Five players who could surprise at the Rivals Five-Star Challenge
Ballage turned heads on a smaller scale just a few months ago, when he showed up at the RCS Phoenix as a little-known prospect with the body of a college athlete. He was the most physically impressive player on the field that day, but the competition surrounding him was nothing like what he will see in Chicago. The four-star prospect, who also plays running back at the high school level, will have every chance to prove he belongs among the top linebackers in his class.
Brown has established himself as arguably the top receiver in California. He has been unstoppable at every 7-on-7 tournament and he was the best receiver in a crowded field at the RCS Los Angeles. This will be his opportunity to prove he's not only a standout in his state, but also in the nation. Brown will be tested against many of the top cornerbacks, but with his speed, athleticism, playmaking ability and outstanding hands, he could make a name for himself nationally.
Curtis has had an absolutely dominant offseason thus far. He looked elite at RCS Phoenix, where he abused defensive linemen and finished most one-on-one reps by pounding his unlucky opponent into the ground. He saw his stock skyrocket in the last round of rankings and could continue that climb with a great weekend in Chicago. Curtis has set himself up to be one of the most intriguing players at the event, as it will be fascinating to watch how he responds to being challenged by other elite prospects.
Jennings has come a long way since last offseason. He has grown a few inches, shed some bad weight, added muscle and his route-running was much crisper at the Pittsburgh RCS. His inconsistent hands are one of the few remaining issues in his game. Jennings made the jump from three stars to four stars in the last rankings update and he will again have to exceed expectations to continue to move up the rankings.
Pickett was amazing at the RCS Los Angeles, especially in one-on-one coverage. He batted down passes, he picked off some, stayed with receivers all day and gave up nothing easily. The level of competition will be higher in Chicago, so it will be Pickett's chance to show he's not only one of the best corners in the West, but the nation. If he can play as well as he did at the RCS Los Angeles, then there's no question he can make another significant move up the rankings.