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June 9, 2013
Five-Star Challenge: Linemen superlatives
CHICAGO -- The 7-on-7 tournament and Big Man Challenge were held Sunday at the Rivals100 Five-Star Challenge presented by Under Armour. Here are the superlative linemen.
Strongest: There were clearly a ton of strong players at the Rivals100 Five-Star Challenge, but few were able to push other linemen around like Derrick Nnadi. He has incredible lower-body strength and played with great bend, which allowed him to use his leverage to his advantage.
Even though the defensive linemen were not allowed to bull-rush, Nnadi made offensive linemen give up a lot of ground because he could push forward.
Most Athletic: None of the linemen on the field were as athletic as Lorenzo Carter. At 6-foot-5, 231 pounds, Carter also plays basketball and runs track. While going full speed in lineman one-on-ones, Carter controlled his body very well and made plenty of plays that defensive ends that size usually can't.
Best On The Hoof: Da'Shawn Hand, the nation's No. 1-ranked player, showed up in Chicago at 6-foot-4, 261 pounds, almost 15 pounds more than he weighed in at the Richmond RCS in mid-June. That added muscle only added to how impressive and imposing Hand looks on the field.
Most Agile: Jalyn Holmes is a long, athletic defensive end who has great lateral quickness and a lot of overall suddenness. There were a lot of players who could lay claim to this title, but the way Holmes was able to take two steps to the outside and change directions to beat the offensive linemen inside was pretty impressive.
Best Feet: Damien Mama could have been named the strongest lineman, but he has incredibly light feet for a player that is 6-foot-4, 368 pounds. Mama, an offensive guard, had such great lateral quickness that most defensive ends couldn't beat him when he lined up at offensive tackle.
Best Hands: There are a lot of things to like about Demetrius Knox, but one of his best assets is the length of his arms. His strength, combined with his great reach and good hand-placement, made it extremely difficult for any defensive lineman to beat him. After his initial punch, Knox did an excellent job of resetting his hands and keeping the defensive linemen at bay.
Best First Step: Solomon Thomas may not be the biggest defensive end, but he got off the line and up field in a hurry, giving the offensive linemen everything they could handle. On a couple of reps, Thomas had already taken two steps before the offensive lineman had gotten out of his stance.
Best Move: Qualen Cunningham isn't a very big defensive end, but what he lacks in size he makes up for in great pass-rushing moves. On one rep against Javon Patterson, he came off the line, knocked Patterson's hands down and spun around him, provoking a loud reaction from the crowd.
Surprise: When sophomore Mitch Hyatt weighed in a 6-foot-5, 266 pounds, many people thought he would have a hard time blocking the bigger, stronger defensive ends. It was impressive how he was able to use very good technique to stay in front of the defensive linemen and have a good bit of success.
Expected: Five-star players are expected to be dominant in all of their performances and Kentavius Street did just that on Day 2 of the Five-Star Challenge. Street lost a lot of weight since the Richmond RCS in mid-June and he was a lot more explosive. Combine that explosiveness with his great strength and an extensive arsenal of pass-rushing moves and that makes for a perfect storm of a defensive end.
Best Underclassmen: There wasn't a single underclass lineman who played better than offensive guard Zach Rogers. He is a little short at 6-foot-1, but he is very stout at 290 pounds. Rogers had a great initial punch and kept moving his feet to stay in front of the defensive linemen. He had a slight tendency to get stood up at times, but there is still a lot of time for him to work on his game.
Biggest Disappointment: Virginia commit Steven Moss was very underwhelming here in Chicago. The 6-foot-4, 276-pound lineman looked slow at the snap and didn't have the lateral quickness to stay in front of the defensive linemen. This was very clear because Moss was caught holding multiple times and was not able to correct this problem.