May 17, 2013

Rivals Camp Series: Top underclassmen defense

MORE: Rivals Camp Series presented by Under Armour

With the top defensive players from the class of 2014 ranked by position from the Rivals Camp Series presented by Under Armour, it's time to give the younger prospects their props. Led by potential 2015 five-star Shameik Blackshear, who went against a strong group of defensive linemen at the Charlotte RCS, here are the youngsters.

1. DE Shameik Blackshear, Bluffton (S.C.) (2015)
Blackshear might have been the most impressive defensive linemen at the RCS Charlotte stop, regardless of age. He's lightning fast off the edge, and will only get better as he adds more bulk to his frame. There are several schools making an early push for Blackshear, including nearby Clemson and South Carolina. Florida, Georgia and Alabama have also offered.

2. DT Daylon Mack, Gladewater (Tex.) (2015)
Mack entered the RCS Dallas as a highly sought defensive standout and he showed off a quick first step and exceptional strength as he went through everyone in one-on-ones. He already held offers from the top programs in Texas and since has added an offer from Alabama. Texas A&M is the favorite at this point.

3. DE Albert Huggins, Orangeburg (S.C.) Orangeburg Wilkinson (2015)
Huggins was a standout at the RCS Charlotte after showing tremendous pass-rushing ability. He might end up as a defensive tackle and his brut strength might serve him well on the inside. He has early offers from Alabama, Florida, Clemson and South Carolina as well as several others and North Carolina could also come into play in the near future.

4. DE Terry Beckner Jr., East St. Louis (Ill.) (2015)
Beckner nearly bested a deep group of upperclassmen for the Defensive Line MVP at the St. Louis RCS. It is easy to see why seven BCS schools have already offered the sophomore a scholarship. Beckner has played defensive end the majority of his career, but he measured 6-foot-4, 270 pounds in St. Louis and appears headed for the defensive tackle spot in college.

5. LB Malik Jefferson, Mesquite (Tex.) Poteet (2015)
Jefferson was thought to be one of the top 2015s in Texas before the RCS Dallas and he did nothing to change that. He was a standout in drills and he showed great footwork and cover skills to go along with a long frame. Offers continue to roll in for the Poteet standout who now holds offers from Ohio State, Texas, Oklahoma, Texas A&M and TCU.

6. DB Jalen Campbell, Corpus Christi (Texas) Flour Bluff
Coming into the Houston RCS Campbell was one to watch, but he cemented his spot with his performance. He took on all comers and was a favorite test for wide receivers looking for a challenge. His hips and feet along with his physicality and ball skills made him a tough out for anyone. Shortly after the camp, Campbell committed to the Texas Longhorns.

7. DB Minkah Fitzpatrick, Jersey City (N.J.) St. Peter's Prep (2015)
Fitzpatrick definitely proved that he could play with the upperclassmen at the Newark RCS. At multiple camps this offseason, the 6-foot, 183-pound Fitzpatrick has shown the necessary technique and athleticism to be called one of the top defensive backs in the 2015 class. The excellent group of receivers at the Newark RCS wasn't able to expose Fitzpatrick. His outstanding performance in Newark earned him an invite to the Rivals100 Five-Star Challenge in Chicago.

8. DE Jashon Cornell, Saint Paul (Minn.) Cretin-Durham (2015)
Cornell is the next big thing out of Cretin-Derham Hall, which has produced top prospects like Michael Floyd and Seantrel Henderson in the last decade. The 6-foot-4, 230-pound defensive end still has some filling out of his frame to be done, but his explosion and athleticism were on display when he attended the Chicago RCS in May.

9. DT Trenton Thompson, Albany (Ga.) Westover (2015)
In a loaded field at the RCS Atlanta, Thompson stood out by showing a relentless motor. He's already has the size of a high-level defensive tackle and once he adds more strength he could be dominant. So far Georgia is the only school to offer, but several others are showing interest and his list will likely grow exponentially in the near future.

10. DE Byron Cowart, Seffner (Fla.) Armwood (2015)
Cowart emerged from a solid group of defensive linemen to grab the MVP award among his front four peers. At first glance, Cowart passes the eye test with a great build and rocked-out upper body. We liked his first step quickness and how he used hands. Since the RCS Orlando event, he has picked up multiple BCS offers from Alabama, Florida and others.

11. DE Adam McLean, North Potomac (Md. ) Quince Orchard (2015)
McLean has a chance to be one of the top defensive linemen in the 2015 class. At the Richmond RCS, McLean was very explosive and aggressive. He made some of the older, more experienced offensive linemen look silly. Many BCS programs have already offered McLean, including Florida State, Rutgers and Virginia Tech.

12. DT Rashan Gary, Scotch Plains (N.J.) Scotch Plains-Fanwood (2016)
Gary burst onto the scene at the Newark RCS. At 6-foot-4, 278 pounds, Gary has great size for a freshman and was very aggressive for such a young player. As he continues to get stronger, Gary could develop into an unstoppable force. In the days following the camp, Gary picked up an offer from Florida and more are sure to follow.

13. ATH Kyahva Tezino, Los Angeles (Calif.) Salesian (2015)
Tezino has great size and he could possibly grow into a linebacker, but at safety he was excellent in one-on-one coverage at the RCS Los Angeles. The 2015 prospect has an impressive backpedal, he breaks on the ball well and his vision is great. Plus, Tezino is really physical with receivers, which makes it difficult for them to get off the line and into their routes.

14. DE Rahshaun Smith, Towson (Md.) Calvert Hall (2016)
Smith is incredibly athletic for a freshman defensive end. He has been practicing at outside linebacker as well as defensive end and showed that he can be an impact player at each at the Newark RCS. At defensive end, Smith was too much for the offensive linemen to handle. His explosiveness off the line and speed around the corner make him nearly untouchable. While it was clear Smith had been working on playing linebacker, he still has a ways to go. He did come up with a very nice interception during one-on-ones.

15. LB Darius Smith, Florence (Ala.) (2015)
Smith may play linebacker, but he defends the pass like a veteran defensive back. At the RCS Birmingham, he recorded four interceptions in one-on-ones. It was hard not to give him the defensive skill MVP award with his performance. He will need to add some upper body bulk to hold up as a back seven defender, but he won't be a mismatch in coverage against tight ends from his weak side spot.

16. LB Jerome Baker, Cleveland (Ohio) Benedictine (2015)
Baker had just landed his first four scholarship offers when he arrived at the Pittsburgh RCS in late April. At 6-foot-1 and 202 pounds, Baker is not the biggest linebacker, but he is one of the more athletic. He made arguably the play of the camp when he pulled in a one-handed interception running with a back down the field.

17. DE Reuben Jones, Lake Gibson (Fla.) (2015)
We didn't know much about Jones coming into the RCS Orlando, but we left impressed with the defensive end's performance. Jones measured in at 6-foot-3, 220 pounds and his frame looks like it can carry added weight without sacrificing speed and quickness. He is a sleeper to watch coming out of the Heartland/Polk County region of Florida.

18. DB Eric Lee, Highlands Ranch (Colo.) Valor Christian (2015)
Lee, a sophomore, was named the top defensive back at RCS Phoenix and is already proving to be on of the top 2015 players in Colorado. What jumps off the page about Lee is his straight-line speed. Even when it looked as though he was beaten on a route, he closed in a hurry and changed the outcome.

19. ATH Derwin James, Auburndale (Fla.) (2015)
James is committed to the in-state Seminoles, so he is already well-known on the recruiting front. In Orlando, he was very good in one-in-ones. For a player who lines up on both sides of the ball, he looks comfortable at cornerback. He is able to flip his hips with natural fluidity and mirror wideouts downfield. The future Seminole has good size and a move to safety may not be out of the question if he keeps filling out.

20. DT Shy Tuttle, Lexington (N.C.) North Davidson (2015)
Tuttle was another youngster who fared well at the RCS Charlotte, looking very nimble for a 300-plus pound defensive tackle. He also got great push, and knew how to use his size and leverage to overpower offensive linemen. He already has an impressive offer list, with Alabama, Clemson, Florida, North Carolina and South Carolina among his suitors.

21. DB Deonta Fair, Miramar (Fla.) (2015)
The talented youngster hails from the same high school as former five-star Tracy Howard, so comparisons will come naturally. However, it's Fair's teammate Tyrek Cole who usually steals the headlines with his early BCS interest. Fair held his own at the Miami RCS, collecting several pass breakups while nearly coming up with multiple interceptions. We like his potential as a solid cover man at the FBS level.

22. LB Darrell Williams, Hoover (Ala.) (2015)
Williams is a long, rangy outside linebacker with above average athleticism. He protected his house at the RCS Birmingham turning in an excellent showing at Hoover. The two-sport star snagged three interceptions in one-on-ones, jumping a couple of out patterns and returning them for scores. Since the RCS he nabbed an SEC offer from Mississippi State.

23. DE Caleb Peart, Chandler (Ariz.) Hamilton (2015)
Peart was in a different class than other underclassmen at his position at RCS Phoenix. He possesses a truly rare combination of size and speed and has the frame to add size. His high school head coach believes he has the ability to grow into a better player than teammate Qualen Cunningham, a Rivals100 defensive end in the class of 2014.

24. DB Avery Anderson, Colorado Springs (Col.) Pine Creek (2015)
Anderson was uncommitted and unknown when he showed up at RCS Phoenix. The event was his coming-out party. Not only did he win a few reps against a 2014 athlete and Oklahoma target Tyler Whiley, but also he also blanketed Rivals250 receiver Cameron Denson. Everyone watching the event knew his name by the end of the day. He committed to Arizona State a few weeks later.

25. DB Daivon Ellison, Ramsey (N.J.) Don Bosco Prep (2015)
Ellison isn't very big but he plays that way and was one of the bigger surprises at the RCS in Newark. Trying to live up to the name of the next great prospect at Don Bosco isn't easy and he certainly isn't the next coming of Yuri Wright or Jabrill Peppers, both of whom were much bigger and stronger at the same stage, but he has the same swagger and confidence.

26. DB Kye Black, Fort Wayne (Ind.) Wayne (2015)
The Fort Wayne area has been producing some excellent defensive back talent in recent years, and the 5-foot-10, 198-pound Black looks like he will keep that trend going. At that size Black is probably headed to the safety position in college, but he drew rave reviews at the Cincinnati RCS for his coverage skills.

27. DB Kareem Gibson, Johnstown (Pa.) (2015)
Gibson is a cornerback with very quick feet and he is also very physical for his size. At 5-foot-10, 161 pounds, Gibson will have to add muscle to really be effective. At the Pittsburgh RCS, Gibson knocked down many passes and made sure to go against the best wide receivers there. Getting stronger will really help Gibson improve in press coverage and when he has to compete for jump balls.

28. DT Brandon Boyce, Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) University School (2015)
The U-School product doesn't have ideal defensive tackle height, but he gets a great push up front. At the RCS Miami, he was able to use height to his advantage maintaining proper leverage while driving his man back on a consistent basis. We would like to see him add a couple of counter moves when his bull rush gets stopped at the point of attack.

29. DE Noah Jefferson, Las Vegas (Nev.) Desert Oasis (2015)
Size is the first thing anyone notices about Jefferson. He's built extremely well for a 2015 prospect, but his balance is what makes him truly special. At RCS Los Angeles he was unstoppable coming off the edge during one-on-one drills. He projects as one of the top prospects in Nevada next year.

30. DE Arden Key, Lithonia (Ga.) Martin Luther King (2015)
Key is such a good athlete that he not only stood out as a defensive end at the RCS Atlanta, but when that wrapped up he moved over to tight end and turned in a solid performance in one-on-ones. He's a long, lean defensive end prospect with excellent quickness and a frame ready to add quite a bit of bulk. Key named Washington his leader a few months ago, but since has added offers from many top schools, including Clemson, Miami, South Carolina, Tennessee and USC.

31. DB Mark Fields, Charlotte (N.C.) Hough (2015)
Fields came into the RCS Charlotte stop as a relative unknown, but made a name for himself covering a pair of big-name wideouts. He knows how to play the ball in the air without taking too many gambles and he's strong enough to jam receivers at the line. He's yet to pick up any offers, but he's a player to watch going forward.

32. DT Darvin Taylor II, Chester (Va.) Thomas Dale (2015)
Taylor has a ton of potential and many BCS schools have obviously have taken notice. Taylor has recently picked up offers from Florida State, Miami, South Carolina, Virginia Tech and West Virginia. At the Richmond RCS, Taylor used his impressive size and strength to push offensive linemen out of the way. As Taylor learns to be move aggressive with his hands and refines his technique, plenty more offers will roll in.

33. LB Ricky DeBerry, Richmond (Va.) St. Christopher's (2015)
DeBerry is already one of the top 2015 prospects, having more than 20 scholarship offers. The 6-foot-2, 237-pound DeBerry is working on getting faster as he continues to transition from defensive end to linebacker. He had very good footwork and explosiveness in short distances at the Richmond RCS. DeBerry did well in one-one-ones when the running back ran short and intermediate routes but struggled when the running backs ran deep routes.

34. DE Darian Roseboro, Lincolntown (N.C.) (2015)
Roseboro made a name for himself at the RCS Charlotte stop with his speed and explosiveness off the edge. Once he puts together his physical gifts with a set of moves, he's going to be very difficult for offensive linemen to handle. He has early offers from in-state schools North Carolina, N.C. State and Duke and will likely be one of the top defensive linemen in North Carolina in his class. is your source for: College Football | Football Recruiting | College Basketball | Basketball Recruiting | College Baseball | High School | College Merchandise
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