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Semper Fi: Best of the West, Day 1

Sana Ana, Calif. – The first day of practice for the West squad at the Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl featured plenty of full-contact, competitive work and gave us all kinds of opportunity to evaluate some of the nation’s best in a meaningful elite setting.

Elijah Qualls will visit UCLA in January but he is committed to Washington.

Even with only one practice in the books, the stars are emerging and have already begun to separate themselves. We take a look at the top performers from Monday’s West practice.

Top performers

1. Elijah Qualls, DL – A Washington commit, Qualls is undersized and isn’t going to wow anybody walking off the bus but when the pads are strapped on, his motor, quickness and leverage are very tough to limit. Qualls was consistently in the backfield and had one of the top plays of the day when he put Sean Harlow on his back to get to the ball carrier in an 8-on-8 run game drill.

2. Rami Hammad, OL – Baylor has proven to be an outstanding program for identifying and developing offensive line talent and it looks like Art Briles has found another great one in Hammad. While spending most of the day at offensive tackle, Hammad was so solid protecting the edge, playing with great balance and bringing a solid punch.

3. Christian LaCouture, DL – If you just looked up without knowing who you were looking at and saw a defensive lineman making a play behind the line of scrimmage, chances are it was either Qualls or LaCouture. LaCouture – an LSU commit – is strong enough to control the point of attack but also has the athleticism to run down the line of scrimmage and make plays in the backfield.

4. Dane Crane, OL – An offensive center that is committed to Washigton, Crane reminds us a lot of former Georgia Bulldog center and current Houston Texan Ben Jones. Though there are lineman that have a more prototypical body, Crane is just always effective and has outstanding feet at his size.

5. Darren Carrington, WR – Carrington is the best route-runner on the field. He doesn’t have great top end speed but he does have a frame that allows him to out-body cornerbacks for the football and his ability to get open is distinct. An Oregon commit, Carrington will get open and catch everything thrown in his direction.

6. Naashon Hughes, LB – The only Texas commit on the West roster, Hughes stands out instantly. He’s got a fantastic linebacker frame as a high-cut, lean athlete with long arms and legs. With regards to his movement skills, Hughes is also unique. His ability to drop into coverage and then redirect and get down hill makes him a top end guy.

7. Devon Allen, WR – Speed is the name of the game for Allen and at times his speed was just way too much for the West defensive backs. Though he’s not a huge wide receiver, his threat vertically allows him to create a lot of separation. Even after turning his ankle, Allen came back into the practice and continued to be a tough matchup.

8. Victor Egu, LB – There were two areas that Egu really flashed. He showed the ability to tackle really well in space and find running lanes to meet up with backs. He also dropped into coverage with a good concept of where the routes were being run behind him. He had at least one interception in 7on7 work.

9. John Johnson, CB – While the defensive backs struggled at times during one-on-ones, Johnson was one of the guys that continued to compete at a high level. Though he lost a couple of reps late in the period, Johnson displayed great competitive nature, quickness and closing speed that were all special.

10. LJ Moore, CB – Moore is a tough guy to figure out. His size and athleticism give him one of the highest ceilings in the nation at defensive back. He’ll make an outstanding play and then follow that up by getting beat badly. On Monday, his positives well woutweighed his negatives and he continues to look like a potential elite player.

Best by position

Quarterback – Matt Alviti
All three of the quarterbacks for the West have plenty of rust to shake off but Alviti showed the most consistency and also has some ability to make plays with his legs. His playmaking ability should be a great fit at Northwestern.

Running back – Khalfani Muhammad
There were only two running backs taking reps for the West as Kailo Moore was a late scratch this week. Muhammad with his speed and his ability to catch the ball and make plays in the screen game gets the nod. Very small but has big play threat.

Wide receiver – Carrington
Others of note: Allen, John Ross

Offensive line- Hammad
Others of note: Crane, Sean Harlow, Sean Dowling, Brayden Kearsley

Defensive line – Qualls
Others of note: LaCouture, Autin Hooper

Linebackers – Naashon Hughes
Others of note: Egu, Tyrell Robinson, Peyton Pelluer

Defensive backs – John Johnson
Others of note: Moore, Cole Luke, Daquawn Brown, Hatari Byrd

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