I had the opportunity to cover the Next Level Nation 5-Star Elite Showcase event on Saturday the 9th of March at the Frederick Indoor Sports Center in Frederick, MD. This particular event attracted some of the top prep football talent in the Mid-Atlantic and provided the players the chance to go up against some less familiar competition during the off-season. With 265 prospects in attendance it was a chance to get an up close and personal look at some players from the class of 2014 all the way through the class of 2017.
With recruiting analysts from all of the major services present this was a chance for these players to put their skills on display and potentially gain some notoriety in the recruiting world. In this piece I will break down the players who put on award-winning performances as well as some “under the radar” recruits which I felt had impressive showings. The people over at Next Level Nation put on a fantastic event yesterday and I was happy to be a part of the media in attendance covering the day, without further ado I give you the award winners from Saturday’s showcase.
Overall Showcase MVP: D’Andre Payne – Friendship Collegiate Academy (Class of 2014)
The Friendship Collegiate Academy defensive back brought home overall MVP honors after an all-around strong showing on the day. This was my first opportunity to see Payne in person and he did not disappoint as everything I have seen in his tape was on display for those in attendance. Payne showed great footwork in the position drills and solid hands in the one-on-one’s as well as five-on-five’s. One of the thirty prospects in attendance from D.C. power Friendship Collegiate Academy, Payne lived up to his billing as one of the top prospects in the metropolitan area and one of the top DB’s in the class of 2014.
Top QB: John Lovett – DeMatha Catholic High School (Class of 2014)
The 6’3″ signal caller was not the most heralded QB present at the showcase but Lovett put on a show and displayed a level of confidence going through the drills which stood out as I watched passing drills. Lovett displayed a strong arm and there was not one throw the coaches asked the QB’s to make that gave him any trouble. As of right now Lovett’s only offer is from Buffalo but after his performance yesterday I would expect his name to continue to come up as a recruit on the rise if the rest of his summer showcase events are on par with what he did Saturday afternoon.
Top RB: Jay Cammon Jr. – Friendship Collegiate Academy (Class of 2015)
Another Friendship Collegiate award winner, Cammon Jr., had an impressive day at the showcase. One play that stuck out to me from Cammon Jr., occurred during the one-on-one drills where he made a nice catch out of the backfield and put a move on the defender which allowed him to break free. That combination of hands and elusiveness could make Cammon a prospect to keep an eye on in the class of 2015, with the national schedule that Friendship Collegiate has put together this upcoming season we should all have the chance to see Cammon Jr., go against some of the top HS defenses in the country during his junior campaign.
Top WR: Quinton Gray – Mountain View HS (Class of 2014)
Another less heralded prospect who could have helped make a name for himself was Quinton Gray. Standing 5’9″ and 160 LB’s with no offers Gray made the most of the opportunity at his disposal showing off strong hands as well as solid speed for a prototypical slot receiver. Virginia Tech has shown some interest in the Stafford, VA wide out and I would expect that after yesterday’s showing he will be receiving looks from other programs heading into his senior season at Mountain View HS.
Top TE: Cory Daniel – River Hill HS (Class of 2014)
The River Hill High School TE is also a 4X All-American in wrestling which is all I need to tell you to describe Daniel’s toughness. In his junior season at River Hill Daniel was named first team All-County as well as honorable mention All-State as part of the River Hill team which finished undefeated and state champions. Whether it be for football or wrestling Daniel appears to be a name that will resonate with college coaches going forward.
Top LB: Aaron Glover – Princess Anne HS (Class of 2014)
There were two linebackers which stood out the most yesterday but Glover ended up taking home honors as the top linebacker at yesterday’s showcase. One thing that impressed me about Glover was the motor he displayed the entire afternoon. Whether it was position drills, one-on-ones or five-on-fives Glover impressed. Currently his only offer is from Hampton but he is receiving interest from UVA, Oregon and East Carolina.
Honorable Mention LB: Malik Bridgers – Milford Mill Academy (Class of 2014)
As I previoulsy said, this was so close of a call for the coaches who put on this event that they made sure to include Bridgers name as one of the top LB’s in attendance at the showcase. The “honorable mention” distinction he received was the only type of award given out as each of the other positions had a sole award winner. Bridgers performance yesterday left little to be desired, at this point he is more of a sleeper recruit but I expect that to change after Saturday.
Top DB: Minkah Fitzpatrick – Saint Peters Prep (NJ) (Class of 2015)
The 2015 DB was one of the more impressive defensive prospects I saw yesterday. Standing at 6’0″ and 183 LB’s Fitzpatrick was able to impose his will on other wide receivers in one-on-one drills. Fitzpatrick displayed great footwork and truly was able to continue to make a name for himself as a DB prospect. Currently Rutgers and UCONN have extended offers to the soon-to-be junior and I expect those offers to continue to pile up for Fitzpatrick if yesterday was any indication of his stock as a recruit.
Top OL: Quarvez Boulware – Friendship Collegiate Academy (Class of 2015)
The soon-to-be junior at Friendship Collegiate stood out among the group of lineman in attendance yesterday. Boulware has received scholarship offers from the University of Maryland and N.C. State already and as the summer goes on and he continues to perform at showcase events such as the Next Level Nation event yesterday he should continue to rise as an OL prospect. Boulware is also receiving interest from Notre Dame and Tennessee at this point in time. Standing 6’4″ and 275 LB’s, while presumably still growing, Boulware is a prospect to watch out for as he heads into his junior campaign.
Other Prospects That Stood Out:
Dimitri Lee – Safety, Friendship Collegiate Academy (Class of 2014)
It took me a while to figure out who he was since his name didn’t match up with his jersey number on the roster the media was given but for a prospect who, according to his Rivals page, has no offers to his name I came away very impressed with Lee. Much like the bulk of the prospects in attendance from Friendship Collegiate, Lee had a strong performance on the day in position drills and in five-on-five’s. Lee was part of the Friendship Collegiate unit also consisting of uber talented secondary prospects Jalen Tabor (who only participated in the five-on-five drill) and showcase MVP D’Andre Payne. Delaware, Maryland, Richmond and Vandy have expressed interest in Lee to this point and after yesterday I would not be surprised to see him pick up that first scholarship offer in the near future.
Paul Lorick – RB, John Carroll (Class of 2014)
Lorick stood out to be for what he was able to do as a receiver coming out of the backfield, especially in the one-on-one portion of the showcase event. Lorick made a couple of one-handed grabs against defenders which had me take notice. For a player who only had four receptions in his junior year Lorick displayed soft hands and the ability to make plays in the passing game on top of his ability as a runner as he averaged 6.7 YPC as a junior at John Carroll.
William Crest – QB, Dunbar (Class of 2014)
There were two QB prospects that stood out to me as I covered this event yesterday, one was John Lovett from DeMatha and the other was William Crest from Dunbar HS in Baltimore, MD. At the moment Crest has nine scholarship offers to his name and of those nine Ohio State, West Virginia and Maryland have sparked the most interest in the four-star pro-style QB prospect. Crest threw a tight spiral and showed great velocity on his passes yesterday throughout the different drills. Considered to be one of the top prospects in the state of Maryland in the class of 2014 Crest put his ability on display Saturday and did not disappoint.
Juwan Hikim – WR, DeMatha HS (Class of 2015)
Hikim is another under the radar guy who stood out to me yesterday in different drills due to his speed. Hikim was flying most of the afternoon on Saturday and at one point during a cone drill the coaches implored him to slow down a bit so that he could place the ball down in the correct spot before pivoting and sprinting to the finish. Hikim also made some athletic catches in the one-on-one portion of the drills. He is a player whose recruitment I would expect to pick up significantly over the course of the next year.