The Gorney Awards: NextGen Five-Star Pro Day
EMERSON, Ga. - After a lot of great performances at the NextGen Five-Star Pro Day, selected by Rivals here on Wednesday, it’s time to hand out some hardware in this edition of The Gorney Awards:
MORE FROM NEXTGEN: Best plays from the NextGen Five-Star Pro Day
Gregory won the receiver MVP award and it was hardly a difficult decision as the 2026 prospect made a real statement as one of the elite players in his class. The Douglasville (Ga.) Douglas County receiver is long and rangy, reminded me of a young Jalen Hale (who signed with Alabama in the 2023 class) and was especially good deep against some really talented defensive backs.
The quarterback MVP, it’s hard to believe Griffin is a 2026 quarterback. Talented beyond his years and with the physical development of a college quarterback, the Tampa (Fla.) Jesuit standout showed the ability to make all the throws, he had great timing with his receivers and showed fantastic accuracy throughout the event. A couple of his deep balls hung up or sailed but that’s a minor critique for a very strong performance.
HOT OR COLD
Merritt is really one of the more intriguing prospects in the 2025 class because the high four-star struggled coming off the edge against some top-notch offensive tackles but when he moved inside - and started to get furious - the College Park (Ga.) Woodward Academy standout was dominant. He has power and burst and a relentless motor and I wouldn’t be shocked if some schools give him a look at inside linebacker.
Alofaituli is on the quiet side. He doesn’t talk much. But the 2025 interior offensive lineman from Las Vegas Bishop Gorman was like a brick wall during Wednesday’s camp. He quickly gets arm extension against defensive linemen and with an awesome power base, hardly anyone ever wins a rep against him. After each victory, Alofaituli didn’t talk trash, he just showed no emotion, reset and won the next one.
Mayo was one of the best 2027 prospects at the event as the tall, long defensive back still might have a baby face but plays the position at an advanced level. The McKinney, Texas standout is already a legit 6-foot-4 and while he does need to add significant weight that should definitely come with time. In terms of instincts, playmaking ability and confidence on the field, Mayo is absolutely one to remember.
THE COVER UP
The top three safeties taken in the NFL Draft were all under 6-foot-tall and while that’s still years away for Fort, he showed off elite skills at the Pro Day and did a phenomenal job closing on receivers. The Bradenton (Fla.) IMG Academy standout is tough at the line of scrimmage without being too handsy, does a great job mirroring receivers through their routes and then he gets in there to knock down a pass or even pick it off.
THE COVER UP II
Dixson has gone up against some of the best receivers in the country playing at Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei and through numerous 7-on-7 tournaments and camps this offseason and he didn’t disappoint again on Wednesday. The 2025 four-star has length and he’s strong at defensive back so he’s competitive at the line of scrimmage and then trusts his eyes to make a play on the ball.
It’s been a good offseason for Jiles. The 2026 cornerback from Bradenton (Fla.) IMG Academy committed to his dream school, Miami, last month and then among other events, he looked great here as he’s smooth in his back pedal, can turn and run with receivers and then aggressively go up and get the ball. Although it’s still years away, Jiles could be a special one down the road for the Hurricanes.
Pickett was serious when he said he wanted to play receiver and safety in college. The 2025 five-star was impressive at both positions (maybe even a little better at receiver because he could use his length to outmaneuver smaller cornerbacks but the Zephyrhills, Fla., standout was also great in coverage - because of that length.
Marsh has shown up to basically every national event recently - the Steve Clarkson QB Retreat, the Elite 11 and now this event to name a few - as he loves to compete and loves to show off his hands - which never drop a pass. The 2025 high four-star from Katy (Texas) Jordan is not the most striking receiver physically but he gets open and any ball that comes near his hands will be hauled in.
The move I’ll remember most from Burgess Jr. was one of his first 1-on-1 reps where he fully extended his left arm and just overpowered the offensive tackle right back into the tackling dummy. The 2025 four-star defensive end from Chicago (Ill.) Simeon (who is listed at weak-side but will almost definitely be a strong-side defensive end in the rankings moving forward) had great speed off the edge and nice inside moves as well to win numerous reps throughout the one-on-one period.