Las Vegas 7-on-7 Standouts

Las Vegas, Nev. - The 3rd annual Badger Sport/New Level Athletic 7v7 tournament hit Las Vegas over the weekend, drawing 20 teams from the West Coast and some of the region's top players. Here is a quick look at some of the standouts.

20 teams and more than 300 players arrived in Las Vegas for the 3rd annual Badger Sport/New Level Athletic 7v7 tournament. As is customary at this huge event, many of the region's top skill players were in attendance, and the 2010 version was no exception starting at the very top of Scout's rankings.

Standing at roughly 5'10 and 175 pounds, Scout's No. 1 prospect nationally, DeAnthony Thomas, blends fairly well into a crowd of similarly statured athletes... until the game starts.

I had written in the past that Thomas could be a 5-Star rated play at three different positions, running back, cornerback, or safety. I said only three, because I had yet to see him run routes and catch the ball. 

DeAnthony Thomas

Thomas' Cathedral 7v7 team took on and beat eventual champion B2G in the first game of the tournament. Thomas had his team's three touchdown catches, including the game winner on a 40 yard post corner in a 1-play overtime victory over B2G. 

Thomas is a 5-Star player at four positions. I'm comfortable including wide receiver to his resume now.

Thomas quickly became the talk of the camp, although the Black Mamba was typically being referred to by the shorter version of his nickname, and by Sunday morning, the single name of "Mamba" was all that was needed to identify Thomas amongst the coaches in attendance.

How good was Thomas on Saturday? I caught up with B2G coach Ron Allen on Sunday morning and asked him how his team was feeling for the playoffs on Sunday.

"We had a 30 minute Mamba meeting last night with the coaches," said Allen. "Then we got some rest and feel pretty good."

Scout currently has Thomas slotted as a running back, but as stated, he could play any number of positions on the next level. The general feeling around the 7v7 tournament from the coaches and scouts in attendance was that his best position in the future would be cornerback.

Throwing to Thomas throughout the tournament was one of the top quarterbacks of the weekend. Only slated to be a sophomore this year, Hayden Rettig (6-3/205) has a big future ahead of him. Rettig's brother Chase signed with Boston College as a member of the Class of 2010. 

Rettig is already a big quarterback at 6-3/205, and he has the arm to go with his frame. He should be one of the more heavily recruited quarterbacks of the Class of 2013.

While Cathedral beat B2G in the round robin play, B2G won the event, and quarterback Michael Bercovici (6-0/205) of Taft is a strong contender for overall MVP of the event. Bercovici put a lot of pressure on the back of the defense and time after time he was connection on long throws to receivers such as Brandon Taylor (5-9/175) of Santa Monica and Nelson Spruce (6-2/180) of Westlake.

Maybe the best college prospect on the B2G team was cornerback Thierry Nguema (5-10/170). Nguema has long arms and did a good job in both press coverage and turning his hips and running with receivers. 

Thierry Nguema

Kyle Boehm (6-3/210) of Archbishop Mitty in San Jose, Calif. was the most improved player from Saturday to Sunday. On Saturday, Boehm struggled with accuracy and timing with his receivers, on Sunday he looked more like the quarterback sporting several scholarship offers.

Arguably the team with the most individual talent was the 1925 Production team coached by former NFL Players Keyshawn Johnson and Brian Kelly. A team put together late in the process more than held its own in a tournament filled with teams that had practiced for several weeks together, 1925 was led by a pair of quarterbacks and star power at the receiver position.

Max Wittek (6-3/205) of Mater Dei had ample opportunity to show off a big arm during the two day camp. Wittek has all of the tools to be a productive quarterback on the college level, he just needs to develop more consistency. He'll make a jaw dropping throw on one play, then miss an open receiver on a short throw the next. Wittek loves to attack a defense.

A little younger, a little more conservative, and a little more consistent through the weekend was teammate Troy Williams (6-0/185, '12) of Narbonne. Williams doesn't have the arm or size that Wittek has, but he had equal and sometimes greater success at moving his 1925 team by taking what the defense gave him.

Three receivers from the 1925 team took starring throughout the two day event. Michael Thomas of Taft (6-2/185) was the most consistent weapon for 1925. The nephew of Coach Johnson, Thomas is an in traffic receiver that excels at elevating and bringing in the tough catches. 

Victor Blackwell (6-0/180) of Mater Dei missed Day 1 while nursing a hamstring injury, and even less than 100% on Sunday, he showed that is he one of the most explosive players on the west coast.

Michael Thomas

The third receiver that made exceptional plays for 1925 was Oaks Christian product Jordan Payton (6'2/191, '12). Payton is the strongest of the three receivers and took joy in snatching the ball away from would be defenders.

The top overall quarterback prospect at the camp was Cody Kessler (6-2/195) of Centennial in Bakersfield, Calif. Kessler has a tight spiral and throws to all areas of the field well. He has a slight drop in his release, but it doesn't affect the quickness of delivery much, and it has zero affect on his velocity. 

Kessler's favorite target was Kendall Brock (5-8/190) of Clovis West. Brock rushed for 1,800 yards as a junior, and he showed his open field running ability and change of direction throughout the tournament.

Brock wasn't the only running back that got to show off his ability as a receiver. Bingham (Utah) running back Harvey Langi (6-2/215) lined up inside and outside at receiver and had one of the best catches of the weekend on a wheel route in the corner of the end zone to take the lead in a hotly contested game. Langi is a big back that runs with an attitude. His physical style at wide receiver was a benefit to his team, and sometimes a hindrance with contact fouls called against him.

Langi wasn't the only big, physical receiver on the field last weekend. Junior Pomee (6-3/210) of Rancho Verde in Moreno Valley, Calif. had an ability to catch a ball in traffic that made his defenders look like they were in slow motion. More Karl Malone than Antonio Gates, Pomee looked like the Mailman snatching passes out of the air like rebounds.

Built more like an linebacker than a typical receiver, Jake Bainton (6-4/205) of Renton, Wash. made play after play at both wide receiver and safety. His frame and coverage ability will likely render him an outside linebacker in college, but he was one of the top big athletes in the camp.

Jake Bainton

There weren't many athletes on the field that were any bigger than Jalen Cope-Fitzgerald (6-4.5/260, '12) of Palm Desert. The junior to be is likely headed for the offensive or defensive line in college, but he looked light on his feet and showed great coordination adjusting to the ball in the air. It was impressive seeing a player of his size hold his own in what is a pure skill player setting.

This is just one look at the Badger Sport / New Level Athletic 7v7 held in Las Vegas over the weekend. Scout will have much more player analysis, pictures, interviews, and highlights throughout the week.

If you have any questions or comments, please join us on the Scout Recruiting Forum.

Bruin Report Online Top Stories