DUNCAN, S.C. - The talent showcase that was the Palmetto State Showdown 7-on-7 was also the national coming-out party for 2011 wide reciever Jaylon Denson and many other previously undiscovered players.
With many known commodities on hand, it was stunning to see the other players who shined.
ATH, 6-5/200, Oradell (N.J.) Bergen Catholic
McEvoy spent most of the three days out of the shotgun, learning the ropes of playing quarterback. While the results of his transition from the school's all-time leading receiver to being its signal caller have been mixed, the athletic ability was certainly there. He would switch off to wide receiver on occasion and show flashes of his natural athleticism, running routes with very soft hands. He also would enter the games in crunch time at safety and made some pretty spectacular breaks on passes.
CB, 5-10/180, Hoover (Ala.) High
Sanford was challenged early and often in the tournament and was up to the task. He was often matched with the opposition's best receiver and held his own. The Hoover defensive backfield didn't jump off the page with natural athletic ability, but played well when it counted and advanced to the finals against some very loaded receiving groups.
WR, 6-0/180, Duncan (S.C.) Byrnes - Class of 2013
After seeing Booker in a few games, it was clear he was a playmaker for the Rebels. It was a shock to find out that he was only a sophomore. Booker has the frame and muscle tone of a much older player and his athletic ability is obvious. Booker was nearly impossible to cover on the outside for Byrnes, and he could emerge as a weapon for a team with plenty of turnover and a lot of opportunity this season.
ATH, 5-10/173, Piedmont (S.C.) Wren
Rogers was one of the key possession receivers for the Hurricanes. The Wren team often lined up in bunch formations with Rogers coming across the middle for key catches. He has the speed to stretch the field, being electronically timed at 4.37. His athletic ability could lend to him being either a slot receiver, running back, or cornerback at the next level.
TE, 6-6/195, Duncan (S.C.) Byrnes
One of the most steady performers at the event, Weick was the go-to receiver in short down-and-distance situations. At 6-foot-6, it was easy to throw jump balls over the middle to the end zone for conversions and short yardage touchdowns. Weick is currently the only Rebel with college offers and his list should expand from the current offers of Liberty and Coastal Carolina. He is an emotional player that would fit well at a major Division I college.
QB, 6-4/210, Duncan (S.C.) Byrnes
Blair has one season at Byrnes to prove himself and has taken the first steps in that process. Blair is still learning to lead and the team has plenty of emotional players that he will need to command. The soft-spoken quarterback can make all the throws. He threw many more great passes than questionable ones. With the high profile position, his even-keeled demeanor will be a steady force that has the ability to lead the Rebels back to a state title.
CB, 5-10/170, Anderson (S.C.) T.L. Hanna
In a 7-on-7 setting, it is hard to call anyone a lock down corner, but in this case it is easy. Hilliard was always on the opposition's best player and made that player invisible. It was getting to the point late in the tournament that Hanna's coaching staff had to encourage Hilliard with the promise that "someone would throw his way." No one did. He made some very athletic interceptions on the first day and was the best defender at the event. He can play with multiple techniques and uses his outside leverage like he has already gone through college-level coaching.
WR, 6-0/175, Greenville (S.C.) High
Williams was one of three very talented receivers for Greenville at the event but was clearly the go-to guy in the attack. Whether it was a skinny post that he was able to take for a touchdown or just a fly route that no one could keep up with, he was all over the field. This is the second straight 7-on-7 at which he has shined (Atlanta) and his stock has to be on the rise as the regular season is set to begin.
QB, 6-0/170, Piedmont (S.C.) Wren
There wasn't much that McCaskill could have done this weekend to play better. A three-year starter, McCaskill has the keys to the offense and was able to check out of the signaled-in play based on what he saw. With extremely high confidence in his ability as well as his teammates' abilities, McCaskill was one of the best players overall at the event. He showed above-average arm strength, fitting passes into very tight windows, as well as a good touch on the deep passes to the corner of the end zone.
WR, 6-3/190, Hoover (Ala.) High
The word that came out of the mouth of anyone who saw Denson play was "wow." Denson was the most dominant player at the event and was quite literally uncoverable. His size and speed were not wasted as he displayed soft hands and great jumping ability. Denson would go get the ball at the highest point as well as fight for it when the defensive backs may have jumped the route. It was almost an automatic touchdown if quarterback Ryan Carter got the ball anywhere near Denson. His play carried Hoover offensively all three days.