Dallas JacksonClick Here to view this Link. is the National High School Sports Analyst for Rivals. Email him your questions and comments at DallasJ@Yahoo-Inc.comClick Here to view this Link. and follow him on TwitterClick Here to view this Link..
Camp Hill (Pa.) Cedar Cliff tight end Adam Breneman is the top ranked player in his state and the highest-rated prospect at his position in the country.
For the 6-foot-5 pass-catcher, neither of those accolades is good enough.
"I am a four-star right now," he said. "I want my fifth star."
Following a 72-reception, 1,120-yard junior campaign, it is that coveted fifth star that is fueling Breneman to participate in the Rivals100 Five-Star Challenge. And from June 22-24, he will leave his Harrisburg suburb and work out at Lakewood Stadium in Atlanta to prove that he deserves that recognition.
"It is validation of sorts," he said. "To prove you have worked hard and are worthy of Rivals.com saying you are the best of the best."
Since Rivals.com began tracking recruits in the Class of 2002, only four tight ends have received a five-star ranking: Tony Hills Jr. and Greg Olsen in 2003; Martellus Bennett in 2005; and Kyle Rudolph in 2008.
All four were ranked inside the Top 20 nationally. Olsen, Bennett, and Rudolph are all NFL players today.
Breneman understands that his ranking does not define him as a player, but he adds that it is an important status not only to him but to everyone going through the process.
"Every kid is going to say that it doesn't matter, but it does," he said. "We all know where we are ranked, and we all compare guys who are being ranked above and below us."
If his performance at the Rivals100 Five-Star Challenge doesn't boost his stock, Breneman said that he can rest easy knowing that he came to the invitation-only event and gave it his best effort.
"I am going there [as] the top tight end," he said. "And I will be going against some of the top safeties and linebackers in the country, so I will have my chances to show I am the best. But there will be guys trying to prove they are too; I have to be ready for it."
If his evaluation after the camp and All-Star 7-on-7 goes unchanged, Breneman could finish the rankings period as the fifth-highest ranked tight end in Rivals history - ahead of Nick O'Leary, Jermaine Gresham, Zach Miller, and Marcedes Lewis.
It is that chance to earn his accolades that made the choice to attend so easy.
"There will be former NFL players coaching there, so that is something cool," he said. "Having this level of competition is also something I am excited about.
"All of the guys who will be there are probably the best players on their teams. Not many of us ever have had to compete for playing time or a spot on the team, and now we all will be thrown into the same mix. We all will be competing for attention."
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While there is not a team to make, Breneman is correct that there will be plenty of competition for praise as the entire Rivals.com analyst and video team will be on hand in Atlanta. And being the lone star performer on his local roster will not make him unique in this exclusive crowd.
"We will all want to be noticed," he said. "When college coaches come to the school they are looking at a couple guys; at this event you are going to have to do something special and be something special to stand out."
Mike Farrell's take
Breneman reminds me a lot of Aaron Hernandez (2007), who was a player I fought to be a five-star but was out-voted. Both play a lot of wide receiver in high school and are usually flexed out at the very least. They can spread the field and they are a downfield threat. We haven't had a five-star tight end since Kyle Rudolph (2008) and only four since we began ranking back in 2002, so becoming the next one is a challenge; but Breneman wants it and he is willing to fight for it. He'll be coming off a shoulder injury and he hasn't done much football-wise since his junior season ended, so it will be interesting to see how good he looks and how much trouble he can give linebackers and defensive backs in Atlanta. He did get a warm up last weekend at NIKE where he went through drills, but he's saving his first real action for Atlanta.
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