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August 7, 2012
Hard-hitting news: LBs pack a punch
The summer camps have wound down and the Rivals.com recruiting analysts were all over the country, scouting hundreds of prospects. Over the next week, Rivals.com is releasing our Summer Standouts list, position-by-position. Here is our list of linebackers.
Note: This does not reflect a guaranteed move up in our next set of rankings. Many players listed had excellent summers but also proved we had them ranked in the correct range in our previous rankings. These are in alphabetical order.
Gyasi Akem, Broken Arrow (Okla.): Akem came to the Rivals Underclassmen Challenge with only one offer, but that was most likely because he missed his entire sophomore season with a knee injury. But Akem is back, looking for more attention, and he should get it because he was arguably the most physically gifted linebacker at the event in Dallas.
Alex Anzalone, Wyomissing (Pa.): The Notre Dame pledge was seen at The Opening and Florida's Friday Night Lights and was solid at both events. He's constantly moving, looking to make a play and usually that becomes the case. In pass coverage, he's very aggressive going after the ball and his constant movement allows him to make plays others usually don't get to.
Larenz Bryant, Charlotte Vance: At The Opening, Bryant showed great timing and athleticism and that allowed him to make lots of plays. He's still a little undersized, but a good college weight program could make him a tough linebacker to deal with. Once the ball is snapped, Bryant does a great job of reading the play and then going harder than most after the ball.
Reuben Foster, Auburn (Ala.): The nation's No. 2 prospect by Rivals.com looked great at the Rivals100 Five-Star Challenge. He already looks like an SEC linebacker, moves well even though he's coming off a knee injury and is jacked up with muscles everywhere. He's built well, tough and moves great for a player his size. Foster got injured early at The Opening so seeing him at the Rivals100 Five-Star Challenge was especially valuable.
Clifton Garrett, Joliet (Ill.) Plainfield South: Garrett is one of the hottest names in the Midwest and after seeing him at the Illinois Nike Camp, the hype is justified. The 2014 prospect has a great frame and impressive size, plus he's rangy and can move. He's not a finished product but there is a lot to like with the rising junior.
Deon Hollins Jr., Missouri City (Texas) Fort Bend Marshall: Hollins blows no one away with his physical attributes, but he has a knack to get things accomplished. He was especially impressive during one-on-ones at the Rivals100 Five-Star Challenge where he showed the ability to stay with running backs and tight ends. He's rarely a step behind and has great athleticism which he knows how to use.
Michael Hutchings, Concord (Calif.) De La Salle: The USC commit was seen at The Opening and looked bulked up. He kept his speed and maneuverability though and he looked comfortable going against some of the nation's best running backs during drills.
Peter Kalambayi, Matthews (N.C.) Butler: Kalambayi really established himself at Top Gun on more than one occasion. The 6-foot-3, 238-pounder is one of the best-looking linebackers in the country as he's tall and long. He also has good thickness to his frame. Some believe he can step on the college field right now just from a physical standpoint. He showed off great closing speed in drills but still needs some work to become that top-level linebacker.
Raekwon McMillan, Hinesville (Ga.) Liberty County: In terms of physical build, McMillan is one of the best 2014 linebackers in the country. He's not as ripped as Foster, but not many players are. He could get to that level in the next year or so. McMillan was impressive at the Rivals100 Five-Star Challenge and he is best known for racking up tackles. Work still needs to be done in pass coverage but he'll get there.
Mike Mitchell, Plano (Texas) Prestonwood Christian Academy: Mitchell was one of the most impressive players at The Opening and Gridiron Kings. Even though he didn't do drills because he was one of the SPARQ finalists, Mitchell still stood out in testing with his advanced physical presence and great movement. He ran a 4.39-second forty-yard dash, which is special for a player his size.
Quinton Powell, Daytona Beach (Fla.) Mainland: There are bigger linebackers than Powell and he doesn't blow anyone away with his physical side, but he's long and he can cover a lot of ground. He's very quick, has good balance, and his ability to move side to side is exceptional. In the open-field drills against the running backs, he used his long arms and that quickness to re-direct and make sure he wasn't taken advantage of.
Cameron Queiro, Oradell (N.J.) Bergen Catholic: The younger brother of Kyle Queiro, the 2014 prospect made a name for himself at the Rutgers 7-on-7. Queiro continues to add weight to his frame, but is keeping his speed and he's great in space. Now that he's bulkier, Quiero is not afraid to get physical either.
Doug Randolph, Richmond (Va.) Woodberry Forest School: Randolph showed off his quickness and agility at the Chesapeake Bowl Camp and surprised many of the running backs as he stayed right with them during drills. Randolph was excellent in pass coverage and he's outstanding clogging up the middle of the field.
Marcus Robinson, Memphis (Tenn.) Memphis East: Robinson tore up the Memphis Nike Camp and there is a lot to like about him, especially that at his size he still looks like he can add weight and it won't be a big deal. He is not only quick but explosive, getting after the ball every second and making people pay when they come in his area.
Jaylon Smith, Fort Wayne (Ind.) Bishop Luers: Smith has been all over this summer whether at The Opening or the Rivals100 Challenge and he's been excellent every single time. He is freakishly athletic, moves so well for his size and can make plays unimaginable to the average player. He covers so much ground in such a short time it's impressive to see what he can do.
Matthew Thomas, Miami (Fla.) Booker T. Washington: Thomas is not a big, thick linebacker but he has long, lean features and he uses them to his advantage. He is impressively quick moving around the field, and that means he has the capability to disrupt a lot of things. He has quick-twitch movement and also showed off great timing at The Opening knowing the exact moment to go after the ball to make a play.
Dwight Williams, Gardena (Calif.) Serra: The 2014 prospect had some shining moments at the Rivals100 Five-Star Challenge. Williams is undersized but he's impressive in pass coverage and tougher than he's given credit for. Against outstanding older competition Williams was one of the best linebackers at the event and did an admirable job in a tough situation.