Players with something to prove at the Rivals100 Five-Star Challenge
|MORE FROM RIVALS|
The Rivals100 Five-Star Challenge Presented by Under Armour is less than a week away, and every prospect from No. 1 on down has something to prove. However, 10 players have perhaps a little bit more to prove than everyone else, starting with offensive tackle Mitch Hyatt, a Clemson commitment who needs to fill out his frame and follow up on his strong showing at last year's underclassmen event. Hyatt is a can't-miss talent, but the Suwanee, Ga., native should be tested against some of the premier defensive line prospects from across the country.
Two other players to monitor are Kevin Toliver II, a blue-chip cornerback from Jacksonville, and Preston Williams, a wide receiver from Hampton, Ga. Tolliver is physical and turned in stellar effort at last year's event in Chicago. But has the LSU pledge topped out? As for Williams, a Tennessee commitment, there are some questions about his hunger, similar to the ones that faced Florida State signee Ermon Lane last year. Williams and linebacker Osa Masina are probably the two biggest enigmas in this year's group.
With the rest it comes down to simple things: Is 5-foot-10 wideout Christian Kirk big enough earn five-star status? Can heralded lineman Tyler Carr handle crossover moves as a tackle? Can Jerome Baker, one of the standout athletes from the Midwest, prove he can hang with players from the Southeast?
At last year's event, players such as Kyle Allen, Malachi Dupre, Jalen Tabor and Tre Williams all essentially locked up five-star ratings behind their impressive performances. Expect a few guys to take the same step this weekend in Baltimore. The Rivals100 Five-Star Challenge is one of the recruiting cycle's top evaluation showcases. Here's a breakdown, listed in alphabetical order, of 10 prospects with something to prove. -- Mike Farrell, national recruiting director
Jerome Baker, LB, Cleveland
The 6-1, 210-pound Baker projects mostly as a linebacker at the next level, but some teams -- such as Ohio State -- see Baker as a future running back. The uncommitted Baker certainly has Division I ability in the backfield, but his upside is seemingly higher on defense, something he showed with his performance at the Rivals Camp Series in Pittsburgh last year. Entering the Rivals100 Five-Star Challenge in Baltimore, Baker will look to display his potential on both sides of the ball. -- Josh Helmholdt, Midwest recruiting analyst
Tyler Carr, OT, Southside, Ala.
Carr undoubtedly passes the eye test for a bookend tackle, but his recent camp showings have left some coaches wondering whether he's better suited to play guard. He has a tendency to allow defensive players to get across his face, and he's very vulnerable to inside moves. Carr will need to prove that he is developing a top-tier skill set to accompany his tremendous physical gifts. -- Woody Wommack, Southeast recruiting analyst
Christian Kirk, WR, Scottsdale, Ariz.
The only real knock on Kirk is his height. Few 5-10 receivers are in five-star consideration, yet Kirk is on the cusp of reaching that lofty status. A dominant effort at the Rivals100 Five-Star Challenge would be hard to ignore, as Kirk could make a push to become one of the shortest five-star prospects in Rivals.com history. There's little doubt that he should become a successful college player, but five-star billings are tough to come by. The good news for Kirk? There's no bigger recruiting stage than the one he'll walk on to in Baltimore. -- Rob Cassidy, Midlands/Southwest recruiting analyst
Mitch Hyatt, OT, Suwanee, Ga.
Hyatt skipped the Atlanta stop of the Rivals Camp Series, so he has some catching up to do. His weight dipped into the 250-pound range after playing basketball this season, and some analysts are beginning to wonder if he remains one the top tackles in the country. Still, he has the makings of a major-conference stalwart. If he can return to his dominant form from last spring, questions about 6-5 lineman should be put to rest. -- WW
Daylon Mack, DT, Gladewater, Texas
Mack is an explosive presence in the middle of the line, but he seemed out of his element at the Rivals100 Five-Star Challenge in Chicago last year. His bull rush was his go-to move, and when forced away from it, he struggled with his hand work. This spring at the Rivals Camp Series in Dallas Mack showed off an expanded repertoire and got the best of opponents during one-on-one drills. In Baltimore, he'll face the best of the best -- a chance to show just how much he has elevated his game. -- Jason Howell, Mid-South recruiting analyst
Osa Masina, LB, Salt Lake City
Masina boasts fantastic film and has dazzled on the camp circuit in the past. The thing is, he has never been at an event close to the caliber of the Rivals100 Five-Star Challenge. The competition Masina will face this week is unlike anything he has faced in his career. There's no disputing his fantastic build or his impressive skills in coverage, but Masina's limits have rarely been tested in Utah or at regional camps. What happens in Baltimore will be interesting to observe. -- RC
Kirk Merritt, WR, Destrehan, La.
Merritt is an interesting prospect. At 5-11 and 200 pounds, he has the build and skill set of an FBS running back. In fact, many colleges are giving him a good, long look at the position. However, he also has the ability to be a big-time receiver and many schools are intrigued by his potential. Merritt likes the idea of being an all-purpose threat, and his speed and explosiveness make him hard to pin down at one position. In Baltimore, he will have a chance to demonstrate his complete value to an offense. -- JH
Cameron Smith, LB, Granite Bay, Calif.
Smith hits hard, and he racked up more than 100 tackles as both a sophomore and a junior at Granite Bay High. Still, the four-star linebacker needs to show he has the speed and athleticism to cover in one-on-one and 7-on-7 drills at the Rivals100 Five-Star Challenge. If he can shut down top running backs and receivers in the open field, the USC commitment will address the biggest question about his game. -- Adam Gorney, West recruiting analyst
Kevin Toliver II, CB, Jacksonville
After initially looking like a candidate to be the No. 1 overall player in the country, Toliver has slipped down the rankings of late, and he recently lost his hold on the top cornerback spot to Long Beach, Calif., product Iman Marshall. Toliver will come into Baltimore against the best of the best at the position, including Minkah Fitzpatrick and Tarvarus McFadden. If he can demonstrate what made him such a sought-after prospect to begin with, he should have no problem silencing his critics. -- WW
Preston Williams, WR, Hampton, Ga.
Williams is one of the most polarizing players in this year's class. While he has moved up into the Rivals100 at No. 63 overall, some that believe Williams is far and away the top receiver in 2015. If the 6-4, 180-pounder is going to stake his claim, there's no better place to do it than in Baltimore against the nation's elite defensive backs. -- WW
For additional college football recruiting coverage, visit Rivals.com.