Monday, March 25, 2013
RN Top 10: Gamebreaker Classic
By Erik McKinney and Blair Angulo
NEWBURY PARK, Calif. -- The NFA 7on7 and IMG West Regional converged on Southern California for the Gamebreaker Classic this weekend for a passing tournament that featured plenty of the region’s top skill-position players. There were some familiar names who made their presence felt yet again this spring, as well as some relatively new names on the scene. There was great football played throughout both days, with Snoop Dogg All-Stars coming away with the tournament victory.
In the end, though dozens of players were worthy of mention, 10 separated themselves enough to earn a spot in the RN Top 10.
At 6-foot-3, Warner was one of the more physically gifted linebackers at the event, and he put together a strong showing out of the gate. There were two plays in particular on Saturday night that showed exactly what he is capable of as a linebacker, when he ran with a slot receiver deep down the field and broke up what could have been a 40-yard touchdown pass. Later in that game, Warner cut in front of a receiver to intercept a pass.
“Fred is extremely athletic for a guy his size,” said Henry Bell, co-founder of B2G Sports. “He was able to get in the lane and able to run with a lot of guys and break up passes deep. When you think a safety should be making those plays, it was him. He’s pretty physical and a tough kid that’s been doing well all winter.”
Warner has scholarship offers from BYU and New Mexico State at this point, but is in contact with several Pac-12 programs.
At 6-foot-5 and 193 pounds, Miller makes a quick impression at passing tournaments. This weekend, he backed up that early look with a very solid showing as he caught a handful of touchdowns during the first day.
“He’s eye-popping because he’s 6-5 and probably a 4.6 guy, maybe 4.5,” said James Finley, a former wide receiver at Oregon and coach of Gamechangers. “But he has underrated athletic ability. When a ball is in the air, he’s good at going and getting it.”
Miller is the son of former USC wide receiver Chris Miller, and recruiting has picked up in recent weeks. This spring, he will take an official visit to Utah and then follow that with a trip to Wisconsin and Ohio State for their spring games.
The 5-foot-8 Young plays on the same team as the 6-foot-5 Miller, but their productivity is far more in line than their height. Young is the glue guy for Gamechangers, in that his hands seem to be covered in it. He first opened eyes at the Los Angeles Nike Camp with a phenomenal one-handed catch, and Finley said that’s par for the course for Young.
“He plays slot, outside receiver, everything,” Finley said. “He has, I think, the best hands on the circuit. What separates him is getting in and out of his breaks, and he has big hands. He makes plays when it counts. I know when we need something, I can go to him 100 percent of the time.”
Young hasn’t heard from schools at this point, but with Narbonne needing to replace so many senior starters this year, he’ll have a chance to make a big impression this fall.
Beggs played quarterback as a freshman, then moved to wide receiver as a sophomore and flipped to safety for the final handful of games of his junior year. Now at safety full time, he seems to be blossoming in that role. For Chris Claiborne’s Gamebreakers team, Beggs recorded two big interceptions during pool play on Saturday night to go along with a handful of pass deflections.
“He brings a dynamic to that team that we were missing,” Claiborne said. “He plays the game really hard. You have kids with 10, 20, 30 offers, but he takes it back to the essence of the game -- playing hard, making plays and when there’s an opportunity to deliver, he does it.”
Beggs hasn’t collected a scholarship offer yet, and is hearing from several Big Sky programs, but is hopeful that a solid spring combined with a full senior season that should give him plenty of tape, will be his ticket to FBS football.
Fields was superb in the games leading up to the championship round and made the difference in the final. At 5-foot-11, he's not the biggest receiver, but he's quick and shifty enough in space to stand out at events like this. Fields recently bagged his first offer -- from Nevada -- and he's undoubtedly a prospect to monitor moving forward, especially at Bosco, which is loaded with talent.
"He's very, very underrated," Snoop Dogg All-Stars receivers coach Eric Scott said. "People just need to see him. Although this is only 7-on-7, he's a great athlete. I've used him for several different things -- in one-on-one matches, circled him out and even put him at running back. He's so swift to foot and he's a really, really intelligent kid. He picks up offenses real well and he's a great route runner.”
Kishawn Holmes excels at catching passes out of the backfield.
Holmes has become a player that is must-see at every passing tournament. The dynamic playmaker uses his ability on both sides of the ball to make an impact, but it’s out of the backfield where he does the most damage. On Saturday, Holmes went up the middle and made a terrific one-handed, leaping grab of a ball that was lofted between three defenders.
“He adds a dynamic out of the backfield where when we stretch the field, the linebacker is in a pickle,” Claiborne said. “Anything in the red zone, you know he’s going to catch it, and the same with anything in the open field. He’s just a really consistent kid. He also played corner for us and has been doing a great job there.”
Holmes reported an offer from Oklahoma State back in February and is on the radar of several programs across the country, including Pac-12 programs and Georgia Tech.
Understated but not undersized, Lockett showed why he put together one of the busiest recruiting weeks of the spring not too long ago, as a handful of programs -- including Arizona State, Notre Dame, Oregon and UCLA -- stepped forward with offers.
Lockett had several impressive pass deflections, including one on a deep ball in which he put himself in perfect position to go up and knock it away from the receiver.
“He’s just special,” Bell said. “He’s by far the most underrated defensive back out here right now. I know he has a few offers, but I don’t think he gets the credit the other guys are getting. He’s a quiet guy and just going to do his job, but he doesn’t make mistakes. He has the best technique and he’s always in great position. He can play off-man, bump, against big receivers, small receivers, anything.”
Lockett holds offers from six Pac-12 programs and said he is starting to hear more from USC as well.
Naijiel Hale is one of the top cornerbacks in California.
Another event, another standout performance for Hale, who has cemented his status as one of the state’s defensive backs to watch heading into his senior season. Hale again showed his skills in matching up against some terrific wide receivers, and again came up with an impressive interception.
He made the pass breakup that proved to be the game-winner in the championship round.
"He's hungry," Snoop Dogg All-Stars assistant coach Karif Byrd said. "He's one of those guys that no matter what, he's going to keep working. He continues to get better as time goes on. Once he gets to the Division I level, he's going to be a great player."
Claiborne might have said it best when asked to describe what Bolton did well during the tournament.
“What can’t he do?” Claiborne said. “He goes on offense and catches a ball up the seam. He comes on defense and knocks a ball down. He can cover in space. He’s a kid that size wise, they might question it, but once you see him on the field, you realize he can play inside the box, he can play off the edge -- he’s perfect for what everybody is doing now with the 3-4 scheme.”
Bolton showcased his ability on both sides of the ball as he made several acrobatic catches in traffic and managed to make a difference in several games with his play at linebacker.
Brown has already had a big spring, and his performance this weekend will only add to that. The receiver picked up an offer from UCLA last week and proved why at this tournament. He was terrific at getting behind the defense and found himself on the receiving end of a handful of deep touchdown passes.
With the offer last week, the Bruins put themselves in great shape for the big receiver.
"He's totally uncoverable," Ground Zero coach Armond Hawkins Sr. said. "His size, strength, speed and athleticism to be able to jump up over people, it all separates him from everybody out here on the circuit."