Photo: WR Evan Stewart; Credit: Zach Goodall, Sports Illustrated All-American
BRADENTON, Fla. — 50 of the nation's top recruits in the classes of 2022 and 2023 gathered around IMG Academy over the weekend for Under Armour's annual Future 50 event.
Naturally, there was a lot of good football to take in.
However, only a select few of the participants could be selected for Sports Illustrated All-American's top performers. You can find all ten below, including our choice for MVP with video highlights for select prospects. More clips of Future 50's crème de la crème can be found in the featured video at the top of this story.
MVP: WR Evan Stewart
Out of all the talent to travel for the Future 50 event, none proved to be better than Frisco (Texas) wide receiver Evan Stewart. Making high point grabs on balls down the field, Stewart proved his worth as a deep threat with his blazing speed — paired with crisp footwork to beat defenders with an unpredictable mix of nine, post and corner routes — and admirable ability to attack the football while in the air.
Surpassing expectations going into the camp, Stewart was seen consistently making highlight-reel plays with excellent body control in both portions of the camp against the best prospects in the nation. His day culminated in leaping touchdown receptions in tight coverage over defensive back Khamauri Rogers and linebacker Shawn Murphy.
DL Walter Nolen
Walter Nolen: An unstoppable force.
In a camp setting, it can be challenging to get an authentic feel for the pure dominance top-rated lineman impose on their counterparts. However, in Bradenton on Saturday, Nolen was widely impressive both in individual drills and in one-on-ones.
Performing well on both inside and outside of the line, Nolen’s rare speed would be on display, running a whopping 7.03 three-cone drill at 325 pounds, 0.8 seconds faster and 40 pounds heavier than Aaron Donald during his combine tests. Exhibiting several effective pass rush moves on the day, Nolen’s toolbag — which includes an uber-effective spin move he used on multiple occasions — is uncharacteristically well-versed for someone of his stature.
With top-tier offensive line prospects like LSU commit Will Campbell or IMG product Tyler Booker failing to slow Nolen down in any capacity, it was clear his ranking as a top recruit in 2022 is no overestimation of talent.
WR Kaden Saunders
Winning the “Best Hands” Award, Saunders was the most reliable pass-catcher on-site for the Future 50. Providing a safety blanket for quarterbacks AJ Duffy and Steve Angeli in 7-on-7, Saunders would work well at all three levels of the field, mainly due to his suddenness and unpredictability in and out of his breaks.
Sinking his hips to utilize his impressive bursts of speed at the top of his routes, the Penn State commit consistently found himself creating considerable separation with the defenders tasked with containing him. As a result, Saunders utilized the wide passing lanes he made for his passers to haul in multiple scores on the day.
DB Kamari Wilson
Expressing confidence from his first moment onto the field to the last, Wilson showcased the talents that make him one of the highest-rated defensive backs in the class of 2022. When participating in one-on-one drills, the IMG Academy safety would have his coverage skills put to the test. Operating with a crisp backpedal and fluid hips, Wilson was able to win most of his reps on the day, culminating in a sideline toe-tapping interception against Evan Stewart.
Carrying over his impressive swagger built during the morning session of the camp to 7-on-7, Wilson would get the opportunity to utilize his exceptional range and instincts from the safety position. In the end, Wilson would come away with multiple pass deflections and a memorable interception on the opening defensive drive of the game for his squad.
QB AJ Duffy
With four quarterbacks in attendance, Florida State commit AJ Duffy most polished passer the Future 50 had to offer in nearly all aspects of the game, including accuracy, arm strength, zip and composure.
Delivering balls with considerable drive and a tight spiral, the ‘Noles future signal-caller operated in a calculated manner, making the difficult throws he had to make look routine when targeting the intermediate and deep levels of the field. In swift coherence with impressive wideout play, Duffy would command the game well to lead his offense to 50-plus points and his team to victory.
LB Jaylen Sneed
Sneed came out firing in seven-on-seven as linebackers weren't as active earlier in the day. The 6-foot-2 defender packs a lot of length into his frame, which allows him to easily get a hand on passes coming his way in coverage.
That could be seen early on as Sneed broke up two red zone passes on the first drive of seven-on-seven, and another batted ball on the drive to follow. Sneed's secondary gave up a lot of plays and scores as the action got underway, but the South Carolina native's effort was far from the problem for Team Chill's defense.
OL Will Campbell
The offensive linemen at Future 50 were underwhelming throughout the day, particularly whenever someone lined up against Walter Nolen. However, Will Campbell showed the most promise with consistently solid recovery and an ability to anchor even when he was beaten at the point of attack.
When Campbell wasn't initially defeated right off the snap (really, only by Nolen in the Big Man Challenge), he did a great job of keeping his hands on the opponent's chest and rag-dolled rushers in a couple of instances. Campbell's plant foot is strong throughout his 45-degree pass protection sets, which allows him to anchor well against outside attacks and recover with power versus inside counter moves.
LB Kobie McKinzie
Another linebacker who made an impact on seven-on-seven, McKinzie had two pass breakups and caught an interception after a ball was tipped into the air by a receiver in the middle of the field.
McKinzie doesn't have the speed to drop deep into coverage right now, but held up very well on short-to-intermediate routes targeting the middle of the field, particularly following slant routes in stride and undercutting the receiver to play the ball. McKinzie could use surer hands to haul in the passes he breaks up, but the reactionary speed and understanding of coverage responsibility is there for the Oklahoma commit.
QB Walker Howard
Although Under Armour named Notre Dame commit Steve Angeli as the top quarterback at Future 50, SIAA had different ideas. While Duffy made quick decisions and effortless throws down the field consistently, LSU commit Walker Howard displayed well-rounded accuracy to all three levels and showed off his placement targeting numerous corner routes and fades.
Howard successfully looked off the opposition's secondary on multiple occasions, including safety Kamari Wilson, to open up the seams and move the ball down the field. We want to see Howard become more consistent his zip and anticipation on short throws to the middle of the field, but credit can be given to the defense for sound coverage at the second level which put a couple of balls on the ground.
DL Derrick Moore
Moore was the quickest edge defender off of the snap in attendance on Saturday, seen by his first step in defensive line bag drills and against top offensive tackles Will Campbell and Penn State commit Drew Shelton in one-on-ones. Speed out of Moore's stance didn't always lead to tapping off the "quarterback" - a tackling dummy - but it allowed the 6-foot-4 edge rusher to create would-be pressures multiple times.
Moore's best rep came against Shelton, where his rapidity working outside opened the offensive tackle up and created an inside gap for Moore to counter into with a clear lane to the passer. Moore planted his outside foot and changed direction with no wasted movement, cross-chopping and swimming past Shelton's reach to approach the bag and hit it with ease.