Rivals100 Five-Star Challenge: Breaking down the MVPs
ATLANTA – The Rivals Five-Star Challenge made its return on Thursday after a one-year COVID-induced hiatus, and the top players from around the country were on hand to compete. By day’s end top performers started to emerge, and each position crowned one MVP. Here is a rundown of each MVP and what made them the best at their positions in Atlanta.
FIVE-STAR CHALLENGE INTERVIEWS: Lebbeus Overton | Oscar Delp | Shawn Murphy | Cade Klubnik | Jaylen Sneed | Dante Moore | Beau Atkinson | Justin Williams | Jeadyn Lukus | Dillon Tatum | Tawfiq Thomas | Trent Ramsey
CLASS OF 2023 RANKINGS: Rivals100
RIVALS CAMP SERIES: Info/coverage on 2021 camp series
QUARTERBACK: Rocco Becht
From early in the competition, Iowa State commit Rocco Becht set the tone for the quarterback group. The reigning MVP from the Miami stop of the Rivals Camp Series, Becht looked every bit as sharp on Thursday as he did back in April when he won his first award of the Rivals Camp season. Becht has a quick, compact delivery which produces a consistent football that often finds its mark. He throws with both velocity and accuracy, and his ability to layer the football when defenders were present was noticeably improved from when we saw him in Miami.
RUNNING BACK: Justice Haynes
There was a strong running back group at the Five-Star Challenge with diverse skill sets but Haynes was the complete package. The 2023 four-star from Roswell (Ga.) Blessed Trinity was smooth through bag drills, tough when position coach Brandon Jacobs tried to rip the ball out and he was especially good catching passes out of the backfield. Haynes caught some short stuff, some difficult passes across the middle and he showed an extra gear on the deep ball. Physically, he was also one of the best offensive players in attendance.
WIDE RECEIVER: Kaden Saunders
Saunders was unstoppable yet again on Thursday. The Penn State commit is still a little bit on the smaller side but he has a solid build and is as explosive as they come. Defensive backs had a really hard time trying to get their hands on him to slow him down. His crisp routes made it hard for defensive backs to stick with him. Saunders also did a great job catching the ball with his hands today. Even in tight coverage, Saunders did a good job battling against more physical defensive backs, which is a big area focus for him.
OFFENSIVE LINE: TJ Shanahan
Shanahan paused his unofficial visit schedule on the West Coast to fly to Atlanta for the Five-Star Challenge and he came to compete. The 2023 four-star offensive tackle from Orlando (Fla.) Timber Creek plays with a raging intensity, he's mean and Shanahan loves getting physical and mixing it up with defensive linemen. He completely dominated two very highly-ranked defensive ends with ease and with his mix of power and ability to reset and move people, Shanahan had an impressive performance. Florida, Ohio State, Alabama and many others are involved and he should have a better sense of front-runners after all his June visits.
DEFENSIVE LINE: Christen Miller
Right outside the top 10 at defensive tackle nationally, Miller made a case to move up with his performance on Thursday. The four-star from Ellenwood (Ga.) Cedar Grove is fast off the snap, he has violent and active hands, his motor is relentless and he is always on attack mode. Miller can win by getting small and sliding past offensive linemen or he can spin or use his hands to shed blockers. Georgia, USC and many others are involved in his recruitment.
LINEBACKER: Jaylen Sneed
Pound-for-pound, the linebacker position may have been the strongest at Thursday’s camp. Multiple five-stars were in attendance and all performed well, but it was South Carolina four-star Jaylen Sneed who rose to the top of the group and earned MVP honors. While he was every bit as impressive as the other linebackers in position drills, it was the one-on-one session where Sneed separated. That performance was highlighted by a pair of interceptions on well-thrown deep balls that Sneed stole from the running back. He brought an elite blend of athleticism and competitiveness to Thursday’s event.
DEFENSIVE BACK: Marquis Groves-Killebrew
The defensive back position was absolutely loaded today but Groves-Killebrew edged out the competition. The Georgia commit was one of the fastest players in attendance and it showed during one-on-ones. His closing speed is outstanding and he did a nice job getting his hands on the ball. He had a few interceptions and affected the quarterbacks in a major way. Groves-Killebrew's tight coverage led to a lot of errant throws and he was physical enough to disrupt the timing between receivers and the quarterbacks.