Yesterday marked the start of the second ever Rivals100 Five-Star Challenge presented by Under Armour. Besides the brand rich mouthful of a name, the event is the culmination of a series of 15 mini-camps, designed in a sense to help the talent evaluators at Rivals better grade and project some of the nation's top prospects in a variety of high pressure circumstances against fellow elite talent.
Plus, there's the gamesmanship element. Having their own series of camps gives Rivals the ability to monopolize who can and can't be at the events. It's unlikely you'll see Scout.com and 247Sports analysts at Rivals' events and on the flip side, though Student Sports, from our understanding, is more open with their events (they're the folks behind both Elite 11 and NFTC, Nike's Football Training Camps), they might be less inclined to usher in the competition who are out there holding concurrent competitive showcases.
Of course, it's tough to say whether or not the consumer actually wins in these instances. More camps and info is a never a bad thing, but by not having transparency and an open slate across the board from all of these events, it's difficult to get multi-tiered perspective, since all the opinions will come from under the same umbrellas by and large. In full disclosure, as we understand it, SB Nation has a business relationship with Yahoo!, the parent company of Rivals, and an informal content sharing understanding with Student Sports, but I personally think everyone wins when you have openness and inclusiveness allowing business divisions to be just that, and allowing the free market to let the chips fall where they may...but we digress.
We're huge fans of Rivals, 247, and Scout alike, but this is Rivals' weekend. And a couple of Ohio State targets were busy trying to lay claim to the weekend as their own as well.
Demetrius Knox is a big time offensive guard prospect, and one that until late April was a University of Texas commit. Knox violated Texas coach Mack Brown's no visit policy the month prior, taking an unofficial to the Buckeyes' Central Ohio campus (where he has some family) along with friend and fellow Buckeyes offerree Daniel Gresham. Almost a month to the day later, Knox was back on the free market – and Ohio State was instantly at or near the top of his shortlist.
Heading into Chicago's Soldier Field, site of the Five-Star Challenge, it was tough to know what sort of competition would be fostered at a first time event like this – but the early results did not disappoint. In a series of one-on-one showdowns with 5-star defensive tackle (and fellow Ohio State offerree) Andrew Brown, Knox more than asserted himself:
On the kind of dominance Knox exhibited in the majority of the reps against Brown, Rivals' national analyst Mike Farrell added:
"I was slack-jawed. I had never seen Brown get beat like that in a camp, and then I never saw him get that angry."
Apparently Knox had studied film of Brown that gave him insight as to how to best counter the tackles' primary, go-to moves. Hard not to like that in a prospective Buckeye. And if you needed any optimism in regards to the Buckeyes' chances with Knox:
Close your eyes #UCLA fans. Four-star OL Demetrius Knox rocking the Ohio State hat today. twitter.com/EdwardLewisBSR…— Edward Lewis (@EdwardLewisBSR) June 7, 2013
But Knox wasn't the only Five-Star Challenge prospect rocking Ohio State gear. There was also District Heights, MD OT Damian Prince:
Damien Prince wearing some specific gear. #ohiostate #buckeyes twitter.com/rivalsmike/sta…— Mike Farrell (@rivalsmike) June 8, 2013
And last but not least, projected Buckeye lean LB Raekwon McMillan was also said to be donning scarlet & gray gear:
Five-star LB Raekwon McMillan showed up at #RivalsChallenge in #OhioState shorts— Adam Gorney (@adamgorney) June 7, 2013
Beyond Knox, an actual present 2014 Ohio State commit turned heads Saturday as well. CB Damon Webb was drawing high praise all over Twitter from the experts in attendance, and ultimately earned top billing ($) amongst all defensive backs:
We have not seen Webb tested much this offseason in camp settings because he rarely gives quarterbacks space to throw the football, but the Ohio State commit was tested on Saturday, and responded.
He baited quarterbacks into throwing his direction and registered numerous pass breakups. There have been few cornerbacks we have seen in recent years who are as fluid as Webb when he flips his hips.
Check out the link above for more on some of the nation's best prospects, and stay tuned throughout Sunday as more on a number of prospective Buckeyes is sure to make the rounds.