Thankful for Football: Senior Sleepers Making Most of 2020
Happy Thanksgiving from all of us at SI All-American, where we try to track the best of the best in the future of college football on a daily basis.
It doesn't mean we don't make time to dig a little deeper and shine light on prospects who aren't going to play for the Ohio States and Alabamas of the world.
With the pandemic-altered 2020 high school football season winding down in most of the 33 states actually suiting up this fall, several prospects who will likely land outside of the Power 5 or FBS in some cases caught our attention.
QB Kaden McMullen
The 6-foot-4 O'Fallon (Mo.) Living Word Christian star wrapped up his prep career with the type of numbers that put him on par with several P5 prospects -- 6,843 yards and 73 passing touchdowns to go along with 1,039 yards and another dozen scores on the ground. The 2020 campaign was a short one, just seven games, but the son of a former pro pitcher got the job done with a big arm, strong mechanics and better athleticism than one would suspect. Programs like Idaho, UT-Martin, Northern Iowa and Alabama A&M have offered while plenty of others keep tabs on him heading into December.
QB Colin Blazek
The Venice (Fla.) High quarterback has the Indians deep in the state playoffs in his first year as the starter. Blazek moved to the coastal area from Illinois just before the season began and he hasn't looked back to the tune of an 11-win season (and counting) including a head-turning rout of area power Lakeland High, 41-20, in a 354-yard effort from the new QB. He has a plus arm and great feel/control pre snap as well as in the pocket, a prospect you feel more comfortable with the more you see him work. Blazek secured a Ball State offer on Monday, his first from the FBS ranks.
RB Trevion Sneed
Sneed had a dominant senior season for Mineola (Texas), rushing for 2,970 yards and 35 TDs. He may have been as valuable to his team as any player in the country this fall. Sneed not only carried the load for Mineola on offense, he also added a remarkable 136 total tackles on defense from his LB/DE position. He’s committed to SMU as an EDGE, but do not count out the Mustangs letting tote the rock at least once or twice before he leaves Dallas.
RB Tyler Bowden
Bowden isn’t the biggest player in the country, as his 5-foot-8, 170-pound frame is not uber-impressive on the hoof. However, ask defenses that played Tonganoxie (Kan.) this year and they will tell you he was nothing short of impressive. Bowden rushed for 2,583 yards and 37 TDs this fall, averaging nearly 9 yards a carry. He had five games this season where he scored a minimum of five times.
WR Ari Allen
A sleeper at Bradenton (Fla.) IMG Academy who lead the team in receptions in 2020? Somehow yes. A noted high-end lacrosse recruit, Allen loves football and shines as a shifty slot with steady route-running ability and great hands against elite competition. Austin Peay and the Citadel are the top end of his current football offers, something that baffles IMG head coach Bobby Acosta.
"He's our best player offensively," he said. "If we had to pick a player of the year for the offense it would be Ari Allen...he was a spark plug for our offense this year. They're gonna look at his height (5-foot-7) but he's so explosive. I had a kid like him at Syracuse named Brisly Estime, who was a great player and had a shot with the Jets in the NFL -- Ari is better than Brisly."
WR Dominic Larry
The speedy two-sport standout, who clocked a 10.93 second 100-meter dash mark this year, was a big play threat at all times for Tallahassee (Fla.) Lincoln High School. In just seven games, he registered 673 yards and six receiving touchdowns with an 18.6 yards per catch mark to boot. Larry, listed at 5-foot-10, 150 pounds, is solid off the line of scrimmage and can push vertically without wasted movement and simply won’t get caught from behind. Comfortable in the slot or outside, he is most effective on in-breaking routes and he tracks the ball well at the second and third level. NAIA and Division II programs have offered thus far.
WR Jaquell Fells
Quicker than fast with a developed lower-body and nose for making the big play, the senior offensive and special teams weapon has helped Pinson Valley (Ala.) High roll deep into the playoffs once again in 2020. Few in the class of 2021 can start-stop like he can, leading to big plays at running back, receiver and in the return game. Fells has 329 yards as a receiver, 306 (and counting) as a rusher and already has a pair of punt return scores to his name this season. NAIA programs have offered the sharp and calculated slot route-runner thus far.
DE Khristian Zachary
The Liberty commitment is probably more well-known for his commitment video (or the one before that) but pop in the tape or look at the numbers and Zachary holds his own and then some. As a senior at Carrollton (Ga.) High, he wrapped up the regular season Friday night with a 3.5 sack, 2 forced fumble performance. Through eight games he reports 19 sacks and 37 tackles for loss at 6-foot-3, 250 pounds or so coming off the edge. Zachary is quick off the line, moves efficiently towards the passer and can finish with authority.
DE Jesse Dan Rose
Ask many evaluators what they want in a pass-rusher and they will tell you the prototypical 6-foot-5, 250-pound, long-armed, explosive and athletic EDGE is what they covet. Rose is generously listed at 6-foot-2 and 205 pounds, but he was the alpha pass-rusher for Kingston (Okla.) this year by harassing opposing quarterbacks to tally 26 sacks to end his high school career, along with 73 tackles.
LB Creed Carter
Carter won the Tackle Title in high school football this fall, per Maxpreps. He finished his senior season at Sanger (Texas) with 185 total tackles, with 122 of them coming solo and 17 being for loss. He also chipped in three sacks and an interception, averaging 18.5 stops a game.
LB Christian Wren
Wren’s recruitment may not have as much sizzle as other linebacker prospects in the country, but there’s definitely steak in his production. The ‘backer from Lehi (Utah) racked up 185 total tackles this season, according to Maxpreps, finishing for co-Tackle Title honors. He had 100 solo stops, averaging nearly 17 a night. Wren currently holds an offer from Valparaiso.
DB Shakespeare Louis
Whether at corner, safety, borderline linebacker or as a team captain type, every time we've seen Louis at work over the last two years at Clearwater (Fla.) Academy International we've been impressed. He is a physically developed and stout defender at 6-foot, 205 pounds and he plays like it with a downhill striking ability seen on routine. There is nickel and in-the-box upside within his game but he holds his own in coverage as well, registering a pick-six during his last game. The instincts, production (50 tackles, 4 INTs) and leadership roll into a classic sleeper prospect despite a current commitment to FCS Robert Morris University.
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