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July 9, 2012

Underclassmen Challenge Hot 11

A couple of weeks ago, Rivals.com put on a show with its inaugural Rivals100 Five-Star Challenge in Atlanta, Georgia. On Sunday, Rivals.com moved to DeSoto for the first-ever Rivals Underclassmen Challenge, which included some of the nation's best 2014 and 2015 prospects. Prospects from all over the country made the trip to Texas to compete against the best, and there were plenty of standouts. However, a couple of names at the top of this Hot 11 are ones with which Texas recruiting junkies should be very familiar.

Rivals.com Underclassmen Challenge Hot 11
1. KD Cannon - wide receiver, Mount Pleasant High School (Mount Pleasant, Texas)

On a day when it looked like Tony Brown might steal the show, Cannon emerged as the play maker of the day. At 6-1, 160 pounds the receiver was the definition of electric. Throughout each part of the camp - agility stations, individual work, prep-skeleton, skeleton, and one-on-one - Cannon managed not to just stand out but to shine as well.

As the biggest names at defensive back began to talk smack, Cannon stepped up and not only shut them up by beating everyone that lined up across from him, but the junior-to-be welcomed any challenge with a confident swagger that he backed up. The 6-1 receiver showed why he's the best at his position in the Lone Star State with excellent feet, outstanding ability to change direction, great acceleration in and out of cuts, very strong ball skills, and a natural pass-catching ability thanks to excellent hands.

At the end of the camp, there was zero doubt when it came to pick the Overall MVP, and Cannon was the guy.

2. Tony Brown - cornerback, Beaumont Ozen High School (Beaumont, Texas)

After standing out at the Rivals Challenge in Atlanta among a bunch of the nation's best 2013 prospects, Brown was the best defensive back at DeSoto, and arguably the best prospect. Brown is a lean, muscular, 6-1, 185 pounds with an excellent frame that makes him one of the most physically impressive prospects at any event he's at. Plus, Brown backs it up with outstanding cover skills, good hips, great speed, and competes with that very competitive, East Texas fire we've seen from plenty of great prospects from his area. If not for Cannon's show, Brown would have headlined the list without hesitation.

3. Travonte Valentine - defensive tackle, Bayside High School (Palm Bay, Florida)

When you're dealing with all 2014 prospects with some 2015 players mixed in as well, you don't always see the physically imposing linemen because these prospects just aren't old enough yet. However, Valentine stood out right away with his 6-3, 285-pound frame, and then he really stood out during one-on-one work. He swam around them. He went through them. He rose to every challenge. And he simply was dominant.

4. Jamal Adams - defensive back, Hebron High School (Lewisville, Texas)

Like Brown, Adams is already close to 200 pounds at 6-1 with the look of a safety along with the cover skills of a corner. The product of Hebron High School possesses fairly long arms, which allowed him to jam receivers well at the line of scrimmage, which included one instance in the slot when the receiver couldn't get off the line of scrimmage at all forcing the quarterback to throw the ball into the turf. When you look for defensive backs with complete skill sets, Adams is the type you find.

5. Gerald Willis III - defensive end, Edna Karr High School (New Orleans, Louisiana)

Willis III, the younger brother of 2012 five-star prospect Landon Collins, was a handful for any offensive lineman during the one-on-one session.

With a quick first step and powerful burst, the Louisiana native blew by his competition often with the ability to use some advanced pass-rushing moves as well. Also, Willis III showed the mean streak and competitive fire you want a defensive end to have.

6. D.J. Foster - offensive guard, Southeast High School (Lincoln, Nebraska)

No one was pushing Foster around during the one-on-one session, and the 6-2 offensive lineman showed off outstanding strength, which when coupled with his good feet allowed him to push a lot of defensive linemen around.

Although he doesn't possesses the frame of a tackle, that didn't keep him from being arguably the most impressive offensive linemen at the camp. When Foster really fired his hands in his punch and got into his stance, he was doing the pushing around.

7. Gelen Robinson - defensive end, Lake Central High School (St. John, Indiana)

The son of former NBA All-Star Glenn Robinson, Gelen Robinson put together an outstanding performance at the Rivals Underclassmen Challenge.

He could probably play both linebacker and defensive end because of his size, but regardless of where he plays, Robinson is an extremely well put together 6-1, 230 pounds with great strength and excellent explosiveness. Offensive linemen didn't enjoy matchups against the Indiana native.

8. Coleman Key - quarterback, Broken Arrow High School (Broken Arrow, Oklahoma)

Key is a big quarterback with a big arm and the ability to spin a very nice football. Like all quarterbacks at this stage, the 6-5 signal caller is a little raw mechanically, but he's a lot farther ahead than most are.

Of all the quarterbacks, his arm was the most impressive and he has all the tools to develop into one of the nation's best quarterbacks.

9. Cameron Hampton - linebacker, Carter High School (Dallas, Texas)

It's tough for linebackers to stand out in these camps, but Hampton managed to do just that. Watching the Dallas Carter linebacker move through drills was fun to watch, but he really stood out in coverage during the skeleton session. You expect a lot of young linebackers to not be as strong in coverage were they are at attacking the quarterback and chasing down the football. However, Hampton stood out with his strong technique in pass coverage and impressive movement laterally.

10. Rodney Anderson - 2015 running back, Katy High School (Katy, Texas)

Like the linebacker spot, running backs are somewhat limited at camps as well because the pads aren't on.

That being said, Anderson was the best of the group assembled at the Rivals Underclassmen Challenge, and that's saying something because the Katy product is in the class of 2015.

11. Sekou Clark - defensive end, Ryan High School (Denton, Texas)

Clark isn't as known as well as he should be because he's watched Ryan graduate stud defensive linemen like 2012 five-star Mario Edwards Jr. recently. However, the 6-4 Clark will gain attention and scholarship offers soon.

The defensive end was a chiseled 220 pounds that showed quickness, strength, and the ability to win a majority of his one-on-one matchups. He's raw, but the tools are there for Clark to develop into one of the state's best defensive line prospects in the class of 2014.



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