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July 4, 2013

Roundtable: Underclassmen Challenge preview

MORE: Rivals Underclassmen Challenge

The Rivals Underclassmen Challenge presented by Under Armour takes place Sunday in DeSoto, Texas. We asked our analysts to discuss some of the story lines they expect from the event:

Question No. 1: Which player are you most looking forward to seeing in person?

Mike Farrell, National/Mid-Atlantic: I want to see Byron Cowart because I think he could be one of the top pass-rushers in the class of 2015 and he was at the Orlando Rivals Camp Series, which I missed. I think he could have a dominant showing in Dallas and be the next great prospect out of Armwood.

Jason Howell, Midlands: Without a doubt, it's New Orleans (La.) Warren Easton wide receiver Tyron Johnson. I saw him last year when Warren Easton played St. Augustine.

Warren Easton was just outmatched but Johnson still had his flashes. I'm looking forward to getting a really good view of what the big receiver can do when matched against some of the best in the country. He has already promised some fireworks, so the bar has been set high.

Josh Helmholdt, Midwest: I love watching big, tall offensive tackle prospects, and at 6-foot-7 and 332 pounds, they do not come much bigger than Shreveport (La.) Evangel Christian offensive tackle Jerry Tillery. I have yet to see the Notre Dame commit live, and am interested to see how far developed he is, technically.

Adam Friedman, Mid-Atlantic: Who wouldn't be excited to see a rising freshman with offers from Alabama, LSU, Florida, Florida State and others? I'm really looking forward to watching 2017 linebacker Dylan Moses. Obviously, there is a ton of potential for the 6-foot-2, 223-pound 15-year-old but it will be interesting to see how far along he is when it comes to technique and his understanding of the game.

Woody Wommack, Southeast: One guy I'm looking forward to seeing is Louisiana wide receiver Tyron Johnson. I've heard some pretty good reviews and watched his highlight film, but I want to see how he handles the top competition. With offers from Clemson, LSU, Oklahoma and Texas A&M, there's no doubt college coaches think he will be a prolific pass-catcher and this will be my chance to get a good look at him.

Kynon Codrington, Southeast: Shreveport (La.) Calvary Academy defensive lineman T.D. Moton is a player I'm looking to see up close. The mammoth nose tackle has picked up offers from Florida State, Texas A&M and USC, among others. He is already a national level recruit and I'm looking forward to seeing how he stacks up against players from different parts of the country. The ability is there, so hopefully backs up the hype.

Adam Gorney, West: I'm interested to see Zach Rogers again. Although we just saw him a few weeks ago at the Rivals100 Five-Star Challenge, it will be valuable to see Rogers against players in his own grade. I thought Rogers was one of the biggest surprises in Chicago because he really held his own against some fantastic defensive linemen. He should be able to put together a dominating performance in Texas.

[ UNDERCLASSMEN CHALLENGE: Matchups to Watch: Cowart vs. Burrell Jr. ]

Rob Cassidy, West: Drew Lock is interesting to me. I've seen most of the other top-flight quarterbacks, so Lock is the enigma. He blew away Notre Dame coaches with his performance at the school's team camp a few weeks ago and is starting to generate some real buzz. If nothing else, I'm excited to see what all the hype is about. Lock already has a pair of football offers and is also a legitimate basketball prospect.


Question No. 2: Which player from your region could surprise those who have not seen him yet?

Mike Farrell, National/Mid-Atlantic: I don't have a region as the national analyst, but I think Desean Holmes could surprise those who haven't seen him. It might not be a surprise based on his list of offers, but I think some people are in for a treat.

Jason Howell, Midlands: I am sticking with receiver, but I'm going to go with 2016 Manvel standout Reggie Hemphill. At 6-2, 168 pounds, he might only be heading into his sophomore year but he already has some big-time experience. As a freshman in 2012, he recorded eight receptions for 370 yards and six touchdowns at receiver and had five carries for 83 yards. It doesn't take a genius to see he has some big-play potential.

Josh Helmholdt, Midwest: Javon Middleton is a 2016 wide receiver from Waterloo, Iowa, but has the explosive speed that makes people notice. He is only 5-foot-10 and 159 pounds, but that was nearly the exact size K.D. Cannon was at this event last year when he dominated and took home MVP honors.

Adam Friedman, Mid-Atlantic: Even though he doesn't have any offers yet, I think Daivon Ellison will make an impression. The cornerback from Ramsey (N.J.) Don Bosco Prep is only 5-foot-9, and 178 pounds, but plays like he is 6-foot-1. Ellison is very physical, a good leaper, has good footwork and is very explosive when breaking on the ball. He is also used to performing on the big stage.

Woody Wommack, Southeast: I think a player who could surprise is defensive end Russell Ude. He only has one offer right now, via Boston College, but he's a legit 6-foot-4, 250 pounds and he's a handful for offensive linemen to handle. He performed well at a talent-loaded Atlanta RCS and I expect him to do the same against a stocked field at the Underclassmen Challenge.

Kynon Codrington, Southeast: I have to go with Southside (Ala.) offensive tackle Tyler Carr. You can't miss him at 6-foot-6, 305 pounds. He passes the eyeball test and has the frame to be an All-SEC tackle. On tape, he packs a mean streak and finishes his blocks. I like his reach and ability to wall off faster rush ends with his great wingspan. He will need to shore up his technique, but he could wow some of the other analysts in DeSoto.

Adam Gorney, West: Kevin Davidson, the 2016 quarterback from Danville (Calif.) San Ramon Valley, could put on an impressive performance. A lot of people are saying Davidson could be one of the top-rising sophomore quarterbacks, at least on the West Coast, so his performance in Dallas will be closely watched. A bunch of high-profile programs have already reached out, so it will be telling how he does at the Underclassmen Challenge.

[ UNDERCLASSMEN CHALLENGE: Matchups to Watch: Holmes vs. Thompson ]

Rob Cassidy, West: Avery Anderson is committed to Arizona State and is the real deal at cornerback. Colorado prospects sometimes don't get the same attention as players from powerhouse states, but Anderson can play with any of them. I saw him win reps against four-star 2014 wide receivers Cameron Denson and Tyler Whiley at a camp earlier in the year and he should look even better against players his own age.


Question No. 3: Who could be this year's KD Cannon, a dynamic offensive playmaker who wows everyone at the camp?

Mike Farrell, National/Mid-Atlantic: I'd say Holmes based on his size and ability in space, but I already picked him as a guy who could surprise. He might not be as small as Cannon but I think Tyron Johnson could be a guy who dominates in a more physical way. Cannon was impossible to stop in space and was like a waterbug out there, but Johnson is bigger, stronger and could use his size to simply make defenders look bad.

Jason Howell, Midlands: It might not happen the same way that KD Cannon did it, but I think people will leave knowing the name Mykel Jones. The 2016 wide receiver from Patterson (La.) already holds offers from LSU, Florida State, Tennessee and Arizona State and has the tools to put on a show.

Josh Helmholdt, Midwest: At 5-foot-11 and 180 pounds, Chicago Marist wide receiver Flynn Nagel is not the first guy you would pick out of a line up to be dominant in a setting such as the Underclassmen Challenge, but we know from having seen him at several offseason camps that he is extremely difficult to cover. Illinois and Indiana have already jumped out with early offers.

Adam Friedman, Mid-Atlantic: This year's breakout offensive player could be tight end Chris Clark. The 6-foot-5, 237-pound Clark recently moved up to Avon (Conn.) Avon Old Farms from North Carolina and already has offers from N.C. State and Syracuse but more schools could come calling. Clark has soft hands and the athleticism to make some leaping catches down the field.

Woody Wommack, Southeast: The best thing about events such as the Underclassmen Challenge is not knowing where a surprise talent could come from. One guy to keep an eye on at the wide receiver position is Carl Tucker Jr. He's had a very strong camp season, recently netting an offer from Clemson, and I think he's poised to blow up. This weekend's event could be the perfect stage he needs to put his name on the national scene.

Kynon Codrington, Southeast: I know I should probably go receiver here, but I'm going with running back Niceville (Fla.) Shi'Kim Coward. Coward has good hands and should do well out of the backfield against some of the heavier-footed linebackers. He can split out wide and get behind LBs in coverage on seam and wheel routes. His speed and stop-and-stop ability will be to his advantage in the one-on-ones and 7-on-7 portion of the camp. He is well known in his area, but this is the perfect opportunity for him to break out on a big stage.

[ UNDERCLASSMEN CHALLENGE: Matchups to Watch: T. Johnson vs. D. Johnson ]

Adam Gorney, West: Tyron Johnson has to be seriously considered. The New Orleans (La.) Warren Eastern Senior wide receiver has a bunch of impressive offers already, he has great size and all the reports are that Johnson could be a special player. He's not exactly an unknown coming into this camp but that makes him an even bigger target. Johnson will have to dominate because everyone will be trying to make their name by defending him.

Rob Cassidy, West: Joshua Thomas is a big, powerful running back with deceptive speed. Of course, he is a much different player than Cannon, a wide receiver, but if he flashes great hands at the event, he has the ability to look just as dynamic. His combination of size and speed makes him a matchup nightmare for linebackers. There's a reason his name is already on everyone's radar.



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