Six more thoughts from Battle New Orleans
NEW ORLEANS -- The two-day Battle New Orleans 7-on-7 tournament in the Crescent City featured teams from Louisiana, Texas, Arizona, Florida and Georgia -- among others -- and prospects from all across the country under one roof.
Here are some of thoughts from this weekend's event on prospects in the 2022 and 2023 classes.
MORE TAKEAWAYS FROM BATTLE NEW ORLEANS: Nwankpa, Singletary impress
RECRUITING BUZZ OUT OF BATTLE NEW ORLEANS: Latest on Jacoby Mathews, TreVonte' Citizen
FIVE-STAR JAHEIM SINGLETARY IMPRESSES .. AGAIN
Jaheim Singletary doesn't do much talking and instead lets his play speak -- and it spoke for itself over the weekend in New Orleans. The five-star Ohio State pledge was rarely targeted on defense, which tells you everything you need to know about the respect he commanded out of every opposing offensive coordinator.
Singletary jammed receivers and floated in coverage and didn't allow a pass completion his way. He's long and moves fluidly. He was also dynamic on offense catching a handful of passes downfield for Burch Sports.
Not surprising, the Buckeyes commitment was also a top performer earlier in the weekend.
ANOTHER 2023 QB EMERGES IN THE BOOT
Quarterback is not usually a deep position in the talent-rich state of Louisiana. Walker Howard recently added his fifth star and is now one of the faces of The Boot's 2022 class, but there are a few very impressive 2023 signal-callers separating themselves this offseason.
One of those is Baton Rouge (La.) Woodlawn's Rickie Collins, who split time with another talented 2023 passer Mack Howard out of Mississippi with Team Juice. Collins is a fantastic three-sport athlete (football, basketball and baseball). He averaged double figures on the hardwood and plays shortstop for the baseball team.
Collins impressed on film with his sophomore tape, but shined in-person this weekend. On Saturday, the dual-threat launched a missile to fellow 2023 Louisiana standout Shelton Sampson for an outstanding connection. Collins made some fantastic throws outside the numbers to his receivers in tournament play as well.
Arkansas, Virginia Tech and Memphis are early offers, but that'll likely pick up as he continues to turn heads along the way.
SOUTHWEST LOUISIANA SHOWS OUT
EPS Blaze advanced through a rigid schedule to the championship game and in the process, had a handful of notable recruits and sleepers alike shine along the way,.
TreVonte Citizen ascended to the nation's No. 7 running back in last month's ranking update and there's nothing not to like about him. He's a track star and in 7-on-7, flashed his ability to run routes, find holes in the defense and catch the ball out of the backfield. On tape, of course, Citizen shines as a downhill runner much like former Crimson Tide standout Damien Harris.
LSU, USC, Texas and Texas A&M are among the double-digit teams pursuing Citizen, who aims to have a decision made before his senior year.
Defensively, a crew of long, rangy defensive backs shined for EPS Blaze in the secondary. That group included four-star The Woodlands (Texas) College Park cornerback Marcus Scott, Anahuac (Texas) safety Zyon Clark, New Ibieria (La.) Westgate cornerback Camron Spencer and 2023 Lake Charles (La.) College Prep cornerback Curley Reed.
Scott is an LSU commit that added another SEC overture from Missouri this weekend. Reed, a sophomore, has added a handful of offers from Arizona State and Memphis, among others. Clark and Spencer are flying the under-the-radar, for now, but with length and range to cover, they'll draw interest down the road.
TWO MORE FROM TUCSON STAND OUT
Xavier Nwankpa played receiver and safety throughout the tournament while newly minted Ohio State commitment Kyion Grayes battled through a foot injury on Saturday to compete on Sunday. Those were the big names that impressed for Tucson Turf Elite, but there were other key contributors in their title run.
Michael Masunas is an unranked 6-foot-5, 240-or-so pound tight end from Chandler (Ariz.) Hamilton with a Florida State offer, among others. The fleet-of-foot big man was a menace to cover in the middle of the field and was not only light on his feet, but sure-handed. He’s nimble — so much so that he could be a tight end or even grow into a tackle down the road.
With Grayes dinged up and Nwankpa commanding as much attention as he commands, 2023 Mesa (Ariz.) Red Mountain athlete Ja’Kobi Lane wasted no time introducing himself to the defense. The 6-foot-5, 180-pound is a colossal target with a broad catch radius and excellent hands. He stretched the field vertically and made some highlight-reel grabs along the sidelines showing off his length and ability to out-physical defensive backs.
Lane is the son of former Arizona coach Kevin Sumlin. He holds an early offer from Arizona State.
One player to watch on @TucsonTurfElite is 2023 ATH Ja'Kobi Lane out of Mesa (Ariz.) Red Mountain. 6-foot-5, 180-pound sophomore holds an early Arizona St offer with glaring size and speed to get downfield— Sam Spiegelman (@samspiegs) March 7, 2021
He's getting some extra coaching this spring from Dad ... @CoachSumlin pic.twitter.com/Fh1j3b6FqE
UGA COMMIT SHINES
The Peach State was well-represented on Sunday in New Orleans with 2023 cornerback Ethan Nation in attendance as well as four-star wideout Sam Mbake. Perhaps the best visitor from Georgia was Rivals250 cornerback Marquis Groves-Killebrew.
Brew, the No. 17-ranked cornerback in the country, is long, physical and can shadow receivers up and down the field seamlessly. He has a pesky wingspan and active hands and isn't shy about jamming receivers at the line of scrimmage. Groves-Killebrew breaks well on the ball and didn't lose ground anywhere on the field, which is notable considering some of the elite receivers he drew in coverage.
MORE SEC, PAC-12 SCHOOLS ON THE WAY FOR VERSATILE ATH?
Javae Gilmore has growth spurts as often as the rest of us get lunch breaks. The Amite (La.) two-way standout checked in at Battle New Orleans at 6-foot-4 and 206 pounds. He recently added a fourth star in the rankings as an edge-defender, but also played tight end for his high school and in events like this.
Gilmore flashed that length and ability to high-point balls in the end zone on Sunday early on. He has a high floor as a potential pass-catcher at the next level and an even greater ceiling chasing down quarterbacks. Gilmore also sees action with his hand in the dirt and back deep at safety for Amite, which is evidence to his diverse skill-set.
LSU, Florida State and Mississippi State are teams currently courting Gilmore, but more offers could be on the way once visits resume. Several SEC and Pac-12 schools have expressed interest in Gilmore and are anxious to see him in-person this offseason.