The Helmholdt Awards from Rivals 3 Stripe Camp Chicago
GLEN ELLYN, Ill. – The MVPs from Sunday’s Rivals 3 Stripe Camp presented by adidas have already been crowned, but there are more awards to hand out as we look back at prospects who caught our eye for one reason or another.
Previous evaluations of Iowa tight end commit Logan Lee left us concerned about his speed and ability to stay at the tight end position at the college level. So, it’s certainly accurate to say he was not one of our projections to win an MVP award, especially at a position that is as deep as WR/TE. Lee is never going to be a burner, but he is a technician who plays faster due to his knowledge of the position, route-running and how to set up defenders. For a player’s rating to rise, we need new information that suggests a higher next level projection, and we got that Sunday from Lee.
Honorable Mention: Currently unrated Rock Island, Ill., offensive tackle Kobe Rios holds just a couple of FCS offers, but definitely looked like an FBS talent at Sunday's camp.
Offensive Line MVP Anthony Bradford out of Muskegon, Mich., is a big-bodied lineman who measured 6-foot-4 and 371 pounds. Usually those would be interior line measurables, but LSU plans to start Bradford at right tackle when he arrives in Baton Rouge next year and we can understand why after seeing him again. The way Bradford moves at that size is remarkable, and he handled two smaller, quicker defensive ends with ease during the one-on-one session.
Honorable Mention: At 6-foot-4 and 330 pounds, St. Louis’ Jack Buford has the physical look of an offensive guard, but he has a 79-inch wingspan and plays ultra-light on his feet.
The offensive tackle position, particularly the left tackle spot, is arguably only less important than quarterback to an offense. That is why left tackles make the big bucks when they graduate to the NFL. Minnesota commit J.J. Guedet measured in at 6-foot-7 and 282 pounds and looks ideally suited to play left tackle in the Big Ten. He still needs to catch up from a strength standpoint, but he is a plus-athlete for the position and knows how to utilize his length.
Honorable Mention: Chicago Perspectives Charter’s Dominic Moore also measured 6-foot-7 and he weighed in at 287 pounds. He played defensive line in this camp, but may also be headed for offensive tackle in college.
Several Rivals.com analysts who had not seen Michigan State four-star commit Julian Barnett since the season noted how much bigger he was and how impressive he had sculpted his frame. I see the Belleville, Mich., product often, so the change has been more subtle for me, but there is no doubt that Barnett is an impressive physical presence at the cornerback position. He measured 6-foot-1.5 and 199 pounds, but still has the ability to run stride-for-stride with the fastest receivers.
Honorable Mention: Nebraska defensive end commit Garrett Nelson caught a bug during wrestling season and lost some weight. He showed up in Chicago at 6-foot-3, 243 pounds without an ounce of fat on him.
Chicago Simeon’s Alante Brown is listed as an athlete and could project to other positions in college, but on Sunday he was tops of the quarterback group. At just 5-foot-10 and 179 pounds, Brown does not have the typical quarterback frame, but in Sunday’s windy conditions, the passers who spun a good ball with velocity stood out because their throws were not as affected as others. That is what allowed Brown to stand out, and he made some pinpoint throws that were extra impressive considering the conditions.
Honorable Mention: No one pushed Brown as much as Lincoln-Way East’s Jack Baltz, who also threw a ball that had no trouble cutting through Sunday’s wind.
It was his ability, and competitiveness, to run one-on-ones at defensive end, then jump into the linebacker one-on-ones – and do them both very capably – that earned St. Louis (Mo.) St. John Vianney’s Nathan Thurman the Gatorade Award on Sunday. Thurman measured 6-foot-1 and 234 pounds and is a bit of a ‘tweener as he projects to the next level, but he showed he could rush the passer as well as cover running backs and tight ends in space during the camp.
Honorable Mention: Thurman’s St. John Vianney teammate, Kyren Williams, is ranked as a three-star wide receiver, but won the MVP award at running back on Sunday.
If the wide receiver and tight end positions had been split into separate MVPs, Chicago Phillips’ Fabian McCray very well may have walked home with some hardware of his own. He was a favorite of the wide receiver coaches at the event. At 6-foot-1 and 177 pounds, McCray is a glider who moves effortlessly over the turf and fluidly changes direction. He was fun to watch on Sunday and showed why two dozen schools have already offered him a scholarship.
Honorable Mention: Three-star Anthony Williams is taller than your traditional all-purpose back, but he makes everything looks so easy with the natural, fluid way he goes about his business.
ON THE MEND
The Linebacker MVP award was one of the more hotly contested Sunday, and the eventual winner was a largely unknown name outside the state of Nebraska. Lincoln Southwest’s Caden McCormack participated in the Nebraska high school state track meet on Saturday, then put together his MVP performance less than 24 hours later. McCormack missed a significant portion of his junior season with an ankle injury and that has delayed his recruitment, but his weekend of performances attests to his current health.
Honorable Mention: Harvey (Ill.) Thornton receiver Travon Swanigan missed all but one game as a junior after an all-conference sophomore season, but has a size/speed combo coaches will love.
Denver Warren, the eventual Defensive Line MVP, is one of the most polite, gracious young men we have encountered on the camp trail this spring, and yet when the whistle blows, he brings the appropriate level of aggressiveness to complement his skill set. We're re-naming this category in honor of his Twitter name. Warren takes nothing for granted, and that mentality definitely allows him to make the most of his talent. Fortunately we have a long time left to cover the Chicagoland prospect since he is still just a sophomore.
Honorable Mention: St. Louis class of 2020 offensive lineman Jalen St. John had a good performance and is an imposing figure at 6-foot-4 and over 300 pounds, but he has a light-hearted disposition and is a fun-loving kid off the field.
The two names in this section are not going to surprise anyone in the Chicagoland area. Class of 2021 quarterback J.J. McCarthy picked up his first Power Five offer before he even started high school when he camped at Iowa State last summer. He is already over 6-foot tall and likely grows more in the coming years. We were impressed with the consistently good football the freshman threw and his clean arm mechanics.
Honorable Mention: Like McCarthy, Athan Kaliakmanis has Power Five offers despite only being a freshman, and he looked worthy of that early interest with his play on Sunday.