Rivals100 Five-Star Challenge: Midwest spotlight
INDIANAPOLIS -- This year’s Rivals100 Five-Star Challenge presented by adidas took place in the Midwest, and accordingly the event brought us several intriguing stories on the region’s top prospects. Here is a look at 10 topics of note on Midwest prospects from the weekend in Indianapolis.
REACTION TO OKLAHOMA'S COACHING CHANGE
The biggest, and maybe most unexpected, college football story in the week leading up to the Five-Star Challenge was the sudden retirement of Oklahoma head coach Bob Stoops, who was replaced permanently by offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley. Several Midwest prospects are among the Sooners' top targets in the 2018 class, including four-star Detroit cornerback Kalon Gervin, who said Riley called him the day after Stoops’ retirement. St. Louis defensive lineman Ronnie Perkins is another top target for Oklahoma, and he revealed that a visit to Norman will take place this upcoming weekend. Although the college football world was shocked by Stoops’ retirement, based on the reaction of the Sooners' targets in Indianapolis this past weekend, it seems recruiting will continue without a hitch.
JAELEN GILL IS FULLY HEALTHY
Rivals100 running back Jaelen Gill’s junior season ended early when he suffered a broken leg. He spent most of the fall and winter healing, then was ready to go when the spring camp season hit. At the Columbus Rivals 3 Stripe Camp, we noted Gill was progressing well, but looked maybe 95 percent back to where he was pre-injury. The Ohio State commit made up that last 5 percent quickly, though, as he looked as explosive as ever in Indianapolis, and the confidence to make the cuts and jukes on that leg was also fully back. He was the clear MVP winner for the running backs on Saturday.
CAMERON JURGENS' POSITION DEBATE RAGES ON
Nebraska initially recruited Rivals100 athlete Cameron Jurgens for the tight end position back when he committed prior to his sophomore year, and he confirmed this past weekend that the Cornhuskers definitely plan to use him at that position. Other schools, like UCLA, where he expects to officially visit as a senior, see him on defense, and that is where we project the 6-foot-4, 245-pound prospect to have the highest upside as well. Jurgens is a decent Power Five tight end prospect, but we would not put him among the top 10 at the position in this class. As a linebacker or even a defensive end, though, Jurgens' skill set makes for an extremely high ceiling even though he is less polished on that side of the ball right now.
COMMITMENTS STILL IN PLAY
Of the 12 prospects from the Midwest who took part in the Five-Star Challenge, five came to the event already committed, while a sixth made his commitment on Saturday. Not all of those commitments are completely sealed up, though. Maybe the most surprising was Nebraska commit Cameron Jurgens revealing his plans to officially visit LSU and UCLA in the fall. Jurgens was the Cornhuskers' first commit in the 2018 class almost two years ago. Less surprising was Ohio State safety commit Josh Proctor saying he would definitely officially visit Oklahoma. That was expected, and the Sooners are a strong threat here. Michigan commit Aidan Hutchinson, Notre Dame commit Micah Jones and Ohio State commit Jaelen Gill, meanwhile, are solid in their pledges and have no plans to visit other schools.
TYREKE SMITH'S REMARKABLE DEVELOPMENT
At this time last year, Tyreke Smith held nine scholarship offers even though he had yet to play his first high school football game. Then, he lost part of that first season and some of his offseason to a leg injury. So, to have the Cleveland-area prospect come out of a star-studded event like the Five-Star Challenge with position MVP honors is remarkable. To have the coaches on site marvel about Smith’s proficiency with the more advanced elements of the position, including hand-work and technique, is even more remarkable. If there is another example of a prospect who has progressed so far, so quickly, I am not aware of it.
KALON GERVIN'S EVOLVING RECRUITMENT
Detroit Cass Tech cornerback Kalon Gervin was unable to suit up and participate in the Five-Star Challenge due to a bout with turf toe, but his recruitment still made headlines during, and immediately after, the weekend. Gervin spoke about the recent goings-on at both Oklahoma and Michigan State, two of his top schools, and how they impacted his thoughts. He then released a top five on Monday that included those two programs along with Louisville, Oregon and Virginia Tech. Since his decommitment from Notre Dame last month Gervin has been extremely candid about his recruitment, and right now Virginia Tech looks to be the team to beat.
MISSOURI DEFENSIVE LINEMEN SOLIDIFYING ORDER
Three of the top four defensive linemen from the state of Missouri were in attendance for the Five-Star Challenge, with only Rivals100 tackle Trevor Trout having to miss it so he could take the ACT. The group in Indianapolis consisted of Ronnie Perkins and Michael Thompson from St. Louis and Daniel Parker from Kansas City. They came into the event with Thompson the No. 1 ranked prospect in-state, Perkins No. 5 and Parker No. 7, and they will leave in that same order. Thompson, as a Rivals100 prospect, maybe was not as impressive as he was a month earlier in winning MVP of the St. Louis Rivals 3 Stripe Camp, but he probably was still the best performer, just edging out Perkins, who also had a good weekend. Parker had his struggles on this day, but he also has a long ways to go to reach his enormous potential. All three likely will see very little movement in their rankings when we update again in August.
JAEVEYON MORTON IS UP FOR THE CHALLENGE
When four-star cornerback Julius Brents injured his hamstring in a workout a day before he was set to arrive for the Rivals100 Five-Star Challenge, Detroit King cornerback Jaeveyon Morton was called upon to take his place. The only three-star prospect at the event, Morton proved immediately he belonged, showing a great break on the football and nearly intercepting the first pass that came his way in the morning one-on-one session. The concern with Morton has never been about his talent or competitiveness, it has only been about his height, or lack thereof. However, the 5-foot-8 cornerback - who announced a commitment to Iowa State at the event - stood tall against the best in the country in Indianapolis.
JOWON BRIGGS IS AHEAD OF HIS YEARS
Those who have gotten to know Cincinnati class of 2019 defensive tackle Jowon Briggs regularly remark how different he is than most of his fellow college football prospects. For one, he readily admits he had zero interest in college football growing up and came into this process knowing very little about most schools recruiting him. A standout student in the classroom, Briggs also sings in the choir and lifts weights. A lot of weights. It is that strength that belies Briggs’ age. Although he was one of the younger linemen in attendance last weekend, he was also one of the strongest. He also does not lack for confidence and is ahead of the curve from a fundamentals standpoint. Briggs may be green when it comes to the college football world, but he is ahead of his years from the standpoint of actually playing the game.
IOWA STATE RECEIVING ATTENTION FROM TOP TALENT
At an event like the Five-Star Challenge you hear names like Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State and USC thrown around a lot from the prospects in attendance. A team that is not usually mentioned often but generated some buzz this weekend was Iowa State. The biggest news was landing the commitment of Detroit cornerback Jaeveyon Morton, who chose the Cyclones on Saturday over offers from the likes of Iowa, Penn State and Pittsburgh. Iowa State is also in the top 10 and top 12, respectively, for four-star Missouri defensive ends Daniel Parker and Ronnie Perkins. Iowa State has pulled elite, national talent in the past, most notably four-stars Allen Lazard and Jake Campos, but Matt Campbell and Co. seem to be in-play for more of those types than their predecessors.