NEW KENSINGTON, Pa. – There was football weather during baseball season in the Pittsburgh area over the weekend. It was the kind of weather that would keep most high schoolers indoors in front of the television. But the chill and the rain proved to be a great filter to find out what players would step up and perform despite the adverse conditions.
Jaylon Smith was terrific this weekend.
The NLA Elite 7on7 East Regional had several players do just that and 247Sports was on hand to break down the top ten performers of the weekend.
1. Jaylon Smith. LB Fort Wayne (Ind.) Bishop Luers– The only thing more obvious than Smith’s athleticism is his passion to compete. Though the weather was nasty, Smith was excited from the first snap to the last, playing with enthusiasm and energy. As the No. 6 player in the entire country, Smith seems to embrace the expectations that brings and he’s eager to prove himself on each snap.
As a player, you rarely see a linebacker affect a 7on7 game the way Smith does. Due to his range, athleticism and long arms, the 6-3, 220-pound prospect virtually eliminates the entire center third of the field. Unless it’s a vertical route well beyond his zone or a drag route that he will swallow up instantly, Smith makes it very difficult to complete passes around his huge wingspan.
We haven’t seen Smith disappoint since the first time we saw him at this event last spring and his stock continues to stay steady as the top outside linebacker in the country.
2. Shane Morris, QB, Warren (Mich.) De La Salle Collegiate – Dealing with the elements of Saturday during pool play, Morris had his ups and downs like the rest of the quarterbacks at the event but when Sunday rolled around and the stakes were raised to “lose and you go home”, Morris picked his game up noticeably.
Granted, there were no rushers bearing down on him, but you’re not going to find a more calm and collected demeanor in the pocket than Morris. He has good touch, the ability to change speeds effectively and great confidence in his arm. Morris continued to look like one of the nation’s top arms on Sunday.
3. Carlos Thompson, WR/S, Manvel, Texas – The Goon Squad was crowned champions on Sunday and no one player played a bigger role in that championship performance than the unheralded and underrecruited Carlos Thompson. Thompson is undersized but was incredibly tough to defend throughout the entire two-day event.
Thompson was perpetually open, he made some outstanding catches and he had a knack for the big play. While much of his junior film consists of Thompson playing safety, we see Thompson’s best upside on the offensive side of the ball and feel that he is a steal for some program looking for a dynamic slot playmaker.
4. Nadir Barnwell, CB/WR, Piscataway, N.J. – If we were to name a top player of the event based strictly on Saturday’s play, Barnwell would have likely gotten the nod. He tailed off slightly on Sunday as a knee tightened up on him in the cold but he remained a dominating presence and one of the day’s top performers anyway.
Many probably project Barnwell to the defensive side of the ball at cornerback but he showed great hands on every level of pass-route and he is too much of a playmaker to not find ways to get the ball in his hands in offensive packages or on special teams. He’s physically well-constructed, he has a great competitive mindset and Barnwell is simply a playmaker.
5. Quin Blanding, S, Virginia Beach (Va.) Bayside (2014) – At every event he attends, Blanding continues to build a strong case for inclusion in the five-star ranks when they are compiled for the class of 2014. Blanding certainly has the five-star frame with unique size at the safety position but his ability to cover ground from sideline to sideline is what really makes that size so special.
A cover two fade is a dangerous pass when Blanding is patrolling the hash. As soon as it looks open, Blanding is on top of the football, hawking it down. Offensively, he makes an impact too, showing great hands, and fluidity in his routes and the ability to impact a game in a number of ways.
6. Csont’e York, WR – Though he had a couple of of offers heading into the event this weekend, York is not exactly heavily recruited to date. On both Saturday and Sunday, he played as if he is a name that college coaches need to learn quickly. York has extremely long arms making his 6-2 height play even longer. He made some spectacular grabs, in both beating defenders deep and out-jumping corners for the football. Some of those catches came at crucial points during the game.
Even when he’s not getting the ball, York just runs and moves with the natural athleticism you want out of a wide receiver. Look for his stock to rise.
7. Trevon Mathis, S, Pittsburgh (Pa.) Woodland Hills (2014) – The Steel City Stars was a team that featured one of the better defensive backfields at the entire event and three of the four starters in that backfield were underclassmen. While all of the defenders had their moments, Mathis seemed to be the player that jumped off the field the most often.
Mathis is a ball-hawking safety that has good football instincts and plays with a lot of disruptive ability in the pass game both getting off the hash and making plays on balls with air and also sticking his foot in the ground to defend curls and digs over the middle. He has a knack for inserting himself in the middle of plays that look like they should be routine completions.
8. William Fuller, WR, Philadelphia (Pa.) Roman Catholic – Lean and long, Fuller was one of the more fluid, natural wide receivers in attendance over the weekend. As a route-runner, getting in and out of his breaks, Fuller is really smooth. He has the ability to climb the ladder to track down throws out of a defenders reach and he has the hands to make a few spectacular catches. With offers from the likes of Rutgers, Toledo, Kent State and Temple, Fuller is a prospect that could see his offer list reach double-digits by mid-June.
9. Jourdan Lewis, CB, Detroit (Mich.) Cass Tech – He is undersized but Lewis does make a big impact when he is on the field. Over the weekend, Lewis was playing both cornerback and wide receiver and made a number of plays at both. He was one of the top pure athletes at the entire event with regard to his quickness, agility and change-of-direction.
10. Jake Clise, QB, Towson (Md.) Loyola Blakefield – Maryland Flex was one of the last teams standing this weekend and Cise was largely to thank for that. He was poised and confident as a passer, making good decisions, putting the ball in places that only his receivers could get it and methodically moving his offense all weekend long.
Cise is committed to Maryland for Lacrosse but will play football if he lands a good offer. Currently Boston College, Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia are interested.