June 27, 2007

Stars shine at Rutgers 7-on-7

With upwards of 80 schools competing at the 2007 Rutgers 7-on-7 Shootout this past weekend, there was plenty of talent sprawled all over the Piscataway Campus. Leading the way were five-star athlete Will Hill of Jersey City (N.J.) St. Peter's Prep, four-star athlete Brandon Smith of New Brunswick, N.J., and four-star cornerback Brandon Harris of Miami (Fla.) Booker T. Washington.

Hill, who lined up at quarterback, wide receiver, and safety throughout the day, helped lead the Marauders to the Final 16. He was most comfortable at the safety position, where he was able to show off his ball-hawking skills, but he did struggle at times at wide receiver and was inconsistent as a quarterback.

One of the younger players who shined for St. Peter's Prep was rising junior Nyshier Oliver, who should be the next big recruit out of the North Jersey power. Oliver is an impressive athlete, and can excel at wide receiver, running back, or defensive back.

Just as with Hill, Brandon Smith was most impressive from his natural safety position. Smith flies to the ball and possesses fantastic sideline to sideline speed. However, the entire New Brunswick team struggled with their passing game including Smith at quarterback.

Another player who definitely stood out for the Zebras though, was Marquise Hamm, who has the potential to develop into a top college player. He has both the athleticism and physical tools, including extremely long arms, which makes him a very intriguing defensive end prospect.

The top story of the event was Booker T. Washington High School of Miami. The Tornadoes sent eight players to the event, including Harris, three-star wideout Davon Johnson, Miami commit three-star wideout Thearon Collier, and two-star quarterback Sancho McDonald.

Harris is the definition of a complete and polished player. He excelled on both sides of the ball, but his closing speed from his cornerback position is what really stood out.

For Johnson, his game is about speed, speed, and more speed. It's not often that you see a player repeatedly turn 3-yard dump passes into 40-yard touchdowns during a 7-on-7, but Johnson made a habit of this throughout the day.

Equally impressive was Collier, whose moves after receptions left defenders diving at air over and over again. He will be a great fit for the Hurricanes as both a slot receiver and kick returner.

The most unheralded of the group coming into the event was McDonald, but he definitely made a name for himself. McDonald, a legitimate 6-foot-3 now, only threw two interceptions during the day and repeatedly made the correct read and decision. He also showed that he has the ability to both throw the ball with zip and touch.

Recent Virginia commit Bill Schautz once again proved that he has what it takes to be a college tight end. After already showcasing his abilities at both the Elite College Combine and Rutgers Nike Camp, Schautz further showed that he has impressive hands and the ability to catch the ball in traffic.

Another committed played, linebacker Eric LeGrand of Colonia, N.J., who will attend Rutgers, also had a successful day, as he moved very well for a player of his size and helped lead his Patriots to one of the bigger upsets of the day when they defeated Will Hill and St. Peter's Prep.

The top class of 2009 prospect was running back Theo Riddick of Somerville (N.J.) Immaculata, who has added some noticeable size to his frame since the 2006 season ended. Riddick possesses good hands and quickness, plus also showed off his athleticism as a safety.

One of the top young signal-callers at the event was rising junior Michael Colvin of Morristown, N.J.. Colvin has good arm strength, moves his feet very well, and also threw the ball very well while on the run.

Another Class of 2009 prospect who shined was wideout Je'Ron Stokes of Philadelphia (Pa.) Penn Charter. Stokes had already had a successful off-season with impressive showing at the Penn State Nike Camp, National Underclassmen Combine, and Ohio State summer camp, and he again showed on Saturday why he should be one of the better receivers in the Northeast next year. Stokes has an impressive combination of size, speed, and route running ability.

It was also discovered that he will transferring to play his final two seasons at Northeast High School in Philadelphia so that he could play with his brother, who will be a sophomore quarterback at the school.

The winner of the tournament was Don Bosco Prep, which defeated Booker T. Washington in the final. While Bosco has long been known as one of the top programs on the East Coast, they usually do it while showcasing top upperclassmen. This time it was Class of 2010 linebacker Ryan Cobb that impressed. At 6-foot-0 and 210-pounds, Cobb seems destined to be one of the next big stars to come out of the Bosco campus. He already possesses incredible instincts, quickness, and game speed for a freshman, and he is definitely a name to remember.

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