Rivals100 Five-Star Challenge: Breaking down the MVPs
ATLANTA – The Rivals Five-Star Challenge returned Thursday after a one-year COVID-induced hiatus, and top players from across the country were on hand to compete. At the end of the day, the best players started to emerge and each position crowned an MVP. Here’s a look at each MVP and what made them the best at their positions in Atlanta.
DISTRICT: Rocco Becht
From the start of the competition, the entry of Iowa State Rocco Becht set the tone for the quarterback group. Reigning MVP of the Miami stop of the Rivals Camp Series, Becht looked just as sharp on Thursday as he did in April when he won his first prize of the season from the Rivals Camp. Becht has fast, compact delivery which produces cohesive football that often finds its mark. He throws both with speed and precision, and his ability to layer football when defenders were around was noticeably improved compared to when we saw him in Miami.
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RETURNING: Justice Haynes
There was a strong group of running backs at the Five-Star Challenge with varying skills, but Haynes was the full package. Roswell (Ga.) Four Star 2023 Blessed Trinity was smooth through sack drills, tough when position coach Brandon jacobs tried to snatch the ball and he was especially good at catching passes out of the backfield. Haynes caught short tricks, tough passes down the middle and he showed extra equipment on the deep ball. Physically, he was also one of the best offensive players present.
LARGE RECEIVER: Kaden Saunders
Saunders was once again unstoppable on Thursday. Penn State’s engagement is still a bit smaller, but it’s got a solid build and is as explosive as it gets. The defensive backs struggled to try and get their hands on them to slow him down. His crisp roads made it difficult for the defensive backs to stick with him. Saunders also did a great job catching the ball with his hands today. Even in tight coverage, Sanders did a good job battling more physical defensive backs, which is a high priority for him.
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OFFENSIVE LINE: TJ Shanahan
Shanahan cut his unofficial West Coast tour schedule to Atlanta for the Five-Star Challenge and came to compete. The 2023 Orlando, Fla. Timber Creek four-star offensive tackle plays with raging intensity, he’s mean and Shanahan loves being physical and mingling with defensive linemen. He completely dominated two highly ranked defensive ends with ease and with his blend of power and ability to reset and move people, Shanahan had an impressive performance. Florida, Ohio State, Alabama and many more are involved and he should have a better idea of the favorites after all his visits in June.
DEFENSIVE LINE: Christen Miller
Just outside the top 10 defensive tackles nationally, Miller put his performance to the test on Thursday. The four-star Ellenwood (Ga.) Cedar Grove is fast, he has violent and active hands, his engine is relentless, and he’s always in attack mode. Miller can win by growing small and moving past offensive linemen or he can turn or use his hands to take out blockers. Georgia, USC and many others are involved in his recruiting.
LINEBACKER: Jaylen Sneed
Pound for pound, the linebacker position was perhaps the strongest in camp on Thursday. Several five stars were present and all performed well, but it was Jaylen Sneed, four stars from South Carolina, who rose to the top of the group and took home MVP honors. While he was just as impressive as the other linebackers in the positional drills, it was the one-on-one session where Sneed broke up. This performance was highlighted by a pair of interceptions on well-thrown deep balls that Sneed stole from the running back. He brought an elite mix of athleticism and competitiveness to Thursday’s event.
DEFENSIVE BACK: Marquis Groves-Killebrew
The defensive back position was absolutely busy today, but Groves-Killebrew edged out the competition. Georgia’s engagement was one of the fastest players around and it showed in the head-to-head. His closing speed is exceptional and he did a good job getting his hands on the ball. He had a few interceptions and affected the quarterbacks in a major way. Groves-Killebrew’s tight coverage led to plenty of stray throws and he was physical enough to disrupt the timing between receivers and quarterbacks.
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