O'FALLON, Ill. -- The Rivals Camp Series presented by Under Armour will head to the St. Louis metro area this weekend and many top story lines are expected to emerge. Here are five things to watch for this weekend.
1. Underclassmen Challenge rematch
At last summer's Rivals Underclassmen Challenge in Dallas, four-star Lincoln (Neb.) Southeast offensive guard D.J. Foster handled all comers, including 30-plus offer recipient Peyton Newell of Hiawatha (Kan.), on his way to earning position MVP honors.
Those two will be head-to-head again this weekend in St. Louis, and Newell is hungry to exact a measure of revenge.
The 6-foot-3, 327-pound Foster is a tough lineman to battle in camp settings because he is a wide-body who has outstanding strength and does a great job of moving his feet after he locks on. The 6-foot-3, 280-pound Newell has a great burst off the line of scrimmage, but if he wants to best Foster and the other top offensive linemen at the camp, he will need to be show he has developed his strength at the point of attack and not let his forward momentum be stymied.
Foster and Newell are very close in the national rankings, but Foster is just inside the four-star range while Newell is at the top of the three-star range. Newell wants that fourth star, and this weekend's camp will be a good chance for him to show the progression he has made in his game this off-season.
2. Strong arms
Numbers-wise, the St. Louis stop will be one of the deepest on the tour at the quarterback position. More than 30 signal-callers are scheduled to perform on Sunday and most eyes will be on a trio of QBs who have already collected numerous scholarship offers.
Headlining the quarterback group will be Arkansas commit Rafe Peavey of Bolivar, Mo. The 6-foot-2, 205-pound Peavey is ranked as the No. 123 overall prospect and the No. 5 dual-threat quarterback. This will be the first many have had a chance to see Peavey compete in a big-camp setting against other top quarterbacks.
Kansas City (Kan.) Wyandotte three-star Dimonic McKinzy is also dual-threat quarterback and he boasts offers from the likes of Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota and Nebraska. At 6-foot and 215 pounds, McKinzy could project to other positions on the next level, but he is adamant about playing quarterback and is being recruited as such by most colleges.
Three-star quarterback Coleman Key will be making the trek to St. Louis this weekend to see some new competition after constant comparisons with fellow Sooner State signal-callers David Cornwell and Justice Hansen. At 6-foot-5 and 225 pounds, he is more of a pro-style passer.
When Rivals.com came out with Urbandale, Iowa's Allen Lazard as the nation's No. 1 wide receiver to start out the 2014 class, it turned heads. Rarely has a prospect from Iowa been No. 1 at any position, let alone at wide receiver, which is usually dominated by players from states such as Florida, Texas and California.
However, we were able to go out and see Lazard at his school last fall and he is every bit his listed 6-foot-4, while looking to be in the 210-pound range. What he showed on film as a junior was beyond impressive for a player of that size -- out-jumping and out-muscling defensive backs for the football while also being able to take short passes and turn them into long-gainers.
Lazard is also a standout on the basketball court, and he brings that run-and-jump ability to the gridiron. He impressed last summer against top upper-class defensive backs at the LSU summer camp, and his game, and his frame, has continued to evolve since that time.
This weekend Lazard will showcase those skills in St. Louis, and that No. 1 ranking will certainly make him a target for the camp's top defensive backs, which include Missouri commit Greg Taylor, Nebraska commit Luke Gifford, and three-stars Craig James of Edwardsville, Ill., and Raymond Wingo of St. Louis (Mo.) University School.
Running the show
Arguably the deepest position heading into Sunday's camp is running back, headlined by four-stars Mikale Wilbon of Chicago De La Salle and Traevohn Wrench of Gardner (Kan.) Edgerton. Add in St. Louis (Mo.) St. John Vianney's Markel Smith and the camp will feature three of the nation's top 35-ranked running backs.
But Sunday's group descending on O'Fallon High School also features depth. Kansas State commit Dalvin Warmack, O'Fallon (Ill.) High's Micquell Cotton, Lincoln (Neb.) North Star's Austin Rose and Kearney (Mo.) three-star Brock Broughton have all shown BCS level abilities.
There will also be several promising underclass running backs in attendance. Freshman Kentrail Moran (5-10, 185) from the host school, O'Fallon, is one to watch in the 2016 class as is Ulysses (Kan.) freshman Ian Rudzik (6-1, 205). Sunday could also be a coming-out party for 2015 running backs Kezelee Flomo (5-10, 185) of Minneapolis (Minn.) Totino Grace and Omaha (Neb.) North's Calvin Strong (5-9, 175).
Warmack vs. Wrench
That running backs group will feature a budding college rivalry between Kansas State commit Dalvin Warmack of Blue Springs, Mo., and Kansas commit Traevohn Wrench of Gardner (Kan.) Edgerton.
There are a lot of similarities between 6-foot, 180-pound Wrench and the 5-9, 180-pound Warmack. Not surprisingly, they are rated closely as well with Wrench checking in as the No. 27 overall running back and just inside four-star territory, while Warmack is the nation's No. 9 all-purpose back and sitting at the top of the three-star range. Even their junior year numbers are similar, with Wrench rushing for 2,269 yards and Warmack besting him by just 25 yards, finishing with 2,294 last fall.
The debate over which player is better is already heating up in the state of Kansas, where those clad in purple are solidly in the Warmack camp and the group chanting "Rock, Chalk, Jayhawk," favor Wrench. Sunday's camp will no doubt lend more commentary to the discussion as the two future Big 12 opponents will be performing on the same stage.
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