Rivals Camp Series: Predictions for St. Louis this weekend
St. Louis will host the final stop of the regional Rivals 3 Stripe Camp Series presented by adidas for 2019, and nearly half the states on the continent will be represented in the Gateway City this weekend. Rivals.com Midwest Analyst Josh Helmholdt has a few predictions for what we will see this weekend in St. Louis.
A MOSAIC OF STATES
Sunday’s camp may prove to be the most diverse of the entire series. Fitting for the Gateway to the West, there are prospects from 17 different states registered for the event. This is known as “Flyover Country,” and due to less populated centers around the region it does not host the number of camps seen in places such as Florida, Texas and the East Coast. The Rivals Camps were the first to make regular appearances in St. Louis, and we even had an event one year in Kansas City. Missouri and Illinois will be the best represented, since the camp takes place on the border of the two states, but prospects are scheduled to come from as far as Colorado, Minnesota, Alabama and Mississippi.
SHOWCASING THE REGION'S TALENT
One of the reasons the Rivals Camps have continued to return to the St. Louis area is because the events are always well-represented by the top talent in the region. This year’s event will be no different, with the top five from Missouri and 17 of the top 20 from the Show-Me-State’s 2020 class slated to participate. The camp will actually take place on the Illinois side of the Mississippi River at East St. Louis High School. Even though that puts it 300 miles south of the state’s major population center in Chicago, the top two prospects in Illinois’ 2020 class – safety Antonio Johnson and all-purpose back AJ Henning – will be in attendance, along with seven of the top 10. When you bring the top camps to St. Louis, the region responds.
The first Midwest stop of the Rivals Camp that took place last month in Cincinnati featured a loaded wide receiver group that put on a tremendous show, and it’s shaping up to be a repeat at the second Midwest Rivals Camp. The group will be headlined by Rivals100 prospects Jordan Johnson and Mookie Cooper of St. Louis and Darin Turner of Memphis, but should also feature Rivals250 all-purpose back AJ Henning, who is a tremendous slot receiver and is being recruited for that position by several programs.
While that trio is enough to promise a high level of play from the wide receiver position, also keep an eye out for others who could upend the headliners and walk away with MVP honors. Three-star Lawaun Powell from the host school, Nebraska’s Xavier Watts, Kansas City’s Daniel Jackson and Chicago speedster Marcellus Moore are just a few who have the ability to emerge as the day’s best in this setting.
A TORRENT OF TACKLERS
While wide receiver looks to be the deepest position at Sunday’s camp, a surprising position may end up challenging the pass-catchers for depth of talent. The linebacker position is sometimes at a disadvantage in a camp setting because they do not get to showcase their primary responsibility: tackling. We have seen linebackers step up and show out on many occasions during this series, however, and the group of linebackers who will be in St. Louis may be as good as any we have seen on the trail this spring. The group will be headlined by St. Louis four-star Antonio Doyle and also feature several top underclassmen, including Yanni Karlaftis from Indiana and Jaden Harrell from Iowa.
UNDERCLASSMEN TO WATCH
One of my favorite aspects of the spring camp season is getting to see underclassmen we have only previously watched on film. When you’re talking about prospects not even halfway through their high school careers, there is so much growth – both physically and fundamentally – that can occur in the span of six months since the end of the high school football season, and also questions that can only be answered by getting an in-person look at prospects.
Several prospects headed to St. Louis this weekend fit that bill for me. Some of the ones I am most looking forward to seeing for the first time are offensive tackles Teddy Prochazka, Connor Colby and Brody Wisecarver out of the 2021 class, St. Louis defensive linemen Travion Ford and Gabriel Rubio and freshman phenom Ali Wells out of Lutheran North in St. Louis.