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June 20, 2012

Roundtable: Challenge comes into focus

MORE: Rivals100 Challenge | Underclassmen Challenge

Rivals.com football recruiting analysts weigh in on topics in a roundtable format regarding the Rivals100 Five-Star Challenge in Atlanta this weekend.

Who is one prospect you have never seen live that you're excited to watch this weekend?

Mike Farrell: For me, it has to be Reuben Foster. The nation's No. 2 player overall is beyond impressive on highlight and game film but there have been some questions about his height and how he can drop in coverage. Moving forward he's a wrecking ball and he looks fluid on film changing direction and dropping, but how will he do in a 7-on-7 setting as well as in one-on-ones compared to Jaylon Smith, who is breathing down his neck not only for that coveted No. 1 linebacker slot but also in national ranking.

Adam Gorney: Tyrone Swoopes would be the guy for me. There is so much differing opinion on him that it will be interesting to see just how far along he is as a quarterback or how much room he still has to grow. The five-star has outstanding film and really comes off as an absolute gamer to me but it will be intriguing to watch him when he has to sit back in the pocket and pick apart defenses.

Josh Helmholdt: I am certainly among those looking forward to seeing the nation's No. 1 quarterback, Max Browne, but even more than that I am looking forward to seeing the No. 2 quarterback nationally, Tyrone Swoopes. This will be a great setting for Swoopes to answer the question: Is he a quarterback who is a great athlete or more of an athlete who plays quarterback?

Chris Nee: Sammamish (Wash.) Skyline five-star quarterback Max Browne is the player I am most excited to watch this weekend. He is rated as the nation's No. 1 overall quarterback and I want to see what separates him from his peers. I just want to see if Browne can make all of the throws and how quickly he processes things on the football field. Hopefully he and the wide receivers will be able to get on the same page quickly so he can put on a show through the air.

Brian Perroni: I know that Rivals.com West analyst Adam Gorney is very high on safety Tahaan Goodman so he is a guy I'm really interested in seeing in person. Goodman will actually be playing linebacker for his 7-on-7 team but he should have a chance to work out with the defensive backs during position drills.

What position is the most intriguing in terms of the group coming in?

Mike Farrell: The wide receivers. We have never had a year without a five-star wideout and 2013 will not be the first time. So getting to see some of these top guys in person will allow us to evaluate their route-running, cutting ability, hands and ability to dominate against a very, very impressive crop of defensive backs. Someone will likely emerge from this event as a five-star wide receiver and there could be more than one.

Adam Gorney: As a group of analysts, we kept talking about the wide receivers on Tuesday night. Ricky Seals-Jones is definitely someone who can separate himself from the pack. Then there is Isaiah Jones on the Southeast team and on the West guys I want to keep a close eye on are Steven Mitchell and Darren Carrington. I've seen Mitchell dominate 7-on-7 events in recent weeks and he could push to become the No. 1 wide receiver in California again. Carrington has impressed me every time I see him at an event and this could be his time to really emerge on the national stage.

Josh Helmholdt: The linebacker group intrigues me, especially the opportunity to see the nation's top two go head-to-head. This setting is ideally suited for Jaylon Smith's game, but Reuben Foster did not get to the No. 2 spot in the country because he was average. That will be a great battle. There are also a number of linebackers I think will surprise this weekend, among them Josh Banderas, Koa Kaleopaa and Hoza Scott.

Chris Nee: The running back group that is coming in is impressive. The Southeast squad will have Delray Beach (Fla.) Atlantic four-star running back Greg Bryant, who is a power runner with good speed and better hands than you may expect out of the backfield. The North squad has Richmond (Va.) Hermitage five-star running back Derrick Green, the nation's top running back who is built like a tank but also is very quick and fast. The Southwest has 2014 running back Leonard Fournette from New Orleans (La.) St. Augustine, who is an ultra-productive runner with great size. Stockton (Calif.) Lincoln four-star running back Justin Davis for the West is the complete package with speed, size and toughness. Sometimes running backs struggle to shine in a 7-on-7 setting, but these players can all make a mark.

Brian Perroni: The position probably gets the least attention in 7-on-7 and we only have four total players coming in but I really want to see the running backs. Class of 2014 stud Leonard Fournette is very, very good but how will he stack up against a five-star prospect such as Derrick Green. I know Oklahoma is very excited to have landed Greg Bryant and the same goes with USC and Justin Davis. Davis is actually the lowest-ranked of the group as the No. 41 overall prospect in the country.

What advice would you give to the 100 prospects headed to Atlanta this weekend?

Mike Farrell: Go hard and come in with a goal in mind. Whether it's to beat a specific player, earn a higher ranking, prove naysayers wrong about something - come with a mission and give 100 percent. This is a fun trip, but it should also be a business trip for all of them.

Adam Gorney: Nothing is settled. If you're the No. 1 player in the country or not in the top 250 it's still very early this recruiting cycle and things can change rapidly. That's one reason why the Rivals.com Five-Star Challenge is so valuable, to help us see the top players going against other top players. I've talked to many prospects leading up to this event who feel they're under-ranked so this will be their time to prove it.

Josh Helmholdt: The one common theme among the prospects who will be in Atlanta this weekend is that they are all competitors. The desire to be the best is what has propelled them to this status level and they will have their game faces on when they take the field this weekend. My advice, though, would be to also enjoy the experience. These are memories they will have for a lifetime, and friendships will be forged that last long beyond this weekend.

Chris Nee: The best advice I can give each player is to enjoy this unique experience but also capitalize on it. You are competing with the best of the best from around the nation and through hard work and effort, you can make an impression and stand out against the best the nation has to offer. While you should have fun at an all-star event, also realize that this is an opportunity to make people recognize your skill, ability, and potential even more.

Brian Perroni: It's already a given since every kid invited is a serious competitor, but I would make sure they know to give it their all. It's certainly going to be a fun weekend for them but it will also be a chance to test themselves against the best of the best from across the country.



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