April 10, 2013

Rivals Camp Series Atlanta: What We Learned

MORE: Rivals Camp Series presented by Under Armour

MARIETTA, Ga. -- With a tremendous field of participants, the Atlanta stop of the Rivals Camp Series presented by Under Armour has the potential to go down as the best stop of the year. While Richmond and Charlotte will each get a shot this weekend to match the talent that turned out in the ATL, Southeast recruiting analyst Woody Wommack takes a look back at the five things he learned on Sunday.

1. Lorenzo can be even higher

Coming into Sunday's event, five-star Norcross (Ga.) defensive end Lorenzo Carter was already the No. 9 player in the country, but after showing up to compete and performing well he might have made the case to move up higher.

With excellent size and speed as well as elite athleticism (Carter could probably play college basketball or participate in track & field if he wanted), he's a rather unique prospect. A very early comparison for Carter is former Oregon defensive end/linebacker Dion Jordan, who is likely to go in the first round of the NFL Draft later this month.

A prospect of Carter's level doesn't necessarily always turn out for camp events, but Carter was among the first to arrive and was eager to compete, another terrific sign. While he's keeping things pretty open on the recruiting front, it's clear the school that eventually lands Carter will be getting quite the player.

For his efforts, Carter was invited to attend the Rivals Five-Star Challenge presented by Under Armour in June.

2. Deshaun makes his case

Gainesville (Ga.) quarterback Deshaun Watson was already the No. 1 quarterback in the country coming into Sunday's event and he made a pretty good case to hang onto his spot and his five-star rating.

Watson was coming into the camp after a week's vacation for spring break, which came on the heels of the conclusion of basketball season. Despite the layoff from football, Watson showed very little rust and looked very much like the quarterback who smashed Georgia state passing records last fall while leading his team to a state championship.

North Carolina prospect and Florida commit Will Grier will get his chance to take a run at Watson this weekend at the Charlotte stop, but for the time being Watson showed that he's very deserving of being a five-star prospect.

3. Plenty of hidden gems

One common misconception about camp settings is that only the big names garner attention and accolades.

Sunday's field had double-digit players ranked in the Rivals250 participate, but there were more than a couple surprise MVP award winners.

Rivals100 wide receiver Josh Malone came and impressed, netting the offensive skill MVP award, but three of the other four MVPs came in ranked as three-stars or lower. Defensive line MVP Justin Jones was the biggest shocker. He arrived late, quickly got dressed and jumped right into drills. Once he did, he shocked everyone, dominating and winning MVP honors.

At the defensive skill position, three-star Quitman (Ga.) Brooks County cornerback Malkom Parrish put on a show, locking down his target in nearly every one-on-one rep he took.

On the offensive line, Isaiah Wynn made the trip from St. Petersburg, Fla., all the way to Atlanta and the journey paid off. The three-star earned offensive line MVP honors, continuing his excellent run through the camp season.

4. Malone makes his case

As mentioned above, Gallatin (Tenn.) Station Camp wide receiver Josh Malone came in ready to perform and was far and away the best wide receiver at Sunday's camp. With fellow Rivals100 wide receiver Demarre Kitt unable to attend, Malone stepped up, making his case for the top wide receiver spot in the Southeast.

Malone is long and lean, but isn't afraid to get physical at the line when need be. He runs precise routes and that combined with his physical gifts make him quite the handful for defenders.

With interest from pretty much every major program in the country, Malone is poised to be one of the most highly sought-after wide receivers in this year's class. After his performance on Sunday, he made a pretty convincing case that he should move up from his already impressive No. 72 overall ranking.

5. Linebackers can play

Generally, the camp setting isn't the best place for hard-hitting linebackers to show their stuff. For the most part, drills are non-contact, meaning the most ruthless hitters on the field are left to withhold one of their best football abilities.

However, a quick rundown of the defensive top performers shows that not only did quality linebackers show up, they showed out.

Led by the country's No. 246 ovrall player, Tyrell Tomlin, five of the 17 top performers at Sunday's event came from the linebacker position. Tomlin was great in coverage, and Rivals100 linebacker Raekwon McMillan also made a pretty convincing case to earn back his fifth star.

Joining them were three-star Lawrence Austin, four-star Bryson Allen-Williams and 2015 prospect Robert Muschamp. The handful of prospects showed that camps aren't always about defensive linemen and defensive backs and that linebackers can also compete and help their stock.



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