Rising to the Challenge

One of the biggest questions coming out of the All-American games, such Army and Under Armour, concerns the players who will move up. The players at the top of the rankings still have a say in who moves up and who stays on top. Here's a look at five players who proved they were who we thought they were all along.

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The postseason All-Star games including the U.S. Army All-American Bowl and Under Armour All-American Bowl do an outstanding job of bringing together the nation's best high school football players for a chance to compete against one another. While on the larger scale, the games are merely an exhibition, the players see them as a chance to prove they are the best at their respective positions.

We discussed five players (5 on the Rise) who will make big jumps in the Scout rankings when they are released next week, but what about the players who were already on top and held serve?

Here's a look at five players who showed they were what we thought they were all along.

DE - Jadeveon Clowney (6-5/245)

Jadeveon Clowney

(South Pointe) Rock Hill, S.C.
Current Ranking - 5-Star, No. 1 Overall, No. 1 Defensive End
Considering: Alabama and South Carolina among others

Many of us at Scout have wondered what Ohio State's Terrelle Pryor and Auburn's Cam Newton might look like playing defensive end. We'll get a chance to find out as Clowney is a physical clone of the two über-talented athletes. From a size and athleticism standpoint, Clowney is without peer in the Class of 2011. He has some refinement that needs to be done to his game including using his hands to get off blocks faster, but that's what good coaching is for. From a potential standpoint, Clowney showed why he's the No. 1 prospect in the country. The Class of 2011 is my ninth year of Scouting players in the field. I keep a mental list of the best players I've scouted, and Clowney has locked down the end spot opposite 2006 No. 1 overall draft pick Mario Williams of N.C. State.

OT - Cyrus Kouandjio (6-7/295) 

Clowney vs Kouandjio

(Dematha Catholic) Hyattsville, Md.
Current Ranking - 5-Star, No. 5 Overall, No. 1 Offensive Tackle
Considering: Alabama, Iowa, Miami, and USC among others

Blessed with the physical gifts of a first round draft pick in the NFL, the big question surrounding Kouandjio heading to the Under Armour All-American Bowl was if the big man's heart was really into football. Relatively new to the game, and having never been challenged for the most part, it's understandable that Kouandjio may have found himself a little bored on the gridiron. Then he lined up against Clowney and the pilot light was lit. Clowney had his way with every offensive lineman he came against, until he crossed paths with Kouandjio. Kouandjio used his quick feet, long arms, and strength to more than hold his own against the nation's No. 1 prospect making a case that he should not only be the No. 1 offensive tackle, but No. 1 overall.

CB - DeAnthony Thomas (5-10/175) 

DeAnthony Thomas

(Crenshaw) Los Angeles, Calif.
Current Ranking - 5-Star, No. 4 Overall, No. 1 Corner
Committed to USC

Thomas was dubbed the "Black Mamba" dating back to his youth league days because of how he would slither in and out of defenses with the ball in his hands. One of my favorite phenomena of the last year was watching a small, skinny unassuming Thomas show up at various competitions, including the Army Bowl, and see the reaction from people seeing him for the first time. "That's the best player in the country???" Within minutes of players taking the field, the question is answered. Thomas is such a gifted athlete, he would be ranked a 5-Star at corner, running back, wide receiver, and safety. With his size, we feel his long term future would best be served as a corner/return man, but if it's my job on the line, I want the ball in his hands as often as possible.

S - Ha'Sean Clinton-Dix (6-2/190) 

Ha'Sean Clinton-Dix

(Dr. Phillips) Orlando, Fla.
Current Ranking -  5-Star, No. 12 Overall, No. 1 Safety
Committed to Alabama

He's known as "Ha-Ha", but there's nothing funny about facing him as an offense. Clinton-Dix is facing a furious challenge for the No. 1 spot by Karlos Williams (6-2/210), but he did nothing to hurt his own stock. He is a fluid athlete that glides across a field, that is until he arrives to a ball career. Then that fluid motion becomes violent. He has outstanding size and has a very good feel for coverage schemes. Last July Clinton-Dix and Williams made up the safety tandem at a star-studded passing tournament called Gridiron Kings. I only remember one touchdown scored against Team South. Unheard of in wide-open passing leagues. Clinton-Dix has been playing at a high level for several years and is capable of making an early impact on the next level.

OG - Christian Westerman (6-5/295) 

Christian Westerman

(Hamilton) Chandler, Ariz.
Current Ranking - 5-Star, No. 7 Overall, No. 1 Offensive Guard
Committed to Texas

As the only 5-Star offensive guard on Scout for the Class of 2011, perhaps no player in the country had a vise grip on the No. 1 spot at his position as strong as Westerman. If anything, Westerman further distanced himself from his peers with his week of work at the Under Armour Bowl. Projecting as a guard, but having played tackle throughout his high school career, Westerman was right at home playing right tackle for his Under Armour team. Westerman showed good flexibility, playing with good leverage and excellent footwork once he was engaged with a defender. He has good lateral movement, yet his strength is still playing tight in space and overpowering defensive linemen. While Scout feels offensive guard would be his best position on the next level, he showed that he has the tools and versatility to play any of the five spots on the offensive line depending on where he's most needed.

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