Roundtable: Rivals100 Five-Star Challenge presented by adidas
The Rivals100 Five-Star Challenge presented by adidas will be held in Indianapolis on June 9-10. Today, our Rivals.com football analysts discuss topics surrounding the marquee event.
1. What one-on-one matchup are you dying to see at the Five-Star Challenge?
Rob Cassidy: "Dying to see" is a little extreme for anything outside of a Dude Where's My Car sequel, but I always like when the Florida guys mix it up with the California players. There's a sense of coastal pride to go along with the bravado each group draws from its home state. In this case, I'll be looking forward to seeing California receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown mix it up with Miami-area defensive back Al Blades, who talks as well as he plays.
Mike Farrell: I’d like to see wide out Amon-Ra St. Brown go against any of the elite corners there but especially Anthony Cook. St. Brown has the edge when it comes to change of direction and burst but can Cook’s length and instincts keep him in check? Few have been able to do so in a camp setting, but maybe Cook can be that guy. Another Cook, RB James Cook, going against fellow FSU LB commitment Amari Gainer would be fun to watch as well.
Adam Friedman: The potential matchup between Amon-Ra St. Brown and cornerback Anthony Cook could be one of the highlights from the weekend. St. Brown has had a phenomenal spring camp season, torching every defender to come his way. Cook was dominant when I saw him last at the Future 50 camp in Orlando and I'm excited to find out how he fares against the speedy St. Brown.
Adam Gorney: I'm really interested to see five-star wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown go up against five-star DB Anthony Cook. They are two of the best players in this class and Cook has shown an ability to stay with any receiver. He's physical, closes well and he's a big-time playmaker. But St. Brown has just been downright awesome ever since the start of his junior season. It's going to be an interesting matchup and I hope the competitive juices are flowing so we can see them go after it.
Nick Krueger: From my perspective, it’s going to be Brennan Eagles vs. Anthony Cook. Eagles is a guy that others have ranked higher than we currently do, but he is a guy that has been discussed as a potential five-star recruit. Meanwhile, Cook continues climbing the rankings and was made a five-star after last fall. If Eagles can take a couple of reps from him and show that he’s able to beat a top cover-corner that is a strong size matchup for him, that may be the added push he needs to cross into that five-star territory.
Chad Simmons: It is more of a one against everyone than a one-on-one matchup I am looking forward to seeing. I love seeing guys outside my region in settings like this and someone I like a lot is cornerback Anthony Cook. He is long, athletic and someone who is strong in coverage, but what I am looking forward to seeing is; can anyone get open against him? He is a shutdown guy who could take away one side of the field on the next level. I want to see Cook vs. the top receivers in the country to see who, if anyone, can separate from him and give the quarterbacks a window in which to throw.
Woody Wommack: It's not really a one-on-one competition since they won't be going against each other but I think we're all excited to see Trevor Lawrence and Justin Fields throwing side-by-side and likely facing off in 7-on-7. Lawrence is the well-established No. 1 but there has been some buzz in the recruiting community about Fields potentially overtaking them. It will be fun to watch them compete against each other at the event.
2. Who is one player you are most interested to see face elite competition there?
Rob Cassidy: Florida State linebacker commit Amari Gainer is a player we have ranked higher than most. He is in the process of adding weight and has packed on a couple pounds since the season. Based in Tallahassee, Gainer rarely gets to see a deep pool of FBS-bound competition, so it will be interesting to see how the slightly underweight Gainer stacks up at this point.
Mike Farrell: Quarterback Devin Leary doesn’t get a ton of attention as an NC State commitment and new four-star but I want to see how he holds up against guys such as Trevor Lawrence, Matt Corral and Justin Fields. I’m not saying he will prove he’s better than those guys, but I think he can hang with them.
Adam Friedman: Quarterback Harrison Bailey will have his work cut out for him when he touches down in Indianapolis. Just finishing his freshman year, Bailey is already pretty experienced when it comes to facing elite talent but this is a different environment when everything he does will be put under a microscope. His progress for such a young player puts him in special company but we'll find out just how ready he is for the big stage.
Adam Gorney: Isaac Taylor-Stuart. He's a phenomenal talent with excellent size and athleticism but he took a little bit of a backseat at the Los Angeles Rivals camp and I really want to see him compete and get after receivers to see just how good he is against elite competition. My guess is that he shouldn't have much of an issue with most of the players there since he's such a talented corner but I'd like to see him step it up even more and take over at times.
Josh Helmholdt: Cornerback Julius Brents. He was sensational at the Columbus Rivals Camp and is on home turf in Indianapolis. There is every reason to believe he will provide an encore at the Rivals100 Five-Star Challenge.
Nick Krueger: There isn’t much mystery as to whether or not the players invited to the Rivals100 Five-Star Challenge can hang with top talent, but just from my region, D’Shawn Jamison and Verone McKinley are fringe Rivals250 prospects at cornerback. Can they show enough to work themselves back into that picture? Class of 2019 quarterback Grant Gunnell plays for a small private school on a team with a lot of talent. Is he a big fish in a small pond or an elite quarterback no matter who is playing defense? Also, this will be a great event to determine if 2019 defensive prospect Anfernee Orji is a legit safety prospect, or if linebacker is truly his future calling.
Chad Simmons: There are many, but Clay Webb is one I am really thinking hard about as a five-star offensive lineman in the 2019 class. He has dominated each camp I have seen him compete at over the last year and a half and now he will go not only against the best from his region, but the country, with many being a year older than him. He could play his way into a fifth star with a strong performance in Indianapolis.
Woody Wommack: Honestly I really want to see if anyone can cover Amon-Ra St. Brown. He put on one of the best camp performances I've ever seen at the Rivals Los Angeles camp and I expect him to present a major challenge for any of the defensive backs he will face in Indianapolis.
3. What's been the best performance you remember seeing at one of the past five Rivals100 Five-Star Challenge events?
Rob Cassidy: Quarterback Kyle Allen, who transferred from Texas A&M to Houston, is yet to make his mark in college. But he put on one of the best 7-on-7 performances I've ever seen at the event. Allen completed something like 21 passes in a row to start the event and took home MVP honors.
Mike Farrell: Najee Harris last year was off the charts and I remember Christian Kirk and KD Cannon dominating the event when it was held in Chicago. But to me watching Derwin James play both ways for his under-manned team in Baltimore was awesome to see. He was amazing.
Adam Friedman: Penn State's former five-star cornerback Lamont Wade shut down former Miami Hurricanes signee Sam Bruce in the Five-Star Challenge 7-on-7 tournament a few years ago. Bruce was a senior and a 7-on-7 legend while Wade was one of the few underclassmen invited to compete at the event in Baltimore. That performance propelled Wade to stardom and was truly indicative of what was to come from the rest of his high school career.
Adam Gorney: I keep coming back to O.J. Howard at our first Rivals100 Five-Star Challenge in 2012 in Atlanta. The guy just looked like an Adonis and absolutely played great, too. He showed off great speed, awesome hands and no one could stop him. The only guy who had a prayer was five-star linebacker Jaylon Smith, who went to Notre Dame and is now with the Dallas Cowboys. Those two competed really tough but Howard was unstoppable against everybody else. It always befuddled me why he wasn't more of a weapon in Alabama's offense. Something tells me a big pro career could be ahead.
Josh Helmholdt: Kyle Allen put together one of the best 7-on-7 performances I have seen from a quarterback at the 2013 Rivals100 Five-Star Challenge. He shredded defenses and led the team I drafted to the 7-on-7 title, so I'm partial to the current Houston Cougars QB.
Nick Krueger: Prior to Joe Mixon's off-field issues and public image nightmare, the first time that I had ever seen him in action was during his Rivals100 Five-Star Challenge appearance in 2013. To me, he was Najee Harris before Harris was and a guy that I thought looked as comfortable running deep routes as receivers that do so on a regular basis. That year was also the year that Kyle Allen and Travis Rudolph stole the show as 7v7 teammates and were truly impressive.
Woody Wommack: It's hard to nail down just one performance throughout the years but in 2014 Byron Cowart's domination at the event was incredible. His college career hasn't gone as planned so far but everyone was floored at how well he did that year and that was a big part of why he ended up holding onto the top spot in the nation. It will be interesting to see if he can get that edge back and turn things around over the next two years at Auburn.