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June 10, 2013

Confidence helps Allen shine

Sunday Top Performers: Skill | Big men

MORE: Complete Five-Star Challenge coverage

CHICAGO -- Kyle Allen is the No. 1 pro-style quarterback in America. His arm? Outstanding. His footwork? Impressive. His mechanics? Flawless. His ability to take a compliment, on the other hand, needs polishing.

Allen was the offensive skill MVP of the Rivals Five-Star Challenge Presented by Under-Armour at Soldier Field. Buzz around him built as the event progressed. And sometime on Sunday afternoon, Allen was told it was the best one bystander familiar with his game had ever seen him throw.

Apparently, the star quarterback was all out of thank yous at the time.

"Come on," Allen, a Texas A&M commit, said with a sarcastic, you-can't-be-serious wrinkle of his brow.

Whatever the case, the Scottsdale (Ariz.) Desert Mountain quarterback was a force - a strong-armed, quick-footed surgeon equipped with a football instead of a scalpel.

Still, it's possible his deflection of the compliment was warranted. It's possible the competition that surrounded his big day made Allen's star shine brighter. Being far and away the best prospect in a group comprised of four- and five-star players can do wonders to highlight one's skill set.

"We all love to compete," Allen said. "Everyone did pretty well this weekend, too. We all talk and knew each other before today. But wherever you are, you are going to play hard. Today, I was in the zone."

A great moment in humility it was not. Then again, confidence is a desirable trait in a quarterback. There's little doubt Allen has that and then some.

"He carries himself like a very good quarterback," Rivals.com national recruiting analyst Mike Farrell said. "He's the type of kid that you can tell is a leader. He throws the ball with confidence, and he threw the ball through a lot of tight places today."

Though solid, the three players who filled in the position list below Allen were not as polished. The jockeying for position was a two-day affair that never really yielded much separation. Deshaun Watson, Drew Barker and Jerrod Heard duked it out for the No. 2 spot without landing many decisive blows.

"It had a lot to do with the chemistry with new wide receivers," Farrell said. "Working with brand new guys in such a short period of preparation time, you don't know where they like the football and what kind of routes they like to run. With Watson, I think he started feeling more comfortable during 7-on-7. He was locking in early, but he started seeing the field as he felt more comfortable."

Inconsistency plagued the quarterback spot all weekend. Even Allen wasn't immune. But when the group was at its best, it looked like exactly what it was:

A cluster of the most elite high school passers in the country.

"It's cool coming out here and competing with these guys," Barker said. "But it's even cooler meeting them and making friendships with them and talking about football with them. They're all really good players and really good guys. I've seen Kyle before, and he's really good. I was surprised by how well Deshaun and Jerrod did because they use their feet a lot, so I was surprised how good they were in a camp setting."

Each left his mark on the weekend. Watson wowed with arm strength. Barker did his bidding with the accuracy of a sniper. When Heard was good, his quick release was a thing of beauty.

Still, the weekend belonged to Allen, a four-star prospect who turned in a five-star performance. He pulled up a front row seat when it was time to dole out individual awards, as if to minimize the distance he'd have to walk to pick up the MVP trophy he expected to receive.

He sat and waited until his name was called. When it was, he made absolutely no effort to feign surprise. He knew what he had done. Without cracking a smile or pumping a fist, Allen stood up, grabbed the silver football, posed for a picture and returned to his seat.

But if the motivation for his stoic facade wasn't already clear, Texas-based wide receiver KD Cannon, who was one of Allen's favorite targets all afternoon, helped to explain his 7-on-7 teammate's lack of shock and awe.

"That's the first time I've ever seen him," Cannon said. "He's a real good quarterback and makes great decisions. He can throw that deep ball and the slant right on point. He can do everything. He's the best quarterback I've ever played with."



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