Roundtable: Takeaways from the Rivals Underclassmen Challenge
ATLANTA - The Rivals Underclassmen Challenge has wrapped up, but there are still plenty of storylines to examine. Our analysts – Adam Friedman, Adam Gorney, Ryan Wright and Clint Cosgrove – sit down at the Rivals Roundtable and discuss their biggest takeaway from this week's event.
MORE RIVALS UNDERCLASSMEN CHALLENGE: Top moments | Best RBs/LBs | Best QBs | Three-Point Stance | Prospects shine in Atlanta | Recruiting Rumor Mill | Gorney's interviews on Media Night | Gorney podcast
RIVALS CAMP SERIES: Info for 2022 series
Adam Friedman: "The Underclassmen Challenge confirmed what I thought coming out of the Rivals Camp Series in Miami earlier this year - Eddy Pierre-Louis is one of the best offensive linemen in the 2024 class. The Tampa area standout is an absolutely bear on the interior of the offensive line and is likely one of the strongest prospects the nation next cycle. Currently ranked at fourth at his position, I could see Pierre-Louis move into the top three and land much higher than No. 184 in the Rivals250. There are some technical quirks he’ll need to work on but when he got his hands on the defensive lineman on Friday, there was nothing they could do to get into the backfield."
Adam Gorney: "My biggest takeaway from the Rivals Underclassmen Challenge is that there's no way there are 19 cornerbacks better in the 2024 class than Kristian Dunbar-Hawkins. He was absolutely phenomenal the entire time but especially when the lights came on during the one-on-one session. Now playing at powerhouse Bellflower (Calif.) St. John Bosco, Dunbar-Hawkins stayed with every receiver, showed tremendous instincts and anticipation of where the ball was going, broke on the ball well and showed more burst than I've seen from him in the past. There were some receivers commenting on the side that they couldn't get any space against him and he definitely made a big-time statement at the event this past weekend."
Ryan Wright: "This offseason I have seen Winston Watkins a half dozen times, and he has yet to disappoint or drop below an elite level of play. After seeing him in Atlanta against the best of his peer group, my takeaway is Watkins has the best hands in his class, maybe in the nation.
"The IMG Academy receiver has all the other elements to his game to be mentioned among the best in his class when the time comes to rank the 2025 class – speed, route running, athleticism –but his hands are a secure zone for QBs and pigskins. The concentration level is next level able to haul in passes with a defender all over him, and once the ball hits his hands the exchange is complete. There’s never a bobble or a 'will he, won’t he' moment with Watkins."
Clint Cosgrove: "My biggest takeaway is the amount of undiscovered talent that attends our camp series and how important these camps are towards a players recruitment. While there were many young players with multiple offers at the camp, there were also a number of lesser known players with an equal amount of talent , but also little going in terms of their recruitment.
"As the Midwest analyst I will use Kyan Berry-Johnson as an example. He was one of the top playmakers at the Underclassmen Challenge and proved capable of going blow for blow with the nation's top young talent, but his offer list of Connecticut and Houston pales in comparison to some of the players he outshined. Which brings me to my second point. Many criticize these camps as underwear Olympics and claim that they mean nothing. What these same people don't know is these camps are an important part of the recruiting process and college teams actually pay for the film. I have many past examples of players picking up offers after a strong Rivals camp performance, but I will let you watch how the rest of Berry-Johnson's recruitment plays out after his performance on the field Friday morning."