TAMPA -- There were no shortage of storylines emerging from the Championship 7v7 Battle Royale over the weekend. From Team Tampa defending home turf in a dominant run to the 18u title to sleepers emerging from Texas, Kansas City and beyond, the SI All-American crew had a lot of ground to cover Saturday and Sunday.
While no easy task, here is a look at a dozen prospects who commanded attention throughout the event.
Class of 2022
Rocco Becht, QB, 6'1", 200 pounds, Zephyrhills (Fla.) Wiregrass Ranch
It took considerable time to trim down the amount of worthy throws from the Iowa State commitment this weekend (video above). Beyond the volume and occasional 'wow' throws, the rising-senior and NFL legacy displayed the consistency and leadership the tournament champions needed despite considerable talent on each side of the football.
Becht flashed the short-to-intermediate accuracy and decisiveness one needs in the 7-on-7 setting, was extremely comfortable on the run, ran through progressions while on the move and even dropped his arm angle on occasion to fit the football into smaller windows. His two best third-level throws weren't even hauled in by his Team Tampa teammates, but it didn't matter with how accurate Becht would be. Third-and-long wasn't an issue as far as we could tell, as he worked the second level with elite accuracy and timing against staff coverage deeper in the tournament.
Whether it's measured by winning, production, projection or simply by the numbers -- Becht threw one interception the entire tournament (nine games) -- the future Cyclone was the most polished prospect in attendance. The MVP performance was a no-brainer from the selection committee, with the on-site staff admitting they normally don't try to give it to quarterbacks but Becht's weekend was too strong to ignore. No wonder colleges keep calling the Becht camp despite his strong ISU commitment.
Team Tampa targets Jaydn Girard, Kenneth Fleming, Joquez Smith and others deserve their due on the tail-end of Becht's best balls. The group's combination of size, speed and chemistry with their QB was evident throughout the event.
Henry Martin, QB, 6'1", 190 pounds, Overland Park (Kans.) Blue Valley North
Speaking of production, Friday nights are where Martin usually shines. He has put together quite the resume as a varsity starter, with a 69-12 TD-interception ratio through 22 games started and he has a chance at the Kansas career passing record this fall -- but the 7-on-7 circuit works with his game as well.
Martin pushes the ball to the second and third levels with relative ease, works the sidelines well and throws with great anticipation. He was the primary reason Empire 7v7 won its first seven games of the tournament before falling to eventual champion Team Tampa, in a close game in which critical drops hurt the offensive consistency against the more talented squad. Illinois State is Martin's sole offer to date, but he is in communication with several FBS programs and he will camp at Kansas State, Iowa State and others next month.
Jaquise Alexander, CB, 6'0, 170 pounds, Tampa (Fla.) Catholic
The defensive MVP of the tournament, it was well-earned. Alexander made plays all weekend but shined brightest during playoff play Sunday, making multiple interceptions, including the most acrobatic of the event with a game-changing pick in his own end zone during the title game. The Tampa native plays patient, understands leverage and shows proper aggression at the catch point to separate ball from indented target.
Alexander, who SI All-American went to see at Tampa Catholic last week, is heating up on the recruiting trail. He picked up an offer from Miami in late March and has been adding others since, including from Florida, West Virginia, Wake Forest and others. FIU jumped in on Monday. Alexander says he would like to end the recruiting process before the 2021 season kicks off.
Mudia Reuben, WR, 6’3”, 200 pounds, Kansas City (Mo.) Park Hill South
“Kansas, Kansas State, Tulane, Yale, Air Force, Navy, Arkansas State, Middle Tennessee State, Miami of Ohio, Southern Illinois,” commented Reuben about his offer list. Vanderbilt also extended the big-bodied target an offer April 5.
After watching Reuben run routes and utilize very good body control to make plays with the football in the air, it’s surprising that more offers have yet to come, especially with his elite academic profile included. He’s the prototypical boundary wide receiver in a spread offense, and he’s capable of playing the field wide receiver position because he’s a functional route runner with size and a frame to grow into the 215-pound range within the next 12 months.
Kye Stokes, DB/WR, 6'2", 185 pounds, Seffner (Fla.) Armwood
One of Florida's hottest recruits, culminating with a recent Ohio State commitment, it was easy to see why throughout the weekend while he worked both ways. On defense, where his ceiling is sky high, Stokes patrolled the back end with relative ease when it came to the lack of true challenges down the field. His length, instincts and range combine for classic center-fielder traits when the football is in the air. When Stokes was challenged, nobody could compete at the catch point with his combination of leaping ability, timing and timely aggression.
Stokes played a late role on champion Team Tampa's offense, too, serving as a goal line target for Becht during playoff play. His best grab was along the sidelines on a key third down, hauling in a dart while maintaining his feet in bounds and stretching to secure the football. The future Buckeye is an elite athlete and simply a playmaker regardless of where he is aligned on a given football play.
Jordyn Tyson, WR, 6’1”, 180 pounds, Allen (Texas) High School
Perhaps the most underrated prospect in Texas, Tyson continues to run by cornerbacks for touchdowns, make twisting catches, and utilize his quickness for extra yardage after the catch. Tyson is a true playmaker. Now the question becomes, which college programs are going to finally begin recruiting this young man?
Tyson’s Division I offers include New Mexico, Texas State and Tulsa. Surprising that no Big 12 program offered the athletic Lone Star State talent to date is an understatement. He is planning to go to camps this summer, including SMU’s mega camp in June, which will have several college programs watching first-hand. Look for Tyson to earn offers there if he performs anything like he did in Tampa this past weekend, where he proved polished and consistently productive for 940 Elite 7v7, helping them secure the top seed through pool play.
David Hopkins, QB, 6’1”, 180 pounds, Mansfield (Texas) Summit
A player that few people know about absolutely lit it up for much of the weekend. Hopkins specialized in the deep ball, and did so with a deft touch or a sheer bullet, whatever was necessary. Most importantly, Hopkins controlled the offense. He knew which receivers to throw the ball and just the right time to make the throw.
Spraying the football around to different weapons helped 940 Elite 7v7 outscore their opponents by over 100 points during the four games Saturday. Hopkins was a major reason why. He consistently found the open wide receiver, even if it was his second or third read. Additionally, Hopkins proved he could throw the football from different arm angles. Take a look at the clip below and watch Hopkins go through his progressions, then drill a side-armed pass to an outlet receiver.
It will be interesting to see where Hopkins ends up for college. Like Tyson, he’s under the radar for now. Considering how well Hopkins managed the game this past weekend, showed accuracy and good judgment, he’s a quarterback to watch moving forward.
Jack Curtis, TE/DE, 6'4", 230 pounds, Dallas (Texas) Highland Park
Hard to miss on the hoof, the well put-together prospect towered over most of the prospects he went against all weekend long, but he didn't just win with size and power. Curtis is an efficient mover and looked the part of an H-back offensive type for most of the weekend, making plays lined up inside and out with better-than-expected route construction and quickness. He could also make plays at the apex, far from a given relative to his size.
Curtis primarily plays defensive end on Friday nights, where he has collected offers from Arizona, San Diego State, service academies and Ivy League programs as well. Northwestern, SMU and others are in contact and he will work both positions on the camp scene this summer, including at SMU's mega camp, where dozens of programs are to be in attendance.
"I'm trying to play a little bit of both next year," he told SI All-American. "I want to show my athleticism overall."
Curtis isn't just a two-way football prospect, he is an overall athlete and can swing a big bat, too. The summer circuit figures to be quite interesting for one of Texas' top uncommitted two-way prospects. A decision before the 2021 season starts is possible.
Class of 2023
Cormani McClain, WR/CB, 6’2”, 170 pounds, Lakeland (Fla.) Lake Gibson
McClain is no stranger to the 7-on-7 circuit, and despite wearing a teammates jersey, he stood out immediately upon walking up to the game he was playing. Here’s the intriguing aspect to McClain, a soon to be junior with over 30 offers: what position will he play once he reaches college?
McClain’s length, especially his extremely long legs, make him an ideal cornerback candidate. He turns, stops, starts and sprints as well as a 5’9” cornerback, yet McClain is a legitimate 6’2”. On the other hand, he’s still growing. In less than six months, McClain has grown two inches, and he’s a wiry-framed young man that does not appear to be done growing or filling out. Could he be the rare 6’3” cornerback in time? Will he end up at free safety? If it’s up to McClain, it will be neither.
McClain prefers to play wide receiver. After watching his ball skills during the Championship 7v7 event, he once again confirmed that his hand-eye coordination and natural football instincts will provide him with the ability to be a big-time college wide receiver as well. As for recruiting, it’s early, but McClain mentioned two schools he might go up and see this summer.
“Florida and Florida State,” said McClain. He has yet to single out any unofficial visit dates.
Raymond Cottrell, WR, 6’3”, 215 pounds, Milton (Fla.) High School
Not many 215-pound receivers possess the explosiveness of Cottrell. When he runs a deep route, Cottrell runs by most defenders. Even when he was covered this past weekend, most importantly, Cottrell’s body control and catch radius made him one of the event’s most difficult offensive players to contain.
Whether using his power to fend off a cornerback in the end zone or stemming a cornerback that began the play with outside leverage, Cottrell showed good fundamental wide receiver skills to go with his size and athleticism. Those combined skills have programs from South Florida to South Bend recruiting Cottrell.
“Miami, Notre Dame, Arkansas, Florida State, and Georgia Tech,” said Cottrell of some of his offers. Other programs that extended him an offer to date include Georgia, Auburn, South Carolina, and Tennessee. Cottrell grew up a Florida fan but the Gators have not yet extend a scholarship offer.
Cottrell also plans to camp at Alabama, Clemson and West Virginia.
Joquez Smith, RB, 5'8", 190 pounds, Tampa (Fla.) Jesuit
It's not easy for a running back to stand out at a loaded tournament like this weekend's but Smith found a way to make big plays in just about every one of the title-winning team's games. Known as a downhill, one-cut back for Tampa Jesuit following a breakout 2020 season, Smith showed he can remain on the field during third downs if the weekend has anything to do with projecting his game.
Not only was Smith an outlet for Becht when rolling through his progression, but he ran crisp routes and won against much taller defenders at the catch point on several occasions despite a more compact build. Team Tampa pushes down the field as much as any 7-on-7 squad in the field, but it used Smith on wheel routes and double moves to do so as much as it did with bigger and more conventional targets. Coming off of the 1,226-yard, 18-touchdown campaign, Smith has collected a scholarship offer from West Virginia to date.
Dontay Joyner, DB, 6'0", 180 pounds, Lakeland (Fla.) High School
If we're measuring on a one-game sample, the top defensive performance was probably Joyner against Team Bullit, where he secured multiple interceptions, including one he returned for a touchdown. To boot, he added an additional pass breakup and contributed on offense en route to a Future Starz United playoff win.
An athlete with great size and two more years of prep football ahead of him, Joyner has already collected offers from South Florida, FIU and Eastern Kentucky. The savvy ball skills, explosiveness and overall athleticism on a Lakeland (Fla.) High School roster, it would be naive to expect the offer list to remain at three very much longer.
John Garcia, Jr. and Brian Smith contributed to this report.
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