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June 4, 2012
LaRue leaving beach behind for Challenge
Dallas Jackson is the National High School Sports Analyst for Rivals. Email him your questions and comments at DallasJ@Yahoo-Inc.com and follow him on Twitter.
It is hard to find fault in living near the beach in Santa Monica, but as a promising high school football player, Sebastian LaRue has a different perspective.
"It is a battle to stay focused," he said. "Honestly, for sure, there are distractions.
"This isn't Texas, where everyone just talks about football all the time. We have the beach a block or two away. I hope that my ability to avoid the distractions makes me a better football player though."
LaRue is No. 162 overall in the country and the 21st-rated prospect at wide receiver. He has 26 scholarship offers from major college football programs.
He is also committed to playing in the Rivals100 Five-Star Challenge from June 22-24 in Atlanta.
It is a chance for the 5-foot-11 prospect to distance himself from the distractions and focus on the competition.
"I am an elite prospect and as good as anyone else," LaRue said. "I was still a little surprised to get invited to go to that camp, but now that I am going I have to be focused. That is the approach I think you have to take.
"It is an honor that I have that kind of respect to be invited, but they want to see me play."
The inaugural event will be split into camp instruction with one-on-one drills and a 7-on-7 tournament with four teams determined by the region of the country.
LaRue is excited to be a part of the invitation-only event, but wishes that it was going to be real football.
"I just don't know if you can prove you are a football player in shorts and without pads," he said. "You can look at results of passing leagues around the country and then see how those teams do when the pads are on. It is good to see where you are at, but it isn't real.
"It will be a great place to get in some work and see some great competition, but I would love to see these guys all going for real."
The work that LaRue wants to get in are things that he thinks can help him when the regular season starts.
"I think all the receivers will want to be getting jammed so we can work getting off the line," he said. "In this format, there is no reason why the corners won't be pressing (since) they have nothing to lose.
"I want to get better on my release and I want to make people miss. I think I play the ball well when it is in the air, but getting open and getting better at route running is something the pros still work on, so I need to work on it too."
His time away from California should afford him that time he needs.
"I have never surfed," LaRue said. "But I do hit the beach and I know how to swim.
"Getting away for a few days will be good and getting a chance to compete will be great."
Mike Farrell's take
LaRue is a bit overshadowed by some bigger names at wide receiver at this event, but as a speedy slot receiver who can also play outside and is surprisingly strong, he's one of the best pure deep threats at the event. He's good at finding the seam between the corner and the safety, and he has excellent acceleration after the catch. He also has good ball skills and can make catches in traffic, so he could be a guy who bails out Max Browne here and there if needed. If there's a sleeper to watch on the West, it could be LaRue.