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July 15, 2014
Underclassmen Challenge: What we learned
JACKSONVILLE -- The Rivals250 Underclassmen Challenge Presented by Under Armour is an event that brings together younger prospects who get a taste of elite competition for the first time. As a result, there can be some interesting developments in terms of evaluating the players. Here are six things we learned during Saturday's camp at EverBank Field.
Miami fans should be excited
Dredrick Snelson's Saturday was productive.
The Florida-based wide receiver showed up in Jacksonville, committed to Miami on site, then went out and captured the camp's receiver MVP award. It all happened in the span of roughly five hours, which had to seem like a whirlwind of sorts to the 5-foot-11 prospect.
Physicality might be Snelson's calling card, as his strength is one of his greatest weapons. He routinely out-muscled defenders downfield and flashed strong hands in a few situations that called for him to pull down a contested pass.
Valentine-Okeke is the real deal
It did not take long for anyone to notice Hialeah (Fla.) Champagnat Catholic offensive tackle Chidi Valentine-Okeke. He immidiately passed the eyeball test and then he kept on making impressions from agilities to position drills to one-on-one and two-on-two drills. At 6-foot-5, 310 pounds, Valentine-Okeke holds his weight well with his broad shoulders and long arms. Then he showed off his athleticism and footwork. He was able to play with a solid base and patience. When he did get beat, he was able to quickly recover and regain a strong position. To say the least, he was impressive from beginning to end and it was not a hard decision to put him at the top of the offensive performers list, which says a lot considering the talent on hand in Jacksonville. -- Howell
Size doesn't matter
The camp's defensive back MVP was all of 5-foot-8 and 152 pounds. It should be noted, of course, that Huntersville (N.C.) Southlake Christian Academy cornerback Aapri Washington is a 2017 prospect and has time to add size. But even as a woefully undersized option, the sophomore-to-be is a force.
No player at the event covered better than Washington, who never let a receiver get notable separation and intercepted three passes in a 15-minute period. Even at his young age, Washington's coverage skills are elite. He'll need to bulk up if he hopes to become more physical and jam receivers at the line, but he can run with almost anyone in the country as is.
Just how good Washington becomes probably depends on his physical development more than anything else. -- Cassidy
Agim brings strength, athleticism
Hope (Ark.) 2016 defensive end McTelvin Agim did not take long to grab the attention of those in attendance. During warm-up agilities, his broad jump abilities certainly opened eyes and then once one-on-ones began, he was the only one to get a few victories over Valentine-Okeke. He comes off the ball low and has the ability to get his hips turned and power through or across his opponent. He showed a little bit of everything on Saturday, and he took home defensive line MVP honors. -- Howell
When healthy, Hayes is elite
The shoulder injury Daelin Hayes suffered near the end of camp was one of the more unfortunate storylines of the afternoon, but what he did prior to it serves as some of the day's most impressive news.
Hayes' long arms and quick feet served him well in coverage, as the Michigan-based outside linebacker was never beaten, even by smaller and shiftier running backs. Hayes' long arms allow him to close on passes that look to be thrown out of his reach. There's a reason he holds 11 scholarship offers already, and he showcased it in Jacksonville.
The severity of the shoulder injury he suffered at the event is not known. -- Cassidy
Anthony has serious speed
Andre Anthony is skinny at 6-foot-4 and 210 pounds, but he is definitely fast. He brought the speed and he used his length well throughout the day. He comes out of his stance in a hurry and stays low. When he dips his shoulder and rips through, there is not much of a target for offensive linemen. He had his opponents playing catch-up for much of the day. There were a few who were able to catch him and when they did he paid a bit of a price. However, he has the speed that will make him a coveted prospect by college coaches. -- Howell
Rob Cassidy is a Midlands/Southwest Region football recruiting analyst for Rivals.com. You can click here to follow him on Twitter.
Jason Howell is a Mid-South Region football recruiting analyst for Rivals.com. You can click here to follow him on Twitter.