HOOVER, Ala. - The Southeast Select 7-on-7 passing tournament got off to a slow start on Thursday as it endured two hours of rain delays and the delay of two games for each team until Friday morning. Once the show got started, however, the gang from Springdale lived up to the hype and put on a show, annihilating every team that they faced.
Springdale quarterback Mitch Mustain has led his team to an undefeated record through pool play and going into tournament play this evening. Mustain has literally been surrounded by somewhat of an entourage throughout the tournament, with at least two assistants flanked by his side the whole time. The media will not be allowed to speak with Mustain until after the event ends on Saturday, but rumors abound about the status of his recruitment. Rumors started mid-week that Mustain has eliminated Texas. The Mustain camp insists that is not the case and maintains that five schools -- Arkansas, Texas, Michigan, Notre Dame and Miami -- are still in the race for his signature. However, some close to the situation feel that it is a two horse race between Arkansas and Miami at this point.
The surprise of the tournament thus far has been Springdale wide receiver Andrew Norman. The other receivers for Springdale, Damian Williams and tight end Ben Cleveland have been getting all the hype thus far, but Norman has been the star of the Springdale show. Norman has some of the best hands we've seen anywhere in the country so far this year and is a very precise route runner. That being said, Williams has certainly looked the part of his Rivals250 ranking. He has been nearly uncoverable this weekend and has stepped up big in defensive situations as well. Tight end Ben Cleveland has used his big frame to bully defenders and has been unstoppable in short route running.
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While no quarterback at the camp has been as impressive has Mustain, Duncan (SC) Byrnes 2007 signal caller Will Korn has looked excellent as well. Korn throws a tight sprial and does a tremendous job at checking off receivers. He has shown excellent ball placement and possesses big play capability. He's also shown ability to throw across the middle and into traffic. Cornerback Prince Miller has had a good tourney so far. He's very aggressive with the wide receiver coming off the line and has picked off several passes.
Belle Glade (Fla.) Glades Central has struggled so far in terms of winning games, but one bright spot for the Raiders has been 2007 star Deonte Thompson. He already has several offers in hand and has absolutely shut wide receivers down. When Thompson's Raiders faced Springdale, Mustains crew quickly picked up on Thompson's abilities and threw away from him for most of the game. He's also been dominant as a wide receiver and has been the main target on offense. Safety Jeremy Terry is a physically imposing kid, who has looked solid in coverage, but does lack some speed in man to man coverage.
Pittsburgh (Pa.) Thomas Jefferson linebacker/tight end Nate Nix looks the part of a big time Division I prospect. He has a tall, lean frame and moves extremely well with the ability to make some acrobatic catches. He runs very crisp routes and has shown excellent hands. However, the thing that has set Nix apart from other linebackers thus far are his coverage skills. He's one of the best coverage linebackers we've seen anywhere this year. Very few times has he been tested, but when he has been it's resulted in an interception or a deflected pass.
Gautier, Miss. Jonathan Massey missed Thursday because he was in Miami visiting his brother, Mario Edwards, who plays for the Dolphins. He arrived for Friday's session and with Massey in the lineup Gautier looked like a different team. Several times he reeled in several catches with two defenders draped all over him. After reeling in a touchdown pass in the corner of the endzone against Thomas Jefferson he got hobbling on his ankle, but all reports are that he will return for the evening session on Friday.
Richmond (Va.) Huguenot tight end Dedrick Epps may be the most physically imposing prospect at the tournament this weekend. He's shown excellent speed and athletic ability and has made several big catches thus far. Epps often draws a double team from defenders which has allowed Huguenot to have a very successful tournament thus far. So far Huguenot is the only team that has played Springdale within 20 points, losing to Mustain's squad only by six points.
Shreveport, La. safety Dan Kreamer has spent his time at the tournament this weekend playing quarterback. While he does not have prototypical quarterback size, he has looked very good at the position and behind Mustain and Korn has probably been the most impressive quarterback in attendance. Shreverport (La.) Captain Shreve quarterback Andrew Calantone has also had a very solid tournament.
Rivals.com got its first look at Fairfield (SC) Fairfield Central cornerback Darius Gaither. Coming off a groin injury, Gaither barely played as a junior and has not attended any camps this summer. Gaither is very well put together and has great straight ahead speed. He still appears to have a small lingering effect from the injury, but overall has played well. Hoover, Ala. wide receiver Cornelius Williams has made several nice catches and defensive back Max Lerner has had a solid tournament as well.