football Edit

Adidas East Coast Invitational: Players that shined

Penn State commit Derek Wingo
Penn State commit Derek Wingo

The adidas East Coast 7-on-7 Invitational took place on Saturday in Miami, with teams from six different states making the trip to compete for a spot in the national championship later this month in Tampa. The event was loaded with top talent, including plenty of recognizable names that turned in impressive performances. While we couldn't see all the action, here's the list of names, in alphabetical order, that caught our attention with their showings.


Davis was virtually uncoverable for opposing defenses and he and Team Hard Knox advanced all the way to the tournament semifinals, upsetting plenty of squads along the way. Davis is built like a running back, and might remind some of former Knoxville-area native Amari Rodgers, and he certainly played like Rodgers at time on Saturday. Indiana, Purdue and Mississippi State are among Davis' early offers.

Diggs is going to play defensive end at the next level but regularly plays inside linebacker in 7-on-7 tournaments. Teams try to take advantage of him, thinking he'll be much slower and easy to run away from, but Diggs made it clear early and often that he is a force to be reckoned with. His length gave a lot of quarterbacks problems and their passes in his direction ended up sailing high or wide. Last week Diggs released a top 11 of Florida, Georgia, Maryland, North Carolina, Ohio State, Penn State, Temple, Tennessee, Texas A&M, Virginia Tech, and West Virginia.

Despite spending most of the last few months starring on the basketball court, Finely showed no signs of rust during an impressive day quarterbacking EPS Blaze. With elite size and arm strength, it's easy to see why LSU made keeping Finely close to home such a priority. Finley can let it fly deep, but also fit the ball into tight windows over the middle when the situation calls for it.

Smaller schools like Florida Atlantic, Idaho, Southern Mississippi, and UAB have offered Glanton but he played like he was ready for a bigger stage on Saturday. He isn't the biggest cornerback but he is very strong and played with great instincts. Glanton jumped a couple short routes and intercepted at least two passes in the tournament near the end of the day. He wasn't the fastest player on the field but he was very physical and knocked receivers off their routes.

Hall boasts an impressive offer list for a 2021 prospect, with Alabama, Auburn, Florida and several others already offering. It's easy to see why after his showing Saturday, as Hall was a matchup nightmare for opposing defensive backs all day long. With excellent size and great hands, he caught nearly everything that came his way and was a big reason why Team Tampa came away with the tournament title.

Another multi-sport star, Lawrence's season on the hardwood just ended this week and he stepped right onto the gridiron to make an impact. A long, rangy prospect, Lawrence worked at safety and found himself around the ball on several occasions. Had it been a real game, Lawrence would have racked up tackles, but even without the ability to make hits, it's easy to see why Tennessee, Clemson, Miami and others are very high on Lawrence.

Few players are as physically gifted as Manuel and it was very clear he could do almost anything he wanted when he was on the field. Routes down the field, crossing routes, and out routes were no problem for the Florida commit. He made an outstanding leaping catch along the sideline in one of the playoff games and drew cheers from the crowd. Penn State, Clemson, and Oregon are trying to flip Manuel.

McDonald recently added offers from Kentucky and Ole Miss and it's only a matter of time before more major programs join his list. McDonald has elite size and length for a defensive back and his ability to turn and run was on full display against some of the events most talented wide receivers. McDonald, coming of a state championship season as a junior, continues to see his stock rise with performance at major events.

A two-way star who has been a fixture on the scene since his day as a middle school star, Montgomery continues to shine at major events. Playing for Team Tampa, he showed his elite athleticism, the same reason why schools like Iowa State and South Carolina have already offered.

Palmer is a player not too many people are familiar with but the New Jersey native, now at IMG Academy, is going to be a well-known name by the time he graduates. A quick receiver that can play in the slot or outside, Palmer does a great job breaking press coverage and getting down the field. He made a couple outstanding catches down the sideline and proved to be a reliable target for his quarterback. Miami is his most recent offer but West Virginia, North Carolina, Maryland, Rutgers, and a few others.

Ribalta is a bit of a sleeper considering he's a 2020 prospect without an offer, but he was a vital cog in South Florida Express's run to the title game on Saturday. A smooth route-runner with great hands, Ribalta did plenty of damage over the middle of the field, and wasn't thrown off when defenses tried to send safety help his way.

A seasoned veteran of the 7-on-7 circuit, Rooks made a ton of plays on Saturday. The N.C. State commit has the skillset to be successful as an outside or inside receiver. Rooks is quicker out of his cuts and has a better feel for using his size and length than he did last offseason. Rooks didn't have a problem getting open on Saturday but there were times when his quarterback wasn't able to get him the ball.

No matter the event, Simpson always comes to play and he was locked in on Saturday, often matching up with the opponent's best wide receiver and more than holding his own. He's physical when needed, but also knows when to lay off, and is also always around the ball. N.C. State and Syracuse are just a few of the programs to extend an early offer.

Small is the type of shifty playmaker that is tough for opposing defenses to stop in a 7-on-7 setting and it seemed like he was leaving defenders in the dust all day long. Small could play running back, wide receiver or even defensive back at the next level and will likely continue to emerge as a prospect given his spot on the South Florida Express.

Tampa, who fittingly enough starred for Team Tampa on Saturday, was singled out by his coaches for his play in helping the squad to the tournament championship. A versatile prospect who could play wide receiver or defensive back at the next level, Tampa has good hands and also moves fluidly for a player his size. He recently added an offer from UCF, with the Knights joining USF, Cincinnati and others on his list.

There were players older, bigger, and faster than Turrentine but he seemed to be in the right place at the right time an awful lot. He isn't a small defensive back and he made sure opposing receivers knew how physical he could be but, more often than not, Turrentine used his vision and ability to anticipate the play to deny the throw to his receiver or zone. Turrentine has great length and showed the ability to win jump balls and prevent big plays down the field. Teams like Alabama, Arkansas, LSU, Ole Miss, Virginia Tech, South Carolina, Tennessee, and others have already offered him.

After an up and down start to the day, Vaulton locked in and found his stride when it mattered most, during pool play. He did a nice job getting the ball into the hands of his playmakers and with his size and decision-making, he should be on the radar of FBS schools when he has the opportunity to audition in person during the spring and summer.

A massive inside linebacker, players like Wingo are generally at a disadvantage in the 7-on-7 setting but he made a lot of important plays. The Penn State commit drops into coverage well but what was really impressive was the way he broke on passes thrown in front of him. Wingo did a great job of using his length to get a hand on the ball to knock it down.