Breland Brandt, DE, Los Angeles (Calif.) Windward
Brandt was one of the players we were the most interested in seeing at the Army Bowl, since it was a big jump up in competition for him from playing at Windward. And Brandt has more than held his own. He ran with the twos much of the week at defensive end, but also got plenty of reps with the ones and has shown the explosion and athleticism he's been known for. He looks thicker, too, adding needed weight, since he stopped playing basketball. He's done a good job of getting off his blocks and getting into the backfield. Since he's been playing end here, we haven't seen him in coverage but he's been steady in pass rushing. From San Antonio, Brandt will go to Westwood and start classes on Monday.
Mique Juarez, OLB, Torrance (Calif.) North
It was a pretty strong group of linebackers for the West, with the top three outside 'backers nationally all on the roster. The five-star Juarez has been the position group's top performer. He's played both outside and inside at various points during practice and has been great in coverage and in getting in to the backfield. Juarez is scheme-versatile and position-versatile. He's Scout's top-rated outside linebacker in the country's 2016 class and No. 14 overall in the Scout 300. UCLA and Ole Miss are his top two schools but he'll visit Alabama too.
Jack Jones, ATH, Long Beach (Calif.) Poly
Five-star athlete Jack Jones, who's playing cornerback at this event, had maybe the best individual defensive day of the week with a very impressive performance in Monday's two-session practice. He broke up several passes and picked off another that would've been a pick-6 in a game. Jones is showing why he may be the best all-around DB in the West if not nationally. Jones is maintaining a top five of Alabama, Oklahoma, Texas A&M, UCLA and USC.
Devin Asiasi, TE, Concord (Calif.) De La Salle
Asiasi comes from a well-known run-heavy offense at De La Salle but this week, he's been utilized as a receiver instead of having to focus on just blocking. And he's dropped only one pass in three practice sessions and has shown why he's a national top 100 prospect. His size and playing experience suggest that he'll be just fine as a blocker at the college level but it is watching him catch and run, especially at around 265-270, that makes you think he can be an impact tight end in college. Alabama, USC, UCLA and Washington are the top contenders for Asiasi.
Johnny Den Bleyker, LS, Hayward (Calif.) Moreau Catholic
Admittedly, we didn't watch Den Bleyker much because the specialists are usually off to the side or used only sparingly in practice. But we never noticed any bad snaps, which is a far cry from recent years, when it was usually a linebacker or lineman who may have snapped for his team being thrust into the role. Since they added actual longsnappers, the special teams issues have been almost non-existant, so that's a good thing for a specialist like Den Bleyker.
Garrett Rand, DT, Chandler (Ariz.) Hamilton
Rand may not have the size that some of the other defensive tackles did, but he was getting after it the first day especially, being disruptive inside against the guards and center. He has tremendous strength and plays low and with good leverage and routinely was getting under the blocks of the offensive lineman. He has a good motor, too, that kept him active on several plays. While he's committed to Wisconsin, UCLA is still trying with him and he's keeping an eye on what the Badgers do at defensive coordinator.
David Long, Los Angeles (Calif.) Loyola
Long is the West's top-rated cornerback and showed this week exactly why. Because three of the receivers were 7v7 teammates of his, he knew a lot of their tendencies and did a good job of staying with the receivers. He hast great ball skills and closing speed and did a good job of breaking up a number of passes. UCLA is on the outside looking in for Long, whose top two is Michigan and Washington.
Dylan Crawford, Santa Margarita (Calif.)
It was a loaded roster of receivers for the West and a lot of passes were having to be spread out, so Crawford didn't really shine but was solid all week. He's a pretty polished route runner and physical enough to get off the jams. He did have a couple of drops in the first session but finally got into a rhythm over the course of the next couple of days. Crawford will announce on Saturday from between Georgia, Miami, Michigan, Oregon, Stanford, UCLA and Washington.
J.J. Molson, Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue (Quebec) John Abbott College
Molson was selected to be the kicker for the East, but an injury that sidelined him for the second half of his prep season kept him out of the Army Bowl. He showed up at practice on Thursday with the other injured selections so they can still participate in game day festivities, but the biggest news for Molson was that he started classes at UCLA this week.