April 4, 2013

Players who could rise in next Rivals rankings


MORE: Rivals Camp Series

The summer circuit isn't everything. Games are won and talent is proven on Friday nights in the fall.

Still, a lot can be gleaned from high-level camps and other events. So roughly a month before the Rivals.com rankings are rehashed, we take a look at a group of players whose stock has the potential to soar in the next Rivals250.

ON THE RISE?
ATH Kalen Ballage, Falcon (Colo.)
Barring something catastrophic, Ballage will get a serious bump when it's time to revise the rankings. Playing his games in Falcon, Colo., Ballage was somewhat overlooked until he showed up at the Rivals Camp Series presented by Under Armour with the body of a college junior. He didn't disappoint on the field, either. Not only did he hold his own against other top-flight prospects, but also won nearly every one-on-one rep he took. As a senior, Ballage could push hyper-touted running back Christian McCaffrey for the top spot in Colorado.

WR Erik Brown, Fontana (Calif.) Summit
Calling Erik Brown's start to the camp circuit impressive is doing it a disservice. He has stolen the show at every event he's attended and has already proven himself to be much better than his current three-star ranking. The only question that remains at this point is how high he might climb by the time things are said and done. His routes are nearly flawless and his speed is lethal. There's no denying that Brown is one of the top receivers in the West.

TE Ian Bunting, Hinsdale (Ill.) Central
Bunting's sheer size makes him hard to overlook as a rising prospect. Standing 6-foot-7, the Illinoi-based tight end is a nightmare over the middle. He currently ranks as the No. 14 tight end in America, but will have every chance to make his case for a significant bump. The book on Bunting is that he possesses unnatural athleticism for a player of his size. And while he looks a little stiff at times, the upside at work is remarkable.

RB Parris Campbell, Akron (Ohio) St. Vincent-St. Mary
Campbell hasn't shown up at many top-level events so far this offseason, but the buzz about him is certainly growing. The fact that he ran a 4.42, electronic-timed 40-yard dash in February certainly made a statement. Campbell is a player who will be watched closely as the camp season progresses. He certainly possesses the raw athleticism to receive a bump in star ranking, but he'll need to show more on the field.

ATH J.T. Gray, Coolidge (Ariz.)
Buzz had started to build around Gray before he showed up to Rivals Camp Series stop in Phoenix. Still, he used the camp as exclamation point of sorts. Gray walked into the fray as a somewhat unknown commodity, but by the time he hoisted the defensive skill MVP trophy, his standing as a top-level linebacker was clear. Gray moved to Phoenix from Mississippi a few years ago and is starting to settle in as one of the top players in Arizona, which is loaded with talent this year.

QB Brad Kaaya, West Hills (Calif.) Chaminade
Kaaya impressed at the NLA 7-on-7 event in Las Vegas by showing a poise beyond his years. His reads are always accurate and he shows a tendency to make the right decision on every down. That's not the kicker, though. His arm is much stronger than some previously thought. In Las Vegas, he zipped passes around and showed off a knack for throwing accurate deep balls. Another performance like the one he turned in in Las Vegas could earn him a fourth star.

WR Trevon Lee, Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) Cardinal Gibbons
Coming off a minor injury, Lee showed up at the Rivals Camp Series stop in Miami and made some serious waves. There was some rust, but he was mostly impressive catching the ball with his hands, not his body, and making defenders pay on comeback and out routes. There's little reason to think his stock won't receiver a boost as he continues to get re-adjusted and feels more comfortable on the camp circuit.

DB Jermaine Roberts, New Orleans St. Augustine
Jermaine Roberts used the Rivals Camp stop in Houston to prove his somewhat limited size will not be an issue moving forward. He was as physical as bigger corners at the event and routinely jammed receivers at the line. His surprising physicality helped land him on the event's top performers list. He doesn't seem to lose a step when going from bump coverage to a straight sprint, either. Roberts is exactly the caliber of player that his 16 scholarship offers indicate.

DT DeShawn Washington Nederland (Texas)
Washington sheds blocks as well as any defensive tackle in the country. And while he could stand to add some weight, he's made his talent clear on the spring circuit. His athleticism is what stands out when first laying eyes on him, but that could be a byproduct of his relatively small stature. If he can maintain his agility while bulking up, there's no telling what kind of star he could become.

ATH Tyler Whiley Scottsdale (Ariz.) Chaparral
Nobody has made a better early case for a rankings bump than Whiley. He has been outstanding all summer. He first made an impression at the NLA 7-on-7 tournament in Las Vegas, where he took over as his team's most dangerous offensive weapon after Rivals100 wide receiver Jalen Brown went down with an injury. His team didn't seem to lose a step during the transition, either. Whiley was also a top performer at the Rivals Camp Series stop in Phoenix. That's all to say it's no coincidence that his recruitment has taken off in recent months.

OL Isaiah Wynn, St. Petersburg (Fla.) Lakewood
Wynn was one of the most impressive offensive lineman at the Nike Football Training Camp in Miami and showcased the kind of power that couldn't be ignored. His upper-body strength made him a nightmare during one-on-one drills and was impressive enough to make his sound footwork seem secondary. Wynn is a rare package of technique and power and a candidate for a significant climb up the rankings.



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