluation
Considering
New Mexico State Colorado Washington Nevada Cincinnati
Why they want him: At 6-2, 240 pounds it wouldn't shock us if Kurz continued to gain weight and played defensive end. But he's more than capable of playing inside linebacker and can knock a ball carrier backward with punishing hits. He's got a strong motor and he brings it when the situation calls for a pass rush.
Recruiting update: There was a plan to visit New Mexico State this weekend and Kurz is looking at a few other schools that have offered. He was linked to LSU for a long time but now is trying to figure out where he fits in. Kurz could possibly commit after signing day, if he wants to take more official visits.

Corey Long has been covering high school football and recruiting in the Sunshine State since 1995. He can be reached at coreyespn@gmail.com.