The Farrell Awards: Rivals100 Five-Star Challenge
This goes to the player who looks the best getting off the bus (or in this case coming through registration), and no one looked better on the hoof than Jones. In fact, even including Ben Cleveland from last year, no one has ever looked better than Jones in the history of this event. The All-Lobby Team was made for a guy like Jones, who measured in at 6-foot-5, 351 pounds with zero bad weight.
Honorable Mention: DE Nick Coe looks amazing on the hoof and is built exactly the way an end should be while DT Rashan Gary and DT Dexter Lawrence are both huge and dominant guys. WR Nate Craig-Myers didn't have very good quarterbacks and seemed to lose interest at times, but he's a great looking receiver, as is DeKaylin Metcalf.
WR Sam Bruce | Ft. Lauderdale (Fla.)
This goes to the smallest player who made the biggest impact and Bruce is clearly that guy for the second year in a row. Bruce is being compared to 2015 former five-star Christian Kirk, who used to hold down this status, in many ways, although he's a tad shorter. Bruce came into the event hoping to have earned that fifth star like Kirk did last year in Baltimore; but time will tell on that one as we re-rank in August, but for a diminutive receiver, he is fun to watch.
Honorable Mention: There weren't that many smallish guys on the field this year but DB Jack Jones and WR Trevon Sidney, who were both dynamic, aren't the biggest guys at their positions so they qualify.
OL Terrance Davis | Hyattsville (Md.) DeMatha
The winner of this award is the prospect who plays with the most passion and anger and that was Davis, who showed he loved to mix it up against everyone and played to the whistle every time. There's something in the water in Maryland, as last year's winner, Richie Petitbon, also hailed from the home state of Under Armour. Davis was one of the surprises of the event as he held his own with some bigger names and showed he loved to mix it up and has a nasty streak.
Honorable Mention: OL Baveon Johnson held a bit too much at times, but he also put a few people in the ground in one-on-ones while DT Kendell Jones hurt people without trying, knocking a few guys in the face by accident and even nearly pushing over massive OL coach George Hegaman once. He might be a bull in a china shop but he's fun to watch and he can do some damage when he gets upset. OG Michael Onwenu and OT Sean Pollard both had their moments as well where they mixed it up and showed a bit of anger, as did fellow OL Drake Jackson.
WR Demetris Robertson | Savannah (Ga.) Savannah Christian
This award goes to the player who showed off the best straight-line speed and looked like he had rockets on his back. Determining the winner was a tough call. Robertson edges out a speedy group of guys here because he showed the best ability to not only get open downfield but also get upfield fast after the catch. He wasn't as dominant as he was a year ago and his team's win was a true team effort, but he can still fly.
Honorable Mention: WR Trevon Sidney and WR Mecole Hardman were two others considered for this award as both were dynamic in straight line situations as well as around the corner and in space. LB Nate McBride showed off amazing speed downfield in coverage for a big, young linebacker while WR DeKaylin Metcalf got a step or two on defensive backs for every one of his touchdowns. DB Jeffrey Okudah showed terrific closing speed and WR T.J. Chase was fast in almost every situation.
ATH Mecole Hardman | Bowman (Ga.) Elbert County
This award goes to the biggest trash-talker at the event and Hardman didn't stop talking from the start until the finish. Whether it was getting into his opponents ear in one-on-ones after making someone look foolish or getting in the ear of his quarterbacks for missing him when he was wide open, Hardman was out to prove he belonged in the five-star discussion and didn't mind sharing that opinion.
Honorable Mention: DT Julian Rochester talked non-stop about pretty much everything and DB Jack Jones showed he's not shy when it comes to getting in the ear of opponents for any mental advantage he can get. With Hardman and Jones on the same team, Team Tumblr was one of the nosier groups out there.
WR Darnell Salomon | Miami (Fla. ) Central
This award goes to the prospect that hurt his ranking the most and the tough choice here is Salomon despite and, in some ways because of, his recent bump to five stars. The expectations for a five-star are very, very high and Salomon had a really rough day overall, dropping a ton of passing in drills and one-on-ones in the morning and not being a factor for his one-win team in 7-on-7. Some of it had to do with quarterback play, but there were no excuses for the drops. Salomon reminded many of our analysts of George Campbell from last year, a great athlete who struggled with his hands, even before his Five-Star Challenge struggles. He now seems to be quickly headed in the opposite direction of Campbell who kept improving until he earned his fifth star in our last cycle of 2015 rankings.
Honorable Mention: LB Keion Joyner has had a rash of injuries and just hasn't been the same player since he struggled in the playoffs at the end of his junior season. For five-star DT Derrick Brown this was supposed to be about redemption from a poor performance a year ago, but he essentially repeated that scenario. DE Ron Johnson is ranked a bit too high right outside the Rivals100 and was small in comparison to the rest of the group without flashing the needed speed. DE Shane Simmons looks more like a big linebacker each time we see him. LB Lokeni Toailoa is a downhill guy and linebackers often struggle at these events, but he looked a step slower than most. QB Xavier Gaines struggled mightily with his accuracy and was clearly the worst of the eight Five-Star Challenge quarterbacks in 7-on play. OL Frank Martin looks more and more like a guard and LB Anthony Hines doesn't have the quick-twitch ability you'd expect from a kid with 70 offers.
DE Jonathon Cooper | Gahanna (Ohio) Lincoln
This goes to the player who raised his stock the most. Cooper showed us something in the Atlanta regional event and took it a step further in Baltimore. He was bigger and thicker than he was a few months ago but showed that amazing motor and ability to flatten out after he got the edge on his opponent. His shoulder dip combined with that first step will make him a pass-rushing specialist at the next level, and he can also play some standup linebacker if needed.
Honorable Mention: OL Michael Onwenu was one of the surprises of the camp, as was 2017 OL Jedrick Wills from Kentucky. Both held their own and showed off excellent footwork for huge guards, even playing outside at times. DB LaMont Wade and DB Jack Jones both moved up the charts in their class with Wade making a push toward five-star status in 2017 while WR Trevon Sidney was essentially the star of the show on offense in a loaded group. DT Marvin Wilson is another 2017 who will be in the five-star discussion, and OL Terrance Davis and 2017 DE Josh Kaindoh both improved their stock as well.
Shot Of Jolt
TE Isaac Nauta | Bradenton (Fla.) IMG
This goes to the prospect that showed the most energy and pep in his step, for those who don't remember the greatest soda ever created. Nauta won the Gatorade Leadership Award for his efforts and character and the way he interacted with teammates and coaches. And on the field he never stopped working and was one of the most dominant weapons on any team during the 7-on-7 portion. While his team finished outside the championship round, it wasn't his fault - he worked hard each and every rep and simply owned a whole lot of linebackers and defensive backs.
Honorable Mention: DT Rashan Gary is known for his motor and energy level and that showed throughout both sessions while DE Jonathon Cooper doesn't seem to know the word stop. DB LaMont Wade gave it 100% all day and night and still had plenty to give while WR Sam Bruce craved the ball on every play and when he had it in his hands, he tried to make nothing into something.
QB Aidan Smith | Fort Wayne (Ind.) Carroll
This goes to the quarterback who throws the prettiest ball and "spins it" better than anyone else. The selection here is Smith from the Quarterback Challenge Finals, where his last throw was as strong as his first and he showed he could really zip the ball, perhaps better than anyone in the Five-Star Challenge portion of the event. Smith didn't win the Challenge and struggled a bit during the footwork and processing portion, but there's no question he throws a pretty ball.
Honorable Mention: QB Victor Viramontes puts a ton of zip on the ball, the only problem is that he doesn't take much off it either. QB Jake Allen has a nice arm and good mechanics and showed it off winning the Quarterback Challenge Finals (AKA Accurate Arm), while 2017 QB Shawn Robinson has a cannon.
QB Jack Coan | Sayville, N.Y
This isn't an award you want to win, as it goes to the quarterback who locked in on his targets way too often and you can see the rawness in Coan's game. While he can get away with locking in a bit or being slow on his progressions on Long Island, this was a whole different level and a great learning experience for him. He had his moments, but when he forced the ball into coverage it was because he was keying in on one guy.
Honorable Mention: QB Joey Gatewood is a 2018 with huge upside so he can get a pass and will likely learn not to force things downfield to his first target. QB Xavier Gaines doesn't have the youth excuse but he's a dual-threat who will need to learn a bit more in the pocket.
The Windup And The Pitch
QB Khalil Tate | Junipero (Calif.) Serra
This award, if you can call it that, goes to the quarterback with the most deliberate delivery -- not a good thing. Tate is an athlete moreso than a pure quarterback and could play a different position in college, but right now he needs to tighten up his release and get the ball more quickly which, in turn, will allow him to get more zip on the ball.
Honorable Mention: QB Victor Viramontes gets the ball where it needs to be and in a hurry but his velocity is helped by a bit of windup. QB Jake Bentley sometimes shows good mechanics and gets the ball out quickly but at other times has a windup, so the 2017 prospect will need to work on a few things.
Poise Under Pressure
QB Chase Brice | Logansville (Ga.) Grayson
The quarterback that doesn't get rattled gets this award and it's odd for the runner up, and not the winner, of the Quarterback Challenge Finals, to earn this status. But during the final two-man playoff, Brice made a couple of key passes to stay alive against Jake Allen and did so with zero emotion or nerves. He looks like a guy who isn't frazzled by much and it showed during his run to a second place finish.
Honorable Mention: QB Jake Allen won the Quarterback Challenge Finals for a reason - he's good under pressure and proved to be so from the very start. He seemed to get better and more relaxed as the event wore on. QB Chris Robison was the better quarterback on the winning team and made some key passes down the stretch, especially in the last two games, to help his team to victory. He has a cockiness about him that you have to like and a quiet confidence as well.
WR Sam Bruce | Ft. Lauderdale (Fla.) St. Thomas Aquinas
This goes to the prospect with the best footwork, regardless of position, and Bruce has some of the fastest feet you'll see. This usually goes to a defensive back, or has at least half the time in the past, but there is no denying that Bruce loves to show off his footwork and is the most elusive player in 7-on-7 in the country after the catch. He's a blur with the ball in his hands and is fun to watch as he dances for extra yardage.
Honorable Mention: DB Jack Jones has lightning quick feet on offense and especially on defense while WR Trevon Sidney also gained extra yardage with his feet and was also able to get open easily because of his ability to cut on a dime. DB Byron Murphy and DB William Poole III also showed great feet on the defensive side of things at different times, especially in drills.
TE Isaac Nauta | Bradenton (Fla.) IMG
This award goes to the player with the best hands, and Nauta caught everything thrown his way. Is he the next Nick O'Leary at Florida State? He could very well be. He reminds me of O'Leary a bit, especially making catches in traffic down the middle of the field. Nauta likes to work outside the hashes as well and is especially dangerous on out routes in the end zone and he seems to catch everything out in front of his body, just as receivers are taught.
Honorable Mention: LB Lyndell Wilson had numerous interceptions in both one-on-one situations and in 7-on-7 play. He showed off adequate hands as a running back as well as his team searched for any offensive answer. But on defense he's especially dangerous as he can catch the ball with ease even after just getting his head around. WR Binjimen Victor showed good hands, especially in the evening session and especially in the end zone, while fellow WR T.J. Chase didn't drop much all day, either. Prior to an injury, WR Elijah Stove was very good down the middle of the field making tough catches over his shoulder, while WR Mecole Hardman once again flashed elite hands. DB Saivion Smith showed off his mitts on a few nice interceptions as well.
ATH Jack Jones | Long Beach (Calif.) Poly
We could call this award "the blanket," but it doesn't sound as cool. This is for the defensive back who provided the best overall coverage at the event and Jones was the one guy who sought out Bruce and was able to stay with him better than anyone when he did his thing with multiple cuts. Covering Bruce is nearly impossible, especially with all of his triple and quadruple moves, which is unrealistic for real football as the quarterback would get killed. But they're certainly fun to watch, and Jones did the best job staying with Bruce of anyone.
Honorable Mention: DB LaMont Wade was all over everyone in one-on-ones and 7-on-7 and showed off a physical brand of coverage, often arriving at the same time as the ball with a thump. DB JoeJuan Williams had many nice pass breakups and a couple of interceptions in leading his team to victory and DB Byron Murphy was fun to watch as he used his speed to cover downfield. DB William Poole III showed coverage skills beyond his age (2017), as did DB DeAngelo Gibbs, who is a safety by nature but covers like a corner.
LB Lyndell Wilson | Montgomery (Ala.) Carver
This goes to the player who had the most interceptions over the weekend and was the biggest threat to pick off a pass. It's rare when a linebacker wins this award, but Wilson is the exception. Wilson's three interceptions of note were matched by others, but he was covering wide receivers at time for his outgunned team and in one-on-ones he took on all comers. Wilson has done the same thing at many other events including our Atlanta regional. His coverage ability is uncanny and hard to teach.
Honorable Mention: DB Saivion Smith had a few nice picks and did a good job of jumping routes and reading the quarterback. He's a bit of a gambler, but that mentality will serve him well at LSU. LB Devin Bush had a couple of nice picks during one-on-ones and gets to the ball with good instincts and football smarts while DB DeAngelo Gibbs and DB JoeJuan Williams are big players in safety bodies who can solo cover and have good ball skills.
Lamar Jackson | Elk Grove (Calif.) Franklin
This award goes to the player you look at during warmups and simply assume plays a position other than his own. Jackson is a big kid and likely to grow into a linebacker, but if he does stay as a safety he will be a big one who can cover a lot of ground. His frame is excellent, he uses his long arms to disrupt passing lanes and knock the ball out of the hands of defenders and he's just starting to scratch the surface of his potential.
Honorable Mention: DB Devon Hunter still looks like he'll grow into a linebacker with his broad, rounded shoulders and big frame while LB Devin White looks the part of a fullback or even an undersized defensive tackle. White is just a big athlete who could be tough to handle as a 260-pound running back, the position he prefers. WR DeKaylin Metcalf looks like a tight end but has big hands, good downfield speed and plays very well on the outside. DE Shane Simmons looks like he could be a rangy outside linebacker and quarterback Joey Gatewood physically looks like a 2018 defensive end. You'd never think he was a quarterback just looking at him off the bus.
Jekyll And Hyde
DB Lavert Hill | Detroit (Mich.) Martin Luther King
This award goes to the prospect that looked great one moment and simply overmatched at other times. It was a different Hill that we saw in the morning session compared to the team play at night. In the morning he was excellent in one-on-ones and one of the stickiest cornerbacks on the field, leading to a nice spot on the skill top performers list. But during 7-on play he was beaten quite often down the field and looked lost at times, a stunning turnaround. Perhaps it was because he didn't have a ton of help or that his defense was on the field so often, but it didn't seem to affect a couple other players on his team like it did Hill.
Honorable Mention: RB Khalan Laborn made some great catches and then dropped some easy passes. He took home running back MVP honors out of a small group, but he was erratic at times. DT Julian Rochester looked slow and plodding in the morning, only showing a stiff arm, bull rush, but in the evening session he moved better and started to show off more moves. DE Nick Coe is raw and it shows more often than not but every once in awhile he will take a rep that makes you think he's an NFL player despite going inside his man nearly every time. DT Rashard Lawrence struggled a lot in the morning, some of it due to an injured knee, but in the evening he was much better and much more agile and athletic.
All Or Nothing
DE Shane Simmons | Olney (Md.) Good Counsel
You don't want to win this award, as it goes to the player who seemed to give up a bit when faced with adversity or was either very effective or invisible. Simmons was great when he won a rep, which was more often in the second session than in the first, but when offensive linemen got their hands on him he often just stopped and gave up because he was overpowered physically. He needs to finish each rep and keep fighting even if he is giving away 100 pounds and show an energy and motor similar to another smaller defensive end, MVP Jonathon Cooper.
Honorable Mention: DE Xavier Kelly went inside for the most part and seemed to give up a few times when linemen figured it out. DT Kendell Jones never stopped moving forward, but he was hit or miss when it came to his mental demeanor following a losing rep. QB Joey Gatewood showed heart and desire and maturity beyond his years but he tended to go for the homerun ball each time instead of dinking and dunking and checking down. TE Naseir Upshur wasn't utilized much and was covered well for the first part of 7-on-7 and then exploded in the finale while WR DeKaylin Metcalf either caught a big, long touchdown or wasn't effective.
LB Ben Davis | Gordon, Ala.
This award speaks for itself and Davis was a quiet, tireless leader for Swarm all day. During drills and one-on-ones he was always looking to learn, do more and take reps. In the 7-on-7 sessions he took every snap due to an injury to teammate Keion Joyner and never tired while owning the middle of the field with his size and length. He seems to just get better and better and hungers for the work.
Honorable Mention: DB LaMont Wade was an a animal out there and took a ton of reps and always seemed to be going 110 percent in the 7-on-7 games. TE Isaac Nauta is a tireless worker who wants to catch every football and no one took more reps than young DT Marvin Wilson, who seems to love the camps.
Gotta Wear Shades
DE Josh Kaindoh | Baltimore (Md.) Our Lady Of Mt. Carmel
The future is so bright ... you get the message. This is about the underclassman prospect that has the highest upside. It was a really tough call because there were many. I'll go with Kaindoh over some guys who are currently ranked higher and will likely be ranked higher for awhile, but he's just starting to learn to be great and use his physical ability so I can see him outpacing a lot of different 2017 prospects in the end.
Honorable Mention: 2018 QB Joey Gatewood was the youngest participant at the camp and has the highest ceiling of anyone. I have to keep mentioning DB LaMont Wade, DB DeAngelo Gibbs and LB Nate McBride because they are so athletic and active. Gibbs is already a five star, Wade could very well be headed that way and McBride is more athletic than either of them and could have the highest ceiling of the trio.
LB Keion Joyner | Havelock, N.C.
This is for the player or players who, unfortunately, got bit by the injury bug at the event, and Joyner's recent run of bad luck continues. He was hurt at the regional camp in Charlotte very early and was injured at the very beginning of the one-on-ones during the morning session, ending his day early. There is no questioning the legitimacy of his injuries, but you have to start wondering if he's injury-prone after back-to-back issues and a frame that's still not filling out as much as expected.
Honorable Mention: WR T.J. Chase fought off an injury after a great start to 7-on-7 and returned and WR Ahmir Mitchell and WR Nate Craig-Myers were both banged up after awkward landings on long pass attempts. Like Chase, both returned to play.
OT Gregory Little | Allen, Texas
This award goes to the player who fought through the biggest injury to excel. Little took not only one, but two shots to the face early in the morning one-on-ones from Kendell Jones and didn't back down or miss a rep. Shots from a kid so big and strong might have sent others packing but we've seen time and time again how tough and physical Little can be and how he doesn't mind mixing things up. He's usually not the aggressor, but he can certainly take the physical abuse dished out at times.
Honorable Mention: WR Ahmir Mitchell showed up at the event with a dislocated toe and played on it, and played well. RB Khalan Laborn and DB Jeffery Okudah both went out with injuries for brief periods but fought through them. DT Rashard Lawrence came in with a bum knee he injured at Alabama's camp the week before but still played through it. OT Sean Pollard also took an inadvertent shot from Jones but never backed down.
WR Darnell Salomon | Miami (Fla.) Central
This is a tough award to hand out, especially to a recent five-star, but Salomon came into the camp as a newly minted five-star and left with plenty to prove. This just wasn't the same guy we saw at the Miami regional when he dominated a great group of defensive backs, looked in better condition and was running much better. Either he was banged up a bit and wasn't saying or he had an off day, but this was disturbing to see after earning lofty five star status. The drops on the day were abundant and he didn't seem to get open very often as his entire team struggled.
Honorable Mention: LB Anthony Hines struggled at times in coverage because he's a bigger linebacker and needs to add some twitch to his game. Much was expected from a prospect with as many offers as anyone in the country, but we didn't see the 70-offer talent in space. DT Derrick Brown struggled for the second year in a row despite coming back to Baltimore for vengeance, WR Nate Craig-Myers didn't seem as sudden as he was on spring film and seemed to lack interest a bit when his team was getting killed. OL Frank Martin as well as OL Matt Farniok were both easy marks for defensive linemen.
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