ATLANTA – The Rivals100 Five Star Challenge returned to Atlanta last week, attracting top prospects from across the country to participate in the elite event. We continue our position-by-position breakdown of the Five-Star Challenge, looking at the top players in the linebacker position.
1. JAYLEN SNEED
The MVP position of the 2021 version of the Five-Star Challenge won the award in large part thanks to his play in the individual camp session. There were few players at the Five-Star Challenge who turned out to be as fierce a competitor as Sneed. He fought for every football and was only satisfied when he succeeded. This resulted in multiple highlight interceptions as well as multiple pass breakouts. Sneed has the top two from Notre Dame and Oregon, and could be close to committing.
2. RAUL AGUIRRE
Aguirre was a potential Five-Star Challenge coach and former NFL linebacker Levon Kirkland reported at the start of the event. The Four Star is built like a brick house, but also has the speed and agility to play in space and stand out in an event like the Five-Star Challenge. Given that the other four players on this list are all ranked among the top 46 players in the 2022 class, Aguirre stands out in this group as a 2023 prospect speaks volumes about his potential. Arkansas, Auburn, Florida State, Georgia, South Carolina and Tennessee are its first offerings.
3. CJ HICK
The five-star Ohio State linebacker duo did not win an MVP award, but still performed exceptionally well and were among the leaders of a group of deep positions. The camp setting matches Hicks’ skill set very well, and his speed and athleticism were on display again on Thursday. He was particularly impressive in Exercise Tackle Fit, where attacking players try to evade defenders. Hicks shuts down so quickly when deciding where he needs to go that the running backs can’t get around him.
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4. SHAW MURPHY
The camp setting doesn’t showcase all of the skills that make up the linebacker position, but it can highlight linebackers who are explosive and have exceptional spatial awareness. Murphy is likely heading for the middle linebacker job at college, but his ability to run with full backs and tight ends on their roads put him in contention for the MVP job on Thursday. The five-star recently visited Georgia, Florida, the State of Florida and LSU and also leans heavily on Alabama, the State of Pennsylvania and the State of Ohio.
5. THE POWERS OF GABE
Reigning linebacker MVP of Indianapolis Rivals Camp, Powers had another strong performance after a slow start. The Ohio State pledge has a cadre that looks like it can grow into a defensive end, but his overall speed and athleticism make him a solid candidate to stay at linebacker in college. He showed his range in the Tackle Fit exercise, then was able to show off the one-on-one form that earned him Indianapolis MVP honors after initially taking some time to adjust to speed during of Thursday’s event.