April 13, 2013

Rivals Camp Series Richmond: Buzz


MORE: Rivals Camp Series presented by Under Armour

RICHMOND, Va. -- The battle for the top spot in the Rivals100 was the focus of the Rivals Camp Series presented by Under Armour event at Glen Allen (Va.) Deep Run on Saturday.

Dallas Jackson is the National Columnist for Rivals.com. Email him your comments or story ideas to DallasJ@Yahoo-Inc.com and follow him on Twitter.

The attention being paid to the order in the rankings was not just on the mind of the Rivals.com team of recruiting analysts, but also the players within striking distance of Woodbridge (Va.) High defensive end Da'Shawn Hand, the current No. 1 prospect in the country.

Also participating at the Richmond event were Virginia Beach (Va.) Bayside safety Quin Blanding, Chesapeake (Va.) Oscar Smith defensive tackle Andrew Brown, Greenville (N.C.) Rose defensive end Kentavious Street and Washington (D.C.) Friendship Collegiate cornerback Jalen Tabor. The quartet represented the Nos. 4, 6, 14, and 27 players, respectively, in the Rivals100.

Each wanted to show why he deserved a move up.

Hand said he was ready to welcome all challengers.

"It fires me up," Hand said. "Everybody wants to knock me off the totem pole. I just came out to solidify why I am No. 1 and I am not worried about what anybody else has to think about me just as long as I'm satisfied with myself.

"A lot of people want to be No. 1 but they don't realize the work you have to put in and the sacrifices you have to make."

Hand played well in the skills portion of the camp and was the first player to have his Under Armour compression shirt torn off during one-on-one reps.

Rivals.com national analyst Mike Farrell said that what he saw from Hand on the day was about what he expected -- including the loss of clothing.

"Da'Shawn is just so fast and quick with his hands that kids have to hold him or get beat," Farrell said. "That is really what we saw today, he would have won all his reps easily if kids were dragging him down and holding him."

The battle in the trenches was physical and allowed for Hand to be judged side-by-side against Brown and Street.

Brown said that he expected to play well on the day.

"(My goal is to) dominate everybody," he said. "That is what I expect.

"Do my thing in the skill drills and then show out in the one-on-ones -- that's the only thing that matters."

Farrell said that Brown did exactly that in the competition. Putting on a display of his quickness and tempered aggression.

"He really has violent hands," Farrell said. "He has a lot of power but has good speed as well."

Brown said that he was working hard to get stronger and that his time in the weight room has increased. He said that he has improved his bench max from 315 pounds at this time last year to 360 pounds and can put up five reps of his old max.

Hands and strength are two things that Street believed he needed to work on to unseat the current No. 1 player.

"I look at my film and see flaws in my game," Street said. "It makes me better.

"My hands need work, I would get fatigued in the third and fourth quarters and then slack when coming off the edge on a rush."

Street said that he has been working hard in the weight room as well as on foot drills.

Neither went unnoticed by Farrell.

"He is a big, thick kid (who) can rush the passer," Farrell said. "His second rep I saw him drop his shoulder and get the edge. He was fast."

The defensive back battle between Blanding and Tabor was one of the more interesting on the day.

Each player said he eyed the top spot but wanted to compete more than state a case for the pole position.

"I want to show people that I don't slack off or sit around on the couch and play around," Blanding said.

He was also cognizant of Tabor in his rearview mirror.

"He's a really tough competitor and really good at what he does so I just need to stick to my game and play my fundamentals," Blanding said.

The lone four-star in the discussion, Tabor was not shy about his displeasure for the rankings.

"That is why I came down here," he said. "I want to get five stars. I am No. 27 in the country right now but I think I should be higher.

"It is a good ranking, but not where I want to be. I want to be No. 1."

Each of the five earned invitations to the Rivals100 Five-Star Challenge presented by Under Armour at the end of the event circuit and it will give each another shot at Hand.

Farrell said that after the performance in Richmond that he believes the order is correct.

"They all were what we thought they were," he said. "Their strengths showed but I don't think that there is any reason to change the order."

For Hand, it just means more time working to fend off the pack.

He said it is a good problem to have and something he relishes.

"Doing this, doing what I am doing is hard," he said. "But if it were easy everyone would be doing it."

More invites

The Richmond area stop of the Rivals Camp Series presented by Under Armour was the most top-heavy group of the tour, with five players ranked inside the Top 30 of the Rivals100.

Da'Shawn Hand, Quin Blanding, Andrew Brown, Kentravious Street, Jalen Tabor and Derrick Nnadi were awarded with an invitation to compete at the Rivals100 Five-Star Challenge and they were not alone.

Norfolk (Va.) Lake Taylor defensive end Jalyn Holmes, Forestville (Md.) Bishop McNamara offensive lineman Damian Prince and Virginia Beach (Va.) Catholic receiver Jamil Kamara each played their way into the event.

Rivals.com regional analyst Adam Friedman was impressed by all of the players.

Holmes came into the event as the No. 30 player in the Rivals100 and played well in a star-studded group of defensive lineman.

"He has pure physical gifts," Friedman said. "He is filling out really well and has improved his technique which showed."

Prince was among the standout performers of an offensive line group that was tasked with holding off four of the highest-ranked players in the country.

Friedman said the No. 31 prospect more than held his own.

"I don't think there is a better looking offensive lineman prospect in the country right now," he said. "He has great power and really good lateral movement."

Kamara is the No. 106 player in the country and was as advertised.

"He is a big, thick receiver," Friedman said. "He is a possession receiver (who) has very good hands. His speed could be improved so he can stretch the field more vertically but there are few limitations in his game."

Nnadi, a DT from Virginia Beach, is No. 37 overall. He won an invite by taking the defensive line MVP honors in Richmond.

The nine players invited to the Rivals Five-Star Challenge is a single-location record and pushes the total for the event, presented by Under Armour, to 36.




 

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