Rivals Camp Series New Orleans: Thoughts from the sideline
HARVEY, La. -- The Rivals 3 Stripe Camp Series presented by adidas made its return to Louisiana this past weekend, with top talent from The Boot, Tennessee, Mississippi and Alabama all coming into town. Three members of the Rivals.com National Analyst Team were on hand and each provides their thoughts on the day’s proceedings.
CHAD SIMMONS, SOUTHEAST ANALYST
There was a strong representation from Tennessee at this event. The top three linebackers on the day were all from Tennessee — and all play at Whitehaven High School in Memphis.
Tamarion McDonald left as the MVP and his teammates, Bryson Eason and Martavius French left with invites to the Rivals100 Five-Star Challenge. All three can play. All three shined in different ways Sunday.
Also from Tennessee was defensive end Corbet Mims. The star at Kirby High School was named MVP for the defensive line. He is under-recruited. He has four offers. That should be multiplied by five by the end of spring. Mims is a 6-foot-5, 255 pound defensive end, and he has his way much of Sunday.
Tevin Carter is a 2022 quarterback to know. He is already knocking on the door of double-digit offers and he is only a freshman. He was dropping dimes Sunday at 6-3, 220 pounds. He has a big arm, great frame and showed nice poise around a lot of older, talented athletes.
Of course, Chris Morris was there competing too. The 2020 offensive tackle earned an invite to the Rivals100 Five-Star Challenge for the second year in a row. He can pretty much go anywhere on the eastern side of the country.
Here are my top five quarterbacks from Sunday's performances:
1. Will Rogers
2. TJ Finley
4. Tevin Carter
5. Keilon Brown
All five quarterbacks made good throws, but what separated Rogers from the rest was his consistency. He threw well in the pocket, he made strong throws on the move and he was throwing on time with accuracy throughout the day. Mississippi State has to be extremely excited about having Rogers committed. He is a very sharp quarterback.
Finley has really improved. He is in better shape, he has refined his mechanics and the LSU commit impressed. Holstein has a live arm. He really stood tall and delivered many strikes on the day. Carter is only a freshman, but you wouldn’t know it by watching him. He is a big kid with a good arm and he oozes confidence. Brown is a dual-threat quarterback with two state titles, but he is not just a runner, he is a thrower too.
McKinnley Jackson is not ready to reveal them, but some schools have started to separate themselves for the five-star defensive tackle out of Mississippi. Is Alabama on this list? If I was a betting man, I would lay all my money out on the Crimson Tide being there.
He has visited Alabama, Clemson, Florida State and LSU this year already with a visit to Auburn coming up. Mississippi State and Ole Miss, two in-state schools are in this, as are numerous others including Tennessee and Texas A&M.
It is likely the summer before Jackson reveals his favorites, so who do you think makes his top five? Has he already formed it completely? Does he know top two or three already? Jackson is going to take his recruitment the distance, all the way to February, so there is still a long way to go.
SAM SPIEGELMAN, TEXAS, LOUISIANA ANALYST
There’s a new breed of linemen. Louisiana has churned out some of the nation’s best defensive linemen over the years. That includes Marcus Spears (LSU), Glenn Dorsey (LSU), Rashard Lawrence (LSU), Isaiah Buggs (Alabama) and Jerry Tillery (Notre Dame), among many, many others. Often, those interior linemen have been forces on the defensive front, clogging up A-gaps and commanding double teams inside, but the faces of Louisiana’s 2020 class are changing that.
Jaquelin Roy, the state’s top-ranked tackle, weighed in at 286 pounds and showed off a huge burst in the trenches and quickness to beat opposing offensive linemen. The same goes for Pat Jenkins, a defensive tackle for John Ehret, who shed some weight and showed out at defensive end, using his power to push tackles but also technique to get around the edge. There’s always room for these defensive linemen to pack on more weight and add muscle, but the lighter versions show that these interior prospects can also generate a pass rush all across the defensive front, which should attract even more colleges.
Pick your poison at receiver in Louisiana. The 2020 and 2021 classes are absolutely loaded to the top when it comes to wide receiver talent -- and more so, receivers that can wear multiple hats for their respective college teams. Koy Moore, a Rivals100 wide receiver who punched his ticket to the Five-Star Challenge, dominated out wide and in the slot with precise route-running and even better body control. Footwork was key for receivers like Moore explosive slot receiver Makholven Sonn and 2021 standout Theodore Knox. Meanwhile, 2021 receiver Destyn Pazon, who earned a spot in Sunday’s camp at the combine Saturday, was a big-bodied receiver that out-muscled defensive backs. Fellow 2021 standout Chris Hilton dazzled with sharp cuts and elite speed.
Is Louisiana becoming a quarterback state? When I think about the states that typically produce quality arms, California, Georgia and Texas all come to mind. Quarterback talent has been particularly scarce in Louisiana the past couple of recruiting cycles, but 2020 may be the exception -- and perhaps the beginning of a new trend.
Rivals250 passer and LSU commitment TJ Finley can make all the throws behind center. He also commands the huddle and has a great football IQ. Caleb Holstein is another pro-style quarterback with a good offer sheet that can pick apart a defense with his accuracy. Justin Ibieta is a three-sport athlete that’s beginning to get looks. It’s easy to see why, as the New Orleans native delivers balls with great anticipation and can do so on the move.
Keilon Brown is a dual-threat quarterback with a few Power 5 offers, not to mention two state championship rings. He has a lot of Russell Wilson to him, especially when it comes to the deep ball. And don’t sleep on Edna Karr’s Leonard Kelly, who also won his team a title in December. Kelly is about 5-foot-10, but he has a big arm, great accuracy and makes a lot of good decisions. Houston, Louisiana-Lafayette and Tulane are all monitoring the decorated passer.
WOODY WOMMACK, SOUTHEAST ANALYST
I’m always struck with the amount of defensive back talent Louisiana and Sunday’s camp was another perfect example of just how many elite level guys are in the state on a yearly basis. Three-star defensive back Jamie Vance, an Arkansas commit, walked away with the MVP at the position but the group so was so loaded it could have probably gone any number of ways.
Texas A&M commit Major Burns had a good day at the camp and physically looks like he could develop into quite the prospect at the next level and beyond and the same goes for his teammate Joel Williams, who lined up at both wide receiver and defensive back. Back in 2014 at the New Orleans stop of the Rivals Camp Series, Greedy Williams was a guy who finished as a runner up for MVP honors, and with him likely to be an early round draft pick this year, it shows that talent in the boot is always deep at defensive back.
Last weekend I got word that it was possible that a trio of Whitehaven (Tenn.) prospects might be making a commitment to Arkansas. Linebackers Bryson Eason and Martavius French have long been priorities for the Hogs, and were on campus and very close to pulling the trigger.
The hold up? The pair was waiting for their teammate Tamarion McDonald to pick up an offer on the trip. McDonald, who plays safety in high school but will likely be more of a linebacker hybrid in college, already had offers from LSU, Kentucky, Ole Miss and several others. But McDonald never got the offer and the trio left uncommitted.
On Sunday, McDonald actually outperformed his two teammates, looking great in both drill work and in coverage while winning the linebacker MVP award. With his stock on the rise, it’s possible Arkansas comes back in with an offer, but will it be too late? Each of the three spoke of other schools on Sunday so it will be worth watching to see if they truly stick together as a package deal, which might benefit schools like LSU and Ole Miss that have already offered all three.