Rivals100 Five-Star Challenge: Storylines to watch this week
The Rivals100 Five-Star Challenge presented by adidas gets underway this week with more than 100 of the top prospects in the country battling for bragging rights and rankings in Atlanta. Here are some storylines to watch.
Who will emerge as the best quarterback at the event? Last year we had a battle between Trevor Lawrence and Justin Fields and it was epic. We won’t have that this year, but we have a good mix of 2019 and 2020 quarterbacks on the roster. Will Auburn commitment Bo Nix hold on to the top spot at pro-style quarterback? Or will he be pushed by Wisconsin commitment Graham Mertz or South Carolina commitment Ryan Hilinski, who have both had great springs? Or will it be a 2020 quarterback like Harrison Bailey, Bryce Young or Notre Dame commitment Drew Pyne who wins the day? Instead of a two-player battle, we have many quarterbacks who could steal the spotlight this year.
NO. 1 BEING TESTED
Being the No. 1 player in the country can be a blessing and a curse. New No. 1 Derek Stingley Jr. will be a target throughout the event. There is a loaded group of wide receivers (see below) and there’s a good combination of players with size, speed and route-running ability. And you know the other defensive backs will be looking to show up Stingley, as well. Fellow five stars Akeem Dent (Florida State), Fred Davis and Chris Steele will all be on hand looking to show they have the same stuff as LSU commitment Stingley.
WHO CAN FOLLOW AMON-RA?
Amon-Ra St. Brown was clearly the best wide receiver last year at the Five-Star Challenge and caught the winning pass on the last play of 7-on-7. Can anyone be as dominant as he was last year?
I love this wide receiver group, and it’s a great mix of 2019 and 2020 prospects. Oklahoma commitment Theo Wease is the highest-ranked receiver and will be the guy many have their eyes on, but watch out for fellow Oklahoma commitment Trejan Bridges, as well as five-star Georgia commitment Jadon Haselwood, who also have the talent to dominate. Ohio State commitment Garrett Wilson is rising in the rankings and had a great spring, and 2020 five-stars Leonard Manuel and Johnny Wilson are also two to watch. There could be more depth at wide receiver this year than there was last year - and that’s saying something.
WHERE WILL MCLENDON LAND?
Tucker, Ga., defensive end Derrick McLendon will not only participate at the event, but he’ll also announce his commitment. The four-star rush end is down to Florida, Florida State and NC State, and he is keeping his decision close to the vest. He visited Florida early in the spring, saw Florida State in early June and just took an official visit to NC State. Not only will we see the best of the best battle against each other, but one school will be very happy when it lands a key verbal commitment this week, as well.
ELITE OFFENSIVE LINE BATTLE
I’m very intrigued by the offensive line group at the event. The five-stars, center Clay Webb and guard Kardell Thomas (LSU) will be interesting to watch, as both are very physical prospects. But there are others who have had strong springs and are rising up the charts.
How will Alabama commit Amari Kight fare after making a big jump in our last rankings? Will Branson Bragg, a Stanford commitment who also made a huge jump and was arguably one of the biggest surprises of the spring continue his stellar play? How will Arkansas lineman Stacey Wilkins, who just jumped into the Rivals250, do against an elite group of defensive linemen?
The highest-ranked 2020 prospect at the event will be linebacker Justin Flowe, who is ranked No. 2 in the class behind quarterback D.J. Uiagalelei. Linebackers have a hard time standing out at camps because there is no tackling, but Flowe is one of the best we have seen in years. Can he impress us enough to steal away that No. 1 spot? And how will he do in coverage against some very elite running backs and tight ends?
RUNNING BACK STARS
The running back group at the event is very good, and it is led by five-stars Trey Sanders and Devyn Ford (Penn State) in the 2019 class and Zachary Evans in the 2020 class (who could play some running back, some receiver and even some slot). But let’s not forget Mark-Antony Richards, who will be battling with Sean Dollars for that No. 1 all-purpose back title. The linebackers and defensive backs will have their hands full with this group.