HOOVER, Ala. - This past weekend some of the nation's top high school programs gathered at Hoover High School Thursday-Saturday for the Southeastern Select 7-on-7 Tournament. Don't let the name fool you, though. While the tournament was made up of teams mostly from the Southeast, the states of Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Virginia were also represented.
The teams participating in the tournament were Tampa (Fla.) Jefferson, Covington (Tenn.), Niceville (Fla.), Duncan (S.C.) J.F. Byrnes, Springdale (Ark.), Hoover (Ala.) Spain Park, Daphne (Ala.), Richmond (Va.) Huguenot, Hoover (Ala.), Miami (Fla.) Monsignor Pace, Pittsburgh (Pa.) Thomas Jefferson, Shreveport (La.) Evangel Christian, Enterprise (Ala.), Laurinburg (N.C.) Scottland County, Moblie (Ala.) McGill-Toolen.
Coming into the tournament the favorites were last years champion Thomas Jefferson, last year's runner-up J.F. Byrnes, and powerhouses Hoover and Evangel Christian. Hoover divided their talent up evenly among two teams and played teams in the tournament, which drastically hurt their chances.
There were no five-star caliber players at the tournament, but there were plenty of Division I prospects and several big names for the class of 2006.
Perhaps the biggest name in attendance was Huguenot cornerback Sean Smalls. He already boasts some big time offers and showed why in shut down coverage over the three day period, though Huguenot was out of the double elimination tourney by early Saturday morning. Smalls teammate and Penn State commit Kevin Cousins did not make the trip.
Around 11 a.m. Saturday morning the field had been narrowed to four schools and there were several players that stood out among the four schools. Perhaps the two most impressive players in the entire field were a pair of 2006 quarterbacks.
Spain Park quarterback Neil Caudle hit pass after pass and just kept leading his team to victory. The 6-foot-2, 190-pound junior threw a crisp ball and showed great composure in the tourney. He has a strong arm and throws a very accurate pass. He very well could already be the top quarterback in the state of Alabama. He is also an excellent baseball player and will be heavily recruited in both sports. He helped lead Spain Park to a third place overall finish in the tournament.
It seemed the Caudle completed a large percentage of his passes to Clemson commitment Tyler Grisham. The 5-foot-11, 183-pound athlete made acrobatic catches on the offensive side of the ball all day and gave up nothing on defense. He was one of very few two-way players in the tourney. It looks like Clemson came into the Heart of Dixie and stole one right from under the Tide and Tigers. Grisham is a very solid player who could play either side of the ball in college, but may project a little higher as a defensive back.
Duncan (S.C.) J.F. Byrnes had a host of prospects. The most notable prospect was wide receiver/defensive back Reynaldo Hunter. He played mostly offense in the tourney, but may project as a defensive back on the next level. The 5-foot-11, 170-pound Hunter showed excellent speed and agility all weekend long and has recently picked up offers from Clemson and North Carolina in addition to an early offer from Duke.
Two prospects that you have not heard as much from on the Byrnes squad is wide receiver Freddie Brown and junior defensive back Prince Miller. Brown transferred from North Carolina last season and has flown under the radar, but could easily be considered a top ten in-state player.
The 6-foot-4, 195-pound Brown has scholarship offers in football and basketball. He has a huge frame for a wide receiver and couldn't be covered by opposing defensive backs. Miller is a junior defensive back, who allowed nothing to be completed on him all weekend. He is sure to be on of the top players in the Palmetto State in the class of 2006.
While there were many good prospects in attendance, the one player that had everyone buzzing was Springdale, Ark., quarterback Mitch Muslain, who led his team to an undefeated tourney title. Muslain is a very solid quarterback. He is a 6-foot-3, 200 pounder with a cannon and deadly accuracy. He was able to thread the needle on many routes, he hit guys in the corner of the end zones, he was simply amazing. It remains to be seen how he develops during his junior year, but he has all the makings of one of the top signal callers in America for the class of 2006.
Most schools would happy coming in second place in such a prestigious tournament, but not when you're Shreveport (La.) Evangel Christian. Evangel quarterback and Memphis commit Billy Barefield had a very good showing and is as mechanically disciplined as you are going to find. The Eagles had a sleeper wide receiver named Renaldo Graves, who looked great all weekend. He is a super looking athlete that is going to get some looks at outside linebacker in college.
Other prospects who stood out were Hoover safety Cory Reamer, Hoover and Georgia Tech commitment Jahi Word-Daniels, Hoover wide receiver Mason Dueitt, Hoover athlete Jarod Bryant and Enterprise, Ala., junior defensive end Raven Gray, who played wide receiver for the weekend and measures in at 6-foot-3, 225 pounds.