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July 5, 2013
Underclassmen Challenge: Story lines to watch
The Rivals250 Underclassmen Challenge presented by Under Armour is set for Sunday in DeSoto, Texas. Here are some story lines Rivals.com's analysts anticipate.
As the recruiting calendar seems to get pushed up each year, players are making their college choices earlier than ever. The Underclassman Challenge is no exception, with 12 players already verbally committed.
Some of the most notable include Charleston (Ark.) quarterback Ty Storey (Arkansas commit), defensive lineman Bryce English (Texas commit) and defensive back Donovan Sheffield (Vanderbilt commit). Among the other intriguing committed prospects are class of 2017 Arizona State commit defensive end/linebacker Loren Mondy and defensive back Deionte Thompson, a class of 2015 Alabama commit. Mississippi State (two) and Arizona State (two) are the only schools with multiple commits registered for the event.
The quarterback spot projects as one of the strongest groups at the event. The catch is it's also overflowing with bodies. Standing out of the crowd will be a chore. Mesquite (Texas) West Mesquite quarterback Chason Virgil and Stephenville, Texas, gunslinger Jarrett Stidham have early offers from Texas and others while Charleston, Ark., quarterback Ty Storey is already committed to Arkansas. Drew Lock, who already holds offers from Missouri and Louisville, might be the most intriguing prospect of the bunch, as he's coming off an impressive performance at Notre Dame's team camp. Alex Delton and Ryan Willis, two players from Kansas, hold early offers from Kansas State and are in line for more soon. That said, the California-based duo of Brady White and Tyler Hilinski have enormous upside. White and Hilinski have blown people away on the 7-on-7 circuit this offseason and either could use this event as a coming-out party. There will be more than a dozen quarterbacks on hand with early FBS offers, so the competition will be fierce.
[ UNDERCLASSMEN CHALLENGE: Matchups to Watch: Cowart vs. Burrell Jr. ]
Running back competition
The competition at RB could be among the most hotly contested, especially with a roster that includes 15 players who have already received FBS offers. Among those coming in with the most notoriety are 2015 Madison (Ala.) Madison Academy running back Kerryon Johnson, who already has offers from Alabama, Auburn, Clemson, LSU and several other big-time programs. Huntersville (N.C.) Southlake Christian rising sophomore Robert Washington has already committed to Mississippi State, but has spent the offseason lighting up the camp circuit. Others to watch include Buford (Ga.) rising junior Joshua Thomas (Tennessee, Vanderbilt and other offers) and New London (N.C.) North Stanley rising sophomore Antonio Williams (Georgia, North Carolina, N.C. State offers). Other intriguing players to watch who don't have offers include all-purpose back Ruben Garnett and Southlake (Texas) Carroll rising sophomore Eboh Obi.
Local bigs to dominate?
One of the most anticipated portions of every camp is the one-on-ones between the linemen and the Midlands is bringing some fight on both sides. The offensive side of the ball will be headlined by Lewisville (Texas) Hebron offensive lineman Zach Rogers.
He already has a number of offers and is coming off a stout performance at the Rivals100 Five-Star Challenge in Chicago. He will be joined by Josh Wariboko out of Casady (Okla.) who is already committed to Oklahoma and players such as Garret Thomas and Joshua Jones, who bring a combination of size and athleticism. Cordel Iwuagwu and Jozie Milton also seem to thrive on punishing others.
The defensive side is just as strong, if not moreso. Shreveport (La.) Calvary Academy defensive tackle T.D. Moton enters with the most offers, and along with his size, he brings a motor that does not quit. Ennis (Texas) defensive end James Lockhart holds a few offers of his own and is considered one of the top prospects in Texas. Kingsley Keke and Du'Vonte Lampkin add some Houston-area punch and Jenks (Okla.) standout Marquise Overton is one of the top prospects in the Sooner state. Throw in a couple of 2016 defensive tackle standouts in Hammond (La.) St. Thomas Aquinas big man Edwin Alexander and Austin Capps out of Star City (Ark.) and you have a strong group. Let's not forget DeSoto (Texas) defensive tackle Bryce English, who is already committed to Texas, although he might be slowed by a high ankle sprain.
[ UNDERCLASSMEN CHALLENGE: Matchups to Watch: Holmes vs. Thompson ]
The long and winding road
With players from 34 states registered to compete in Sunday's Rivals250 Underclassmen Challenge presented by Under Armour, there are plenty of future stars traveling a long distance to show off. Some of the notables from Alabama who will be in Dallas are running back Kerryon Johnson, wide receiver Malik Miller, offensive lineman Tyler Carr, defensive lineman Christian Bell and linebackers Darrell Williams, Malik Miller, Keaton Anderson and Richard McBryde. Quarterback Tyler Hilinski, tight end Kyle Penniston, wide receiver Desean Holmes and defensive back Stanley Norman are big names who will make the trip from California, while quarterback Augie DeBiase, defensive lineman Byron Cowart and linebacker Jonathan Pollock are top prospects from Florida. Some of the Georgia standouts who will be there are quarterback Kevin Johnson, running back Joshua Thomas, defensive lineman Russell Ude and linebacker Quarte Sapp. A few of the North Carolina studs are running backs Robert Washington, Reggie Gallaspy and Antonio Williams and wide receivers Carl Tucker Jr. and Connor O'Donnell. Tennessee will have a large group of star recruits in Dallas, including offensive lineman Jack Jones, linebacker Josh Smith, wide receiver Van Jefferson and defensive backs Donovan Shefield, Dorian Banks and Elias Cane.
[ UNDERCLASSMEN CHALLENGE: Matchups to Watch: T. Johnson vs. D. Johnson ]Other potential stars from other states include offensive lineman Matthew Burrell Jr. and defensive end Josh Sweat from Virginia, offensive lineman Tristen Hoge from Idaho, quarterback Brian Lewerke and offensive lineman Keenan Walker from Arizona and offensive lineman Quarvez Boulware and defensive backs DuWayne Johnson and Ashton White from Washington D.C., tight end Will Gragg from Arkansas, defensive back Avery Anderson from Colorado, tight end Chris Clark from Connecticut, defensive lineman Breiden Fehoko from Hawaii, quarterback Jimmy Fitzgerald from Illinois, defensive back Tyree Kinnel from Ohio, quarterback Jarrett Guarantano from New Jersey and defensive back Kaleb Chalmers from South Carolina.
Adding up the miles is too much math for us, but it goes without saying that players will be traveling thousands of cumulative miles to attend the event and compete against the best.