LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla.- The first day of Gridiron Kings at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex featured a dominant performance by the Southeast team, which finished the day 3-0 and surrendered only one touchdown, which is somewhat unprecedented in the 7-on-7 setting.
The nation's top cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III was the top performer Saturday at Gridiron Kings.
Many of those prospects from that squad litter our “Dandy Dozen” from the first day of the action. The event concludes Sunday morning with a single-elimination tournament and a champion crowned.
1- Vernon Hargreaves III, CB, Tampa (Fla.) Wharton
Hargreaves, who played safety during the event, had multiple special plays in coverage, including a 65-yard interception return for a touchdown. The nation’s top cornerback prospect did not disappoint, displaying outstanding ball skills, excellent hips and footwork and being a nightmare for the three quarterbacks he faced during the evening. Hargreaves is committed to Florida.
2- Quin Blanding, S, Virginia Beach (Va.) Bayside (Class of 2014)
As outstanding at Hargreaves was, it was a tough call between he and Blanding for the top performer. After the first game of the day, Blanding made a case that he was indeed the top prospect on hand, as he had multiple big plays. One thing that is clear every time that we see Blanding is that the game moves slow for him. Nothing is rushed and everything is fluid. He finishes plays in an instinctive and confident manner. The 6-foot-2, 197-pounder has a slew of early scholarship offers, including Virginia, Virginia Tech and others.
3- Leon McQuay III, Seffner (Fla.) Armwood
McQuay teamed with fellow “Team Tampa” prospect Hargreaves to form the most dominant secondary duo we’ve seen in a seven-on-seven setting in some time. The rangy McQuay made covering from hash mark to boundary look effortless. He had multiple big plays, including a touchdown-saving interception against the Midwest. McQuay is still undecided in his college decision, but there is a lot of buzz about Vanderbilt right now.
4- Laquon Treadwell, WR, Crete (Ill.) Crete-Monee
Four-star safety Leon McQuay III had multiple big plays for the Southeast squad during the first day of Gridiron Kings. McQuay is still weighing his college decision, but we hear Vanderbilt could be in the best shape. It would be one of the highest-rated signees in Commodores history if it happens.
Treadwell backed up an impressive showing at The Opening earlier this month on Saturday here. He made tough catches look easy whether it be on a “go” route or over the middle in traffic. His understanding of how to use his body and create separation without drawing a flag is impressive every time we see him. Michigan is the team to beat here.
5- O.J. Howard, TE/WR, Prattville (Ala.)
The recently-crowned 247Sports five-star continues to be the best tight end in this setting, hands down. His ability to run routes with fluidity, separate from linebackers or safeties and make any reception in his area code is the best we’ve seen from a tight end prospect in recent years. Howard is committed to Alabama, where we would not be shocked to see him get a look at receiver.
6- Matthew Thomas, LB, Miami (Fla.) Booker T. Washington
The five-star prospect thrives in this setting because of his length and quickness and has drawn praise from other prospects for his ability in coverage. While Hargreaves and McQuay patrolled the secondary for the Southeast squad, it was the play of Thomas and the Southeast linebackers that kept opposing teams from getting big plays underneath. We believe that Florida State is the team to beat here over longtime favorite Miami (Fla.) and Alabama.
7- Tony Stevens, WR, Orlando (Fla.) Evans
The Florida State commit showed off some explosiveness in the open field and burst after the catch that we had not seen in this setting prior. Evans also has a great set of hands and has the ability to make tough catches in traffic. Translation: He proved to be a more complete receiver on Saturday and was instrumental in the Southeast squad’s offense.
8- Marcell Harris, S, Orlando (Fla.) Dr. Phillips
Playing for the Southwest squad, Harris again showed us that he’s more than a downhill, in-the-box safety prospect. He consistently makes instinctive breaks on the ball and had shown the ability to make the tough interception in traffic. While many believe Florida is the team to beat for Harris (he was at Friday Night Lights last night), he will take an official visit to Texas early in the football season and one would be wise not to count Florida State out, either.
9-Taquan Mizzell, RB, Virginia Beach (Va.) Bayside
Mizzell continues to be the most elusive running back in this particular setting that we’ve seen this summer. What makes it even more impressive is that this event is loaded with all-purpose backs like Alvin Kamara, Ryan Green and Dontre Wilson- all of whom shine in 7-on-7. Mizzell simply is the best and was showing that again Saturday. Virginia is considered the team to beat for his services, but West Virginia also is in the mix.
10- Stanvon Taylor, WR, Tulsa (Okla.) East Central
Taylor is a prospect we were very excited to see here because he missed his entire junior season with a broken ankle. The Oklahoma commit showed that he is back from the injury 100 percent without question. He was both quick off the line and getting into routes and created instant separation out of cuts. He scored on a long touchdown and made a number of key plays for the Southwest squad.
11-Larenz Bryant, LB, Charlotte (N.C.) Vance
Bryant typically stands out in this setting and did so with the loaded Southeast squad on Saturday. What he did particularly well this time around was close. Many times, the opposing team would attempt to throw an underneath pass to a back or tight end because the secondary had the receivers covered and Bryant’s ability to close limited the yardage they could get. Bryant is committed to South Carolina.
12- Troy Williams, QB, Harbor City (Calif.) Narbonne
One a day where most of the quarterbacks were feeling their way through the plays and becoming more acquainted with their receivers, Williams had a huge first game and continues to play extremely well in these types of settings this summer. He threw multiple long touchdown passes and displays excellent footwork and arm strength. Williams is committed to Washington and is an outstanding fit for the Huskies offensive system.
JC Shurburtt contributed to this report
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