Rivals100 Five-Star Challenge: Mid-Atlantic spotlight
INDIANAPOLIS – After a weekend of great competition, the 2017 edition of the Rivals100 Five-Star Challenge presented by adidas is officially in the books. But with so much on-field action and so much recruiting news coming out of the interviews, there's still plenty of digesting to be done with it comes to all the information.
Today we look at the Mid-Atlantic region and the biggest takeaways that will stay with us after the event.
Over the past few months the buzz surrounding Rivals250 NC State quarterback commit Devin Leary has been growing, based mainly off his impressive camp performances. So Leary came into the Five-Star Challenge with lofty expectations, and while he held his own at times, it was clear that he isn’t quite ready to make the leap into the discussion with Trevor Lawrence and Justin Fields for the nation’s top quarterback – and that’s okay.
Sometimes when a prospect gets the momentum of media and fans it can build unrealistic expectations. Leary was clearly an excellent evaluation by the Wolfpack coaching staff and is more than deserving of his four-star status. It will be interesting to follow his career once he gets to Raleigh, but Wolfpack fans will have to show some patience if they expect Leary to step in and be the savior from Day 1.
HENRY'S GOING TO KEEP PEOPLE GUESSING
Last week when K.J. Henry visited Alabama and Georgia with some of his teammates, he got the recruiting world buzzing. Henry checked out both schools and then returned home to North Carolina, driving right by Clemson, one of the programs widely considered to be one of his favorites. When asked about it at the event Henry said it was a case of mismanaged timing that led to him skipping the Tigers visit. Nonetheless, the Clemson faithful are concerned that the Tigers may be slipping behind the Dawgs and the Tide for Henry’s services. He said not to read into it and that he’ll be back at Clemson soon, but it’s clear that Henry is the type of player whose every move will be tracked by recruiting fans for months. And with a decision not likely to come soon, he will keep fans and analysts alike guessing along the way.
SANDIDGE IS A SPARK PLUG
One of the more fun aspects of a camp setting is when a prospect approaches an event with an upbeat attitude and that’s exactly what we saw from four-star defensive tackle Rick Sandidge. The 6-foot-5, 263-pound prospect was one of the most vocal prospects in attendance and his celebrations following rep wins as well as his proclivity to congratulate his opponents even when he was beat led to smiles all around. Sandidge is a high-energy guy and his attitude is contagious, something that can help him develop into a leader at the next level.
STILLS IS WEST VIRGINIA'S BEST
In recent years it seems as if the state of West Virginia is good for at least one elite prospect and this year is no different. Defensive tackle Dante Stills had his ups and downs but showed that no matter where he’s from, he’s a top-level prospect. When a true blue-chip prospect does emerge it’s important for West Virginia to keep him close to home and that’s why Stills is a major priority for the school. At the event Stills admitted there’s a lot of pressure on him to state in-state, including from his older brother Darius, who currently plays for the Mountaineers. Florida and Oklahoma are trying to lure him away from home so it will be of national interest to see where Stills ends up.
COULD SLADE BE THE NEXT BIG PENN STATE STAR?
Penn State’s development of star running back Saquon Barkley shows just how capable the Nittany Lions are at producing elite running backs and after his showing at the event it’s worth wondering if four-star running back Ricky Slade can follow in Barkley’s footsteps. Slade impressed at times with his footwork and looks like a future every-down back. With the roadmap already in place in Happy Valley it will be fun to watch if Slade can fill the void with Barkley likely headed to the NFL after the 2017 season.
COULD HOLLIFIELD HEAD SOUTH?
Four-star linebacker Dax Hollifield’s recruitment is starting to take on a national flavor with Stanford, Notre Dame and Florida State joining North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia Tech on his list of favorites. Hollifield is doing his best to visit as many schools as possible but the more programs turn up the heat on him the more likely it appears he will take his time. Because of the national interest and limited time during the summer, Hollifield will likely take official visits this fall before announcing a decision. Florida State appears to be a major factor as Hollifield raved about his recent visit to Tallahassee. Can the Seminoles steal another one of the top Mid-Atlantic prospects? Only time will tell.