Rivals Camp Series St. Louis: The Helmholdt Awards
EAST ST. LOUIS, Ill. – The hardware has been handed out and MVPs named, but now it is time for Rivals Midwest Analyst Josh Helmholdt to hand out some of his own awards from the final stop of the Rivals 3 Stripe Camp presented by adidas in St. Louis.
Watching Rubio on Sunday, I could not help but think back to the first time I saw recent NFL Draftee Rashan Gary, which was also at a Rivals Camp. Gary’s talent was already obvious when I saw him as a sophomore, but what struck me was his effort and attention to detail. Rubio displays that same effort and discipline, while also being an extremely talented prospect. After every repetition, whether he won or lost, Rubio hustled back to his spot on the line and re-engaged for his next rep.
This 2019 Rivals Camp Series has piqued my interest in the future of the offensive tackle position after watching young standouts emerge at almost every stop. St. Louis was no different, and the young offensive tackle who I came away from Sunday’s event most intrigued by is Prochazka. He immediately catches your eye with his 6-foot-9, 281-pound frame, but then really sets the impression by showing skill and technical abilities beyond his years. If you’re looking for a young talent to keep an eye on, Prochazka will be a worthwhile follow.
The East St. Louis community lost one of its brightest young stars two weeks ago when Jaylon McKenzie’s life was tragically taken. Although just an 8th-grader, McKenzie had already generated scholarship offers from Illinois and Missouri. On Sunday, East St. Louis head coach Darren Sunkett awarded the Gatorade MVP in Jaylon’s honor to the participant who embodied the spirit of sportsmanship and was a positive influence on both his teammates and fellow competitors. That award went to Aurora, Ill., defensive tackle Denver Warren.
ARM TO WATCH
There were several candidates for this award, including the position MVP, Ron Powlus III, who is in the 2021 class. As a freshman, though, western Illinois signal caller Nick Brown has quite the strong arm, and he was in the conversation for position MVP honors until the end. I had seen Brown at the EdgyTim Showcase back in January, so I had a little heads-up on his ability. Already 6-foot-3 and 187 pounds, Brown spins a beautiful football and has plenty of arm strength. He lacks the consistency that will come with age and experience, but his best is already really good.
Technically Teddy Prochazka was the tallest prospect at the event, but 6-foot-7.5 Mitchell Walters was not too far behind. When the finals of the offensive line-defensive line one-on-ones started, those two made an impressive pair of bookend offensive tackles. Walters has seen his stock rise this spring with several new offers, and it’s easy to see why. The challenge for a player of Walters’ height is not to play too tall, but he showed good knee bend, active hands and won rep-after-rep, including some impressive pancakes.
If we were pulling together an old-school “All-Lobby” team, Arinze would be a shoe-in. Usually when we measure prospects officially they are shorter than their listed height, but Arinze actually measured in at 6-foot-5, taller than the height on his profile. He weighed in at 238 pounds and carries almost zero bad weight on his frame. That length and his frame are ideal for an edge rusher, and he is a prospect you notice immediately when he steps on the field.
What do you do when the Rivals Camp is held at your school? Protect your house! One of the Midwest’s best kept secrets in the 2020 class is East St. Louis offensive center Javontez Spraggins. The 6-foot-3, 361-pound lineman physically dominated just about every defensive linemen he went against, and he has remarkably light feet for his size. Spraggins was a prospect I had seen earlier in this off-season, and it still is a mystery why he does not have FBS programs beating down his door this spring.
SLEIGHT OF HAND
When talking about performances that were completely different than we expected, Kansas native Quinton Stewart deserves comment. We evaluated and rated Stewart as a strongside defensive end, but he came to St. Louis and worked out at tight end, where he put together an outstanding performance. Stewart has the muscled-up frame that often affects agility, but there was no stiffness in his play. He popped easily in and out of his breaks and showed a natural pair of hands. Kansas and Oklahoma State have offered Stewart at tight end, but others, like Kansas State, are still evaluating him as a defensive end.
One of the most difficult prospects to project coming out of Sunday’s camp is Chicago Brother Rice’s Justin Jefferson. If you look at his 5-foot-10.5, 235-pound frame, inside linebacker looks like his best fit at the college level. However, Jefferson plays the defensive tackle position, and plays it awfully well. Interior linemen had trouble matching his combination of quickness and technique, and he is able to use his shorter stature to gain leverage on his opponents. That gives college coaches an interesting puzzle to solve.
One of my favorite games of the day was pointing out offensive tackle Miles McVay, informing observers he was still in the 8th grade and then watch their reaction. McVay measured in at 6-foot-5 and over 300 pounds, and he had no trouble competing against prospects who were several years older than him. This was another prospect I had a chance to see earlier in the off-season, so I knew what to expect from McVay. Physically he can handle FBS prospects already, and he has plenty of athletic tools that portend a bright future.