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July 9, 2014
Underclassmen Challenge: Storylines to watch
The Rivals250 Underclassmen Challenge presented by Under Armour is set for Saturday in Jacksonville, Fla., at EverBank Field. Here are some story lines Rivals.com's analysts anticipate following.
With rankings meetings for the 2016 class coming up on July 21, many high-caliber players will have the chance to prove they deserve to be highly ranked. On the defensive side of the ball, the secondary will be headlined by Demetris Robertson, Trayvon Mullen and Saivion Smith. They all have double-digit offers from schools such as Alabama, Ohio State, Florida State and a number of other national powerhouses. Also starring on the defensive side on the ball will be linebackers Ben Davis, Daelin Hayes and Michael Divinity; and defensive linemen McTelvin Agim, Rashard Lawrence, Garrett Rand and Janarius Robinson.
The offensive side of the ball is stacked with super-talented players who also have a chance to battle it out for a high initial ranking. Shea Patterson, Feleipe Franks and Dwayne Haskins Jr., are the most talked about quarterbacks who will be throwing to wide receivers such as Devin Duvernay, Stephen Sullivan, Mykel Jones, Binjimen Victor and T.J. Chase. Tight ends Isaac Nauta, Kaden Smith and Cary Angeline, and running backs Robert Washington, Devwah Whaley and Antonio Williams will be trying to take advantage of this chance to prove themselves. Some of the headlining offensive linemen who are hoping to show they are worthy of a high ranking are Jauan Williams, Sean Pollard, Parker Boudreaux, Richard Merritt and many more.
The battle at the wide receiver position has the potential to be the best on either side of the ball. Devin Duvernay, Stephen Sullivan, Mykel Jones, Binjimen Victor and T.J. Chase are some of the most notable names coming into the camp. Duvernay, Victor and Chase all have more than 20 scholarship offers, Jones is closing in on 15, and Sullivan is committed to LSU. But the race for wide receiver MVP won't be limited to just them.
Other receivers vying for the MVP award will be Dredrick Snelson, Drake Davis, Clyde Chriss, Cornell Powell, Brandon Johnson, Korey Charles, Jordan Duncan, Freddie Swain and rising sophomores Devon Hunter, J.T. Cauthen, Emmanuel Greene and Jacoby Stevens.
The quarterback group is especially deep with Patterson, Franks and Haskins grabbing most of the early attention. Franks is already committed to LSU and Patterson to Arizona, but Haskins' recruitment will be a longer one. The Potomac (Md.) Bullis School star has offers from schools such as Florida, Clemson, Florida State, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Michigan and many others. Speaking of the Wolverines, Michigan commit Messiah DeWeaver will be making the trip to Jacksonville to show everyone that he can be the next great Wolverines quarterback. One of the most intriguing quarterbacks on hand will be Xavier Gaines, whose offer sheet is pretty impressive. We will see if he can live up to the hype.
Protecting the passers
The big men protecting the quarterbacks will certainly have their work cut out for them against a good group of defensive linemen. Regardless of how much success they have during the camp there is no doubting their talent. Jauan Williams, Sean Pollard, Parker Boudreaux and Richard Merritt are some of the most recognizable names expected to be out there. Boudreaux leads with group with more than 30 scholarship offers, but both Williams and Merritt -- teammates at Washington (D.C.) Archbishop Carroll -- are just shy of 25 offers. College coaches have clearly taken notice of their current skill level and future potential, but their performances on Saturday will go a long way to determining their initial rankings.
Pollard is a prospect we are extremely excited to see. He has been picking up some big offers lately, his film is pretty impressive, and he is listed at 6-feet-5, 305 pounds. This will be a good opportunity for him to shed the "under the radar" tag. Don't forget about Chicago Rivals Camp Series offensive line MVP Matt Farniok, Baveon Johnson and Michael Onwenu, who are also poised for a big camp.
The talented prospects who will be in Jacksonville aren't just incoming juniors. There are plenty of rising sophomores and freshmen with scholarship offers. Look for young defensive backs and linebackers to make a big impact on the defensive side of the ball. Elvis Hines, Ahman Ross, Aapri Washington, Jamyest Williams, Chaz Ah You, Tyreke Johnson and Brendan Radley-Hiles will look to shut down the wide receivers, while Markail Benton, Solon Page III and Joshua Ross will look to handle the tight ends and running backs. Also make sure to keep an eye on defensive end MJ Webb out of Madison (Ga.) Morgan County as he looks to make his mark against the talented offensive linemen.
As previously mentioned, rising sophomores Devon Hunter, J.T. Cauthen, Emmanuel Greene and Jacoby Stevens will be trying to teach the defensive backs a thing or two, but the young group of running backs will try to make sure the linebackers have a long day. D'Andre Swift, Anthony McFarland, Robert Burns and Cam Akers all have multiple offers and are looking to prove they deserve all the early attention. Kasim Hill, Tyler DeSue and Jack West are some of the notable young quarterbacks assigned with getting the ball to these playmakers. Bruce Judson from Cocoa (Fla.), listed as an athlete, will also practice as a quarterback. Don't be surprised if he decides to play multiple positions on Saturday.
Adam Friedman is the Mid-Atlantic Region football recruiting analyst for Rivals.com. You can click here to follow him on Twitter.