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April 7, 2013

Rivals Camp observations

MARIETTA - The first ever Atlanta Rivals Camp presented by Under Armour was completely loaded with talent on Sunday.

As can be expected, most of that talent is from the Peach State, and five-star Norcross defensive lineman Lorenzo Carter and fives-star Gainesville quarterback Deshaun Watson had strong showings. It didn't appear that either was at the very top of their game, but both were still among the best in their groups.

Both, along with Liberty County linebacker Raekwon McMillan, Station Camp (Gallatin, Tenn.) wide receiver Josh Malone, and 2015 North Gwinnett offensive lineman Mitchell Hyatt, received invites to the second annual Rivals100 Five Star Challenge to be held in Atlanta this summer.

Speaking of McMillan, the four-star prospect has definitely trimmed down and is in great shape. The camp setting isn't one in which McMillan will thrive because he is a downhill linebacker that is great against the run, but he held his own against running backs and tight ends in coverage.

Malone took home the offensive skill MVP award, and was a nightmare for defensive backs all day.

Hyatt was clearly one of the best offensive linemen present at the camp, and is almost impossible to beat with an edge rush. Hyatt is extremely quick and uses his length like few young offensive tackles can.

Three-star MVPs?

One thing is for certain, the Rivals.com staff can't be accused of only giving the MVP awards to players with a high star ranking.

Three of the four MVP awards went to three-star players that few had heard about coming into the day.

The most well-known is Lakewood (St. Petersburg, Fla.) offensive lineman Isaiah Wynn. Wynn visited Georgia Saturday and received an offer from the Bulldogs. On Sunday, he was dominant.

He may be a tad short for offensive tackle, but definitely has the length and is ultra competitive. He didn't lose many, if any, reps in one-on-one's and showed excellent footwork.

The defensive line MVP was South Cobb's Justin Jones, who was just offered by Miami Saturday. Jones, who measured in at 6-foot-3, 260 pounds, has violent hands and incredible strength. He explodes off the football, and has a motor that just doesn't stop. Jones didn't lose a single rep and was the clear choice for the award.

Brooks County cornerback Malkom Parrish brought home the defensive skill MVP, and it was well-earned. Parrish had at least four interceptions on the day and only once did a receiver get enough separation to haul in a pass. After today, Parrish may lay claim to the top defensive back in the Peach State.

Youngsters have a good day

North Cobb quarterback Tyler Queen is only a sophomore, but he plays the position like he is a seasoned veteran. Queen has a big arm and excellent accuracy. After a slow start in one-on-one's, the Kennesaw native couldn't miss for a long period of time. He throws a nice deep ball and moves his feet well to create angles for the throw.

Like Queen, Westover defensive tackle Trenton Thompson is just a sophomore, but showed he belonged with the big boys on Sunday. Thompson won a number of his reps and looked especially effective when in a three technique. He was eager to compete, and once he can establish a consistent pad level, he could be a good one.

Sandy Creek running back Eric Swinney is another 2015 prospect on the field Sunday, and he was explosive to say the least. Swinney gained separation from every linebacker he faced, and was even able to win some reps in the slot. At 5-foot-10, 185 pounds, Swinney has been clocked in the 4.3 range in the 40-yard dash, and is on Georgia's radar after visiting the Bulldogs on Saturday.

It may be a little early to talk about 2016 prospects, but Stephenson defensive back Khalil Ladler has a bright future. He needs to get stronger, but his hip action and footwork are excellent and he has the "makeup speed" that coaches look for in a cornerback.

Other players with strong showings

Sandy Creek defensive tackle Chris Williams was almost unblockable at times. He struggled on a couple of early reps, but was great after that. Williiams' teammate, quarterbacks Cole Garvin, also looked excellent and was one of the most consistent passers in attendance.

Cedar Grove linebacker Bryson Allen-Williams may be the most competitive player in the state of Georgia. Allen-Williams refuses to be beat whether it is rushing the passer or in coverage, and his work ethic is unmatched. Watching the four-star prospect gives you the feeling that if you were to ask him to play quarterback, he would work at it until he became good at it.

George Walton Academy running back Stanley Williams, who made his decommitment from UGA official on Saturday, also had a big day. Williams thrives in the camp setting because of his speed and ability to do big things in space. He made some tough catches on Sunday and was a nightmare for linebackers.

Cedartown running back Nick Chubb showed that he has another element to his game at the Rivals Camp. Chubb showed up in great shape, and was impressive with his ability to be physical with linebackers and get separation on intermediate routes. When linebackers would try to redirect the Rivals100 prospect, he would use his upper body strength to extend out and while exploding out of a cut. He also showed soft hands and an impressive comfort level with the passing game.



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