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UA All-America Game: Five things we learned from practice this week

Walter Nolen
Walter Nolen

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. - The week of practice here at the Under Armour All-America Game is almost finished with a light workout anticipated on Saturday before the game to close out the week. With numerous workouts in the book, here are five things we learned from being at this event.

MORE UA ALL-AMERICA: Players that shined on Friday | Midweek progress report | Thursday's awards | Stock rising | Takeaways from opening practice | Latest on Under Armour All-America standouts | Video of skill players' 1-on-1s | Video of OL vs. DL | Domani Jackson feature | Javontae Barnes discusses finalists | Mathews breaks down top schools

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CLASS OF 2022 RANKINGS: Rivals250 | Position | Team | State | JUCO

CLASS OF 2023 RANKINGS: Rivals250 | Position | Team | State

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NO. 1 MIGHT BE OPEN FOR DEBATE

By no means has No. 1 prospect Travis Hunter been bad during the week of practices but he’s been muted - not taking as many reps, playing some receiver instead of defensive back, doing well but not completely dominating. On the other hand, it seems like Texas A&M signee Walter Nolen, the No. 2 prospect in the class, came here to prove a major point. Nolen is massive, he’s physical, he’s the fastest high-end defensive tackle coming off the ball, relentless in one-on-ones and he’s here to put in work and get better.

There is absolutely no guarantee that Hunter and Nolen will switch spots because the Jackson State signee is one of the best athletes in Rivals history but Nolen has had a phenomenal week and at least a conversation should be had during the final rankings meeting of the 2022 class whether he’s the best player in the group.

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THERE MIGHT BE ANOTHER FIVE-STAR RECEIVER

After watching the week of Under Armour practice, an argument could absolutely be made that there could be one or even two receivers in line for a bump to five-star status. Those guys would be Alabama signees Aaron Anderson and Shazz Preston.

Anderson is listed here at 5-foot-8 and 187 pounds but he’s muscled up, so incredibly fast and dynamic through his routes and no cornerback here - five-star or otherwise - has been able to even slow him down. The former LSU commit who signed with the Crimson Tide gets off the jam, creates space, is always a deep threat and could be the next big-time receiver in Tuscaloosa.

Preston is right there as well. While not as dynamic, the St. James, La., native has gotten open all week especially deep and catches everything thrown his way. There are more all-star games to consider and watch but Anderson and Preston especially made big impressions.

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NO. 1 OFFENSIVE TACKLE STILL NOT LOCKED IN

We came into this week not absolutely certain who is the No. 1 offensive tackle in the 2022 class. We are about to leave maybe with more questions than answers.

Kelvin Banks. Julian Armella. Zach Rice. Kiyaunta Goodwin. Elijah Pritchett. That’s the top five right now but Banks, a former Oregon commit who signed with Texas, has been up-and-down this week at Under Armour. North Carolina signee Zach Rice has been impressive most of the time but has also not solidified his spot as the No. 1 tackle in this group.

In most recruiting cycles by this time, the No. 1 guy has established himself and it’s hard to knock him off that spot. That is not the case so far during Under Armour week and it will take seeing more guys at more events in the next few weeks to come to a final determination.

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FLORIDA STATE RANKINGS WILL SEE CHANGES

There is a lot to work through but five-star defensive tackle and Georgia signee Keithian Alexander has made an argument as the No. 1 prospect in the state of Florida after doing really well through the practice sessions here. The current No. 1, another Georgia signee in CB Jaheim Singletary, missed this week because of COVID-19 concerns.

There should be some other shuffling, though, too. In the state rankings. When Shemar Stewart turns it on, he’s unstoppable but needs to keep that motor running all the time. Ohio State signee Kenyatta Jackson could see a bump, Michigan signee Keon Sabb has had some impressive moments and Alabama signee Jihaad Campbell was one of the best players at Friday’s practice. At No. 18 in the state, Campbell is too low.

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SOME PROSPECTS WILL BE MOVING UP

Oklahoma signee Robert Spears-Jennings is a high three-star but he’s been one of the more impactful defensive backs at this event and so an argument could be made for him to make a significant move in the final release of the 2022 rankings. Spears-Jennings has length, size and the instincts to make lots of plays on defense.

Another player to watch is Clemson wide receiver signee Antonio Williams. Currently ranked as the No. 34 receiver in the class, the Irmo (S.C.) Dutch Fork has far exceeded his ranking this weekend by being arguably the most consistent player at his position all week. Because he was injured earlier in his career and because Williams chose to quietly work through the recruiting process, the four-star didn’t receive as much attention as others but he’s as good as anybody in the class.