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June 27, 2012
MORE: Rivals100 Five-Star Challenge coverage
The inaugural Rivals100 Five-Star Challenge is in the books, with the Northeast squad taking home the 7-on-7 title and the West winning the Big Man Challenge. Rivals.com national analyst Mike Farrell was on hand from registration to trophy presentation, and gives out the Farrell Awards from the three-day extravaganza:
Lightning in a bottle
Virginia Beach (Va.) Bayside running back/slot receiver Taquan Mizzell couldn't be contained, and when he touched the ball, something exciting happened. He made linebackers look foolish on Saturday, and on Sunday, he caught three long touchdown passes in the championship game.
Honorable mention: Tallahassee (Fla.) Lincoln wide receiver Reggie Davis was one of the fastest players at the event and showed it Saturday. It's still puzzling why he wasn't utilized more in the 7-on-7 tournament.
Kenny Bigelow from Elkton (Md.) Eastern Christian Academy is about as physically impressive as anyone in the country and has been since he was a freshman. You won't find a better-looking big man coming off the bus.
Honorable mention: Linebacker Reuben Foster from Auburn, Ala., and tight end O.J. Howard from Autauga (Ala.) Academy are two of the many others who impressed, but you can throw in Woodbridge (Va.) Woodbridge Area defensive end Da'Shawn Hand, Detroit (Mich.) Loyola defensive end Malik McDowell, Alpharetta (Ga.) Milton defensive end Carl Lawson and Sealy, Texas, wide receiver Ricky Seals-Jones as well.
This award goes to the most physical offensive lineman at the event, a position where aggression is needed but rarely shown. Josh Boutte from New Iberia (La.) Westgate had three pancakes on Saturday in 1-on-1s and was a breath of fresh air in the Atlanta heat. Every one of his reps ended in a violent manner.
Honorable mention: Elkton (Md.) Eastern Christian Academy offensive guard Khaliel Rodgers hadn't been seen by many of the analysts and Rivals.com network reporters on hand, and on the hoof many were wondering how he could be No. 1 at his position. Then they all watched him destroy almost everyone at the event and do so with violence and anger, and they understood. He is one of the most physical players in the country.
Jalen Ramsey from Brentwood (Tenn.) Brentwood Academy raised his stock as much as anyone, showing how he can use his good size at cornerback and utilizing his terrific instincts and athleticism to shut down most receivers. Pinson (Ala.) Pinson Valley wide receiver Earnest Robinson was close, but Ramsey was the guy who shot up in this stock-market-based award.
Honorable mention: Tyler Boyd from Clairton, Pa., also raised his stock with a great Sunday in which he caught numerous key passes and scored key touchdowns. New Iberia (La.) Westgate offensive lineman Josh Boutte and others also improved their stock.
It's never easy to talk about someone whose stock dropped, especially at an event like this where many top players refused to attend and compete. However, Upland, Calif., defensive end Joe Mathis really struggled against top competition on Saturday and made many wonder if he's a linebacker trying to play end.
Honorable mention: Houston (Texas) Alief Taylor defensive end Torrodney Prevot struggled because of a lack of size. He came in looking like an undersized linebacker or a big safety, but nothing like a Rivals100 defensive end. To his credit, he won the power ball toss against all the other big men despite giving away more than 100 pounds in many cases, but he just didn't measure up physically.
This award goes to the player with the best footwork, and Virginia Beach (Va.) Bayside running back Taquan Mizzell gets the nod for his work in the open field and in drills. Mizzell has amazing feet and makes people look silly at times.
Honorable mention: Delray Beach (Fla.) American Heritage running back Greg Bryant also flashed amazing footwork, and his change of direction was ridiculous.
This award goes to the player with the best hands, as if they were wearing Stickum that the NFL players of the 1960s and 1970s made famous. San Diego (Calif.) Horizon wide receiver Darren Carrington caught everything, including an amazing one-handed catch down the sideline on Saturday that left everyone stunned.
Poise under pressure
This goes to the quarterback who handled himself the best in key situations. And it easily goes to Fork Union (Va.) Fork Union Military quarterback Christian Hackenberg, who lead the Northeast team to the title. He made some key, pinpoint passes in the title game, including a couple to Taquan Mizzell when the clock was winding down.
Honorable mention: After an awful showing by his entire team in the first game against the Northeast squad, Whitwewright, Texas, quarterback Tyrone Swoopes showed a lot of poise and ability in the next two games and kept his team close in the final. His mechanics are off, but he can deliver the ball with accuracy, the one big knock against him.
This goes to the player who showed the most versatility in working out at multiple positions. There were many candidates here, but the most impressive was Dee Liner from Muscle Shoals, Ala., who worked with the big men on Day 1 and filled in at linebacker at 275 pounds for the Southeast squad on Sunday.
Honorable mention: Alpharetta (Ga.) Milton defensive end Carl Lawson also saw duty as a big man and a linebacker on Saturday, and Celina, Texas, offensive lineman Jake Raulerson showed off his ability as a defensive lineman as well.
Jalen Ramsey gets this award, which goes to the defensive back who provided the tightest coverage. His work against Marquez North in the first Southeast-Northeast matchup alone was impressive enough, but he did that all day Saturday and Sunday against almost everyone.
Honorable mention: Olney (Md.) Good Counsel cornerback Kendall Fuller wasn't targeted much, but when he was, he provided the excellent coverage expected from the No. 1 player at his position.
How can you find a sleeper at an event loaded with mostly four- and five-star prospects or 2014 players with a ton of offers? It's not easy, but there were a few. Romoland (Calif.) Heritage cornerback Darius Allensworth came in as a three-star and was one of the best cornerbacks on Sunday at the 7-on-7.
Honorable mention: When 2014 South Carolina offensive lineman Donell Stanley had to back out of the event because he forgot his size-22 cleats, LaGrange (Ga.) Troup offensive lineman Maurice Swain jumped on board right away and impressed as an offensive and defensive linemen. Swain held his own against many top prospects and some bigger schools should start to take notice.
Jekyll and Hyde
This award goes to the player who looked so good one day, but flopped another. On the offensive side of things, it's an easy call as Sammamish (Wash.) Skyline quarterback Max Browne was the best quarterback on the field on Saturday but really struggled on Sunday. Much of it could have been the lack of determination of the West squad and a general lack of top receivers to throw to, but Browne didn't flourish in the 7-on-7 portion as expected.
Honorable mention: Sealy, Texas, wide receiver Ricky Seals-Jones had the opposite experience. On Saturday he struggled catching the ball, couldn't get separation or run effective routes. On Sunday, after a few early drops, he got into a groove and became the big weapon everyone expected.
All or nothing
This award goes to the player who either won his matchup or lost it outright and there was little in between. Detroit (Mich.) Cass Tech offensive lineman David Dawson showed a great punch off the snap, and when he got his hands on opponents, he dominated them. However, when his first punch wasn't effective, defensive linemen went past him with ease. With Dawson, it was either win or lose within the first few seconds of each rep.
Honorable mention: Tyrone (Ga.) Sandy Creek cornerback Shaquille Wiggins either broke up a pass or gave up a touchdown, that's how things went down on Sunday. He is a gambler and too much of a boom-or-bust guy on the field, but he sure is fun to watch. Wiggins, as expected, struggled a bit with bigger receivers, and if the ball was thrown his way, something big was going to happen.
On Sunday, the Southeast squad was down numerous bodies due to injury for the Big Man Challenge but two players -- Grant Hill from Huntsville, Ala., and Austin Golson from Prattville, Ala., -- worked overtime in the heat to keep their team alive after putting in a full day's work on Saturday. Both players simply did what was asked, never backed down and never complained once. That bodes well for their future.
Honorable mention: Auburn, Ala., linebacker Reuben Foster didn't need to attend this event. He's the No. 2 player in the nation, he's committed to Alabama, and he's nursing a knee injury. However, despite the hot conditions, he went out Saturday and Sunday, worked hard in a knee brace and never thought of quitting or packing it in. That drive and work ethic is admirable in this age of top recruits thinking they have already made it.
A shot of Jolt
Those old enough to remember when Jolt Cola came our way before Five-Hour Energy and AMP remember what a kick it gave you and how it was a burst of energy in a can. This award goes to the player who brought the most energy to Day 1. Delray Beach (Fla.) American Heritage running back Greg Bryant made his presence known from the first drill.
Honorable mention: Alpharetta (Ga.) Milton defensive end Carl Lawson couldn't be stopped on Saturday and even worked out as a linebacker following an hour of exhausting 1-on-1 matchups as a defensive lineman. He couldn't be contained.
Muscle Shoals, Ala., defensive end Dee Liner arrived at the event and immediately won everyone over with his outspoken personality. From owning the players' lounge at times to goofing with friends Reuben Foster and O.J. Howard on camera, Liner has an infectious personality.
Honorable mention: Celina, Texas, offensive lineman Jake Raulerson was a lot of fun throughout the event, from weighing in twice on Friday before and after he ate (and gaining five pounds between weigh-ins) to interacting with players and media. He is full of energy and a fun kid to be around.
Gotta wear shades
The future looks so bright, you have to wear shades, and there was plenty of 2014 talent gleaming at the Rivals100 Five-Star Challenge. Virginia Beach (Va.) Bayside defensive back Quin Blanding was the best of the bunch, and is making a case to be up there in the rankings with fellow 2014 studs Da'Shawn Hand and Andrew Brown in the state of Virginia next year.
Honorable mention: Running back Leonard Fournette was the only sophomore running back at the event and he certainly held his own. The New Orleans (La.) St. Augustine star has offers from everyone and showed why with his combination of great size and shifty ability in space to go along with good hands.