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June 15, 2013
Five-Star Challenge: 10 up, five down
The second annual Rivals100 Five-Star Challenge presented by Under Armour took place last weekend in Chicago with more than 100 of the top prospects in the country competing in drills, one-on-ones, 7-on-7 and the Big Man Challenge. As always, many players raised their stock while others dropped. The Rivals.com staff breaks them down.
Note: Prospects are listed in alphabetical order and do not represent all the players who raised or lowered their stock from the event.
WR Justin Brent, Indianapolis (Ind.) Speedway: When we saw Brent live for the first time a year ago, he was raw but the physical tools were evident. Following a strong junior campaign, we made him a four-star prospect. After last weekend, though, it is obvious there is nothing raw about Brent's game now. He is a polished, dynamic pass catcher who can stretch the field vertically and is even more dynamic in the short and intermediate passing game.
WR KD Cannon, Mount Pleasant, Texas: Cannon was one of the biggest playmakers in Chicago. He is on the smaller side, but he more than makes up for it with his athleticism and route-running ability. He caught anything and everything within his reach, and he showed elite speed and footwork. His consistency and athleticism made him one of the top weapons at the Rivals100 Five-Star Challenge.
WR Johnnie Dixon, West Palm Beach (Fla.) Dwyer: We had seen enough of Dixon last fall to know he has the elite linear speed to get over the top of defenses. In Chicago, he showed the ability to get separation on speed outs and comebacks. He also displayed the toughness needed to make a play in traffic and over the middle. Dixon was at his best on vertical routes, and he turned around a few defensive backs on double moves. He caught almost everything thrown his way, and he proved he is more than just a vertical threat who relies on his speed.
WR Malachi Dupre, River Ridge (La.) John Curtis: Dupre began making positive impressions from the moment he arrived in Chicago. At 6-4, 175 pounds, he is long and wiry with elite hands and footwork to match. He made the difficult look easy as smooth and effortless became common terms to describe his play. On Saturday and Sunday, his performances caused some to wonder if he might be the top wide receiver in the country.
DE Davon Godchaux, Plaquemine, La. The biggest thing Godchaux showed was that his performance at the Rivals Camp Series presented by Under Armour stop in Houston was a sign of things to come. He played with great pad level, and his explosiveness off the line was among the best in attendance in Chicago. His first step is quick and low, and he did a great job of mixing up counter moves to get to where he wanted to go.
TE Daniel Helm, Chatham (Ill.) Glenwood: The needle on Helm's stock continually moves higher each time we see the 6-foot-4, 230-pound tight end. Against the top linebackers and safeties in the country, the Tennessee commit was nearly unstoppable. His route running is precise, his hands are reliable, and his speed is underrated. We have not seen how effective he can be as a blocker, but you will be hard-pressed to find a better receiving weapon at the position in the country this year.
OL Demetrius Knox, Fort Worth (Texas) All Saints Episcopal: It is hard to deny what was seen in Chicago, and that was Knox taking his game up a notch. He has looked the part and has shown glimpses, but over the weekend on Soldier Field he put together his best, most complete performance to date. The standout offensive lineman flat-out dominated his opponents throughout the weekend.
OL Damien Mama, Bellflower (Calif.) St. John Bosco: Mama is 360 pounds, but he has light feet and moves well for his size. He kept up with some outstanding defensive linemen and did a really impressive job during the Big Man Challenge. What sticks out most about Mama is that he can move his body and extend his arms well to control a defensive end or tackle. He doesn't need to move much because of his size, so if he just pivots one or two steps in either direction he usually wins the rep.
DB Steven Parker, Jenks, Okla.: At 6-1, 192 pounds, Parker looked the part upon arrival. He showed he belonged when he was named one of the top performers on Saturday. Parker was a wide-ranging free safety who showed the capability to stand out as that center fielder. He was all over the place, and he used his length and speed to quickly close down passing lanes. He also flashed impressive ball skills.
WR Travis Rudolph, West Palm Beach (Fla.) Cardinal Newman:- Rudolph was exceptional at the Five-Star Challenge. He runs excellent routes and explodes out of his breaks. One thing we noticed is he doesn't wait for the ball; he attacks it. His hands are as sure as it gets, and he understands how to get open against man or zone coverage. He isn't the tallest, but he can high point the ball against bigger defenders with his above-average vertical ability. We like his pedigree (cousin of Devin Hester), football IQ and reliability. There may not have been a more complete wideout performance in Chicago outside of Rudolph's.
WR Jalen Brown, Phoenix (Ariz.) Mountain Pointe: Brown has never disappointed when he has been on the field. He has elite-level hands, and he runs crisp routes. He also has solid size. The concern starting to creep in has nothing to do with his skill set. Instead, it involves his durability. Brown has battled a host of injuries for the entirety of the spring and summer, and he has been extremely limited on the camp circuit. He does not have a frame that can fill out easily. There's no reason to believe he isn't the same dominant wide receiver he was as a junior, but questions about his toughness need answering.
OL Natrell Curtis, Phoenix (Ariz.) Mountain Pointe: Curtis is an interesting case because he was dominant at RCS Phoenix, where he admitted he was out of shape. The bad weight has continued to pile on in recent months, though, and it has started to slow him on the playing field. Curtis has proven he can be a force when he's in ideal playing condition, so his decline is sad to see. He was hampered by a minor ankle injury at the Rivals100 Five-Star Challenge, but the reps he took were not pretty.
LB Michael Ferns, Saint Clairsville, Ohio: The 6-foot-3, 233-pound Ferns is at his best when he is playing downhill and stuffing the run. Camp/7-on-7 settings do not showcase that element of the game, but they give a good sense of how a player moves in space and plays coverage. Those are the aspects of Ferns' game he needs to work on. He had trouble changing direction and turning to run with backs and tight ends down the field.
OL Steven Moss, Fredericksburg (Va.) Chancellor: Moss got his wish and was a late invite to the Five-Star Challenge, but he might regret it now. The Virginia commit has great size for a guard, but he was slow at the snap and did not show the lateral quickness to stay in front of the defensive tackle. He was often caught holding or even tackling his opponent. While Moss was strong and physical, his technique suffered because he was always trying to play catch-up.
OL Sam Mustipher, Olney (Md.) Good Counsel: Notre Dame is getting a guard with the physical tools to excel and a frame with a lot more room to fill out, but Mustipher needs substantial work on his technique before he is ready to step on the field at the next level. Mustipher plays a little high, but the most troubling thing about him was his hand placement. He was always punching way too high, and he was caught holding multiple times. Because he can play too high at times, Mustipher is vulnerable to the bull rush.