UA Game: The Farrell Awards
ORLANDO, Fla. -- The Under Armour All-America Game is in the books with Team Highlight blanking Team Armour 27-0.
After following practices all week leading up to the game in Orlando, here are the Farrell Awards from the week.
LIGHTNING IN A BOTTLE
RB Miles Sanders, Pittsburgh (Pa.) Woodland Hills
This award goes to the most dynamic and exciting player during the week, the guy who gets everyone's attention when he has the ball. This year it wasn’t easy to find a guy because few players really dominated in space, but I really like the way Sanders exploded upfield each time he touched the ball. Most of the time he was avoiding a whole lot of bodies as his offensive line struggled but he was still able to get out of trouble more often than not and when he was able to find some room he was fast.
Honorable Mention: WR Sam Bruce from Ft. Lauderdale (Fla.) St. Thomas Aquinas is certainly fun to watch with the ball in his hands as are Hallandale, Fla. WR Josh Hammond and Niceville, Fla. WR Eli Stove. Hyattsville (Md.) DeMatha WR Tino Ellis had his moments as well as did WR Eddie McDoom from Winter Garden (Fla.) West Orange. And at RB, Morganton (N.C.) Freedom standout B.J. Emmons was right with Sanders as far as upfield explosion and is a tad better between the tackles.
WR Tyrie Cleveland, Houston (Texas) Westfield
This goes to the player who raised his stock the most during the week. This year it could go to many prospects but Cleveland, who checked in at No. 201 in the country, had us thinking potential five star at one point. While those lofty thoughts faded a bit at the end of the week, he is still one of the more polished wide receivers in the country and should be in for a nice bump.
Honorable Mention: LB Aaron Hansford from Washington (D.C.) St. John’s College is a guy I liked a lot more than his current ranking based mainly on how athletic he is while New Orleans (La.) Edna Carr DE Andre Anthony and Cleveland (Ohio) St. Ignatius OT Liam Eichenberg might have proven they are more than three stars. Miami (Fla.) Gulliver Prep WR Dionte Mullins could be in for a bump as could Emmons and AJ Brown. There are many others so don’t freak out if your team’s commitment isn’t on here, there are a lot of moves ahead.
OT Willie Allen, River Ridge (La.) John Curtis
This award is not one that you want; it's for the player whose stock dropped the most during the Under Armour week. This is a tough call for sure and it's always hard to talk about one or two players who didn't impress in a week of action, but every year there are a few guys who are simply disappointing. Allen, at No. 177 in the country, didn’t look like that guy at all and could end up in the three-star range because he’s so raw, slow out of his stance and unpolished. Expectations weren’t too high coming in either, we knew he was a project of sorts, but he struggled in practice and the game badly.
Honorable Mention: Mesquite (Texas) North Mesquite OT Jean Delance had similar struggles to Allen although he did flash a bit better on some days. No. 41 in the country and No. 1 running back seems unlikely for Kareem Walker from Wayne (N.J.) DePaul Catholic after this final evaluation and Baltimore (Md.) Gilman DT Ellison Jordan didn’t look like a four star out there.
DT Kendell Jones, Killeen (Texas) Shoemaker
This award is given to the best-looking prospect on the hoof, the guy who looks like he could play in college or even the NFL right now. I have never seen a prospect look the way Jones does who is likely 6-foot-5 and could be 380 pounds or so with very little of it fat. Jones is so big in fact that it hinders him, but it’s not like he can lose weight when much of his mass is muscle. The nickname “The Hulk” is perfect for him.
Honorable Mention: Paramus (N.J.) Paramus Catholic DT Rashan Gary is physically freakish and moves very well for a big man. Lawrenceville (Ga.) Archer OT EJ Price is not only tall but very thick and muscled up. Hammond (La.) St. Thomas Aquinas DT Edwin Alexander and Hartland (Wisc.) Arrowhead OT Ben Bredeson also look the part.
OT Gregory Little, Allen, Texas
This award goes to the player with the best feet, whether it's an offensive lineman or a cornerback, big man or mighty mite. Little, the nation’s top offensive tackle, was so much better than anyone else at his position with his footwork he gets the nod here. He’s a 300-pounder with basketball feet, great technique and smarts. We call that a Dancing Bear in the scouting world and we all know that Dancing Bears have great feet.
Honorable Mention: Virginia Beach (Va.) Ocean Lakes CB Levonta Taylor has very quick feet and the same can be said for Metairie (La.) Rummel CB Kristian Fulton. Sam Bruce has quick feet, we all know that, and Sanders and Emmons flashed some fancy footwork at times. Madison (Miss.) Germantown CB Nigel Knott also showed off good footwork.
LB Jeffrey McCulloch, Houston (Texas) Aldine Davis
This one goes to the biggest hitter, which is essentially the guy who laid the lumber in the game or by accident in practice because there was not much tackling to the ground during the week. McCulloch is a load at linebacker and he arrived at the ball with a thud a couple of times during the game. No one really stood out with a signature hit, but he had a couple of nice ones and it’s clear he likes the contact.
Honorable Mention: LB Tre Lamar from Roswell, Ga., was very physical during the game and Pembroke Pines (Fla.) Flanagan LB Devin Bush popped a couple of people as well. Hansford was in on a couple of nice tackles, same as Gordo, Ala., LB Ben Davis. We all saw what Rashan Gary and Houston (Texas) Westfield DT Ed Oliver did when they met the ballcarrier or quarterback.
DT Michail Carter, Jackson, Ga.
What's the difference between Hard Hat and Lunch Pail? The Hard Hat Award is for the biggest hitter while the Lunch Pail Award is for the guy who does the dirty work that doesn't get into the box score or noticed by many. Carter didn’t stuff the boxscore and he was a little under the radar during the week as some other DTs overshadowed him, but he was a big reason why Oliver was able to get into the backfield at times and he provided a steady push.
Honorable Mention: OC Baveon Johnson from Lakeland (Fla.) Lake Gibson held his own all week and in the game against some nasty defensive tackles. Houston (Texas) Eisik linebacker Dontavious Jackson was all over the field in the game and had a good week. Waco, Texas CB Eric Cuffee had a huge play in the game but was otherwise just steady.
WR Dionte Mullins, Miami (Fla.) Gulliver Prep
This award sounds like it's for a defender who hits, but it's really for a receiver with the best hands during the week. The winner is Mullins and it’s a pretty easy call this year. Not only was his one-handed catch for a touchdown in the game one of the best plays you’ll ever see in an all-star game but he caught pretty much everything all week as well. Who needs to play a regular season right?
Honorable Mention: Despite two drops in the game that appear to be very unlike him, Houston (Texas) Westfield WR Tyrie Cleveland caught everything in practice and clearly has good hands. AJ Brown has very reliable mitts and showed that all week. I like the receiving skills of both Sanders and Emmons out of the backfield. Hammond also showed good hands during practice and Chandler, Ariz., WR N'Keal Harry didn’t drop much. Sam Bruce also made a few nice catches during his limited practice time and a nice one in the game.
POISE UNDER PRESSURE
QB Malik Henry, Long Beach (Calif.) Poly
This is essentially for the best quarterback who performs when the lights come on and there is actually a live pass-rush coming at him and this year it’s Henry. Henry’s accuracy has been questioned, but not in this game where he was 9-for-12 for two scores. Yes he had much more time than his opponents and was clearly the most polished passer on his own team, but he made good decisions with the ball, got it out quickly when he needed to and ran a bit as well. He looked very relaxed in a big game setting, something that has been a big of a question mark.
Honorable Mention: The quarterback play wasn’t great overall but Potomac (Md.) Bullis School QB Dwayne Haskins Jr. had a couple of nice throws and Palmetto, Fla., signal-caller Jack Allison had the longest pass of the day. All the quarterbacks except for Henry seemed to be under duress most of their snaps.
QB Jarrett Guarantano, Oradell (N.J.) Bergen Catholic
This award goes to the quarterback with the best arm who showed the ability to make all the passes with zip on the football. Guarantano may have had a rough game, but the ball flies out of his hand with ease and velocity and his arm is a whip. During the week he was clearly the best quarterback in accuracy, velocity and in dropping long passes into tight spaces. The pass rush was on him in seconds during the game and he had some bad moments, but he can sling it.
Honorable Mention: Winter Garden (Fla.) West Orange QB Woody Barrett has a cannon and while his accuracy is way off at times, every few throws will be a dart downfield on the money, at least that’s the way it was in practice. Haskins can sling the ball as well when his mechanics are right.
LB Aaron Hansford, Washington (D.C.) St. John’s College
This goes to the player who was the best overall athlete at the event and it’s easy to see why some schools were (and still are) recruiting the linebacker as a wide receiver. He’s an effortless athlete, a quick twitch kid who covers a ton of ground and can recover when he over pursues. It’s easy to pick a wide receiver or defensive back in this category, but I think he’s as athletic as anyone on either roster.
Honorable Mention: Vienna (Ga.) Dooly County DE Antonneous Clayton is a freaky athlete and very quick off the snap. We know that Gary is a scary for his size, as is Oliver. Harry is also a freakish specimen who can beat you downfield. Sachse, Texas WR Devin Duvernay didn’t get to flash his speed that much this week but when he did you could see he had jets. Levonta Taylor’s ability as a return man puts him with Bruce as a dual-threat. Hyattsville (Md.) DeMatha star Shane Simmons is also supremely athletic.
CB Kristian Fulton, Metairie (La.) Rummel
This is for the player who provided the best coverage on defense during the week, and Fulton was the most consistent and always seemed to be close to his man. He got beat a couple of times deep when he wasn’t concentrating and he did get beat on the Mullins touchdown, but that was excellent coverage. In a week where the defensive backs either struggled in practice or the game and no one put together a breakout week, Fulton gets the nod.
Honorable Mention: CB Chauncey Gardner II from Cocoa, Fla., had a great week of practice and broke on the ball very well while being physical, but then he got toasted on the McDoom touchdown in the game badly which dropped him out of the top spot here. Houston (Texas) North Shore CB Eric Monroe was lockdown at times and Levonta Taylor had a good game and a great third day of practice, but both struggled at times as well.
DE Shane Simmons, Hyattsville (Md.) DeMatha
This goes to the player who stood out despite playing a position he is not likely to play at the college level. While Simmons could still grow into a defensive end at the college level, I think he’s better suited to be a hybrid or even a pure outside linebacker. That being said, he’s effective as an outside pass rusher and was one of very few prospects who beat Gregory Little in live action so he has those skills with his hand on the ground. He’s a ‘tweener who is getting stronger and I think he could play many roles.
Honorable Mention: Marlon Davidson from Greenville, Ala., Is playing defensive end now but I think he moves inside in college. His ability to pass rush will make him dangerous there. Carlos Becker from Kissimmee (Fla.) Osceola played CB this week but to me he’s a rangy free safety. Tre Threat, from Spanish Fort, Ala., played outside for the most part but is big and will grow into an inside linebacker in college.
WR Sam Bruce, Ft. Lauderdale (Fla.) St. Thomas Aquinas
This goes to the smallest guy who made the biggest impact and played bigger than his size, and we all knew Bruce would be that guy. What we didn’t know was that he would miss a big chunk of practice this week for various reasons, but when he was on the field he was fun to watch. His impact in the return game will be dynamic and he’s made for the short passing game (no pun intended). He’s 5-foot-8 and all, but he’s a heckuva prospect to watch.
Honorable Mention: Levonta Taylor is about 5-foot-9 at best but he’s a dynamic athlete with great feet and, like Bruce, can be a special teams danger. Knott isn’t very big and either is Monroe, but they bring different things to the table that make them effective.
DT Rashan Gary, Paramus (N.J.) Paramus Catholic
This award goes to the scrappiest player, the guy who competed not only to the whistle but at times beyond it. Gary has a non-stop motor and even if you play him right, he will push you back into the pocket no matter what. He was taking as many reps as he could in practice, he could have taken the head off the quarterback numerous times and he was nasty in the game. You can’t teach desire and drive and he has plenty of both to go along with impressive talent.
Honorable Mention: Lyndell Wilson and Calhoun, Ga., TE Landon Rice got into a bit of a scrap during one of the practices and it was nice to see their spirited play. Hope (Ark.) Hope Senior DE McTelvin Agim was always going strong and hard during the week and in the game. Hudson (N.C.) South Caldwell OG Landon Dickerson was knocking heads in one-on-ones and especially in the game when he was out pulling in front of the play.
ALL OR NOTHING
CB Chauncey Gardner II, Cocoa, Fla.
This is for the player who will either make a huge play or potentially make a mistake or be invisible at times. In this case, Gardner wasn’t really invisible at any time during the week, but he was a risk taker which made him fun to watch. In practice he broke on the ball very well and took a lot of chances which worked out well and in the game he muffed a punt, then gave up a touchdown pass on poor coverage and later in the game dropped a surefire 95-yard pick six. You can’t say he’s not exciting.
Honorable Mention: WR Nate Craig-Myers from Tampa (Fla.) Tampa Catholic only one catch in the game, but on that catch he showed the wiggle that a 6-foot-3, 220-pounder should never have faking out Becker with ease. Duvernay was his usual quiet self except for when he was able to flash his speed and then he was dynamic.
DT Rashan Gary, Paramus (N.J.) Paramus Catholic
This award goes to the player who was simply good all week long and could be relied upon to bring it each and every day. From the first day to the MVP presentation, Gary was consistent and consistently great. He came in with plenty to prove as the No. 1 player in the country and left the week setting the bar super high for anyone to surpass him. He hustled, worked hard in drills and reps and set a great example for the 2017 Future 50 kids in attendance.
Honorable Mention: LBs Tre Lamar and Ben Davis were quiet during the week because you can’t tackle to the ground and then strong during the game. The defensive backs weren’t overly consistent at all but at WR guys like Dionte Mullins, AJ Brown and others seemed to have good days over and over. Little was very consistent at OT, essentially the only one at his position, and QB Malik Henry had a consistent week.
WR AJ Brown, Starkville, Miss.
This award goes to the player who had the biggest impact in the game itself. I could have gone with Gary or Oliver or even Waynesboro (Miss.) Wayne County DT Benito Jones here, but Brown had the longest catch of the game and also scored a touchdown and really set a tone for his team. There was no dominant runner and the defensive line killed it on both sides for the most part, but Brown’s four catches for 79 yards and a score likely had him in the MVP discussion.
Honorable Mention: Gary, Oliver and Jones have been mentioned. Henry was excellent and Mullins had the catch of the day so all could be mentioned here. Davidson had a big game as well and Cuffee’s interception was a thing of beauty as he stole the ball away from Hammond in a big play.
LB Lyndell Wilson, Montgomery (Ala.) Carver
This goes to the player that didn't make a ton of lists and didn't get a lot of attention. For linebackers, especially in practice, it’s more about assignment football, getting good depth on your drops and getting to the ball quickly but without tackling it can be frustrating and hard to evaluate.
Honorable Mention: I thought Olney (Md.) Good Counsel linebacker Keandre Jones had a quiet but solid week overall and you could plug in a lot of the linebackers in here as well. The offensive line often doesn’t get a ton of credit either and Reading (Pa.) Exeter Township Senior OT Michal Menet was up and down a bit but was key to his team’s interior line.
VICTIM OF CIRCUMSTANCE
WR Nate Craig-Myers, Tampa (Fla.) Tampa Catholic
This award goes to the player who couldn't really show what he could do because of his surrounding cast. Many of the analysts weren’t high on Craig-Myers, who was our No. 1 player in the country at one point, because they felt someone so big, strong and athletic should dominate. In a way they are correct, but the quarterbacks on his team were under so much duress in practice and in the game that they seldom allowed him to finish his route. Especially in practice I feel that much of the middle of the field was utilized and, with all right-handed quarterbacks, the right side downfield was targeted but seldom did they come back left. Maybe I’m missing something but I think he had an average week because of his quarterbacks and not because he isn’t a talent.
Honorable Mention: Guarantano was certainly victimized a bit in the game itself being the third QB off the bench inexplicably limiting his time on the field and due to his OL play. The tight ends, especially super talented pass catcher Nasier Upshur from Philadelphia (Pa.) Imhotep Charter, were rarely targeted and it was hard for any of the running backs to get things going with the defenses dominating at the line of scrimmage.
CB Nigel Knott, Madison (Miss.) Germantown
This award goes to the player entering the game that was in prime position to earn that extra star, whether it was a fifth or fourth star, but didn't meet those expectations. Knott was the closest to that fifth star coming in at No. 26 in the country and just didn’t seem to do enough to warrant that lengthy discussion at our next rankings meetings. He’s not the biggest corner out there or the strongest so he needed to show impeccable instincts and amazing hops and didn’t really show either. He wasn’t bad, he just wasn’t five star good.
Honorable Mention: Guarantano had a great week of practice and then the game came crashing down on him while Bradenton (Fla.) IMG Academy wide receiver Drake Davis showed flashes but probably not enough and OT Patrick Hudson from Silsebee, Texas missed the game due to injury and some of practice. When Hudson was in there, he didn’t strike me as a five-star prospect.