Willy Korn, the top prospect on hand certainly did his part in leading his team deep in the playoffs. Though Byrnes (S.C.) lost the first game on Saturday, something the Rebels have done each of the last three years, most of the losses could be attributed to dropped passes. Korn, without a doubt, was the most accurate quarterback on hand able to locate at will his passes on crossing routes, deep routes, and his favorite down the middle on a skinny post. Korn's arm strength continues to get stronger each year at the tournament, and his release is too quick for safeties to jump on any routes.
Crosby Tuck, an unheralded name to some but a three-star wide receiver prospect, simply blistered defensive backs throughout the tournament helping to lead his Shiloh Christian (Ark.) team to win the tournament. Tuck's routes are second to none and his athletic abilities along with mental toughness help to create a terrific blend of speed and hands giving Arkansas a terrific commitment that can play early in his career.
Aron White, a four star tight end prospect from Rock Bridge (Mo.), showed some flashes of brilliance making several tough grabs, but he sorely missed star quarterback Logan Gray as White struggles to find a good rhythm against double teams. Still, any balls that came within his range, White was able to use his 6-foot-4 frame to the fullest and he has great hand-eye coordination for such a big man.
Stanley Hunter and Chad Diehl are in transition years for Byrnes as the two are moving to their projected college position where the two played defensive end and offensive line last year, respectively. However, the two are making major strides at the position. Hunter looks like a natural in pass coverage sitting in zones and reacting to passes like a safety, which at 5-11, 205 pounds could be his ultimate position.
Diehl seems a little more discouraged with his play at middle linebacker, but the way he moves on the field and his willingness to make the hits as an offensive lineman could help pave the wave for a solid senior year. Well built, especially in his lower body, Diehl will continue to grow into the middle linebacker position and he is a very smart player that is quickly picking up on the defensive calls and assignments in his first summer full-time on that side of the ball.
Brandon Clear is struggling to pick up the Hoover offense, which really used the quick hits to the slot and running backs throughout the tournament. Still, once Clear really has a good feel for the offense, it is obvious that he is a physical specimen at wide out and he will cause major matchup problems at the high school level and beyond.
Roosevelt Byrd knew early that for his Foley team to win, he had to rely heavily on talented 2008 wide receiver Julio Jones, and Byrd threw to Jones early and often. Still, Byrd throws a very catchable ball with a long release and does not result in a consistent tight spiral. He can rely on his arm to get the ball into the right location and with a good bit of velocity on the deeper routes. If only his other Foley receivers could catch a ball, Byrd may have pushed deeper into the playoffs.
Mario Butler from Nease (Fla.) and Phelon Jones (right) from McGill-Toolen (Ala.) were used in man coverage for most of the day against the opponents' number two receivers, freeing their teams up to move a safety to the other side of the field. Still, man is the best coverage for both as the two, especially Jones, had trouble keeing an eye in the backfield and feeling his receivers as more than once a double move got a receiver open. Still, the potential is very obviously there with the height and quickness out of the backpedal to make any catches very tough. At this point, Jones is still a track star trying to learn to play football and he could be dangerous when that light turns on.
One of the wide receivers that went up against Jones was Roderick Davis from Wooddale (Tenn.), who is a fiery, speedy receiver that loves to attack the ball in the air. He is quick into and out of his cuts, creating a large room for seperation and letting his strong-armed quarterback have a little room for error on the throws. Davis was lightening in a bottle for the talented, though young, Wooddale team and he became a leader as the rest started to get tired in the hot Hoover sun.
Thomas Jefferson (Pa.) always comes to Hoover ready to take on all comers, and this year was no exception. Led by three-star players Dom DeCicco and Chris Drager (left), Jefferson made a solid showing in the playoffs, nearly upsetting Byrnes in the losers bracker. Decicco, a safety who also showed some arm as a quarterback, is an incredible safety that changes direction very well and has a great head on his shoulders. His initial reads to the ball are normally very quick and accurate making it tough for any ball beyond 20 yards to be completed.
Chris Drager, a linebacker but better suited for tight end, made several tough grabs including a few nice sliding catches for touchdowns. Drager has perfect concentration for a tight end with soft hands and a high acumin for creating a little room in the throwing window for his quarterbacks.
The well-known talent heading into Hoover was at an all-time high, and tomorrow we will look at some names to remember both from the class of 2007 sleepers and the top flight prospects for the class of 2008.
Southeast Select Prospect Recap
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