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Sunday, June 23, 2013
Lessons Learned: IMG 7v7

By Derek Tyson

BRADENTON, Fla. -- The IMG 7v7 National Championships showcased some of the top talent from across the country. For the second consecutive year, Team Tampa won the national championship with a thrilling, one-point victory over a talented South Florida Express team.

The championship game featured at least 10 prospects with multiple scholarship offers. Here's a closer look at lessons learned over the course of the two-day event.

Team Top Recruits loaded in the secondary

Top Recruits, featuring players from Jacksonville and Orlando, had a secondary that could probably give some colleges trouble right now. Their secondary consisted of 2015 LSU cornerback commit Kevin Toliver II (Jacksonville, Fla./Trinity Christian), Florida cornerback commits Duke Dawson (Cross City, Fla./Dixie County) and J.C. Jackson (Immokalee, Fla./Immokalee), uncommitted safety Kendall Gant (Lakeland, Fla./Lake Gibson) and 2015 FSU safety commit Derwin James (Auburndale, Fla./Auburndale).

The Top Recruits offense couldn't match the talent of their defense and found it hard to score points as the tournament wore on. Toliver was quite possibly the best player at the event and will be one of the top players in the country next year.

Northern teams came to play

Southern teams have generally dominated the IMG championships, but two teams surprised a lot of people with impressive performances. Team Delaware, led by Penn State wide receiver commit Chris Godwin (Middletown, Del./Middletown) started 6-0 before losing its final two games. They might have not been the flashiest team out there, but they were consistent and made plays when they needed them.

Team AWP Sports from Fort Wayne, Ind., went 8-1 before being eliminated in the semifinals by South Florida Express 33-28.

In addition to the Delaware and Indiana teams, there were other out-of-state teams, including the Cam Newton All-Stars from Atlanta, IDFFL from Toronto, Gulf Coast BKS from Mississippi, Michigan Elite, North Cobb High School and Tennessee Xpress Gold that fared well over the weekend.

Core 6 Athletes from Chicago played well and featured ESPN 150 linebacker Clifton Garrett (Plainfield, Ill./Plainfield South).

Best team ever for South Florida Express?

South Florida Express has had many great teams in the last several years. Players such as Miami running back Duke Johnson, New York Jets quarterback Geno Smith and Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater have all been a part of the SFE team. Despite losing to Team Tampa in the finals, this could still be the best SFE team in recent memory.

The team includes ESPN 300 selections Quincy Wilson (Fort Lauderdale, Fla./University School), Ermon Lane (Homestead, Fla./Homestead), Jake McCrary (Miami/Coral Reef), Chris Lammons (Fort Lauderdale, Fla./Plantation), Sony Michel (Plantation, Fla./American Heritage) and Travis Rudolph (West Palm Beach, Fla./Cardinal Newman) and four-star players Sean White (Fort Lauderdale, Fla./University School) and Richard Yeargin III (Fort Lauderdale, Fla./University School). Several 2015 prospects such as Tyrek Cole (Miramar, Fla./Miramar), DeVante Phillips (Miami/Central),  Torence Gibbons and Tavares McFadden are expected to be top recruits next year.

SFE demolished every team it played up until the last few games. Complacency might have set in, which led to the two losses, but one thing was certain from everyone in attendance: This was one of the most athletic teams you will see on one team in any 7-on-7 event.

Several 2015 prospects excel

There was no shortage of talent for the 2014 class, but there were several outstanding 2015 prospects who made big impacts. Wide receiver George Campbell (Tarpon Springs, Fla./East Lake) made several big-time catches, both on offense and defense, during the tournament. At one point, Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton came over to Campbell to congratulate him on a play he made.

Torrance Gibson (Plantation, Fla./American Heritage), who plays quarterback in high school, made several outstanding catches while playing receiver. Shawn Burgess-Becker (Coconut Creek, Fla./Monarch) also hauled in several catches. Wide receiver Rico McGraw (Nashville, Tenn./The Ensworth School) was another prospect who consistently made plays throughout the weekend. Outside linebacker Jeff Holland (Jacksonville, Fla./Trinity Christian), a 2015 Under Armour All-American, made several plays on defense and also was a threat on offense at wide receiver.

Seffner (Fla.) Armwood defensive linemen Byron Cowart (Seffner, Fla./Armwood) made several plays as a tight end, despite playing out of position. Cowart displayed athleticism that showed he will be one of the top prospects in Florida next year.

Versatility abounds

As it is with most 7-on-7 tournaments, some players have to play on both sides of the ball. Several players showed not only the ability to play their primary position but play both offense and defense at a very high level.

Receivers and Team Tampa teammates Artavis Scott (Tarpon Springs, Fla./East Lake) and Campbell both played very well as a cornerback and safety. Scott pretty much locked down his side of the field and Campbell made several interceptions by using his 6-foot-4 frame to go over smaller receivers.

Scott said after the event that some college teams are recruiting him as a cornerback.

Alabama running back commit Bo Scarbrough (Tuscaloosa, Ala./Northridge) played linebacker, running back and some receiver. He looked very natural at linebacker and shut down just about every running back and tight end he faced. His athleticism is off the charts and could certainly play a number of positions on the next level.