Despite frigid temperatures in Myrtle Beach, the NFA7v7 tournament produced several really good performances by players from across the recruiting landscape.
It was a quality field of teams with speed in any direction a person would look. Playmakers at wide receiver making contested catches while a handful of defensive backs really showed their skills. Some players, and teams mind you, balled out in Myrtle Beach. There was talent across the board with teams from New Jersey to Florida.
While there are additional deserving players to be mentioned, here are a few that truly played well.
No particular order for the players that follow.
The “X” Factor
If there was ever a big-bodied wide receiver that just looked like a defensive end, that would be Jaron Willis from Cam Newton 7v7. The 6-3, 225-pound monster from Leesburg (Ga.) Lee County looks like a pure defensive end, yet he runs and cuts like a true wide receiver.
Watching him body up a cornerback and catch a fade pass looked unfair. He’s agile and possesses good hands. While he looked out of place before the snap of the football, the situation quickly turned to the cornerback being out of place as Willis hauled in a nicely thrown ball for a touchdown.
For his high school team, Willis plays multiple positions including outside linebacker and running back. It would not be fun staring down the barrel of this specimen as he picks up steam on a lead isolation play from 7 yards deep.
As for recruiting, Willis is taking his time. Florida, Florida State, Georgia Tech, Arkansas, Michigan, South Carolina, Miami and several other programs have offered. Alabama is also recruiting Willis and could join the growing list of suitors that extended a scholarship.
If anyone wants to watch a natural wide receiver, an excellent selection would be De’Nylon Morrissette. Playing for Hustle, Inc., the 6-1, 200-pound wide receiver transitions quite well from the beginning of his route all the way through the catch. No wasted motion, Morrissette just glides.
During the high school season, Morrissette plays for Snellville (Ga.) Brookwood, a program that’s loaded with talented playmakers. Comparing his high school film with this past weekend’s action displayed how Morrissette’s game continues to evolve.
He’s even better at setting up cuts, finding holes in the back of the zone, and catches the football away from his body like it's second nature. This young man is about as pure a wide receiver as one will witness.
Recruiting wise, Morrissette is no place near ready to make a decision, but did add, “I’ll probably stay in the SEC.” Georgia, Alabama and Florida have each offered, among others.
Midwest Boom always has a plethora of talented playmakers. This year is no exception. As usual, Kaleb Brown from Chicago (Ill.) St. Rita did not disappoint. The slot wide receiver is as electric as any slot wide receiver in America. No surprise that he played well, but two of his teammates also really stood out in key moments.
Newly added cornerback Toriano Pride (video above) added a speed element to the Boom roster that changes what its defense can do. Pride’s athleticism is top-notch, but it’s his makeup speed that catches one’s eye.
Going against another top talent in Cayden “Honeycomb” Lee from Cam Newton 7v7, Toriano was beaten multiple times just like any other cornerback will be when going up against true talent. It’s how he reacted that stood out, however. Pride’s ability to hit the jets and make up ground after a double move by Honeycomb demonstrated why programs like Ohio State, Missouri, Notre Dame, Oregon, Clemson, Alabama and Georgia are in hot pursuit.
Sticking with Boom, hats off to Tyler Morris. The 6-0, 175-pound route runner plays in a similar manner to Morrissette. He’s silky smooth when making cuts, possesses a high level intelligence against the zone, and he’s capable of blowing by defenders from the outset of a play. Against Cam Newton 7v7, Morris was Boom’s most dominant wide receiver. Considering he plays with Brown to form a lethal 1-2 punch, that’s saying something.
The chatter is that Morris is leaning to Michigan, but from talking to Morris he’s actually quite a bit like several other recruits in that he’s frustrated with the recruiting restrictions not allowing players to visit schools due to COVID-19 concerns. His recruitment appears far from over.
Coverage with Power
There are certain players with a skillset to dominate at their respective position. Combining the strength of a safety and the cornerback skills necessary to chase the nation’s quickest wide receivers, Thomas Castellanos is a true ball hawk.
During one particular play, Castellanos literally kept the wide receiver from passing the line of scrimmage, for the entire play! His quick feet, strength and exuding confidence make him a great Power 5 prospect.
Playing for one of north Florida’s best seven on seven organizations, TightAction, Castellanos was a really consistent performer during the Myrtle Beach tournament. Recruiting is starting to pick up for the 5-11, 190-pound cornerback from Waycross (Ga.) Ware County, too.
Considering how well he’s playing, do not expect Florida State to be his last big offer. This young man can play for any college in the land. He’s already on the map of the recruiting world, but he’s about to be one of Dixie’s most sought after defensive backs.
Length at Cornerback
At 6-3, 180-pounds, JQ Hardaway is the modern cornerback. He will battle big wide receivers for a jump ball, and he’s capable of running with smaller receivers and using his length to swat away passes any place near him. He’s like a condor with his wing span.
Now at Phenix City (Ala.) Central after making plays for Columbus (Ga.) Hardaway, the border-state product has a plethora of offers and continues to pick up recruiting momentum playing for Hustle Inc. 7v7. The Atlanta-based organization is loaded at defensive back, and Hardaway fits right into their aggressive coverage schemes.
Hardaway is a long way from making a decision, but will drop top schools on March 15th, and has yet to visit several of the schools he’s truly interested in attending. Thus, look for a decision later in the process.
As a preview for an article that will come out this Friday, here is a young man that’s power five worthy that literally does not have a Division I offer to date. The state of Maryland did not have a 2020 season and many gems are going under the radar across the country because of COVID-19. Just watch the video.
On Friday, SI All-American will present a group of talented players from this tournament that really stepped up their play and should end up being FBS players, the young man above included.
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