Ranking the top underclassmen at Nike 7ON
We already took a look at the top senior prospects from the recent NIKE 7ON passing tournament in Beaverton, Oregon. In addition to the senior talent on display, there was also a great group of underclassmen strutting their stuff as well.
Here's our look at 10 underclassmen who caught our eye including a handful of players we feel have the potential to be among the top 150 recruits in the nation a year from now.
Markeith Ambles, 6-1, 185
WR, Atlanta (Ga.) Henry County
Ambles is an incredibly gifted prospect and has a chance to be a national top 50 prospect a year from now. He has just about every tool you're looking for in a big time receiver and came to play every game for Henry County.
Ambles has nice size, is a smooth route-runner, catches everything with his hands rather than his body and can stretch a defense. He runs well after the catch, has excellent body control and will make the big catch in clutch situations.
Ambles first caught our eye at the NIKE Camp at Alabama over the spring and just keeps getting better every time we see him. He played some corner in the tournament but his future is at receiver. He has a chance to be very special in college.
Marcus Lattimore, 6-0, 210
RB, Duncan (S.C.) Byrnes
Lattimore is a major Division I prospect and will be one of the most heavily recruited players in the nation in two years. The talented running back has size, speed and power and showed great hands coming out of the backfield.
Lattimore had 30 touchdowns a year ago and has already been offered by some of the top programs in the South. As a rising junior, Lattimore already has a college body and is a physical player. He's more of a north/south runner than a back who will try and finesse you with a lot of moves.
Lattimore does a nice job of catching the ball and getting up the field. He had multiple games in which he caught double-digit passes and if he continues to work as hard off the field as he currently is, you could be seeing Lattimore playing on Sundays down the line.
Javonte Martin, 5-9, 170
DB, Tampa (Fla.) Plant
During the opening ceremony, Denver Bronco All-Pro cornerback Champ Bailey was on hand for a Q and A session with the players. Martin stood up and before asking his question, referred to himself as Javonte 'lockdown' Martin, which drew quite a few smirks from the rest of the crowd.
Over the next two days, Martin lived up to his nickname and earned a spot on the all-tourney team. The corner is a high level Division I prospect and has a lot of very solid tools. He has great feet, runs well and plays physical.
He's good in press coverage and has the quickness to make plays on the ball when he's playing off the receiver. Sampson plays with a swagger and has an ideal temperament to play corner.
Mike Mirabella, 5-10, 190
LB, Tampa (Fla.) Plant
Mirabella is a tackling machine with the pads on and we weren't sure how well he would play in a 7 on 7 format. He answered that question quickly and was the most productive 'backer in the camp regardless of class.
Mirabella is a high motor guy and plays with a ton of effort. His football instincts are off the charts and his ability to read and react to the play were as good as anyone we saw. The 'backer had several interceptions in the tournament and was the emotional leader for Plant all week long.
Mirabella has two years left to see if he can grow in to a bonafide Div I 'backer. He has all the physical tools to play at the next level but just needs size to match his play making ability.
Chas Dodd, 6-0, 180
QB, Duncan (S.C.), Byrnes
Byrnes was one of our pretournament favorites and felt they had a great shot to win the whole event. That didn't happen but it was definitely not the fault of Dodd.
After Aaron Murray and Matt Barkley, Dodd may have been the most impressive quarterback at the event. The signal caller spins it very well, shows good accuracy and can make all the throws. He's a bouncy kid with good athleticism and can throw in or out of the pocket.
Dodd has a live arm, and is a heady player. He's able to quickly go through his progressions and find his second or third option. He may need to grow another inch or two to be recruited at the high major level next Spring but the talent is definitely there.
Allen Sampson, 5-7, 145
WR, Tampa (Fla.) Plant
The night before pool play began, the Plant coaches told us what they would be running on their first offensive play of game 1. They said Aaron Murray would drop back and throw the ball as far as he could and Sampson would run by everyone for a touchdown. That's exactly what happened as Sampson may have been the fastest player in the tournament.
Unfortunately for Sampson, later that same day, the athlete was knocked out of the tournament with a broken jaw after a vicious collision with an opposing player. Still, the receiver showed enough flashes in just two games to ensure he'll be a national prospect in two years.
Sampson is not only fast, he's extremely quick and can stop and start on a dime. He runs well after the catch and showed good hands that will enable him to do more than just run streak routes. He may not have ideal size but when you can run like Sampson, its easy to overlook.
Victor Blackwell, 6-0, 175
Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei (2011)
The lone sophomore on this list, Blackwell impressed us for the second time in the last month. We first saw Blackwell two weeks ago at the Huntington Beach (Calif.) Edison passing tournament and he again showed he can compete against the big boys in Oregon.
Blackwell has good speed now and will only get faster. In two years, we see him as a legitimate deep threat while also having the hands and route running ability to be a solid possession receiver as well.
Dayonne Nunley, 5-7, 150
Monroeville (Pa.) Gateway
Nunley is an undersized corner but has a lot of ability. He was the top corner on the field in a few of Gateway's games and had some of the quickest feet of any corner we saw.
Despite his lack of ideal size, Nunley backs down to no one and plays with a chip on his shoulder. He fights for the ball at every opportunity and shows good explosiveness coming out of his backpedal to make a play on the ball.
Detchauz Wray, 5-11, 165
QB, East St. Louis (Ill.)
Wray is a dual threat quarterback who can beat you with his arm or his legs. Since 7 on 7 play is strictly passing, he had to settle for beating teams with his arm and did a nice job of it.
Wray throws a nice, catchable ball with a tight spin. He threw the deep ball very well in this tournament and showed good poise in the pocket as well and was rarely called for a sack. He has a quick release but still has some mechanical things to work on including his ball placement and setting his feet better on his throws.
Jazz King, 6-0, 170
WR Duncan (S.C.) Byrnes
Byrnes is loaded with underclassmen and King is another player we see as a Div I player in two years. King has good speed and is a legitimate home run threat with the ability to get behind any defense.
He caught the ball well in this tournament and has a nice combination of size, speed and strength. He's an explosive leaper and very quick off the line. King has a great work ethic off the field and should put up big numbers this coming season.