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June 17, 2012
R100 Five-Star Challenge: Linebackers
Rivals.com, the nation's leader in football recruiting coverage, is bringing 100 of the country's top prospects to participate in the inaugural Rivals100 Five-Star Challenge. The free, invite-only camp for the nation's elite will feature 80 prospects from the 2013 class and 20 prospects from the 2014 class. Each position group is loaded, including the linebackers, today's featured group.
The star: Alabama commit Reuben Foster and Notre Dame commit Jaylon Smith are both five-stars and ranked as the No. 2 and 4 overall prospects in the nation, respectively. Smith made a huge jump in the latest Rivals100 release and has been outstanding at every camp he has attending this summer. Foster remained as the nation's No. 2 player but could be pushed hard by Smith over the course of the weekend as the Indiana prospect tries to supplant him as the nation's best linebacker.
The sleeper: Even though he is a member of the Rivals250, Nebraska commit Josh Banderas does not receive nearly the amount of attention as the other players on this list. However, an event like the Five-Star Challenge is a setting that he thrives as he is very good in coverage. He could certainly cause analysts from other regions to take notice of his play.
Most versatile: Two prospects listed as safeties - Tahaan Goodman and Virginia Tech commit Holland Fisher - will both be playing linebacker over the course of the weekend. Both prospects have the athletic ability to play safety but are big enough to play linebacker. It could force them a bit out of their comfort zones but it will also display just how versatile the two are.
Keep an eye on: Texas commit Deoundrei Davis made a huge jump in the latest rankings and is now the nation's No. 46 overall prospect. The 6-foot-3, 215-pound defender plays like a safety in his film so he could turn out to be the name everybody is talking about after the event. He has never attended a camp or combine so he is an unknown to most people outside the region. That will change.
Most to prove: UCLA commit Deon Hollins Jr. has been a fixture on the camp scene for several years now but has mostly lined up at defensive end, the position he plays for his high school. He recently did well as a linebacker at the Dallas Nike Camp but the competition will be much tougher this go round. Can he prove he belongs in the Rivals250 as a linebacker?
The underclassmen: This is a very talented group of juniors-to-be. Hoza Scott is in the conversation for the top player in the state of Texas in the class of 2014 while Kevin Crosby and Raekwon McMillan both have offer sheets that most upperclassmen would kill for. A pair of Californians in Jamardre Cobb and Dwight Williams have been very impressive on other camp settings this spring as well.