TRENTON, N.J.- Though the dominance by the individual talent from the state of Virginia was the main storyline at the National Underclassmen Five-Star Showcase on Sunday at the Robbinsville Field House, there certainly was plenty more worth mentioning.
2014 All-American Andrew Brown is a virtual lock to be a five-star prospect by 247Sports for the Class of 2014.
Future Five Stars
Class of 2014 All-Americans Andrew Brown (Chesapeake, Va./Indian River) and Quin Blanding (Virginia Beach, Va./Bayside) were the top two overall performers at the event and very likely are two of the top overall prospects in the country for the next recruiting cycle.
Brown is a 6-foot-3, 285-pound defensive end/defensive tackle with advanced quickness, athleticism and tenacity while Blanding is a 6-foot-2, 192-pound safety that covers like a corner and will flat-out knock you out in the run game. In the state of Virginia, they’ve been talking about how good the 2014 class will be for years and these two, while just the tip of the proverbial iceberg, are absolutely elite.
Expect them both to be rated five-star prospects by 247Sports in the near future.
The two prospects from the state of Virginia- Class of 2013 three-star Corwin Cutler (Virginia Beach/Ocean Lakes) and Class of 2014 prospect Caleb Henderson (Lake Braddock) were the two top signal callers at the event, but there were others that stood out.
This only reinforces the belief that after several down cycles at the position, the quarterback is back. The 2013 and 2014 cycles should feature much better talent across the country at quarterback than in the previous 2-3 cycles.
Here’s a look at three that stood out in addition to Cutler and Henderson.
Rhode Island signal caller Jacob Simons impressed at the NUC Five-Star and we think his stock will continue to climb as he gets more exposure. He plans to compete at the Elite 11 Regional Workout on April 28 in New York City.
-Rhode Island’s Jacob Simons (Barrington) has excellent film, is 6-foot-3, 185 pounds and ran a 4.54-second 40-yard dash at the Philadelphia Nike Sparq Combine back in February. At this event, he displayed good arm strength and a nice touch on his passes. Currently, he’s the nation’s No. 31 dual-threat quarterback prospect, but we think his stock could rise significantly. Geography (there aren’t very many FBS-level football prospects that come out of Rhode Island) is working against him a little, but he plans to attend several events like the Elite 11 Regional Workout on April 28 in New York City, that should raise his visibility. Boston College and others are showing interest. Simons wasn’t the only three-star prospect from Rhode Island at the event, either. Athlete Joshua Morris competed well despite an injured hamstring. BYU is close to offering.
-We thought Devin Ray (Bernardsville, N.J./Bernards) was impressive on film- quick release, good feet and a heady player. On Sunday, he showed all of those things in the passing game. He’s not the biggest quarterback out there in terms of height, but we think he’s a potential steal for a non-BCS FBS program or a program that is taking a second quarterback. Ray should pick up some offers this summer at college camps. He threw for 2,134 yards and 23 touchdowns last fall.
-From the Class of 2014, Frank Nutile (Ramsey, N.J./Don Bosco Prep) has excellent size at 6-foot-4, 200 pounds a live arm. He made several difficult passes look easy on Sunday and we know he will be well-coached at Bosco, so look for him to be a definite FBS-level prospect in the coming years provided he backs up his performance in this setting in pads this fall.
Aaron Glover, LB, Virginia Beach Princess Anne
Glover caught the eye of our analysts at the New Level Athletics Elite 7-on-7 in early March in Atlanta and again displayed plus movement and athleticism during the event on Sunday. Virginia and others are showing interest in the undersized, but fast, linebacker prospect.
Dontea Ayres, RB, Salisbury (Md.) Wicomico
It’s hard to call the 5-foot-9, 215-pound Ayres a sleeper as he has offers from Duke and West Virginia, but something about the way he continues to show up places and compete, combined with his film, makes us think that he probably is a bit under-recruited at this point. Ayres has excellent balance and strength and is the type of blue-collar player that can impact a program in ways like special teams and in the weight room from the start.
West Virginia and Duke have offered Maryland running back Dontea Ayres, so it's hard to call him a sleeper.
Terrance Toney, S, Cape May Court House (N.J.) Middle Township
This was our first time to see Toney in person and he has good size and range for a safety. In the reps he took at defensive back, he showed the ability to cover and combined that with what we see on film- his tackling ability- we think he could be a steal for a college program.
Darrion Locke, OL/DL, Potomac (Md.) Winston Churchill
Locke continues to impress us with the way he can move for a 6-foot-2, 320-pounder. The one-on-one reps (OL vs. DL) lasted for a good two hours on Sunday, yet he hung in there and was named the offensive line MVP for the event. He also is a skilled defensive tackle on the high school level. We think he will end up picking up several offers based on our in-person observations and also what we see in pads.
-It’s no secret that the key to Virginia Tech’s success under Frank Beamer has been the Hokies’ ability to keep talented prospects from the Commonwealth in-state. In speaking with many of the Virginia prospects, their parents and coaches, there still is quite a lot of positivity about Virginia Tech with talented in-state prospects. Virginia, under Mike London, has created that same type of excitement and that program was being talked about quite a bit as well. Regardless, there’s a good chance the Hoos and Hokies will sign the majority of Virginia’s top talent the next two cycles- and that’s a good thing given the talent level in that state.
-One interesting trend when talking to prospects, parents, coaches and fellow analysts at the event- there is a heavy emphasis on academics with many of the players that attended the camp. Northwestern, Michigan, Ivy League programs- any of the schools with great academic reputations were certainly talked up. One talented 2014 prospects called it “everything” with his decision and insinuated that he wouldn’t even consider a school without a sterling academic rep.
-There was a contingent of prospects from New York City at the event and most of the players, parents and coaches confirmed what we’ve been saying for a while- Syracuse and Connecticut do by far the best job of any programs that recruit the Big Apple.
Class of 2014 defensive tackle Jay Hayes has the chance to be a big time prospect from the Big Apple. His tenacity and motor were both things that stood out during Sunday's NUC Five-Star Event in Trenton, N.J.
New York, New York
There was some serious defensive talent from the Big Apple on display Sunday. Here’s a look at three that impressed.
Ousmane Camara, DE/OLB, Bay Shore (N.Y.)
Camara, a Long Island product, may best project as a defensive end in college, but he plays linebacker. He’s got good size and feet and moves around quite well. Purdue recently became the first school to offer him. Based on his showing at the event, plus what we saw on film, he’s entering the 247Sports rankings with an overall grade of 84, which is a mid three-star prospect.
Thomas Plonski, DE, Brooklyn (N.Y.) Tech
Plonski is still sitting on one offer, from FCS power James Madison, and he said things have been a bit slow. We suspect they will pick up for him during the forthcoming spring evaluation period and then this summer as he camps at colleges. Admittedly, he showed to be a bit raw during one-on-ones, but he still has good feet and size.
Jay Hayes, DT, Brooklyn (N.Y.) Poly Prep (Class of 2014)
The 6-foot-5, 270-pound Hayes is very raw, but is intense, big and athletic. He has the makings of a big-time defensive linemen provided he can develop in college. Connecticut has offered him a scholarship and Notre Dame (which he called his dream school) and a host of other programs are showing early attention. Simply put, Hayes has as much upside as most of the prospects at the event on Sunday. He just has to hone his skills and continue to improve and learn the game.
Two more 2014s to watch
Justin Herron, DT/OL, Potomac (Md.) Bullis School
Herron is a big and athletic prospect and we aren’t so sure that his best long-term upside isn’t on the offensive line. Regardless, he held his own in the one-on-one drills and his combination of size and skill certainly will translate into at least a handful of early offers after the forthcoming spring evaluation period. Maryland, Villanova and a host of others are already showing interest.
James Hendren, OT, Brookline (Mass.) Dexter School
The 6-foot-7, 305-pound Hendren, a teammate of Class of 2012 four-star linebacker and Maryland signee Abner Logan, is blessed with tremendous size and a high football I.Q. He tweaked his arm during one-on-ones, so we didn’t get to see as much of him as we would have liked, but he definitely looks the part. We expect him to end up at a school with a strong academic reputation or in the Ivy League when all is said and done.
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