Kyle Allen, Da'Shawn Hand have plenty to prove at Five-Star Challenge
Here's a look at 10 prospects who have the most to prove at the Rivals100 Five-Star Challenge presented by Under Armour this week:
QB Kyle Allen, Scottsdale (Ariz.) Desert Mountain
The new No. 1 pro-style quarterback in the country recently committed to Texas A&M, and this will be a huge event for him. One of only four 2014 quarterbacks on hand, Allen will be looking to move past Deshaun Watson for No. 1 overall honors at quarterback. He needs to be careful not to slide backward with an inconsistent performance as well. This is a high-risk/high-reward option for him, but he's clearly a competitor and doesn't shy away.
LB Kain Daub, Jacksonville (Fla.) Sandalwood
Daub will have another chance to prove he has the quickness and instincts to stack up against the nation's elite skill prospects. We know he is a physical, run-stuffing linebacker, but give Daub credit for not shying from competition this spring in the camp and 7-on-7 settings. It would be easy for the four-star athlete to pass on competing in the camp atmosphere, which favors the offense in one-on-ones. However, that has not been the case, and every time we've seen him he is working hard to refine his coverage skills. He will need to use his excellent size, strength, and reach to re-route running backs coming off the line of scrimmage. If he can do that, it will show his maturation as a complete linebacker and could boost his stock by the next rankings release.
LB Michael Ferns, Saint Clairsville, Ohio
At 6-foot-3 and 233 pounds, Ferns looks like your prototypical Big Ten linebacker. We saw during the state title game last fall when he would not come off the field despite not being able to bend his knee that he is a tough customer. But the Pittsburgh stop on the Rivals Camp Series presented by Under Armour tour highlighted the questions about his overall athleticism. Ferns was stiff during position drills and one-on-ones, and he will need to be more fluid to hang with the talent headed to Chicago this weekend.
DE Da'Shawn Hand, Woodbridge (Va.) Woodbridge Senior
When the first national rankings were released for the 2014 class, Hand was the clear No. 1 prospect, but during the camp circuit this season he has been inconsistent. At times, he didn't show the aggressiveness and/or decisiveness that helped him gain his stature. Other times, Hand has been his usual dominant self by beating offensive tackles off the line, making aggressive moves and being decisive about how he was going to attack. To keep his top spot in the Rivals100 presented by Under Armour, Hand will have to show he can consistently dominate, because there are plenty of terrific players nipping at his heels. Hand is the one player truly with nowhere to go but down, but he doesn't care.
DE Jalyn Holmes, Norfolk (Va.) Lake Taylor
There are a lot of differing opinions about Holmes' future. He is extremely quick off the line and has good hand technique. At 6-foot-5, 235 pounds, Holmes can catch passes well, so he could play defense or offense. Most of his offers are for defensive end and that's where he wants to play, but he has struggled at times when going up against bigger offensive linemen who have strong lateral quickness. It is going to be interesting to see if Holmes will be able to handle bigger offensive linemen while playing defense or if he looks like a tight end trying to play defense.
TE Tyler Luatua, La Mirada, Calif.
Questioning someone's heart is a major swipe, but determination and that "want" factor have become a legitimate question with Luatua, especially after he's been seen multiple times on the camp and 7-on-7 circuit. There is no doubt the La Mirada, Calif., standout has all the tools to become a special player, but there remain some issues on whether he wants to put in all the work to reach that level. There will be no better opportunity than the Five-Star Challenge to prove he can be elite. His athleticism, his skills and his ability are not the issue.
OL Sam Mustipher, Olney (Md.) Good Counsel
Mustipher has a ton of upside and will be a great fit at Notre Dame, but it will be interesting to see if his performance will be similar to the other offensive linemen in Chicago. At the Newark RCS, Mustipher was frequently seen lunging and overextending, but hopefully he has improved in those areas. He has all the tools to be very successful as a guard, but he needs to show that he has refined his technique and can handle elite defensive linemen.
DB Montae Nicholson, Monroeville (Pa.) Gateway
Nicholson was awarded a very high initial ranking in the Rivals100, but he dropped in the latest rankings update because of an underwhelming performance at the Pittsburgh RCS. At camps earlier this year against lesser competition, he looked explosive, covered the deep ball well and showed good anticipation when breaking on throws in front of him. Against better competition in Pittsburgh, Nicholson looked uninspired and bothered by the weather conditions. Nicholson will have to have a big performance in Chicago to make up for the one in Pittsburgh.
DB Michiah Quick, Fresno (Calif.) Central East
The question with Quick is whether he's a cornerback or a wide receiver -- and that is a good problem to have. Quick is equally talented at both positions, although he tends to want to prove himself more as a dominating wide receiver. When Quick has been tested in camps and 7-on-7 at cornerback, he's shown he can be a fierce competitor who won't back down from any opponent. He has excellent athleticism for offense and defense, and he plays with a really nice feel. Is he one of the top cornerbacks or wide receivers in this class? Maybe both. Quick has the skill set to score a touchdown on offense and then turn around and get an interception.
TE Dalton Schultz, South Jordan (Utah) Bingham
It's not a great year overall at tight end, but being ranked No. 1 is still quite the honor that has been bestowed on NFL players such as Greg Olsen, Zach Miller, Martellus Bennett, Kyle Rudolph and others. Now that Schultz has moved to the top of his position group, can he stay there? At camps like this, it's not about blocking; it's about showing the versatility, reliability and quickness to be a matchup nightmare, a red zone threat and a downfield option.