BRADENTON, Fla. - Three of the Midwest’s top 7-on-7 teams participated in the IMG/Madden National Championships over the weekend.
Shane Morris always at his best when the games mean the most.
The defending champion Maximum Exposure team (Detroit area) led by Michigan commits Shane Morris, Khalid Hill and Csont’e York advanced to the finals for a second-straight year before bowing out to a loaded Team Tampa squad.
Athletes With Purpose (Fort Wayne area) earned its bid to the tournament by winning the Detroit Regional. Notre Dame commit Jaylon Smith and Indiana pledge Isaac Griffith were big in the team making a deep run in the loser’s bracket before losing to the South Florida Express two games away from playing for the championship.
Core 6 (Chicago area) finished second in the Detroit Regional and had a lot of promising prospects continue to emerge as Big Ten level recruits during Championship play throughout the two-day tournament.
Maximum Exposure Quick Hitters
-Typically a slow starter at these 7-on-7 events, Morris always heats up when the games mean the most. After struggling with his accuracy during pool play, the future Wolverine woke up during double-elimination tournament play and made several big throws. The velocity has always been there for Morris, and he continues to improve in reading defenses and throwing the ball to the right spot.
-Hill was a regular in the end zone for Maximum Exposure, especially in the tournament games. The sure-handed Hill knows how to get open, and was the go-to guy for Morris throughout the weekend.
-York really emerged this spring during the combine and 7-on-7 circuit, however, this wasn’t one of his better tournaments. He was option number four for Morris behind Hill, Teo Redding and Jack Wangler. York was able to get open for a couple 40-yard touchdowns from Morris.
-Bowling Green is getting a steal in Redding who committed shortly after the tournament. Redding had a big summer catching the football. His ball skills are what truly stands out, and Redding climbed the ladder more than a few times over the weekend to catch a well-placed Morris pass over defenders.
Notre Dame commit Jaylon Smith is the nation's most athletic linebacker.
-Wangler is a college football player that really blossomed this summer playing with Morris. He will now join Morris this fall at Warren (Mich.) De La Salle after transferring from Royal Oak Shrine. Wangler could catch a late Division-I offer, and is already receiving Ivy interest.
-Standout 2014 cornerback Damon Webb typically drew the other team’s top receiver. Webb really dug in against LSU tight end commit DeSean Smith and limited the future Tiger from doing a lot of damage. Webb was great during tournament play until Max Ex ran into a Team Tampa squad with future Miami tight end Travis Johnson. Webb struggled checking the bigger Johnson, but no question he was able to learn from the experience. Webb just started playing corner this summer, and has already proved he can hold his own with the country’s best.
AWP Quick Hitters
-Alongside Vernon Hargreaves III, Fort Wayne (Ind.) Bishop Luers five-star linebacker Jaylon Smith was arguably the event’s top performer and prospect. Smith bottled up slot receivers the whole weekend, and with his length, range and instincts, covered a third of the field on every snap. Notre Dame has landed a pledge from the nation’s most explosive linebacker.
-Griffith was a big-play receiver for AWP, getting open in a variety ways. He caught deep balls, throws over the middle, and also showed yards after the catch ability. He took two swing passes over 20-yard for scores in a come-from-behind win in eliminating Core 6.
-Like Bowling Green and Redding, Miami (Ohio) is getting a fantastic receiver in Jared Murphy, who always performs well in the 7-on-7 setting. An explosive playmaker that plays with a little swagger, Murphy ran away from defenders in the Sunshine State.
Core 6 Quick Hitters
-Joliet (Ill.) Plainfield South class-of-2014 linebacker Clifton Garrett created a lot of buzz among spectators with his size and athleticism. The 6-foot-2, 215-pound Garrett was also a leader on defense, calling out checks. The Top50 linebacker always seems a step ahead of the play, and has the ability to cover running backs and tight ends. Ohio State, Illinois, Michigan State, Notre Dame and Wisconsin have already offered.
-Like Garrett, Nile Sykes already holds a BCS offer from Illinois. The 2014 linebacker out of Oak Park (Ill.) River Forest moves well laterally, and is another long prospect with a ton of physical upside.
-Illinois safety commit Dillan Cazley also played some corner, showing his versatility as a defensive back. Could also play some nickel in an Illini uniform.
-Hindsdale (Ill.) Central 2014 prospect Ian Bunting is a Big Ten body receiver/tight end, that does a fine job catching the football in traffic. The 6-foot-7, 200-pound Bunting is also a pretty good route runner, and continues to develop after missing most of his sophomore season with an injury.
-Core 6 was a different team when 2014 quarterback Jake Kolbe was in the game. A strong decision maker, Kolbe has all the tools to be a BCS quarterback.