There was a lot of talent on hand at Mission Viejo, Calif. when the Under Armour All-American Camp Series kicked off their 10 city tour on Sunday.
Three invites were given out for the 2018 Under Armour All-American Game in addition to three invites for the Future 50, which is for the top players in the class of 2019.
Here's our breakdown of the six players' performance on Sunday and what they did to earn their invites to Orlando, Florida in January. It's important to understand, invites to both events weren't based solely on today's camp performance but total body of work that includes film study as well.
Under Armour AA Game Invites:
If we had to give out an overall MVP for the day, it might have gone to Fresno (Calif.) Edison safety Steve Stephens. Stephens was tremendous all day and definitely deserved his invite to the UA Game. He's a true safety with cover skills and had some great battles with Amon-Ra St. Brown, the top receiver in the West Region.
Stephens has added size and strength in the last year while looking every quicker and plays with advanced technique. The game is changing and everyone is looking for safeties who can cover and Stephens looks to have the best pure cover skills of all the safeties out West.
Denver (Colo.) Mullen athlete Adrian Jackson was debating whether to work out at linebacker or safety but ended up choosing linebacker and it definitely paid off. There were several talented 'backers that we liked a lot but Jackson really stood out.
At about 6-2, 210 pounds, he has a great frame and we envision he'll be able to play at 230 pounds with no problem. He's a high level athlete with his safety background and really looks good moving around in space. He can cover, break down and showed good ball skills as well. He actually took off from the camp before closing ceremony and didn't hear he was selected for the UA Game until about an hour after the camp.
Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei's Amon-Ra St. Brown put together a very good camp performance and when combined with his junior film, he was a no-brainer for the UA Game. St. Brown is a strong, physical kid that has some Steve Smith, the recently retired Baltimore Raven, in his game in terms of toughness, strength and edge that he plays with.
He's a polished route runner with great hands and the speed to not only run past a defense, but the shiftiness and wiggle to take a short hitch, make 2-3 guys miss and take it to the house.
Future 50 Invites:
Bellflower (Calif.) St. John Bosco defensive back Chris Steele had a great day and combines great length and size with the short area quickness and top end speed to stick with anyone. Everyone loves comparisons and Steele reminds us a bit of former Arizona AA and Baltimore Raven Pro-Bowler Chris McAlister.
Steele could grow in to a safety down the road but right now, he definitely looks and plays like a corner. The UCLA commit is physical, plays with poise and confidence, does a nice job tracking the ball and has tremendous upside.
Another cover corner out of the class of 2019 to receive an invite was Gardena (Calif.) Serra's Max Williams. Williams is among the best pure cover men in the region right now and his instincts and feel for the position are off the charts.
He always plays with a nice chip on his shoulder and is a lot more aggressive than his size would indicate. He loves the challenge of playing against another teams top receiver and just continues to get better in all areas every time we see him.
Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei quarterback J.T. Daniels competed in the Future 50 this past January and will make a return trip next year. With all that he has already accomplished and as much as he has been talked about, it's hard to believe Daniels is just a sophomore and has two years left of H.S ball.
Daniels can throw the football, that is well established and his ability to make quick reads and get the ball on time is at an incredibly high level. What he doesn't get enough credit for is how smart of a quarterback and how well he thinks the game. When you talk to his teammates, you get a better understanding of how advanced his feel for the position is and thats really what separates him from other quarterbacks.
In addition to the six above mentioned players, awards were also given out for the top lineman of the day and UA iLL SPEED Competition.
Big Man Challenge
Wilsonville's (Ore.) Draco Bynum was the winner of the Big Man Challenge, which was a best on best competition featuring the top offensive and defensive linemen.
Bynum is an impressive looking defensive end with a prototype frame for the position. He plays with a relentless motor to him, does a nice job disengaging, showed a burst off the edge and is a naturally strong kid with a lot of physicality. You should expect to see his stock really soar this spring when colleges can see him up close and personal.
UA iLL SPEED Competition
Mission Viejo (Calif.) defensive back Olaijah Griffin and Portland (Ore.) Tigard athlete Braden Lenzy were the winners of the ILL SPEED Competition. The competition, which measures not just straight line speed, but quickness, agility and reaction, featured 14 of the fastest players in the event with Griffin and Lenzy being the last two standing.
The two will now head to Baltimore later in the year to compete against the top two finishers from the other nine UA Regional Camps.
Both players performed very well in the football portion of the camp as well. Griffin, who has already been invited to the UA Game, is a tremendous cover corner with speed, instincts and ball skills. Lenzy is a two-way standout who worked out with the receivers but is an equally talented cover corner as well.
We'll have much more from the UA Camp later this week including our top 10 players on both sides of the ball as well as our top underclassmen from the event.