Rivals100 Five-Star Challenge: Texas, La., prospects make noise
ATLANTA -- More than 100 of the top players in the nation participated in the Rivals100 Five-Star Challenge presented by adidas on Tuesday at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Nearly a fifth of the prospects traveled in from Texas and Louisiana. Regional analyst Sam Spiegelman looks back on those players' performances.
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BATTLE FOR THE NO. 1 CB IN TEXAS
Jaylon Jones was one of the biggest risers in the Texas state rankings after turning in a spectacular junior season at Cibolo Steele in 2018. That eventually landed him a spot in the Rivals100 in February and he entered the summer sitting just outside of it. Jones made a case that he might be the best athlete at his position and among the top prospects overall in the country in Atlanta.
It's amazing how Jones can cover receivers so well with his size (6-foot-2, 185 pounds). He put on an MVP performance and did his best work in press-man, rarely losing a step against some of the top receivers in the country. Texas A&M has a true lockdown corner on the way.
BREAKING DOWN THE WRs
Jaxon Smith-Njigba attended RCS Dallas on crutches, but was certainly in rare form when he was at full strength at the Rivals Challenge. He's a smooth route-runner with really great footwork, and he hauled in a number of great grabs away from his body. He was equally impressive making tough grabs and during the 7-on-7 portion of the day, consistently turned short receptions into huge gains with plenty of YAC.
Koy Moore endured his fair share of bumps, but his good was really good. The Rivals100 receiver struggled to separate, at times, but he was also held a good bit. Moore rebounded later on in the day by making a ton of big plays downfield and using his elite footwork to make difficult grabs. He showed off his improved hands while making plenty of contested catches.
Troy Omeire was a bit shaken up for part of the Rivals Challenge, but he turned heads in the one-on-ones. The Texas A&M commitment runs up and down the field so well for his size. He's a huge vertical threat and showed as much on throws 20 and 30 yards downfield. Omeire made a ton of contested catches away from his body and with corners in good position. He's a big-play machine.
A new No. 1 center in the nation?
Sedrick Van Pran is currently ranked by Rivals as the No. 2 guard, but he plays center for Warren Easton and continued to work out in the middle of the offensive line in Atlanta. Regardless of where he lines up, it was the same result. Van Pran has a great first step and overpowered a good chunk of the defensive tackles. He gets his feet and hands in a good position and turned in a dominant performance with a few pancakes mixed in.
Two Rivals100 defensive linemen shine
Jaquelin Roy was fantastic in Atlanta. He worked out at defensive end and tackle and did his best work inside. He bullied some talented offensive tackles with his power and speed. He played through a twisted ankle, but still won plenty of reps with his stutter move, violent hands and ability to bend and twist. LSU, Alabama and Texas A&M are all chasing after this week's DL MVP.
In a small sample size, there was a lot to like about Vernon Broughton's day. He played left defensive end and was extremely quick off the ball. His spin move inside was on point and his long arms helped him go toe-to-toe with offensive tackles and get to the quarterback. Broughton is eyeing a fit as a 4-3 defensive end, with Texas A&M or Ohio State as likely landing spots.
Thoughts on some other DBs
Joel Williams has been tearing up camps. He had breakout performances at Alabama and LSU in the past month and has found a home at safety. Williams worked as a nickel and in off-coverage and did well in both positions. He shadowed WR MVP Marcus Rosemy well, though the Georgia commitment made an outstanding grab on a perfectly thrown ball. He's made tremendous strides in his new role.
Bryson Washington clocked a 4.55 40 time and that speed translated to the field. He was very physical and plays both press and off-coverage. He has fluid hips and long arms that cause problems for receivers looking for the ball. He bodied up smaller receivers and covered like a corner with safety size. He was very disciplined in coverage, too.
Joshua Eaton is a new four-star and looked good both at corner and catching balls at receiver. He's at his best playing off the ball and he has a lot of raw talent that could help him develop at defensive back later on. He has great track speed and a huge frame with long arms to bat down passes. Eaton has a ton of upside.
It was a good day in the office for Texas safeties Xavion Alford and Darius Snow. Alford shadowed receiver as a nickel safety and didn't miss a beat. He plays the ball well in the air and even batted down a pass after the receiver hauled it in. Snow played well off-the-ball. He had his bumps with quicker receivers like Mookie Cooper, as most defensive backs did. Snow shined in 7-on-7 as he anticipated routes and did great work over the top.
2021 Houston offensive linemen came to play
Three rising junior linemen from the Houston area punched their tickets to the Benz for the 2019 Rivals Challenge and made their cases as early four-stars in the 2021 rankings. Rivals100 guard Bryce Foster won the Strongest Man competition, though he wasn't satisfied with 26 reps of 225 pounds on the bench press. On the field, he slowed down five-star Bryan Bresee and packed a powerful punch against 2020 linemen such as McKinnley Jackson. When Foster gets his hands on a defensive tackle, he's dominant.
Donovan Jackson took reps at tackle and guard. When he engaged defensive linemen he was able to slow them down and disrupt their path to the quarterback. He had reps where he could have dropped back quicker or played with more leverage, but there's plenty to like here.
Hayden Connor flashed his raw strength at offensive tackle. The four-star overpowered plenty of defensive linemen and won a good amount of reps against those who wanted to bull rush.