Prior to the Rivals100 Five-Star Challenge, the Rivals.com analysts broke down the top 10 matchups they were looking forward to seeing. And while some of these matchups never lived up to the billing for different reasons, many of them were played out on the field at Lakewood Stadium in Atlanta, Ga. Here's a breakdown of the top 10 matchups we saw.
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The two superior athletes went head-to-head three times in one-on-ones with Howard getting the best of two of them, but not by much. Keep in mind that these matchups always favor the offensive player because there is no traffic in front of the quarterback, no pass rush and they can run unrealistic routes. Howard tried to run a simple post route on Smith but couldn't get separation and Smith showed his closing speed and ability to take angles by cutting off the route and batting the ball down. The other two matchups were much closer to the line of scrimmage as Howard reversed direction on one and ran a simple out cut on the second, but both times Smith was right on his heels. This could have been the matchup between the two most athletically gifted players at the event.
Crosby had the advantage physically, but Williams did a phenomenal job once the ball was in the air. He hugged up close to Crosby and made it difficult for him to catch the ball even though he was open coming off the line. Even when Williams was a step low and looked beat, once the ball went in the air the 2014 standout used great closing speed and got there to knock the ball away. On one rep, Williams got totally turned around and the ball was overthrown; but on the first two reps, Williams was right there with Crosby and made it difficult for him to get any space in the open field to catch the ball.
During Saturday's one-on-one portion, Bryant and McCray went against each other numerous times. Bryant won the first rep with a quick outside move where he laid out for the ball. On the second rep, he used a double move to get a step on McCrary and then scooped the ball off the ground on a low pass. Their third battle saw a foot race between the two with Bryant getting a step but the ball was overthrown. McCray was far from the only linebacker who struggled to slow down Bryant during the event.
Robinson turned Goodman around a few times, but it was not a really fair comparison since Goodman would never be in coverage like that; plus he usually got back in time to knock the ball down. There is no question that Goodman is a fantastic athlete, but is he a succinct football player at his position? That is still a question, but as he gets more comfortable playing safety he will get better and better playing the position. Getting turned around and catching up is never a good thing in one-on-ones, but Goodman is talented and skilled enough to get back in the play and make it tough for the receiver. Before he was injured on Saturday he showed that during his few reps.
This was a battle between two prospects whose games are best appreciated in pads, yet both still went out in shorts and compression shirts and backed up their rankings. The 6-foot, 215-pound Green is a between-the-tackles runner known for his power, but he was more than capable catching passes out of the backfield for the Northeast squad. When he ran up against Foster's Southeast team in their two meetings, however, the nation's top-ranked linebacker was able to shut him down. Green could not get the corner on the 6-foot-2, 235-pound Foster, whose ability to play in space is underappreciated.
Rodgers and Lawson got to go at it only twice at the event, mainly because Rodgers is an inside guy and Lawson is outside; Lawson also missed all of Sunday with a groin injury. But the first go-round between the two was a thing of beauty, and the shockwaves could literally be felt within 10 feet of the rep. Rodgers never, and we mean, never gets rocked backwards when he anchors, but Lawson was able to jar him slightly off balance and win the rep, and the collision between the two made quite a noise. The next rep Lawson stutter-stepped and tried an outside move on Rodgers, and the nation's No. 1 guard did a good job of pushing him to the outside. However, Lawson has such good balance and is so good at dipping his shoulder that he was still able to flatten and get to the bag. This was one of the best matchups amongst the bigs.
This was the No. 1 matchup we were looking forward to seeing heading into camp with the nation's top wide receiver against the best cornerback in the country. Fuller was on his game all weekend, while Seals-Jones struggled a bit. The 6-foot-5, 230-pound receiver had an early one-on-one matchup with Fuller on Saturday and could not get separation or use his size to his advantage. Fuller easily broke up the pass while running in Seals-Jones' hip pocket. Seals-Jones picked things up on Sunday but was actually almost shut down completely in the first game of the day, which happened to be against Fuller's North squad. A seasoned camp veteran, Fuller certainly got the best of the big receiver on the weekend.
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