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NUC 5-Star Zachary: Top Performers

The NUC Five-Star Showcase rolled through Louisiana on Sunday and there was an abundance of talent on display.

Sione Palelei won the Overall MVP Award on Sunday

247Sports was on hand and here is a look at some top performers from the 2014 class all the way down to 2016.

2014 Top Performers

RB – Sione Palelei 5-10/195 Gonzales (LA) East Ascension
Palelei took home Overall MVP honors and it is rare for a running back to take home the top award because so much of his game isn’t on display. While he wasn’t able to run through and around defenders, Palelei was able to showcase a big part of his game and that is his receiving skills. He tracks the ball so well and has very good ball skills for a back. He is a mismatch when a linebacker, and some safeties try to cover him down the seam. He showed quick feet in the individual drills and that is what makes him such a threat. Palelei has also added some weight to his frame and is noticeably bigger from the waist down which will help him be a stronger runner between the tackles.

QB – Brandon Harris 6-3/190 Bossier (LA) Parkway
247Sports recently bumped Harris up to a four-star quarterback, and he did not disappoint on Sunday on a day where the conditions were not good for throwing the ball due to the wind. Harris has good arm strength in making throws outside the numbers and can fit the ball in tight windows. He also has the leadership traits you want to see in a quarterback. He does have a slight hitch and needs to get a quicker delivery, but he anticipates well and really understands the game from the mental side. His offer list includes Houston, Arkansas, Arizona State, and Louisiana Tech, but expect to see skins from Tennessee and Nebraska on the wall very soon.

TE – Sammie Epps 6-2/210 Greenwood (MS)
Epps committed to Ole Miss three weeks ago and the Rebels picked up a kid who looks great on the hoof and also has a nice pair of hands. He caught the ball clean and had no issues going outside his frame, grabbing passes that were high and also getting low to pluck them up off the ground. Getting separation in the SEC may be an issue at receiver, but Epps has the frame to add some good weight and be an effective flex tight end at the next level.

S – Jerrell Jackson 6-0/185 Haynesvile (LA)
Jackson plays some safety for Haynesville, but with doubling up as the starting quarterback it has been tough to get a good feel for what he can do on that side of the ball. He showed on Sunday that he has the hips to be able to turn and run stride for stride with receivers, and he loves to mix it up and get physical. Jackson flashed some solid man cover skills and can cover a lot of ground with his range at free safety.

TE – Kendall Ardoin 6-4/210 Ville Platte (LA)
Ardoin may be a little light right now but he has good hands and can go up and get the ball in traffic. The emphasis on basketball has not allowed him to get as big and strong as he will need to be at the next level. But in the right system he can be a playmaker when flexed out.

DT – LaAllan Clark 6-2/250 Central (LA)
After spending so much time on both sides of the ball at Scotlandville, Clark hopes to spend more of his focus on the defensive side of the ball now that he is at Central. He has some quickness inside with an explosive first step that was tough to block. Getting bigger and stronger is going to determine what level Clark ends up on.

Ole Miss commit Sammie Epps

OT – Ethan Frith 6-6/320 Summit (MS) North Pike
The offensive line group was strong and Frith made his mark. He is a big bodied guy on the edge with pretty good feet. He was able to slide and mirror some smaller and quicker defensive ends. Getting better knee bend will help him be more attractive to college coaches, and it’s an area he needs to improve on.

TE – Jason Collins 6-2/225 New Iberia (LA) Westgate
Collins showed his versatility by working out at tight end and he ran well and caught the ball well for a guy who is probably going to end up at defensive end or as a smaller three-tech guy inside. He has some quickness and should not have any problem adding more weight to play on the D-line in college.

WR – Gabe Fuselier 5-10/175 New Iberia (LA) Catholic
After posting some impressive 40-times at other combines this spring, Fuselier flashed that speed on Sunday. Getting separation was not an issue for him and he is a solid route runner. His hands are very good and he made several tough grabs where he had to adjust his body showing excellent body control. Size is something he can’t overcome, but Fuselier has a strong skillset that should neutralize that and give him a chance to play on the FBS level.

RB – Marcus Gaines 5-7/155 Covington (LA) St. Paul’s
Speed is the name of the game with Gaines, and you could see the quick feet that he possesses. He is a homerun threat when he gets in the open field and to the edge. In the right offensive system, Gaines can be a playmaker, as well as being a threat in the return game.

QB – Raymond Crochet 6-1/195 Slidell (LA) Salmen
It was tough to throw with much touch on the ball in the windy conditions, but Crochet was able to throw some nice deep balls. His arm strength is something he will need to continue to work on, but his footwork looked to be improved from this time a year ago.

WR – Bryson Bourque 5-11/175 New Iberia (LA)
Bourque went into Sunday as an unknown commodity. But at the end of the day that label no longer existed. His ability to make sharp cuts and grab anything close to him allowed him to win numerous one-on-one battles against some top-notch defensive backs. Size is still a question mark, but Bourque will draw some looks this spring and next fall, and he can play somewhere on the next level.

RB – Chevy Thornton 5-11/185 Jena (LA)
Thornton lives in an area that doesn’t attract many college recruiters, but word is getting out on the versatile player. He is solid on both sides of the ball with good quickness and athleticism. He will need to continue to work on his hip movement when he is in coverage, but it’s easy to see why schools are starting to take notice.

OG – Hunter Perrin 6-2/270 Boutte (LA) Hahnville
A camp setting takes the physical nature out of some players, but you could still see that part of Perrin’s game. He is strong once he gets his hands on a defender and is versatile enough where he can play anywhere inside. Improving his foot speed and knee bend is something he will need to get better at, but the tools are there.

Jason Pellerin is a name to remember for the Class of 2015

2015 Top Performers

QB – Jason Pellerin 6-3/190 New Iberia (LA) Catholic
Brandon Harris took home the Quarterback MVP Award, but Pellerin was right there in the mix. For someone who played receiver as a sophomore, and put up big numbers there, he looked comfortable making his drops and threw some real nice balls. Pellerin had good ball placement and got some zip on his passes when he needed to. A few balls floated on him, but overall he was very impressive. His recruitment will pick up considerably when coaches see him this spring, and Louisiana should have another four-star quarterback in the next recruiting cycle.

WR – Rhashid Bonnette 5-11.5/175 Loreauville (LA)
He is only a sophomore, but Bonnette was the top receiver on Sunday. While size is a question, there is no question on his hands and the body control he showed in adjusting to poorly thrown balls and balls that the wind got ahold of. He routinely ran past defensive backs and was able to sink his hips and get in and out of cuts with ease.

OT – Garrett Thomas 6-6/300 Many (LA)
Thomas plays in an offense that does not give him many opportunities to pass block, but thrown into the fire he was still impressive. He isn’t real comfortable sliding and going laterally, but he has a strong punch and knows what to do when he gets his hands on a defender. Michigan has already offered and many more are on the horizon.

CB – Xavier Lewis 6-0/180 Reserve (LA) East St. John
Every time I see Lewis he moves up even more on my list for 2015. His combination of size and the physicality he brings in press man coverage make him stand out. He also has the hips to be able to turn and run, and the ball skills to make plays and go up and grab the ball. He can sometimes be a little too aggressive in wanting to jump the route, but his football IQ and his ability to recover from false steps help him close on the ball exceptionally well. Tulane has already offered, but they definitely will not be the last.

OT – Jerry Tillery 6-6/315 Shreveport (LA) Evangel
Tillery’s size is the first thing that jumps out at you. But after watching him for a few snaps you see the footwork you want to see to accompany that size. He gets a lot of reps pass blocking in Evangel’s offense and you can see the comfort level he has in protecting the edge. Tillery is a good bender and as he continues to work on his technique and not getting too high and losing leverage you will see him become a more complete player. Many offers will come his way, and they will be of the high-profile variety.

CB – Deshawn Raymond 6-1/175 New Orleans (LA) East Jefferson
Raymond’s brother, Derrick, is at LSU and he was known for speed. Deshawn doesn’t have that type of speed, but he is much more physical than his brother was. Deshawn has strong hands in pressing receivers off the line and knocking them out of their routes. He is more quick than fast, so improving that speed is something he is focusing on.
DT – Jamairous Newton 6-1/335 Many (LA)
Newton goes against some good offensive linemen in practice in Garrett Thomas and Hunter Dubois, who was not able to work out on Sunday due to a minor injury. Newton is strong at the point of attack and was tough to stop inside. He needs to develop some more moves and improve his quickness, but that can come with off-season work.

2016 Top Performers

Xavier Lewis will be one of the top corners in America for 2015

CB – Malik Antoine 5-10/175 Baton Rouge (LA) University
Antoine was at the NUC Combine a month ago and you can tell he gained some confidence from that event. For a freshman, he was not timid in defending bigger and more physical receivers that are going to be playing college ball. Antoine likes to mix it up and his footwork and ball skills allowed him to win several battles on Sunday.

OG – Collin Fountain 6-3/305 Lake Charles (LA) Barbe
Fountain is probably better suited to play inside of the collegiate level, but he still showed the ability to move laterally against quicker edge rushers. He will have a chance to play a lot for Barbe as a sophomore with his size and the punch he has. He should grab some attention from all of the college coaches that will be in attendance this spring and fall.

WR – C.J. Morgan 5-10/175 Bossier (LA) Parkway
We saw Morgan work out as a defensive back a month ago and this time he moved over to receiver. That versatility is something that will pay big dividends down the road as he has the ability to play on either side of the ball. He has good hands and good short area quickness, and one he adds some more upper body strength he will become more physical.

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