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April 17, 2013
CHARLOTTE -- Charlotte marked the 10th stop of the Rivals Camp Series presented by Under Armour. Southeast recruiting analyst Woody Wommack takes a look back at the five things he learned on Sunday.
100 percent running back
There's a reason that five-star Elijah Hood is listed as an athlete in the Rivals.com database. It's because for the longest time he insisted that he wasn't sure which position he would play at the next level, linebacker or running back.
But as he spent Sunday undressing the competition (most of them linebackers) in one-on-ones, it's abundantly clear that his future is at the running back position. He's already built like a college back and he also showed a surprising ability to get open and catch the ball downfield. He said prior to Sunday's came that he's pretty much down to Notre Dame and North Carolina and whichever program nabs the talented Hood could have their back of the future.
After putting up gaudy numbers last fall while playing both ways, it's hard to imagine just how well Hood will do this fall with his focus fully shifting to playing running back at the next level.
High four-star quarterback Will Grier came into Sunday's event looking to push five-star Deshaun Watson for the No.1 overall quarterback spot in the country. While it remains to be seen if he indeed did enough to overtake Watson, he definitely cemented himself as one of the top quarterbacks in his class.
Grier throws a beautiful ball and was the favorite of pretty much every skill position player who had a chance to take a rep with him during one-on-ones. The fact that Grier, who is already committed to Florida, came out to compete shows just how eager he is to prove he's the top signal-caller in the land.
After earning a Five-Star Challenge invite on Sunday, Grier will now have the opportunity to go toe-to-toe with Watson in June.
Thompkins can fly
On tape, there's no doubt that De'Andre Thompkins is one of the most electric return men in the nation, but coming into the camp there were still questions about him as a wide receiver. The high three-star put all those to rest on Sunday, lighting up the competition with his speed and route-running ability.
Thompkins recently picked up and accepted an invitation to play in the Under Armour All-American Game, and for good reason. He was running reps side-by-side with Rivals250 wide receiver Trevion Thompson and held his own with the heralded prospect.
The two have very different games -- Thompson is a taller possession type receiver -- but Thompkins has a unique combination of speed, route-running ability and hands that can't be overlooked.
While Thompkins and Thompson both looked good, it was another wide receiver who stole the show. Suwanne (Ga.) North Gwinnett wide receiver Nate Brown was the offensive skill MVP and the No. 1 top performer after he spent the day toasting the competition.
Those days are likely over as several schools have been in contact this week, including Clemson.
Brown is on a loaded North Gwinnett team and was only competing in Charlotte because of a scheduling conflict forced him to miss the Atlanta stop of the Rivals Camp Series.
The conflict turned out to be a blessing in disguise as Brown looked like an elite prospect in one-on-ones. He has pretty good size and nice speed along to go with consistent hands. Not only did he get open on nearly every rep, but he held onto to pretty much every pass that came his way as well.
D Line dominates
With nearly twice as many defensive linemen in attendance as offensive linemen it wasn't exactly a fair fight, but Sunday's one-on-ones were all about the defense. The session as all about a trio of 2015 prospects who showed why they're getting so much early attention in recruiting.
Defensive ends Shameik Blackshear and Albert Huggins along with defensive tackle Shy Tuttle were three of the top four defensive standouts, with Blackshear taking home MVP honors. The three rising juniors had their way the offensive linemen in attendance and look like they'll all have a chance to play at top level programs.
Right now Huggins has the most impressive offer of the trio (an early offer from Alabama) but Blackshear could end up being the most highly regarded of the three. Sunday he showed great explosiveness along with violent hands and a nice set of moves. If he continues to progress he could be among the top defensive linemen in the 2015 class.