By now you've seen a young high school athlete come for Cam Newton at a weekend 7-on-7 tournament in Myrtle Beach, followed by an apology and all.
But commonplace at these spring events is the NFL quarterback who coaches multiple youth teams, often play-by-play, against some of the nation's top club teams littered with future Power 5 and FBS college prospects.
Newton's foundation puts together 18U and 15U rosters to compete and each year the group holds its own in the performance and prospect production department.
The 15U was a focus of SI All-American at the NFA Myrtle Beach event and has the first of a series of articles that will look into the program. The younger group is not only loaded with talent, but loaded with good young men.
Newton calls plays and lives and dies with every snap. That’s just who he is. He’s an emotional guy when the lights are brightest for an NFL Sunday, and that’s the same way Newton is when coaching a group of youngsters that are not even old enough to obtain drivers licenses.
The former MVP literally coaches the 15U offense for the program. Not just when this team plays in Atlanta, where the team is based, but anywhere it travels. He’s just one of the guys trying to win a tournament game. More importantly, the way his 15U team plays, they take on Newton’s personality. They just ball and have fun.
It’s amazing how many down to earth and positive personalities are amongst this group. From spending a great deal of time with Newton’s 15U and team this past weekend it became apparent that this is a different organization. That’s why the following players are already excelling.
(No particular order)
Bredell Richardson, WR, 6-1, 180, Tampa (Fla.) Carrollwood Day - 2024
When I first heard about this young man, I was guessing he was a really talented player that colleges were projecting to be really good. How could schools like Arkansas, Penn State and Maryland offer a freshman wide receiver?
First things first, Richardson is extremely coachable. This young man desires information. The way he paid attention to not only his coaches and teammates, but watched players for other teams, shows he’s very advanced intellectually. He picks up tendencies quickly, too.
Richardson understands how to set up defensive backs. For a 15-year-old, he really understands the game of football well. He might be the team’s best route runner and he’s excellent at catching the football in traffic. Most of all, he’s great to be around.
We asked of the program's culture relative to his rise.
“Everything about it,” Richardson said. “My biggest thing this year was making a huge jump from freshman to sophomore year. I was given an opportunity to play with Cam Newton 7v7 and I knew this opportunity was going to only make me better as a competitor and as a more complete receiver.
“I knew this opportunity would only benefit my game and me as a receiver. I had to jump on the opportunity.”
Prentiss “Air” Noland, QB, 6-2, 180, Fairburn (Ga.) Langston Hughes - 2024
As smooth a delivery as one would hope for a mere freshman in high school, this long lefty is a dual-sport athlete. Along with football, Noland is a basketball player as well. In fact, he’s very good at both. At some point he will probably need to pick one sport or the other. With that said, it’s hard to imagine him not selecting football.
Noland possesses a great base when throwing the football for such a young player. Further, he’s really good at generating power and velocity by rotating his hips. Ironic, as many advanced signal callers often fail at this basic function. That’s what stood out throw after throw. Because of his technique, Noland’s ball placement resembles a highly-recruited senior in high school, not a young man finishing up ninth grade.
As a final nuance to consider, Noland did a great job of taking something off throws close to the line of scrimmage and heated it up when throwing out routes and corner routes that required extra zip. Noland gets it.
“Accuracy and IQ,” Noland answered when asked about his best attributes. “And throwing on the run.” He’s already earned offers from Kentucky, Arkansas, Duke and Georgia Tech.
Debron Gatling, WR, 6-2, 185, Atlanta (Ga.) Milton - 2024
Already filling out into a good sized frame, Gatling plays similar to Richardson. He utilizes his instincts and high football IQ to set up the defensive backs, and he’s also good at shaking defenders before and after the football arrives in his incredibly talented hands.
Gatling is a top priority for many teams to stop, but that rarely happens for long. At his age, Gatlin’s size and speed will keep defenders off balance. Now, throw in his understanding of the game and how to use every inch of the field -- as Gatling is excellent along the sideline -- and he’s a matchup nightmare for high school defensive backs much older than him, let alone a 15-year-old.
A quiet young man that allows his play to do the talking, Gatling is a dynamic athlete that would be great at just about any sport. Place him in lacrosse, tennis, baseball or just about anything else and he could be a big-time player. Gatling already garnered offers from Texas A&M, Tennessee, Duke, Minnesota and Georgia.
When discussing what’s different about Cam Newton 7v7, Gatling replied, “The brotherhood. How we are all family.”
Winston Watkins, WR/ATH, 5-10, 160, Fort Myers (Fla.) Evangelical Christian - 2025
Maybe the most dynamic athlete when juking defenders or simply running by them, Watkins is a prototypical playmaker. Natural ball skills when it’s a 50-50 ball down the sideline, Watkins can take the top off a defense or catch a five yard hitch and make three defenders miss and score.
Watkins played high school football as a mere eighth grader, and he absolutely tore it up. He’s too fast and too quick for the lower level players he went against. Now playing against more players with at least similar talent, and he’s still standing out as his hands and athleticism allow him to make plays in space just like this past season for Evangelical Christian.
Watkins is indeed related to Sammy Watkins, in case you were wondering. It’s an athletic family and there is chatter suggesting this young man could be the best of the entire group. That’s saying something.
Jordan “BamBam” Bride, CB, 5-11, 155, Atlanta (Ga.) Pace Academy - 2024
Even though I was focusing on the offense for much of the day, this young man’s explosive tendencies stood out. His ability to undercut a short drag route and knock the football away is not only impressive physically, but also intellectually.
Bride has an extra gear when the football is in the air. That’s what first stands out. His ability to make plays, without holding or tugging on the opponent’s jersey, is what truly impresses. Bride is the definition of an athlete with football savvy.
While he’s still learning the game of football like all of his other teammates, Bride’s natural makeup speed and instincts make him the ideal cover cornerback. He’s going to be a very good football player.
There are numerous other athletes and personalities to discuss moving forward, and we will be back next week with more player profiles and a closer look at what makes the Cam Newton 7v7 organization click.
You will find me on Twitter @fbscout_florida
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